The Checkmates (from Singapore)

October 17, 2011

The Checkmates, featuring Benny Chan (lead guitar), Hann Hussein (rhythm guitar), Lawrence Lee (bass guitar) and Amir Samsudin (drums). They recorded only once as a band, an EP consisting of four original instrumental compositions – 45 R.P.M. (Lawrence Lee) and Galaxy (Benny Chan/Lawrence Lee) are featured here. Philips Records had earlier signed them as an answer to the Quests and EMI.

The alumni of The Checkmates were like the Who’s Who in the Singapore music scene. The initial lineup consisted of Reggie Verghese who was replaced on lead guitar by the original bassist, Benny Chan, when he left to join The Quests. When they decided to add a vocalist, Shirley Nair was brought in. After she left to join The Silver Strings, Robert Song (of The Flamingos) was recruited but he was replaced by Vernon Cornelius (of The Trailers) when the band started to lean toward R&B. Vernon would again leave to join The Quests after Keith Locke returned to UK. The Checkmates’ new singer was a British serviceman, Bryan Neale of The Easybeats. When Brian Neale left to return to UK in 1967, The Checkmates continued to play as the resident band at Golden Venus until 1968. The Checkmates also recorded with The Cyclones and Bryan Neale.