Rocky Fellers: First Pinoy Billboard hit makers

Posted at 03/23/13 12:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos are certainly getting into the US and global mainstream music scene nowadays.

I'm really proud that talents like Charice Pempengco, Arnel Pineda, Apl de Ap, Jessica Sanchez have been driving forces in global music charts such as the Billboard Hot 100.

But the success of Pinoy musical talents in the international scene is not something new. Back in the 1960s, a popular group named "The Rocky Fellers" exploded with hits that made it to the US mainstream charts.

The Rocky Fellers

The Rocky Fellers was a US pop band composed of Filipino brothers Tony, Junior, Eddie and Albert Maligmat.

The group was likened by critics to young child vocalists such as The Jackson 5.

They had a hit single called "Killer Joe," that reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1963. They followed it up with another single called "Like the Big Guys Do."

"Killer Joe" by the Rocky Fellers

"Like the Big Guys Do" by the Rocky Fellers

According to their Wikipedia entry, Killer Joe was inspired by a famous disco king in the US during 60s named Killer Joe Piro.

Their songs have a Jackson 5-feel but without the soul and R&B. I think the young vocals of Albert gives them a comparable but different flavor to that of the young Michael Jackson.

I like the happy 60s groove of their single "Like the Big Guys Do." I believe it could have been a bigger hit, but during that time, racial preference was still an issue in the US.

The group even released songs composed for them by award-winning and Hall of Fame music artist Neil Diamond, who was still unknown during that era.

"We Got Love" composed for Rocky Fellers by Neil Diamond

"Santa Santa" composed by Neil Diamond

Breaking racial barriers

Their rare TV guesting on the Dinah Shore Chevy Show clearly presents the racial barrier they had to break. I'm glad this barrier has been broken.

The host introduces the group from the Philippines playing their "primitive" version of hit song Little Darling. "And one of the richest and most exotic is the primitive music from the Philippine Islands," said TV host Dinah.

TV Performance on the Dinah Shore Chevy Show

The Rocky Fellers faded from the music scene in the 1970s during the rise of the R&B, disco and rock scene.

According to reports, Albert and Eddie Maligmat, the two youngest brothers, both live in Hawaii. Their older brother Antonio died in 2007.

John Paul C.Tanchanco is a travel, food, party, film and music aficionado. He is also an economist, businessman, MYX/Awit award-winning media producer and Kala guitarist.

"Tha Good Life" is a special feature for ABS-CBNnews.com about pop culture, travel, music, entertainment, business, food, clubbing, shopping and events.

For questions, features and comments, e-mail him at [email protected] or [email protected]