THE MUSIC HERITAGE OF PENANG

(By James Rozells & Kathleen Rodrigues)
 
Penang has always boasted a long list of music greats from the late Tan Sri P Ramlee, Jimmy Boyle, Joe Rozells and Larry Rodrigues
 to the new breed of stars like the Alley Cats.
Take a trip down memory lane with Kathleen & James Rozells
" The Living Music Heritage Of Penang."

The Music Heritage Of Penang !!                                  Jimmy Boyle                  Larry Rodrigues                 Joe Rozells                 Rudy Baum                  George Baum                 Bryan Jeremiah                   Stanley D' Almeida                   Colleen Read                  Ruby Rozells                  Kathleen Rodrigues                 Christina D'Almeida                 Joyce Emuang                  Clair Rozells                 Mary Carlos                  Bonnie Jeremiah                  Frankie Rozells                 Raymond Rozells                   William Scully                 Harold & Colin Capel                 Spencer Rangel                  Max Fletcher                  Leo Aeria                 Andy Costello                   Noel Remedios                  Virgil Reutens                 Peter "Baba" Rozells                 Bertie Limuco                    Inigo Geronimo                   James Symons                   Horace Olivero                   George D'Almeida                  Leander Jeremiah                 Douglas DeSouza                  Patrick Daniel                  Gilbert Joseph                   James Phillip Boyle                  Paul Augustin                 Edmond Prior                James Rozells                 The Boudvilles  -  Malcolm, Donald & Gilbert                  The Scullys  -  William, Alphonse & Oswald                    The Priors  -  Edmond, Douglas & Arthur                     The Jeremiahs  -  Leander, Bonnie, Ralph & Homer                 Gerry Clyde                  Walter Ambrose                   Jack (Rangel) Mohd. Fadzil                      Antonio Geronimo                  Franco Reyes                 Jimmy (Rozells) Ooi                Steve (Rozells) Ooi                 John (Scully) Lim                 Albert & Nancy Yeoh                 Alfred Ho                  Ooi Eow Jin                  David Ng                 Fred Cheah                 Frankie Cheah                 Michael Kay                  Moses Chuah                  Freddie Chin                  Lee Chong Heen                  Richard Hoon                  Robert Tan                   Dino Lee                   Ee Fook Sin                  Loh Fan Eng                  Bobby Lau                  Jimmy Lim                  Teddy Beh                  Roger Ong                  Raymond Chin                  Edwin Rajamoney                Austin Rajamoney                Wilson Rajamoney                 Simon Barnabas                   Ernest "Boy" Barnabas                  Charlie Barnabas                  Shirley, Irene & Dorothy Barnabas                  Soowit Aroonratana                  Mike Prawing                  P. Ramlee                 Rubiah Lubis                 Ahmad Daud                 Ahmad Merican                Zainal Alam                Syed Agil                  Bashir Ahmad                 S.M. Idrus                   Hamid Khan                           The Ladybirds                  The Equinox                 The Shannons                  The Thunderbolts                   The Dreamers                  The Tyros                   The Mysterions                   The Westerlies                   The Alley Cats                    Sweet September

 
The background music you are listening to is an original Jimmy Boyle composition titled "Putera Puteri".
 
 Sequenced And 
  Recorded In Midi by:
     
John Lim
James Rozells
Michael Kay

 









 


 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 







 

 

 












 



 
 

 

 




 
 

 

 



 




 




 




 
 












 
 
 


  








  










 




 

 

 





 


 
 



 


 



 












 
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( click picture )

Whether we are actively pursuing a career in music or are simply music lovers, it is unimaginable to live a life without music. Penang has always boasted a long list of music greats from the late Tan Sri
P Ramlee, Jimmy Boyle, Joe Rozells and Larry Rodrigues to the new breed of stars like the Alley Cats.
  
- maybe it’s the genes of the Penangite - it’s a known fact that if you 
  are a good musician you would have most probably come from Penang
   
- maybe it’s the surrounding sea air that we breathe - islanders have
  always been known to be musically endowed
   
- maybe it’s the peace and tranquility of the island that gives inspiration
  to our composers and musicians to write and play beautiful music
  
- maybe it’s the Nasi Kandar that enhances our vocal cords - check with
  David & Loga of the Alley Cats or Kathleen Rodrigues and Colleen Read
  on their diet. Unfortunately Zainal Alam is not around to give his views
  on the “wonders” of Nasi Kandar

   
Whatever it may be, Penang has always had a reputation of producing many of the finest musicians, singers and composers in the country.
  
With all due respect to the other musicians of Penang, this paper focuses and highlights the Penang Eurasian musicians, singers and composers - their roles, their achievements and their contribution to the music industry.
  
With this, nobody springs to mind first but one person - Jimmy Boyle, the late Jimmy Boyle.
  
James W Boyle AMN  (1922 - 1971)
  
Jimmy Boyle was born in Penang and educated at the St. Xaviers Institution where he returned as a teacher after graduating from the Raffles College in Singapore. He was a well-known Malaysian Jazz musician who developed his own style. He was accepted as a Malaysian Composer and Arranger for the “Classical Saxophone Quartet” of N.W. University USA and “Kansas City University Brass Ensemble”. His compositions and piano playing have been beamed throughout the world by the "BBC" and the "Voice Of America" and  commented favorably by top jazz critics like Jerry Muchigan. International jazz musicians like Charles Lloyd and Jack Teagarden (who played his songs) rated him highly. For 25 of his 49 years Jimmy composed, arranged, played and recorded his music for National and State functions, for radio and television, for schools and associations and night-clubs. He was also a judge of Malaysian Tune Writing and Radio Singing Contests since 1958. He composed the first Malaysian Jamboree song “Kemegahan Negara Ku” which was played at midnight on the birth of Malaysia in 1963. His proudest moment came on 31 August 1957 when Merdeka was proclaimed at Kuala Lumpur. The “Negara Ku” was not ready yet and when the first Malaysian flag was raised it was to one of Jimmy’s tunes. (Taken from New Straits Times - 11 May 71) . Among his notable compositions were: “Putera Puteri”, “Ingat Ingat”, “Jauh Jauh”, “Rayuan Mesra”, or “Melody Of Love”, “Api Dan Air”, “Bunga Negara”, “Megah Rasa”, “Chendering”, “Tepi Pantai”, “Berdendang Ria”, “Sang Bayu”, “ Ke-Hulu Ke-Hilir”, “Pantun Melayu”, “Gemaran Bulan”, “Bertugas”, and “Sungai Pahang”. Jimmy Boyle had always been proud of being a Malaysian and through his music he had hoped to perpetuate the soul and spirit of his country and it’s people. A national song on the Rukunegara is one of several unpublished works left behind by Jimmy. A State anthem for Penang and scores of beautiful Malaysian melodies were among other legacies that his family had discovered in Jimmy’s treasure chest. One week before his fatal heart attack he had submitted his Rukunegara piece (his last composition) to Radio Malaysia in the hope that singing it would help bring together the various races in the country. The late Jimmy Boyle whose work and devotion to music commanded high respect from many, among those Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie who at that time was Minister with Special Functions and Minister Of Information. Quote:- “This country has certainly lost one of her talented sons in music, culture and sports and one who was dedicated to the programme of nation building. His contribution to the world of music in this country is phenomenal and now that Jimmy is no more with us I hope that young people in this country would be inspired by his work and devotion to nation building through music.” (Taken from The Straits Echo - 13 May 1971)
  
Jimmy Boyle by far is the foremost jazz pianist and composer this country has produced. A man whose vision and music abilities were years ahead of his time should today be a source of inspiration for all our musicians. Unfortunately not many people are aware that this great man had written so much good music and yes, many have not even heard of him or his music. We, Kathleen Rodrigues, John Lim, Lee Chong Heen, Colleen Read and James Rozells and a host of other musicians at the ROZELLS Country & Western and Oldies Pub hope to promote Jimmy Boyle’s music to the public so that his beautiful music will live on forever. The late Jimmy Boyle and his music had a tremendous influence and impact on many of his fellow musicians in Penang. Playing alongside this great musician always brought a sense of pride and honour to any musician. Any musician you talk to who had the opportunity to play or sing with Jimmy Boyle would always talk in awe of the man’s music and ability. The memory of this man and his music moves so many in so many different ways and it inspires many to go out of their way to preserve the legend of Jimmy Boyle and his music.

Larry Rodrigues - “Lead Guitarist for Jimmy Boyle”
  
Better known by many as Uncle Larry, he was by far one of the leading jazz guitarists in the country. Started playing with Jimmy Boyle in the 40’s at the Runnymede, Sandycroft and the Penang Club for more than 20 years. After the death of Jimmy Boyle, Larry led the band with Steve (Rozells) Ooi on piano, and continued performing at the Penang Club until he had a stroke while performing at the club in 1981. All through the years, Larry Rodrigues thrilled audiences in pubs, hotels and clubs with his style of playing and till today many guitarists still remember and marvel at the guitar playing style of Larry Rodrigues. Larry always had an eager following of budding guitarists and one of Larry’s many promising proteges was the very well known and talented lead guitarist, the late Teddy Beh. Uncle Larry also made numerous recordings with Radio Malaysia where he played many of Jimmy Boyle’s compositions. Larry’s proudest musical moment was when the great American jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd performed in Penang in the 70’s and invited Larry to jam with him.

Rudy Baum - "Penang's Father Of Country Music”
   
Started singing and yodelling at age 14 after the war. Rudy sang for Redifussion and did several recordings for Radio Malaysia after winning a few singing talentimes. Rudy and his band “The Country Lads” comprising younger brother George Baum, Ralph & Bonnie Jeremiah were the top and most sought after Country & Western group at that time. Today, 57 years later, strains of Frankie Laine’s “Mule Train” can still be heard from Rudy, now age 71, who still sings and yodels at private functions and parties. Lest we forget the tradition of the Baum family and their yodelling prowess, we are inspired by the fact that daughter Michelle, who is similarly inclined, will continue to maintain the family skills at yodelling.

Joe Rozells - "King Of The Hawaiian Guitar"
  
Joe Rozells and his Hawaiian Palm Beach Boys were the top Hawaiian band from the 50’s to the late 60’s. Patrons of The Green Parrot, Springtide, Chusan Nightclub and Shanghai Restaurant would fondly remember Joe Rozells and his Hawaiian music. They were the most sought after Hawaiian band then for dances, parties, and shows. Among the song birds that sang with Joe when he started was his lovely wife Stephanie and 17 year old daughter Priscilla. Over the years Joe Rozells did numerous Hawaiian recordings for Radio Malaysia in Penang and also T.V. shows for T.V. Malaysia in K.L. Joe Rozells was always the inspiration for many budding Hawaiian guitarists, for example Edwin Rajamoney, who picked up the instrument and carried on playing Hawaiian music in Penang for another two decades after his passing in 1970. Apart from leading the most popular Hawaiian band in those days, Joe Rozells is fondly remembered by many musicians today as the “father” who provided them a platform to launch their individual music careers.
  
Musicians Who Started Or Played With Joe Rozells & His Band :-
  
Drums :  Spencer Rangel    George D’Almeida    William Scully
                  Douglas DeSouza
  
Guitar :  Peter (Baba) Rozells    Leander Jeremiah    Patrick Daniel
              Jimmy (Rozells) Ooi
  
Vocals :  Colleen Read     Kathleen Rodrigues     Ruby Rozells
                  Stanley D’Almeida
  
Ukulele :  George Baum    Noel (Bull) Remedios
  
Bass :  Ralph Jeremiah    Horace Olivero    Leslie Scully
  
Piano :  Bertie Limuco

Stanley D’Almeida  Guitarist / Singer - Stanley was probably the finest singer of Hawaiian songs who performed at the renowned “City Lights” and “Green Parrot”. Not only a fine singer he also had a reputation as being one of the finest guitarists in the country
  
Spencer Rangel  Drummer / Guitarist - Started playing drums for Joe Rozells from 1955 to 1960. Joined Edwin Rajamoney & Island Rhythmics from 1960 to 1970. Performed at the Casuarina Beach Hotel in 1975, at the Ship in 1985 and from then on with D’Serenades with Edmond Prior and William Scully at the Park Royal Hotel till today. A music career spanning 47 years
 
Max Fletcher  Bass / Ukulele - Started playing for Jimmy Boyle in late 40’s. Not only did he play the bass in the band, Max was also a skilful ukulele, clarinet and saxophone player
  
James Symons  Drums - James was the original drummer for Jimmy Boyle in the late 40’s
   
Andy Costello  Singer - Andy who now resides in the USA sang in Jimmy Boyle’s band in the late 40’s
  
William Scully  Saxophone / Drums / Bass - Started playing drums at age 17 in Joe Rozells band. Played drums and saxophone with Edwin Rajamoney & Island Rhythmics from 1965. Played saxophone with In-Jazz Quartet and The Jazzocrats at a few top hotels for many years. William now in his late fifties plays double bass for D’Serenades at the Penang Park Royal Hotel.
  
Douglas DeSouza  Drums - A very competent drummer Dougie played drums for Joe Rozells and also for Malaysian trumpeter Syed Agil. Performed a few years in Bangkok before returning to Malaysia where he still now performs in K.L.
  
John (Scully) Lim  Guitar - Arguably the most versatile, gifted and talented musician in Penang. John, a self taught musician excels in any musical instrument he chooses to play. John is known by far as one of the most accomplished jazz guitarist in the country. John also plays country & western pedal steel guitar which was also self taught. He now performs on the keyboards where he does gigs and private functions.
  
Leo Aeria  Saxophone - Popular saxophone player who performed at “City Lights”
  
The "Songbirds Of Penang"

  
Colleen Read

  
Started singing at age 15 at the Green Parrot with Leo Aeria in 1959. Joined Joe Rozells in 1960 at the Springtide. Moved on to K.L.Embassy Hotel with Victor Felix & Stanley D’Almeida and did a few recordings with Radio Malaya. Colleen’s career then took her to Singapore where she did T.V shows and recordings with the luminary Gus Steyn. Came back in Penang in 1963 to the Chusan Nightclub and in 1964 performed at the Penang Sports Club with the Blue Notes comprising Colin and Harold Capel. Moved on to Kuala Lumpur again for another 3 years where she sang at the Selangor Club, B.B. Park and Lake Club. From 1970 till 1979 the name Colleen Read was synonymous with the Captain's Bar at the Mandarin Hotel. Colleen also did jazz stints with Chong Heen and The In-Jazz Quartet at the Mutiara Beach Hotel, Holiday Inn and the Golden Sands Hotel for a few years. Colleen Read, Penang’s singing grandmother with a music career spanning 43 years also performed with Chong Heen at the ROZELLS Country & Western Pub from 2000 till 2005 and still has a loyal following of music lovers.
  
Kathleen Rodrigues
  
Lovingly known as Penang’s Child Singer, Kathleen Rodrigues, daughter of famed Penang jazz guitarist Larry Rodrigues started singing at age 7. Ukulele cuddled in her tiny arms, imagine this child sweetheart singing, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”. Kathleen, the “Child Singer” was always in great demand as a guest artiste for talentimes and shows and was an attraction whenever and wherever she performed - somewhat of a Shirley Temple of Malaysia. The young and talented Kathleen Rodrigues was also the lead guitarist of the first all girl band - “The Ladybirds”. In 1963 at age 16 she won the title “Linda Scott Of Penang” where she had for company the likes of Rubiah Lubis who won the title “Connie Francis Of Penang”. Kathleen started singing professionally at age 18 in 1965 with Joe Rozells & His Hawaiian Palm Beach Boys and since have performed with many other top musicians in just about all of the top hotels in Penang. Kathleen, always sought after for recordings at Radio Malaysia did 13 recordings with the late great Jimmy Boyle that was aired nationwide continuously for 13 weeks. After 37 years of singing professionally at the highest level, Kathleen still holds her own as being one of the top singers in the country. Presently a partner in ROZELLS Country & Western And Oldies Pub, Kathleen Rodrigues still draws packed audiences.
   
Ruby Rozells
  
Started singing professionally at age 18 in Bangkok. Called “The Songbird Of Bangkok” Ruby spent most of her 12-year singing career in most of the top nightspots in Bangkok, Thailand. Rated one of the top jazz lady singers in Thailand and Malaysia, Ruby came back to Penang a few years ago and has been singing jazz in the Mutiara Beach Hotel and Casuarina Beach Hotel. Ruby presently performs with Wilson Quah at 32 The Mansion in Penang.
  
Christina D’ Almeida
 
Christina, daughter of Stanley D’Almeida started singing in 1982. She has since been singing in many of the top hotels in Penang and K.L. She is presently singing jazz, standards and oldies with D'Serenades at the Golden Sands Beach Resort in Penang.
  
Joyce Emuang
   
Joyce Emuang, blessed with a natural country voice been singing in most of the top hotels in Penang and Kuala Lumpur and East Malaysia. She mainly does shows and functions now.
  
Mary Carlos
  
Mary Carlos, mother of 7 children, winner of 1st Mrs Malaysia/World Beauty Pageant 1987 and represented Malaysia at the Mrs World Beauty Pageant in Hawaii, she now sings and performs in the various clubs and hotels in Penang.
  
The "Part-Timers"
  
The part-time musicians of Penang also played an important role in the music scene in Penang. Most of them were employed in the government service and schools and they made use of their spare time and talent playing for dances, company dinners, weddings, anniversaries and private functions. Among those musicians that spring to mind are : -
  
Scullys - comprising Alphonse, Francis, Oswald, William
  
Jeremiahs - comprising Bonnie, Leander, Homer, Ralph
  
Priors - comprising Edmond, Douglas, Arthur
  
Boudvilles - comprising Donald, Malcolm, Gilbert, Vincent
  
Penang in the 60’s had an abundance of music talent and many of our top musicians were lured overseas by better and more lucrative job opportunities. Among the many that went to Thailand and other countries were a host of talented Eurasian musicians from Penang.
   
Bonnie Jeremiah
  
Bonnie started playing bass in 1958 at age 12 with a band called “The Pinheads” comprising Ralph Reutens, Homer Jeremiah and George Baum. Learned his trade and by the time 1969 came, performed in Bangkok for 3 years before returning to Penang in 1972. In 1974 it was off to Kuala Lumpur where he spent 16 years with various bands performing in most of the top hotels. In 1991 it was back to Penang where he joined country band the Color Phases and performed in the hotels for many years. A renowned bass guitarist of immense talent and an accomplished country singer, Bonnie Jeremiah is very highly respected in the Malaysian music circle.
   
Frankie Rozells
  
Frankie Rozells, the eldest son of Joe Rozells is surely one of the most proficient guitarists from Penang. Started playing in Penang in the 60’s with the well-known band, “The Equinox” he later moved to Thailand where he spent more than 20 years playing in top clubs and hotels in Pattaya and Bangkok. Returned to Malaysia in the 90’s where he performed in various top hotels and solo stints in the pubs and clubs in Penang. Frankie is now back in Thailand where he still performs in many of the top clubs in Bangkok.
   
George Baum
   
Dubbed the “Kenny Rogers” of Malaysia, George will always capture an audience with his fine brand of country & western music. Good country vocals and clean country guitar is George’s forte. He spent about 8 years in Thailand from 1969 playing with a host of other Malaysian musicians like Tony Perkins, Harold and Colin Capel, Ooi Eow Jin and Saloma, all from Penang. Came back to Malaysia in 1977 where he performed in K.L. for a while before returning to Penang where he performed with the Color Phases at the Rasa Sayang and Golden Sands Resort. George presently solo, sings country & western at the Liverpool Bar in Penang.
  
Colin & Harold Capel
  
Spent many years in Thailand playing music with famed Malaysian musicians in some of the top hotels in Bangkok. After over 40 years of plying their trade, Colin and Harold are today still performing in top nightspots in Kuala Lumpur.
   
Virgil Reutens
  
Penang born Virgil Reutens has put Penang on the country & western world map by winning the Country & Western Gum Leaf Championship 6 years running.
 
The "Music Of Today"
    
Edmond Prior
  
Started his singing career in 1977 in the Crazy Horse Saloon and the Welsh Dragon Pub. Recorded an album under WEA in 1984 after winning a local talent competition. Started performing in various top hotels in Penang in 1985 till today where he sings at the Penang Park Royal with William Scully and Spencer Rangel. Edmond is widely known as the Johnny Mathis of Penang.
   
Casey (D’Almeida) Subramaniam
  
Top recording artiste Casey, with already 2 hit albums that topped the charts in Malaysia is the son of Christina D’Almeida and grandson of famed guitarist Stanley D’Almeida. He played bass for many top Malaysian bands including “Asia Beat”, and is now presently with “The Big Band” performing in Kuching.
  
ROZELLS Country & Western And Oldies Pub
  
Situated in Batu Ferringhi, “ROZELLS” is probably the only pub in the country that specializes only in country & western music and the old songs. Idyllically set by the sea it brings back fond memories of places like Springtide and the Green Parrot. It is owned and managed by two enterprising Eurasians, Kathleen Rodrigues and James Rozells who incidentally also sing and perform there. It is the place to go for good music, excellent Eurasian home-cooked food, where the ambience and atmosphere is almost perfect and the patrons just about the most fun loving and friendly people around. The music, the songs and even the old music photographs that are displayed there bring back fond memories and a sense of nostalgia to the Penangite. Many patrons and customers have dubbed “ROZELLS” the pub and it’s owners as “The Living Music Heritage Of Penang”.
  
Clair Rozells
  
Probably the most promising Eurasian hope for the future. Clair, daughter of James Rozells started her singing career in 1999 at the Flying Club, Sheraton Hotel Penang with Ronny of the famed Sweet September Band. Experienced a short stint with a 7-piece show band in East Malaysia before returning to K.L. where she sang with Richard Hoon for functions. Back in Penang now Clair sings with Freddie Chin at the Flying Club. Being the most talented and sought after budding singer in Penang now, Clair Rozells carries the hope and future of the rich Eurasian music heritage of Penang.
 
In concluding this paper, may I suggest to the members of the community represented by the Penang Eurasian Association to make a commitment to revive the dwindling numbers of Eurasian musicians and singers in Penang through the establishment of music schools and programmes which will encourage young musicians to take on music as a professional career.
   
To the young Eurasians, for example Christopher (Rodrigues) Estrop, Darrin James Rozells, and especially the descendants of the great musicians that we have mentioned in our paper who are embarking on their music careers now, we urge you to take advantage of your natural talent acquired from your family heritage, and partake in your personal musical growth and development, not only in current music trends but also in the good ol' oldies, traditional and Malaysian music.
  
In addition, we would like to appeal to the State Government, relevant Government authorities, the Penang Heritage Trust, the hotels and entertainment outlets to encourage the music profession so that it will become a viable and profitable professional career for generations to come. One step in this direction would be to promote the employment of local Penang musicians in our rich Penang entertainment outlets rather than employ foreigners who would naturally not reflect the "Music Heritage Of Penang".
   

"The Penang Story" -  February 2002
  

"The Music Heritage Of Penang"  by Kathleen & James Rozells
  

 More Articles
  
"Young Penang Musicians"  By: James A Rozells 

 
PenangMusic.com

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Tel / Fax: 604 - 866 1262      Email: jamesrozells@gmail.com       rodrigues_kathy@yahoo.com

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 










 

 

 

 

 













 

 




 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 






 


 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
















 








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