Filed under: Philippines
For our second guest post here at Radiodiffusion Internasionaal, we have an entry by Greg McWhorter. Besides being a collector of records and ephemera, Greg founded Artifix Records – dubbed “the archaeologists of punk” by Johnny Stingray of The Controllers. Artifix Records mission is to reintroduce bands (a few I remember quite well) like The Bags, Catholic Discipline and White Flag to a new generation.
During the early 1960’s the instrumental bands reigned supreme throughout the Philippines club scene. Clubs with names like Wack-Wack, The Sky Room, Circuit, and Rufino Building Penthouse were host to events that featured these new instrumental groups. As mentioned in a prior post, these bands were heavily influenced by The Ventures and The Shadows and often did covers by those groups while working their own originals into their sets. The Hi-Jacks were no different, but perhaps were one of the more energetic of this new breed.
The Hi-Jacks started at the beginning of the 1960s and began releasing vinyl almost immediately. They were managed by Eddie Mesa, who was known as the Filipino Elvis. Mesa had huge success in a string of rock’n’roll records and movie appearances during the 1950s and 1960s. When he first managed the Hi-Jacks, the band mostly played and recorded covers of popular instrumental rock as well as their originals in the same vein. After The Beatles penetrated Asian radio in 1963, Mesa started using the band as his personal backing band for his recordings of Beatles songs and similar originals.
The band was fronted by Rudy “Nonoy” Jereza who played bass. Jereza is deceased now, which has prevented the band from doing reunions; although the other existing members rally around legendary Pinoy guitarist for the group, Ben Tesoro, to play sets of the group’s music at revivals. Other members throughout the years included Eddie Dizon on drums, Jesse Manahan on keyboard, Eddie Nicolas as a later vocalist (deceased), and Bert Buencamino as a second guitar. Buencamino was originally with The Moonstrucks during the 1960’s and joined the Hi-Jacks in the early 1970’s. The Hi-Jacks lasted until 1974.
Although the band released records on several different labels like Top Tunes, Alpha, and ANS; their first single was on the Dyna Records imprint. Dyna was the independent label that also broke other notable acts from the time like The Electromaniacs and Ramon Jacinto and the Riots.
Catalog number DN-7302 on Dyna Records, manufactured by Dyna Products, Ltd. in the Philippines. No release date listed.
Filed under: Philippines
In the early 1960s, as electric instruments and new technology became available, instrumental American and British bands like The Shadows and The Ventures flourished. Filipino instrumental bands arose as well in this period. In 1963, the so-called British Invasion brought bands like The Beatles to mainstream audiences worldwide. Their widespread popularity and their embrace of the counterculture injected the possibility of socio-political lyrics with mature comments on real life into popular music. Immensely influenced by this new breed of British artists, many Filipino bands began adopting similar musical styles. This was the heyday of Pinoy Rock.
Since 1946, the newly independent Philippine state has faced political instability. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw economic development that was second in Asia, next to Japan. Ferdinand Marcos was, then, the elected president. Barred from seeking a third term, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, under the guise of increased political instability and resurgent Communist and Muslim insurgencies, and ruled the country by decree. Under Marcos’ new control, many musicians left the Philippines to avoid persecution and the music faded away.
The Electromaniacs were founded in 1960 by Gene Generoso, who was the lead singer and played rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Ernie Delgado, Joey Gordon on bass and Lito Toribio on drums. They later replaced Gene Generoso with Chito Perez on rhythm guitar, and they became an instrumental band. Their manager was Jose Mari Gonzales, who was a popular Filipino actor at the time. They were often billed as ‘Jose Mari Gonzales & The Electromaniacs’. They later shortened their name to ‘The Electros’.
They still perform at Pinoy Rock revival festivals in both the Philippines and in the United States.
Catalog number DN-7332 on Dyna Records, manufactured by Dyna Products, Ltd. In the Philippines. No release date listed.
Filed under: Philippines
Ronnie Villar and The Firedons were from the Philippines
England’s Cliff Richard was one of the first Western rock ‘n’ rollers to break into the Asian pop markets. The Shadows, Richard’s backing band, recorded separately as an instrumental combo, and they, like their American counterparts The Ventures, were quite the pop phenomenon in Asia as well.
Similarly, The Firedons recorded with and without their vocalist Ronnie Villar, who is not present on this record. The Firedons included Willy Villar on lead guitar, David Llorente on rhythm guitar, Caesar Llorente on bass, and Waldy Cruz on drums. Apparently, Teresita Apolinario was the first vocalist of the band before they recorded their first single but left to be married.
Catalog number 1003 – S on Mahubay Records of The Phillipines. No date listed.
Filed under: Philippines
Ramon Jacinto & The Riots were, and apparently still are, from the Philippines.
In 1960, at the age of 15, Ramon Jacinto set up his first business called RJ ENTERPRISES. His company produced and released numerous records by his classmates, as well as his band RJ and The Riots. RJ Enterprises also pioneered multi-track recording in the country being the first owner of the Ampeg 300-3 track machine and became the studio of choice of many artists and advertising agencies.
Two years later at the age of 17, RJ established what was to become a legendary radio station, DZRJ, in his parents’ backyard. Manned by his volunteer group of classmates and experimenting with radio concepts unknown and unheard of before, DZRJ developed a “cult like” following. It did away with rampant “payola” and introduced alternative music. It was the first to expose The Beatles and Filipino bands on the airwaves.
A decade later, the Marcos dictatorship and the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972 changed everything in the Philippines. During this time RJ lived in exile until 1986 when he returned. At that point he reopened his radio station. He went on the air and said: “Hi, this is Ramon Jacinto. Some of you know me as RJ. Some of you don’t remember me and don’t even know there is a man behind the name RJ. Well, I own this station but I’ve been gone for 14 ½ years. Help me by calling in and suggesting what I should do…” Thousands of phone calls later, DZRJ became the leader in the revival/retro wave of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
After that, betting on his hunch that live bands would stage a comeback, he proved that nightspots could earn more by hiring live bands. He opened the Bistro RJ, a phenomenally successful 60’s Rock n’ Roll music lounge. At the time he did it, live bands were dead. Night life in the Philippines was confined to piano bars and discos. Bands had to travel abroad to make a living.
RJ also bet on the guitar coming back as the instrument of choice when karaoke and Yamaha Portatones were in vogue. He bought a hole-in-the-wall guitar repair shop owned by luthier Rudy Discipulo and set out to manufacture world-class guitars. RJ Music City now has 150 dealers and 3 retail showrooms.
Today, RJ still manages and operates his 10 radio stations, one TV station, a wholesale and retail musical instrument company, a company that has the exclusive franchise for Radio Shack stores, a shopping mall and has relocated Bistro RJ (now called RJ Bar) back to it’s original location at 826 Pasay Road, Makati. He still performs, sometimes with even Nokie Edwards of The Ventures. But for some reason, you can’t find any his records (vinyl or otherwise) anywhere…
Catalog number RR – 184 on Rajah Records of the Philippines. No release date listed.