The movie 歲月神偷 Echoes of the Rainbow (note 1) brought us back to the sixties (the storyline of the movie is the epitome of the events and culture of Hong Kong back then). The opening song of the movie “Dancing on the moon" by the Fabulous Echoes, is a masterpiece of Hong Kong’s Pop music of the 60’s, released and produced by Hong Kong’s Diamond Records (note 2). The director aimed to manifest Hong Kong’s mixed culture
where east and west meets through this signature song.
Formed in the early 60’s, The Fabulous Echoes consisted of 6 members, Tony Ruivivar (the founder and guitarist), Danny Ruivivar (drums), Terry Lucido Jr. (keyboard), and Bert Sagum (percussion and wind instruments) from Philippines, Cliff Foenander (lead singer) from Sri Lanka and Stanley Robertson (bass) from Scotland. By their superb technique in music, they began attracting the attention and support from people of Hong Kong.
In the 6 CDs’ collection “Uncle Ray 101 Hong Kong" released in 2010, Hong Kong’s renowned Disc Jockey Ray Cordero mentioned that The Fabulous Echoes caught his attention in early sixties, he invited them to perform live in Rediffusion‘s (Hong Kong’s first broadcasting company via cable) weekly program “Rumpus Time". In the photo below, Tony Ruivivar and Danny Ruivivar (both are in the front row on the far right in front of Uncle Ray, the gentleman wearing glasses whom stood right behind Danny).
After watching The Fabulous Echoes’ performance, Frances Silva Kirk, daughter of Diamond Records’ boss Ren Silva, realized that the band had potentials in show business, so she offered herself to be their manager. Under her management, The Fabulous Echoes also signed a recording contract with Diamond Records thus starting their fabulous journey in Hong Kong’s music scene.
Under Frances Silva Kirk’s management, The Fabulous Echoes started performing along side with the hottest band “Giancarlo and his Italian Combo" in Hong Kong’s top entertainment venue “Paramount Nightclub", and their fame started to spread across South East Asia and to the down under, Australia.
The first album by The Fabulous Echoes was “those fabulous echoes", the first single " A little bit of soap" from this album became the No.1 song in Hong Kong’s Pop Chart in Jan 1963. The second single “Dancing on the mooon", a remake of We’ll be dancing on the moon (Ed. E Miller/B. Carroll)by Trade Martin (Thanks DVD for supplying the information of the original singer of this song) also top the Hong Kong Chart.
“Sunshine “(click to see video), the flip side of “Dancing on the moon" and the first track on Side A of the album, is an incredible love song composed by Frances Silva-Kirk and Vic Cristobal (click to see his information), is the sole original composition in the album and one of the earliest local masterpiece. No indication in this single was made to show which song is the A-side song, the only information is FE-4 and FE-5 which was shown in the 45 r.p.m record’s label, revealed that the Diamond’s executives had great faith in the potential of both songs.
The Fabulous Echoes had put out four albums under Diamond Records :
1. those fabulous echoes
2. ZOOM!! With the fabulous echoes
3. LOVIN’ FEELING
4. In action!
Other than their own albums, The Fabulous Echoes also participated in recording sessions of other Diamond Records’ artists, and had put out two albums with female vocalist Kong Ling (江玲), nick named “Hong Kong Sweet Heart":
1. KONG LING + THE FABULOUS ECHOES + VIC CRISTOBAL = DYNAMITE! 江玲與回音樂隊
The Fabulous Echoes also recorded Pat Boone’s “Speedy Gonzalez", with Cantonese verse sung by Hong Kong’s renowned comedy star Tang Kei Chan (鄧寄塵), and is one of the most well-known English-Cantonese cross over song in Hong Kong.
As the popularity of the band grew, The Fabulous Echoes became the hottest band in Hong Kong, tourists came to see their performance including the wife of Thailand’s Prime Minister. After watching their performance, she invited them to perform in Bangkok which opened the gate for The Fabulous Echoes to perform overseas.
In 1965, The Fabulous Echoes was invited by The Thunderbird Lounge of Las Vegas to perform for a period of 4 weeks. At one of the show performance, Ed Sullivan (note 3), the host of The Ed Sullivan Show together with Mrs. Sullivan were in the audience, Cliff Foenander dedicated a song to Mrs. Sullivan without knowing her status.
After the show, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan led by the General Manager of the hotel, visited The Fabulous Echoes in the backstage room, they were praised for their performance by Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. Mrs. Sullivan immediately suggested signing The Fabulous Echoes to perform two shows in The Ed Sullivan Show. This unexpected encounter thus change the fate of the band.
Prior to their appearance in “The Ed Sullivan Show“, The Echoes, a Canadian Band informed the producer of the show that they would instigate legal action against The Fabulous Echoes as there was an infringement of the name of the band, the suit would be settled if they could perform in the show. Mr. Sullivan was not pleased by the threat, so when The Fabulous Echoes performed as scheduled, he introduced them as “The Fabulous Kids from Hong Kong" to 4.5 million US audience to avoid The Echoes’ claim.
Afterwards, The Fabulous Echoes continued their appearance in the U.S. media including The Mike Douglas Show and Shindig. From now on this band from Hong Kong had made it’s way to the American’s show business and got another three-year contract with the Thunderbird Lounge.
As The Fabulous Echoes began their show business in the U.S.A. and fading out from Hong Kong’s entertainment and pop scene was obvious. Back in the U.S.A. when performing at Sahara-Tahoe Hotel, lead singer Cliff Foenander got into trouble and received death threat, he was in love with a gangster’s girl friend. Because of this affair, the hotel management also received bomb threat on one occasion and the staffs had to be evacuated. In order to settle this matter, the hotel management suggested Frances Silva-Kirk to replace Cliff Foenander, if not the contract with the band would be cancelled. For the sake of the band, Cliff Foenander left and The Fabulous Echoes continued to perform there without a lead singer.
After this dramatic change in the line-up, Don Gay, an American joined the band. During this period The Fabulous Echoes auditioned for record companies including “Liberty Records" and “Warner Brothers" finally resulted in the release of the 1967 Warner Brother Records’ BREAKIN’ IT UP AT DUKES! RECORDED ‘LIVE’, their only album released in the US.
In 1968, The Fabulous Echoes moved to Hawaii and changed its name to Society of Seven. From 1969 to 2009, they performed at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel (click this link “Society of Seven" link to see the article on Society of Seven 40th Anniversary), continued their entertainment business for 40 years. In 2007, Society of Seven was awarded the “Lifetime achievement award" by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts.
The original members of The Fabulous member Cliff Foenander, Terry Lucido, Jr. and Danny Ruivivar had passed away, left only with Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum still active in the entertainment business as the members of the Society of Seven. In 2010, Society of Seven returned to Outrigger Hawaii after a long stay in Las Vegas. This is the clip (click to see) showing Mr. Tony Ruivivar and Mr. Bert Sagum appeared on KITV talking about the return.
JoeWuSeattle has uploaded a TV special re the founding of the Fabulous Echoes on YouTube (some of the information in this article are gathered from this special) :
Note 1 : “Echoes of the rainbow" is a Hong Kong film which won the Crystal Bear Award in the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.
Note 2 : Diamond Music Company (registered as limited company with the name Diamond-Mercury Record Co. Ltd) was established in the fifties, accquired by Polydor Records in the seventies and after several merging becomes the Universal Music Group.
Note 3 : Ed Sullivan, renowned TV host of The Ed Sullivan Show, which The Beatles also appeared and performed when visiting US in 1964. As mentioned by Mr. Tony Ruivivar in the YouTube TV Clips (The Fabulous Echoes – Early History Part 3), since The Ed Sullivan Show was not shown in Hong Kong’s television back then, Mr. Sullivan was not recognized when the group first met him in Las Vegas.
More information about The Fabulous Echoes is available here (click this to enter)
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