This is a book about Malaysia’s first commercial pop band, The Strollers, which takes us back to an era in our history when the kugiran (guitar band) reigned supreme. Distinct from the predominantly Malay-language, beat-inspired sound of Pop Yeh Yeh, which defined popular music in Malaysia at the time, The Strollers was a group of young men from diverse ethnic backgrounds that decided to concentrate on initially playing cover versions of Western hits and later writing their own English pop songs.
The Strollers are the first and remain the only Malaysian band to date contracted by an international recording label, CBS Records, to record and release English songs. Over an eight-year period, they released nine singles, one EP and one album, Waiting is… which is considered a psychedelic pop gem by music enthusiasts around the world. From 1969 till 1973, The Strollers recorded and released 33 songs, of which 17 are original compositions. Songs like Do What You Gotta Do, Just As I Am, Midday Sun and Silly Joke dominated the Malaysian music charts, at times charting higher than international acts. The Strollers was also the opening act for world-renowned artistes like the Hollies, Tremeloes and Christie when these bands performed in Malaysia.
Listening to The Strollers for the first time, listeners born before the band’s heyday could not believe their ears – such was the spectacular sound of this humble Malaysian band. First time listeners swore that they were listening to a band from the UK, USA or Australia. For me personally, the world class quality sound produced by The Strollers deserves to be celebrated and documented, to be enjoyed by generations to come.
This book chronicles The Strollers’ story from its inception, the band’s achievements and life after The Strollers. Surviving band members, Agus Salim, Billy Chang, Hassan Idris, Hussein Idris, Jap Tan, Jimmy D’oliveiro and Ramli Yaakob share their personal stories about the uniquely homegrown band which embodies a truly Malaysian spirit. The author has painstakingly compiled a complete discography of all songs recorded and released by the band and exclusive photographs of a bygone era. Several selected song lyrics are included in the book for fans of The Strollers.
The release of this book on the fiftieth anniversary of the band’s first hit, I Wanna Thank You marks an important milestone for Malaysian pop music and should serve as an inspiration to young aspiring artistes.