Just for the love of it: Popular Music in Penang,1930s–1960s

Authors: James Lochhead, Paul Augustin
Copy-editing by Gareth Richards
Cover design, layout and artwork by Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

A beautifully designed book, extensively illustrated with photographs and advertisements and other graphics ‘of the time’, full of fun and celebration. The pages of "Just for the Love of It" weave together the strands of the story of Penang’s popular music by locating the wonderful stories of the musicians and the bands within the context of Penang’s overall history.

The book highlights the diversity of communities that makes up Penang’s demographics and the different traditions they imported; the influence of political events including the impact of the British and the Japanese administrations and the first decade of Independence; the role of technology in defining and transmitting popular music, including radio, cinema, and TV; the role of the key venues at which popular music could be found, including religious, community and leisure sites; the way popular music worked across the different ethnic communities and the influence of different indigenous traditions like ronggeng, joget, bangsawan, boria, chinese opera, dondang sayang, and different Indian traditions; and the impact of commercialisation and consumerism, including the increasing globalisation of latest (Western) hits and the fashions and lifestyles that went with them.

The book comes complete with a free CD, a 24-compilation that brings you some of the amazing songs and sounds that have shaped Penang's musical landscape over the years.

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah


Abbreviations and Acronyms - viii
Glossary of Non-English Terms - viii
Foreword I by Anwar Fazal - ix
Foreword II by Ahmad Merican - xi
Preface - xii
Acknowledgements - xvi

  1. Diverse People, Diverse Traditions - 1

    Bridge I: ‘In Town Tonight’: The Story of the Penang Wireless Society - 19

  2. Fixed Frequencies: Penang’s Popular Music During the War - 23

  3. Reviving Opportunities: Penang’s Popular Music After the War - 33

  4. ‘Our Very Own Tin Pan Alley’: Radio in the 1950s - 61

  5. Do re mi! Music and The Cinema in the 1950s - 71

    Bridge II: Celebrating Diversity: Penang’s Communal Music - 81
    Bridge III: For the Record: Penang Personalities and Bands of the 1950s - 95
    ‘OK Alright Can’: Penang Bands of the 1940s and 1950s - 133

  6. Electrifying Times: Penang and the Era of Pop Yeh Yeh - 139

    Bridge IV: Bands and Personalities of the 1960s - 167

    Postcript: It Doesn’t Stop Here: The Music Plays On - 197

Picture Credits - 205
References and Further Reading - 209
Bibliography - 212
Index - 216

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

James Lochhead, Paul Augustin
2015, Strategic Information and Research Development Centre
This book was produced with the generous support of Think City Sdn Bhd
Hardcover/softcover. 21.59cm x 27.94cm, 240 pages
Language: English
Illustrated throughout
ISBN 978-967-0630-64-9 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-967-0630-65-6 (hbk.)

Available at https://entrepotpublishing.com/

About the Authors

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Paul Augustin is a Penangite, born and bred. Educated at La Salle School and then St Xavier’s Institution, he was a performing musician for more than 15 years before joining an event management company in 1993. He worked for them in various capacities until December 1996, when he set up The Capricorn Connection (TCC) in partnership with Ms Chin Choo Yuen. TCC has organised many different types of events but has particularly been involved in festival organising. In 2004, Paul and Chin CY realised a long-standing dream by organising the first Penang Island Jazz Festival which in 2014 is still going strong. Paul is also a founder member of the Asian Jazz Festival Organisation (ajfo) and has been regularly invited to major jazz and music industry conferences across the world. TCC has also been able to promote a number of Malaysian talents at foreign festivals. Paul also wrote the lyrics for the official theme song for the 1998 Commonwealth Games (SUKOM) and has happily been involved in the documentation and celebration of Penang’s musical heritage for some ten years.

James Lochhead originates from the UK. His background is in community work, organising and social policy planning. This includes a love of performances, culture and the arts. He first came to Penang in 1980 ‘with no intention to stay’, but is somehow still here! He has subsequently been part of many initiatives related to the struggle for social justice, not least in relation to gender, children, refugees and migrants, and issues of local democracy. James has been a consistent advocate of an arts policy in Penang which involves and benefits local groups, and has highlighted the importance of our creative economy and the need to invest wisely in it. He has been a key part of the Little Penang Street Market since it began in 2006, and has organised, been involved with, or clapped along to many other arts and cultural events over the many years. Meeting Paul was a joy, and his participation in the documentation and research for the exhibitions and now this book on Penang’s musical heritage has been an exciting and much valued addition to his life.


...Of course this book would not have been possible without the support of Think City, who have been generous, patient and encouraging, all at the same time! Their Chair, Anwar Fazal, sends the occasional email our way, containing a reference, or photo, or anecdote – delightful! The whole team has been a pleasure to work with. This is true too of our publishers, Pak Chong Ton Sin and his team at SIRD, and editor Gareth Richards and his team. And no words can express the debt we owe to Adrian Cheah. This book is the product of an incredible amount of work and Adrian put his complete heart and soul into the project. We say a huge thank you to him for a wonderful experience and fantastic commitment. We will miss our sessions together...

Book launch | The Star Building | 18 April 2015

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah

Just for the love of it © Adrian Cheah


All for the love of music

The Star, Thursday, 23 Apr 2015
By Winnie Yeoh

AFTER interviewing hundreds of people over the past three years, the authors of a 2422-page book on Penang’s popular music finally launched it to the delight of music lovers.

Penned by local bassist and guitarist Paul Augustin with co-author James Lochhead, the book is titled ‘Just For The Love Of It - Penang’s Popular Music 1930s - 1960s’.

It highlighted the influence of political events on the role of radio, television and cinema in transmitting popular music.

Augustin, 55, said the book was the result of hard work and the interest of hundreds of music lovers.

“People contributed their stories, photographs, music and memories,” he said at the book launch at The Star Pitt St. in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling on Saturday.

“This is part of the ongoing Penang Music Heritage Project which is all about helping to reclaim, celebrate and document the richness of Penang’s musical heritage,” he said.

He said writing the book was an emotional journey.

“Along the way, there was also sadness as some of our friends have passed on and we felt a sense of loss as the 50s and 60s will never come again,” said Augustin.

“It was a real privilege to work on the book and be inspired by so many people.”

Augustin added that one of the challenges of working on the book was knowing when to stop.

“We collected thousands of newspaper clippings and photographs. The book is just 40% to 50% of what we have,” he said.

He also shared the hope of setting up a music interactive museum and resource centre.

“The younger generation will find it harder to find such materials. We need support and sponsors to house the documents,” he said.

Lochhead also acknowledged the crucial input of designer Adrian Cheah and project partner Think City.

“The book’s design is spectacular, thanks to Adrian.

“We couldn’t have done this project without Think City’s backing. The book is truly a collective effort and we thank everyone who helped us,” he said.

Think City chairman Datuk Anwar Fazal said it was rare to have a book that spoke to people in such a special way.

“We have music heroes who are legends of Penang. Every time you hear them, it gets into your soul.

“The book is not just about music, it tells you about Penang’s history, economy and politics and how music was part of it all,” he said.

During the launch, renowned local musicians Ray Rozells and his brother Frankie belted out famous tunes to entertain the visitors.

The book’s publisher is Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. The book also comes with a free CD of 24 tunes.

There is also an exhibition on the first floor of The Star Pitt St. to mark the book launch. There, visitors will get to view posters of performances and shows of the past.

Entrance is free for the exhibition from now until May 16 (9am to 6pm).

The book comes in softback (RM60) and hardcover (RM120) editions. It is available at Gerak Budaya Bookshop at 78, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, 10200, Penang.

Call 04-2610282 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a copy.