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.

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“THE GOOD TIMES” by Des Kelly

Again, in the 1950’s, what a decade that was !.

Donavan Andree, by far, the very best “Entrepreneur”that our little Country ever had, brought out “Artistes”, “Bands”, “Groups”, “The Ice Follies”, “Circuses”, even “Wrestlers” from around the World, was “still going”, with the help of Elmo Andree, a close relative, his own son Malcolm, & a band of trusted employees, among whom was an Uncle of this writer, Roy Demmer, who was his right-hand man at the Casino in Havelock Park, which Donavan owned & ran.

In addition, he had started “The 3 Club” Complex in Bambalapitiya, described more correctly, I suppose, as an all-time “Carnival-Complex”, where, on about 3 nights a week, “Housey-Housey”  also called “Bingo”, was regularly attended by the folk in Bambalapitiya, especially the ladies who loved to play the game. Around the Carnival-ground, were at least another dozen little enclosures where one could try to win a bit of money by what I would term, “small-time gambling”, interesting little games to lose the “little money you had.

Even at the young age of around sixteen I worked for this man, who became like a father-figure to all of us “wannabe- entertainers”. I cannot think of too many “show-biz names” who didn’t make their “mark”, without the help of Donavan.

All of us were happy to work for him because he treated us, the ones he chose, as the “Stars”, we were hoping to be, someday. One demand he made, from the “Singers” like “your’s truly” was, that whenever he attended a concert with a “lady-friend”(and he had many), I had to sing one of his favourite songs, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, my good pal, Denis Roberts, a superb “Sinatra-Style” Vocalist had to sing “To each, his own” (Ink-spots-style), Cliff Foenander, Bill Forbes, & many other “top” entertainers, also had to be ready to “warble” one of Donavan”s favourites, whenever he was around. All of the female “Stars” & “Stars to be” were also involved with Donavan Andree, but he knew how to “treat a lady”, & I can honestly say that there were no “sexual- harassment” claims against him. In the 50’s, that particular claim was unheard of, anyway.

At around the same time, there was another “Showman”

coming into the picture. His name was Mubarak Thaha. There would have been no doubt in his mind, that he could not “match” Donavan in the “Show-biz Stakes”, but he was going to give it a damn good try, anyway. He started by owning & running a night-club called the “Atlanta”.

There was absolutely no disloyalty involved. Donavan was fully aware that some of us “needed” that extra money, and as long as it d8d not interfere with his schedule, as far as he was concerned, we could “work” for anyone. I well remember that Cliff Foenander, a top entertainer & the best “front-man” that any band in Ceylon, at the time, could ever have, worked regularly for Mubarak as a ” Compere”. Cliff, who was another “special friend”, had a “voice” of liquid-gold, easily, one of the best voices in Ceylon, who went on to “entertain” the World with the “Fabulous Echoes”, but died, far too young, in Melbourne. (God bless you, Cliff).

Another superb singer was my pal Denis Roberts. Suffice to say, that if you closed your eyes, it was Frank Sinatra, you were hearing. Denis also passed-on, a few years ago, but I will never ever forget this guy, a true friend, who would now be entertaining the angels in heaven, I feel sure. We cannot forget many others (both male & female), and especially, as far as I am concerned, Bill Forbes, in England, now, a singer who “wowed” them everywhere he went. Bill & this writer are still alive & kicking, thank God. I don’t know about Bill, but many Lankans think that Desmond Kelly, poor bugger, has died. I have worked out why they have arrived at this sad conclusion. Firstly, there are about eight Desmond Kelly’s living in Dandenong, Melbourne, alone. There were nine, altogether, one was a horse-trainer, until one of his “charges” kicked him, unfortunately, in the head, and then there were eight.

For all the members & readers of eLanka , the “good times” will continue in part 2 of this true story, where Mubarak Thaha “produced” his big stage show, named “Myombe”, naturally, with Arsenio Alexander & his partner Manuela Sanchez coming up to entertain you.

See you next time. Ladies & Gentlemen, “Those WERE the good times.

 

 

 

 

 

Desmond Kelly
Star of eLanka
(Editor-in-Chief).

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“THE SPACE RACE” by Des Kelly

Not very long after President Trump had declared that Australia would be excused from any tariffs on both steel &

“aloominum” (as pronounced in the States), I find that up to

200.000 pensioners will be targeted, by the Labour Government, (if it comes into power after the next election), to “dip into their pockets”, & fork out money they haven’t got!. Bill, with Australia rapidly becoming an “ageing” population, right now, YOU have Buckley & Nunn’s chance of Governing, when you make statements like that. Buckley had only a little “Hope”, Nunns have only a few “Good Habits” & most Pensioners have absolutely no “Cash” to hand over.

Bob Hope will, hopefully,  be happy, (bless his Soul),The “Flying Nunns”, will be “flying low”& Johnny Cash will be most ecstatic about it all (May he rest in peace).

He (President Trump) has still not decided on the date, time & venue of his “meeting” with the little Rocket Man,  has obviously had a bit of an argument with his “Secretary of State, probably about that very matter, and, sadly, Rex Tillerson has been “dumped by Trump”. The F.B.I. is now aware that there are only about 20 “Staff”in the top echelon of the White House, but now the C.I.A. is represented, with Mike Pompeo taking over as the new  Secretary of State, U.S.A. We wish you well, Mike.

What has all this got to do with “the space race” Des.?,

Well, make certain that your parachute cord will work properly, first, & I’ll tell you.  EVERYBODY who  is ANYBODY is “firing rockets” all over the place. The “Rocket-man” of North Korea, started the latest craze, now “P.P.” President Putin has “put-in” his claim, “P.P.P.” Permanent President Ping, has a few that no-one knows anything about, BUT, to come out “trumps”, like he usually does, President Trump now wants to form a “SPACE-FORCE”. What is a bloody  Space Force ?, you ask me. I am 82 years of age, come July, 2018. This is still four months & two days off (2/7/2018).

I hope I make it, because everyone around me is “killing me off”, for example, a very good friend from Canada, Dyland Modder & his wife Christine, who always pay me a “welcome visit” whenever they set foot in Australia, came in to see me the day before yesterday. We had a good chat, reliving some memories of “the good old days”, and they left, hoping to see me again, next year. That did not come to pass, because Dyland “rang” me a few minutes ago, telling me that they were “at lunch” with a few “Burgher-Buggers”, possibly, when their “hosts” started playing some music of old Ceylonese favourites like Bill Forbes & Cliff Foenander.

Dyland then asked them to play some of “my music”, and was told that they left out “Dream-World”, as a mark of respect because they heard that this poor bugger Desmond Kelly had died, just recently. “Cannot be”, said Dyland, “I only saw him “the-day-before-yesterday”. Christine just sat there, looking shocked.She could not believe that she, Christine Modder was the last one to take a photograph of her husband, Dyland,(top-Peterite,a handsome”kukula” & very wealthy as well), with absolutely, the most famous Singer,

Songwriter, Composer, Ukelele-player, Guitarist, Key-boardist

Bongo & Tabla- percussionist, Poet, International Journalist,

Author, Editor & “Editor-in-Chief” of what you are reading right now, but so poor, that his buddy Denis Roberts once told him, “Desmond, if we had a bit of ham, we could have a ham-sandwich, IF we had the bread”.

One of my “strong points is “Tact”. I just HATE to brag about anything, However, because I am also a famous “Writer” I can write down all this rubbish. Thank you for putting up with it .Go on, go on, folks, make a bloody “comment” & see if I care.!!

Now, before I digress any further, let me come back to President Trump’s “Space-Force”. In Ceylon, I was in the “Senior-Force”(Royal Ceylon Navy), the Army was a Force to be reckoned-with, but was still 2nd in line. Then, there was the Royal Ceylon Air-Force, the “Gentlemen” of the “Forces” who had little else to do, but look pretty in their uniforms, simply because they did not have a “special areoplane”, where we, in the Navy had a MINESWEEPER, for crying out loud.!, a former British Minesweeper, the ” Flying-Fish” that was mineswept over to the Ceylon Navy after World War 2.

SHE could take any Sea, tossed and turned, made everyone sea-sick, but still floated like a cork, all the way from Ceylon to England, for “spare parts”. How could I ever forget H.M.Cy.s. VIjaya, (but that is another story).

As we all know, there are many “structures”, in place, in Space, a “Space-Station” has been floating around there for quite a while, now. Besides “Rocket-Man”, other rockets have been up to the moon & back. No problem. President Trump will be able to “thump” a few more structures in place, in Space, BUT, a Space-Force ?, I hope that I live to see the day when an Army of Marines march, as they do, in outer space. What is going to keep them all up there ?.

Anyway, President Trump, may the “Forces” be with you.

Just before I go away, into “space”  or anywhere, let me remind all the sensible people who are members, and those who read eLanka, on-line, that I am still very much alive, my telephone number at home is 03-8-759-1932, please also listen to a beautiful song by an Irishman, Daniel O’Donnell, specially chosen by me, as a reminder to you. The song ?

“Even if it’s only for a minute”(would you call & say “hello” ?

The “space” song for President Trump, above, of course,

The “telephone” song for “yours truly, below. Enjoy them.

 

 

 

Desmond Kelly.

Star of eLanka.

(Editor-in-Chief).

 

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