Passion for music keeps stars of S'pore's 1970s bands going strong
The six members of Tru-Blu have a collective age of 361, but their lust for playing music has not diminished.
Playing at Hooha Cafe near Haw Par Villa, they deliver rock and pop favourites to an appreciative crowd.
The crowd may not realise it, but this band, formed in 2011, is actually a Singapore supergroup.
Individually, the names may not be well-known, but they were in bands that had their hey day in the 70s.
Western Union Band, The McCoys, Rusty Blades and Tres Primos - to name a few - played the pubs and clubs to throngs of admirers.
The Mccoys shot to fame after winning the band section of the fondly-remembered television show Talentime in 1967.
Soon after, they were playing to a crowd of a few thousand while opening for Cliff Richard and The Shadows at the then Singapore National Theatre on River Valley Road.
There followed a decade of overseas performances and regular appearances on TV and radio.
Gerry Pereira, 66recalls how The McCoys fans would often throw flowers onto the stage for them.
"When we performed, it was always screams and flowers, especially at the convent schools," Gerry says.
"Once we finished, they would rush backstage to get our autographs."
His cousin, Michael Pereira, who shares vocal duties with Gerry, says that he opted to leave the limelight to focus on his career, and so the music was put on hold for 35 years.
Tru-Blu guitarist Victor de Silva was in 70s band The Grade.
He continued performing into the 90s even after moving to Taiwan with his wife. And it was there that he had a truly golden moment - playing with music legend Stevie Wonder.
"I had already made a name for myself (performing in Taiwan)," says de Silva.
"An agent saw me at one of the bigger clubs and asked if I would take the Stevie Wonder opportunity.
"Of course I said yes!"
Michael was the Tru-Blu catalyst.
"I decided that we should form an 'all-star' lineup of musicians from the 60s and Tru-Blu was born," he says.
With most of them in their 60s, they admit their bodies have slowed down.
During the photo session, the band is asked for a shot of them jumping, to which Michael Pereira exclaims: "Cannot, I got pacemaker!"
But he is defiant: Nothing will keep him off the stage.
He says: "I cannot imagine life without music. It keeps me going in the midst of all health issues.
Bassist and singer Tony Chong also says it was his passion for music that helped him recover after a major nerve operation 16 years ago.
"I was in a state where my brain knew how to walk and move, but my legs and hands didn't," he says.
He required intensive rehabilitation and playing music helped regain his coordination.
"After my operation, my brother bought me two guitars and I forced myself to start playing again," says Chong.
"It really trained my hand and finger movements. I believe it even boosted my recoveryx."
Gerry believes that music will always be a major part of their lives.
"Musicians never grow old," he claims.
"The hair recedes, the legs get a little weaker but the mojo just burns brighter and brighter.
"Music is life."
Known to the band as The Don, the drummer and youngest member of the group was previously part of Ray Anthony & Friends.
VICTOR DE SILVA
Formerly of The Grade, the lead guitarist returned from playing professionally in Taiwan in the 90s to form Culture Vulture.
The vocalist used to be the lead singer of The McCoys, signed to EMI. The band supported Cliff Richard & The Shadows when they visited Singapore in the 60s.
A founding member of the Mccoys, the vocalist left in 1967 to form local ensemble Tres Primos. He appeared in radio and tv shows in the 60s.
The bassist was the founding member of early 60s band The Thunderbirds, whose biggest hit was My Lonely Heart released in 1966. He went on to form Western Union Band, famous for their smash hit Sausalito.
The guitarist and backing vocalist was a journeyman playing for many bands in the 60s and 70s, including Tin Pan Alley, Rusty Blades and New Breed.