REMEMBERING CLIFF FOENANDER OF THE FABULOUS ECHOES – BY Patrick Ranasinghe
Cliff Foenander was one of Sri Lanka’s great musicians. He was King of the ‘crooners’ in 1950s and 1960s Ceylon. Foenander had a passion for music and he was determined to succeed in life. He reached the dizzy heights of stardom – not only in Sri Lanka but right across South and South East Asia, and even the United States of America.
Sri Lanka remember’s Cliff Foenander he passed away in Australia. Recently, thanks to You Tube there has been a real revival of music connected with Sri Lanka’s first international star, Cliff Foenander. Thousands have logged on to youtube to hear The Fabulous Echoes. The whole history of The Fabulous Echoes is also on You Tube. The Fabulous Echoes featured Bert Sagum, Tony Ruivivar, Terry Lucido, Stan Robertson, Danny Ruivivar and Cliff Foenander.Foenander was a pioneer – one of his earliest hits was ‘Butterfly in the Rain’ composed by the great singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis. Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia discovered Cliff Foenander. The legendary Radio Ceylon announcers Vernon Corea, Tim Horshington, Livy Wijemanne, Jimmy Bharucha, promoted his music throughout the late 1950s and 1960s on the airwaves of the radio station. Radio Ceylon was ‘King of the Airwaves’ in South Asia and Cliff Foenander’s music was played to the huge audience on the Indian sub-continent. He had a succession of number one hits in South Asia as a result of the exposure on Radio Ceylon.
Foenander’s big break came along when he joined one of the hottest acts in Hong Kong, ‘The Fabulous Echoes.’ They had a massive hit with ‘A Little Bit of Soap’ in 1964 released on Diamond Records – they enjoyed 25 weeks in the Number one position in the Hong Kong Charts. ‘A Little Bit of Soap’ was a huge hit in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Cliff Foenander and The Fabulous Echoes had a string of hits, among them – ‘Dancing on The Moon,’ ‘Sukiyaki,’ ‘Cry,’ ‘Another Saturday Night,’ ‘Another Romance,’ ‘I know,’ ‘The Wedding,’ ‘Skip to My Lou, ‘Sunshine,’ ‘Way Back When,’ ‘Mashed Potato,’ ‘It Won’t be Long,’ ‘Day By Day,’ ‘This Land is My Land.’
As a result of their huge hit ‘A Little Bit of Soap’ among a string of hits in South East Asia, The Fabulous Echoes were invited to play Las Vegas. Cliff Foenander and the group were playing with the greats – The ‘rat pack,’ Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior who were performing in Las Vegas at the time in the early 1960s – they performed with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Pat Boone among a whole host of stars.
One evening Cliff Foenander sang a song to a lady in the audience, she like The Fabulous Echoes so much that she told her husband. He happened to be the great Ed Sullivan who also liked their style and sound. He signed them up for two shows and Ceylon’s Cliff Foenander was seen by an audience of 45 million viewers. Foenander was at the very top with the Fabulous Echoes. They were a hit in Las Vegas.
Cliff Foenander died of lung cancer in 2000 in Australia. Born in 1934, he was 66 years old.