July 11, 2012

Sibu's Rock Bands and Frankie Lea

One young man from Kapit made a name for himself in the rock music scene in Sibu in the 1960's and 1970's. He is Frankie Lea who lived at the end of Tiong Hua Road.


Looking for money was his objective from a very young age after moving to Sibu from Kapit. Even his studies were on hold and he ended up in the same class as his younger brother ..He sold tofu fah even before  that was considered a health food. He would walk with a tub in his hand and his little brother would be carrying a kettle of sugar syrup behind him. Like Apaches walking in single file they would go from house to house calling out to housewives to buy their freshly made tofu fa...

As a young teenager he upgraded himelf to a musician to finance his own studies in the UK. (not Ulu Kapit).He "even controlled the music of three nightclubs" for about 10 years!! And those were the days he and his friends cannot forget to this day...He could get help from any of the timber merchants but he did not. There was one community leader who even wrote by snail mail in his own handwriting to ask about him and his well being when Frankie was studying in the UK. But Frankie would always reply..he was OK.

Here are some photos he is willing to share with me..A Sibu blogger cannot NOT write about the history of this famous son of Sibu.

Sibu like any other town in the world had its share of rock and roll music in the 1960's after being impacted by the rock wave created by Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson to name two famous singers. This wave of music also coincided with the timber boom when tycoons could spend money in nightclubes.

Those younger than this blogger would know about the Swining Swallows who used to play in the Merrido Hotel Lounge...Frankie was part of the band.


Sibu was waking up after the years under Communist threats and the unrest due to the birth of Malaysia. The teething problems seemed to solve themselves and by sheer coincidence timber boom helped Sibu to become a reall "happening place" with Taiwan singers swinging into the local scene. Bands became popular. Dances were held in SRC and hotels had their lounges and night clubs. Musicians could make a living. More and more night clubes opened. Some were seedy while otheres were quite reputable.

Frankie also played in the Sibu Music Society Band

Rock musicians performed in cinemas too as well as open air concerts. School boys bands were being formed too to fulfilled the dreams of school boys and school girls.

He was a good runner for Sibu's Sacred Heart School and later for the Methodist School (where he studied Lower Sixth in 1972) Here he is running against Jimmie Ting Chek Ming (now a Miri lawyer)



Frankie was also a good runner.

Frankie in action...MOON GLASSES were the rave in those days...




Frankie with family members..posing for a farewell photo before he left for the UK at the old Sibu Airport in 1975

Frankie was always a hardworking young man who supported himself and his family. He worked hard to earn his own money for his UK education. After he completed his education he worked in KL for many years before he migrated to the US.



Profile Picture
Frankie is now a Texas man.....a man with a heart of gold...and a good friend to his school mates and fellow Sibu-ians and Kapit-ans.......




Frankie with his Sacred Heart School mates in a recent Miri homecoming gathering... Frankie is on the left. Mike Wong (Dave's Deli) is in the middle with Joseph Siong on the right..Strong friendship is the only term to summarize their ties even after 40 years of separation across the seas and continents.

(With permission from Frankie Lea..some photos are from his album...Thanks Frankie I am really honoured.... And thanks for the great memories ...and stories... of Sibu.....thanks to all friends of Frankie...and Gabby too...)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Which corner was this photo of the sports ground? It looks a bit unfamiliar to me. Was it taken from the finish line?

May I know what is Frankie doing in Texas? Did he become a cowboy?

Anonymous said...

Was his band once known as Clef-4-Plus or something like that? If so, we have many Saturday gala dance nights at SRC on many occasions.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I believe this is the track at the Main Entrance from Exchange Road... Frankie has relocated to the US after a very successful career in KL. Now his older children are going to college there...his other siblings are there too...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes...Clef 4 Plus include four(three?) Lee Brothers..and he is the PLUS...I am sure your Saturday nights at SRC were memorable...and made better by good music from Clef 4 Plus....

Anonymous said...

It was a pity in those days aspiring musicians had to learn music on their own and no teacher would help their students to pursue higher education in music..a young man in Kanowit could pick up a guitar and play like a master...in the end due to lack of guidance and scholarship he had to work as a fisherman or timber worker...he did not dare to reach for the stars...in those days..music could not put rice on the table. That was 1960's.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Anonymous for your comments. I totally agree with you..in those days resources were limited and teachers were also not well informed about further studies overseas etc...most of us had very limited vision - e.g. become a typist...a clerk or an SAO...

Anonymous said...

Hi I chance upon this blockspot. Oh yes, my good old friend Frankie from Sibu. That was a time when even reaching to access a telephone was a challenge for many, no Facebook nor Youtube or email. And talking about guitar, to buy a guitar then was quite unthink of. I remember buying mine (30 bucks first guitar) hanging down from the ceiling of a magazine shop somewhere at Blacksmith Road near Lido theater, mounted it on my bicycle and proudly rode back. That was a cool 46 years back. Ya he was back in Sarawak recently and we did managed to meet/catch up in Kuching. Quite a guy and a friend of course I must say. Cheers.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks...it is lovely to reminisce...That shop sounds like Chien Feng Book Shop owned by the Kwangs!!May your friendship with people always last....

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