During the 60s and 70s South Vietnamese musicians took to playing rock music, sometimes in its rawest form. They played covers of American hits as well as originals that included propaganda songs and ballads about the impact of the war on Vietnamese life.
Mark Gergis from Sublime Frequencies who has re-released some of this music, sums it up:
When the electric guitar hit the streets of Saigon, Vietnamese renditions of contemporary instrumental trends such as surf-rock, beat and twist soon emerged, followed by some pretty deep soul sounds inspired by Motown radio hits as well as funk grooves brought on by James Brown and his contemporaries. By the mid-1960s, Vietnam had been ravaged by war for years. American GIs had become a standard fixture in Saigon, as did many of the cultural artefacts they brought with them. This certainly included the music. The sounds of rock and roll dominated the radio waves, and Saigon nightclubs were teeming with new sounds.
These days many of those songs continue to be performed, particularly by the entertainers who left Vietnam and settled in the West.
Born and raised in Australia, Sheila Pham set out to learn about the music of Vietnam during the war. She wanted to learn more about her musical heritage and her journey eventually led her home, where she discovered her mother's surprising involvement with the music of the Vietnam War.
Interviewees include US-based researcher Jason Gibbs; Mark Gergis, the American musician who compiled Saigon Rock and Soul; Bich Loan Phan, lead singer of the CBC Band; Nam Loc, Vietnamese entertainer and MC of 'Mot Thoi De Nho'; Kim Tran, Sheila Pham’s mother; and Hoang Liem, guitarist with Saigon band Shotgun (1968-1975).
Music details in the Transcript field. Click on 'Show' on the right-hand side of the screen.