Siva Choy



Choy Sivanandan (b. 1947, Singapore–d. 4 March 2018, Perth, Australia), better known as Siva Choy, was a musician, humourist and writer.1 While he was famous for the popular 1991 comedy album Why U So Like Dat?, the multi-instrumentalist2 was also a pioneer of blues music in Singapore.3 He moved to Perth in 1990, but returned occasionally to Singapore to performed.

Career highlights
By the age of eight, Choy had learnt to play the guitar, and his first performance was at a primary school concert.5 While a student at Bartley Secondary School, he often took part in theatre and stage performances6 and went on to participate in the All-Singapore Paul Anka singing competition.


In 1957, when Choy was 10 years old, he began singing together with his brother James,8 and by 1962, they were known as The Cyclones.9

In1964, the duo were invited to be the lead vocalists for The Checkmates, the resident band at The Cellar, a restaurant-cum-nightclub. The Cyclones-Checkmates ensemble went on to become the resident band for Golden Venus’s Sunday Beat and Blues tea dance sessions.10

Vernon Cornelius later joined the ensemble, which was renamed Unit 4+2+1.11 Bryan Neale replaced Cornelius in 1966 when the latter left to become the lead vocalist for The Quests. In 1967, Unit 4+2+1 released an EP (extended play) record under the Philips label that included an original composition by Choy titled “She”. In addition to its regular gigs at tea dances, the band also performed at stage shows at the National Theatre and toured Malaysia.12

The Cyclones released their own EP record in 1965, also under the Philips label. The record, with backup vocals by The Checkmates, featured four original compositions, including “The Dew” and “Oh No She Didn’t Say”, which topped the local music charts. Another successful EP followed two years later (Philips, 1967). When Unit 4+2+1 disbanded in the late 1960s, James left the music industry while Choy formed the rhythm-and-blues band, The Xperiment, with former members of The Commancheros.13 The band released two singles and two LP (long playing) records under the RCA music label.14

After graduating in 1969 with an honours degree from the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore),15 Choy worked for a year as a writer for the now-defunct music magazine, Fanfare, documenting the local music scene, followed by a short stint at The New Nation newspaper.16 He then spent about five to six years busking in Europe,17 and a year cycling overland from Holland to Singapore, returning in 1976.18

Upon his return, Choy wrote the Kitchi Boy stories, which were eventually compiled and published in 1985 as a book, Oh No, It’s The Kitchi Boy Gang, followed by I’m Sorry, It’s Kitchi Boy Again in 1986.19


In 1977, Choy and some of his friends recorded Long Number Lah (“Wrong Number”), an unscripted compilation of jokes. Only a hundred copies of the album were produced and given to Choy, who distributed them to family and friends. The recording became an underground hit through word-of-mouth, and was subsequently released in 1992.20

In 1991, with the Kopi Kat Klan, Choy wrote, directed and performed in Why U So Like Dat? (Pony Canyon), a popular comedy album on cassette featuring songs in Singlish and coffeeshop skits.21 This was Singapore’s first Singlish comedy album and proved to be so popular that it had sold over 40,000 copies by the time Viyo Records released the album in compact disc version in 1999.22

In the late 1980s, Choy started working with blues band Crossroads.23 In 1996, Siva Choy and Crossroads performed at the inaugural Singapore Blues Festival.24

Besides singing, Choy also performed in one-man comedy acts like Rocking Rambutan! (1999),25 part of Action Theatre’s Stand Up For Singapore! comedy series,26 and Stand Up And Boogie (2000), a mixture of  comedy and blues that featured some of Choy’s blues musician friends.27

Choy moved to Perth, Australia, in 1990.28 He wrote a column for The New Paper from 1999 to 2012.29 Choy also played the role of Sammy Best, a former football star, in the movie One Leg Kicking (2001).30 He performed with local band Crossroads at the Crazy Elephant pub whenever he visited Singapore.31

Death
On 4 March 2018, Choy passed away after suffering two strokes.32


Family
Wife: Ilsa Sharp33
Nephew: Rai Kannu, part of the local singing-songwriting duo Jack & Rai34



Author

Joanna Tan



References
1. Siva Choy talks about... (1999, March 2). The New Paper, p. 18; So what's in a name? (2000, February 6). The New Paper, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Pereira, J. C. (2014). Beyond the tea dance: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume two. Singapore: Select Publishing, p. 244. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
3. Pereira, J. C. (2011). Apache over Singapore: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume one. Singapore: Select Publishing, p. 40. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
4. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
5. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
6. Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
8. Chandran, K. (1982, August 10). Remember when.... The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
10. Pereira, J. C. (2011). Apache over Singapore: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume one. Singapore: Select Publishing, pp. 37–45. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
11. Chandran, K. (1982, August 10). Remember when.... The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Pereira, J. C. (2011). Apache over Singapore: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume one. Singapore: Select Publishing, pp. 37–45. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
13. Pereira, J. C. (2011). Apache over Singapore: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume one. Singapore: Select Publishing, pp. 37–45. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
14. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER); Pereira, J. C. (2014). Beyond the tea dance: The story of Singapore sixties music, volume two. Singapore: Select Publishing, p. 245. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
15. Siva Choy talks about... (1999, March 2). The New Paper, p. 18; Siva’s many faces. (1999, March 2). The New Paper, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER); Cheah, P. (1986, May 17). Meet the real Kitchi BoyThe Straits Times, p. 4; Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7; Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Wong, K. H. (1991, October 6). Why you so like dat, uh? The Straits Times, p. 12; Tee, H. C. (1999, January 15). No roots, Dat's the way I like itThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Cheah, P. (1986, May 17). Meet the real Kitchi BoyThe Straits Times, p. 4; Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Cheah, P. (1986, May 17). Meet the real Kitchi BoyThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Lum, O. (1992, March 21). Wah! He so funny oneThe New Paper, p. 34; Long number out, at long last. (1992, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 15; Gwee, C. (1992, July 12). Klan news on the grapevineThe Straits Times, p. 18; Wong, K. H. (1991, October 6). Why you so like dat, uh? The Straits Times, p. 12. . Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Gwee, C. (1992, July 12). Klan news on the grapevineThe Straits Times, p. 18; Humour is no joke. (2005, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Tee, H. C. (1999, January 15). No roots, Dat’s the way I like itThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. The blues scene in Singapore. (1990, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
24. Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
25. The funnyman is still like dat. (1999, March 15). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Humour is no joke. (2005, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 4; Mulchand, A. (2000, January 23). Mind your Singlish: Siva is still like datThe Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Mulchand, A. (2000, January 23). Mind your Singlish: Siva is still like datThe Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Choy, S. (1999, March 30). Ill wind didn’t blow in there. The New Paper, p. 28; Choy, S. (2012, March 11). The real dangers of digital devices… The New Paper, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Look who’s doing the Elephant now. (2000, December 11). The Straits Times, p. L5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Internet Movie Database. (n.d.). One Leg Kicking. Retrieved 2016, July 15 from IMDb website: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0253399/
31. Look who’s doing the Elephant now. (2000, December 11). The Straits Times, p. L5; Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Pereira, J. C. (1999). Legends of the Golden Venus. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING q781.64095957 PER)
32. Martin, M. (2018, March 4). Why U so Like Dat? songwriter Siva Choy dies. Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB's eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
33. Long number out, at long last. (1992, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 15; Long, S. (1997, February 9). He cracks jokes and sings the bluesThe Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Eddino Abdul Hadi. (2014, December 29). Jack is a rolling ball of energy. (2014, December 29). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 



Further resources
100 greatest Singapore 60s [Sound recording]. (2009). Singapore: Universal Music Pte Ltd. 
(Call no.: RSING 782.42164 ONE pt. 5CDs)


Kitchi Boy. (1986). I’m sorry, it’s Kitchi Boy again! Singapore: Times Books International. 
(Call no.: RSING S828 KIT)


Laughing stock [Sound recording]. (1995). Singapore: Pony Canyon. 
(Call no.: RSING 782.42163 LAU)

National Library Board. (n.d). Cyclones (Musical group). Retrieved from MusicSG. 

Singapore 60’s Vol 1: Treasures from the past  [Sound recording]. (2002). Singapore: Universal Music Pte Ltd. 
(Call no.: RSING 782.42163 SIN)


Why u so like dat? [Sound recording]. (1991). Singapore: Pony Canyon. 
(Call no.: RSING 782.42163 KEL)




The information in this article is valid as at 5 March 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Arts
Entertainers--Singapore--Biography
Arts>>Performing Arts>>Music
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment
Personalities
Arts>>Music>>Rhythm and blues
Personalities>>Biographies
Blues musicians--Singapore--Biography
Choy, Siva, 1947-