Even though Singapore national Joseph Clement Pereira had never actually been a part of the sixties music scene in India, he was no less clued-in than any other average rock ‘n’ roll loving teenager here.
“I had a cousin who studied in Trivandrum between 1965 and ’72. He would tell me about the music scene upon his return. He told me about a magazine called Junior Statesman, which featured write-ups on bands from all over India. Teenagers in Trivandrum eagerly awaited every issue, read it, and if one could not afford it, a copy of the magazine went around. That got me interested in the bands in India,” says Pereira, a migrant Malayalee, whose parents moved to Singapore in the early fifties.
Recently, Pereira started a page on Facebook, which contains close to 500 scanned black and white images (some quite grainy) of various bands of the ’60s from all over the country. What’s more, the pictures come with notes about history and trivia attached to the bands. Pereira plans to follow up the initiative with a compilation book soon. Some of the gems from his collection include pictures of musicians displaying inimitable showmanship, not to mention funky costumes as well. Pictures of women-fronted bands like Human Bondage and Shabaka are some rare picks in his treasury.
Ask him how difficult it was to collect old photographs and information, given the fact that most of the bands split, and he says, “Not very. I found links on the internet that had visuals. You think there is nothing, and suddenly you come across lots.” A musican himself, Pereira has played in several bands as a bassist, singer and keyboard player. “I never played for money, but it was a very serious hobby,” he says.
1. The Devil Beats
This four-piece Bangalore-based act was one of the early beat bands following the British music explosion in the country. The band was together for about four years and went through several line-up changes. This photo, circa 1964, shows the Beatles influence in their haircuts and attire.
2. The Jets
They were one of the early bands in Bombay during 1964-65. This picture of guitar players shows the middle one playing bass lines on a six-stringed guitar, since owning a bass guitar was a luxury at that time.
3. Madhu Das
Madoo (Madukhar Chandra Das) performing with Voodoos at a gig in 1968.
4. The Spartans
The band comprised Suresh Shotham (lead guitar), Malcolm Fernandes (guitar), Adolf Fernandes (bass guitar) and Ramesh Shotham (drums). Suresh and Ramesh, who were at Loyola College from 1967 to 1969, left the band to form Human Bondage.
5. Human Bondage
Another band from Bangalore. The man on the left, holding the tambourine, is Henry Joseph, who also sang and played the flute. Singer Radha Thomas fronted the band, while Suresh Shotham played drums. In their original line-up, the band had two members from Bangalore and two from Bombay.