TRACING THE ROOTS OF PINOY ROCK MUSIC

The following is a synopsis of my personal observations and recollections during my adolescent years growing up in the Philippines pertaining to the Pinoy (short for Filipino or Pilipino) music scene and in particular the Rock music (synonymous to Rock & Roll) scene that had led to the evolution of the Pinoy Rock music as well as the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) and "the Sounds of Manila" phenomenon. Thus, this could be the pre-Pinoy Rock music epoch and how it all got started.

So, enjoy and reminiscence.... and let the Good Times Roll! :-)

Peace & Love,
Ben Yanto
PCR Project Moderator



The beginnings........

Mid-50s saw the initiation and the popularization of Rock & Roll music in US being spearheaded by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers and many more. Many radio stations in the Philippines back then played many of the Rock & Roll tunes, particularly Elvis' songs. Elvis Presley was "the" music icon of the 1950s decade and later, became the King of Rock & Roll. Henceforth, the 50s was the period when the Rock and Roll music became widely accepted internationally.

During the late 50s, Bobby Gonzales recorded his big hit song "Hahabol-Habol" and Eddie Mesa, because of his looks and charisma, was named the Elvis Presley of the Philippines. These 2 were the popular music icons in the Philippines at that time.

During that time also in the Philippines, the establishments of "combo" (with their instruments like non-electric acoustic guitars, ukeleles, unique floor-bass made of gas tank, bongos and maracas) groupings had proliferated in Pinoy music scenes. Many combos had imitated the Elvis' Rock & Roll pop culture (such as the attire as well as the smoothly-combed, greasy hairdo). The "Battle of the Bands" then got established amongst combos in metropolitan Manila, Pasay City and as far as in Cavite areas.

Then around the early stage of the new decade of 1960, the instrumental groups from US & England such as the Ventures & the Shadows respectively became popular and hit it big in the Philippine shore. Thus, the electric instruments (such as electric and bass guitars made by Fender, Gibson and local Philippine-made electric guitars) as well as the 5-piece drum set had finally set in into the Pinoy combos or bands as the standard musical equipment.

At that time in the early 60s, Pinoy instrumental bands had also evolved and came the bands like the RJ & the Riots, the Electromaniacs, the Technicolors, the Hi-Jacks, the Deltas and the Celtics just to name a few. Henceforth, it was also when some of the Pinoy bands started to make their own music composition such tunes as RJ's Mashi-Mashi, The Electromaniacs' Lovers Guitar, the Celtics' 707 tunes and many more raw Pinoy rock music.


The British are coming.....

Then came 1963, the Beatles music were getting into the Philippine radio airwaves. The Beatles became popular first in the Philippines and in Asia before they were even made popular in US. Remember hearing Eddie Mesa & the Hi-Jacks recording of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" song being played at the radio stations in the Philippines back then?

February 1964, the Beatles finally conquered America and thus revolutionized the Rock & Roll music pop culture scene into a new level worldwide into what we called now as the pop Rock music phenomenon. Thus, the Beatles became the pop culture music icons throughout the remaining 60s decade and Beatlemania had propelled worldwide.

The "British Invasion" of the mid-60s era had catapulted many more aspiring Pinoy bands like the Moonstrucks, the Dynasouls (formerly Dynasonics), Tilt Down Men, Bits & Pieces, Downbeats and many others that followed. Those Pinoy bands then had imitated many popular British and US bands so meticulously (plakang-plaka talaga!) such as the Beatles, Dave Clark 5, the Rollingstones, Cream, the Beach Boys, the Doors, the Young Rascals, Jimi Hendrix and lots more. The addition of the portable electronic organ instrument (such as the Farfisa & Vox organs) in the band's musical accompaniment equipment had added new dimensions & sounds to the blooming Pinoy Rock music.

Trivia: Remember those "SONGHITS" booklets and paperbacks? Those were the hottest selling item at that time which most of the young generation (me included) acquired them as their own copy and sang along. You know how Pinoys loved music! :-)

(to be continued............Part 2 - late 60s through the 70s Pinoy music scenes)

One important & final note: In looking back to the evolution of the Rock & Roll music, many popular music icons like Elvis Presley and the Beatles were inspired by many Black music & artists such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Robert Johnson and many other faceless Blues musicians in US of the 30s, 40s & 50s.



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