Singapore's Jimi Hendrix back to do shows

Ray Anthony performing at the DBS Auditorium in 1977.
Ray Anthony performing at the DBS Auditorium in 1977.PHOTO: RAY ANTHONY

Ray Anthony, who made his name in the late 1960s and 1970s, will perform with his pioneering blues-rock band

With his electrifying guitar skills, colourful dressing and commanding stage presence, musician Ray Anthony made his name in the late 1960s and 1970s as Singapore's Jimi Hendrix.

Those seeking to relive the heady days of the local music scene back then will be pleased to know that the Taiwan-based Singaporean will be back to do a couple of shows here.

On Sunday, he performs with his pioneering blues-rock band Fried Ice at Hood Bar And Cafe, while on Monday, he will do a gig under the moniker Ray Anthony & Friends at Kings & Barrels.

"It feels great to be able to play live shows in Singapore again, I get to catch up with a lot of old friends," the 69-year-old singer and guitarist says in a recent telephone interview from Taiwan, where he has lived since the early 1980s.

  • BOOK IT / FRIED ICE LIVE IN SG

  • WHERE: Hood Bar And Cafe, 05-07 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street WHEN: Sunday, 2pm

    ADMISSION: $20 including one drink

    RAY ANTHONY & FRIENDS

    WHERE: Kings & Barrels, 01-15 Clarke Quay Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street

    WHEN: Monday, 9.30 pm

    ADMISSION: Free

Anthony, who performed at the same local pubs in his last trip to Singapore last December, is regarded as one of the pioneers of the hard rock scene in Singapore and he played in two important bands with roots from that era, Fried Ice and Heritage.

Inspired by guitarist Hank Marvin from British instrumental rock group The Shadows, Anthony learnt the instrument as a St Joseph's Institution schoolboy in the early 1960s.

After secondary school, he studied graphic arts in London from 1966 to 1969. It was there that he first saw the late guitar icon Hendrix play live.

"Seeing Hendrix play completely changed my way of thinking of how the guitar can be played," he recalls. "I bought his albums and learnt to play every song by ear."

He returned to Singapore after his studies and formed Fried Ice. Like Hendrix, Anthony plays left-handed with a Fender Stratocaster.

After Fried Ice disbanded, he formed Heritage with brothers Ashley and Atwell Jansen. Both bands were popular live acts that drew crowds at venues such as the now-defunct National Theatre.

He held a day job while playing with the two bands and became a full-time musician only after he left Heritage in 1976 and played regular nightclub shows with a band called The Grade.

The next few years would see him performing overseas in cities such as Bangkok and Amsterdam. In 1980, he moved to Taiwan for a six-month club residency with a band called The Jacks.

The gigs kept coming in, so he decided to be based permanently there with his Taiwanese wife and son, who is now 27.

The family moved to Singapore in the early 1990s, during which Anthony did residencies in several nightspots here. He also played a memorable opening set for British hard rock veterans Deep Purple's concert at National Stadium in 1991. They then returned to Taiwan in 1995 after Anthony received more gig offers there.

While he considers himself retired, Anthony still does one to two shows a week playing funk, rock, soul and reggae covers at various venues in Taiwan with his current band, Ray & Boogie Fingers.

His Singapore shows will see him reunite with fellow Fried Ice founding member, drummer Gerard Bheem, as well as bass player Felly Chitran. The Hood Bar And Cafe gig will feature guest band Blues 77, while the Kings & Barrels show will have supporting acts Soul'd Out Band and Rubber Souls.

While he made his name playing covers, Anthony is also keen on writing music and works on his compositions in his home studio.

"I wouldn't mind releasing some of my own music," he says. "But I enjoy playing live even more than writing songs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore's Jimi Hendrix back to do shows'. Print Edition | Subscribe