Uncle Ray, Those Were the Days!

Uncle Ray taking centre stage as host and guest of honour.

A few weeks ago, Simon Cheng sent out a message asking Raimondi College ‘69ers whether we were interested in attending the Farewell Concert for Uncle Ray (Cordeiro).

If you have listened to radio in Hong Kong at 3 o’clock in the morning, you will be very familiar with Ray’s silky, baritone voice that many consider sexy. He would be playing easy-listening or popular music by Western performers like Don McLean and local singers like Joe Junior.

Uncle Ray is 96 years old. He retired from doing radio shows earlier this year. A Farewell Concert was organized for him on Nov. 6 and 7, 2021.

The event would also enable him to say goodbye to the local music scene, where he played a central role as a radio host during his distinguished career that lasted seven decades. Cordeiro was honoured with the title “the World’s Most Durable DJ” by the Guinness Book of World Records back in 2000.

Image of Ray Codeiro on the big screen at the concert.

Within minutes after the message came out, Eddie Chiu, Dave Yip, William So, Simon Cheng, and Lawrence Lee had all signed up for multiple tickets. They would bring along their better halves, other family members and friends too.

In all, we assembled a group of 16 people to go together to the concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum 紅館 on Sunday, Nov. 7. And we discovered that fellow Raimondian Peter Chan has a stake in the company that organized the event!

The evening out was the first big gathering of RC ‘69ers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Group of 16 at the pre-concert dinner. Seated at the table, from left:Helen Ho, Winnie Yip, Ayden Wong, Dave Yip, Sabrina Tam. Standing, from left: Cathy Cheng, Vivien So, William So, May Lee, Kitty Chan, Peter Chan, Simon Cheng, Lawrence Lee, Elene Lee, Eddie Chiu, Connie Chiu. :

It was a lovely evening. To celebrate the rare occasion, we gathered at the restaurant owned by Peter for a friendly meal before heading out for the extravaganza featuring our kind of music – the music of the ‘60s!

Dave Yip’s wife Winnie came across Uncle Ray at the event and took a memorable photo with the star of the evening.

From left: Winnie Yip takes selfie with friend Helen and Uncle Ray.

Peter Chan with singer Elisa Chan.

The curtain went up at 8:15 p.m. with Elisa Chan 陳潔靈 singing “Proud Mary” and “Rolling on the River,” sending most of us down memory lane.

She then sang a duet with Anthony Lun 倫永亮, “The Way We Were”. Anthony followed with a solo, “Sway.” Unfortunately, Paul Loong and Joe Lynn were not there; otherwise, they could have told us who originally wrote and sang those songs.

Eddie Chiu in front, with the gang behind him in the stadium.

Joe Junior’s “Here’s a Heart” and “Delilah” brought the audience to a high, with many starting to hum or murmur the lyrics along with Joe. If we were a few years younger, some of us would most likely have stood up and begun to dance!

“Stupid Cupid” and “Que Sera Sera” by Rowena Cortes brought us back even further to the “A Go Go” days. Philip Chan 陳欣建 sang, “Mack the Knife,” which reminded us of the Rock ‘n’ Roll days.

Albert Au’s “Vincent” reminded me of the university days when Don McLean sang “American Pie.” Albert Au said he chose “Vincent” because he learned the song almost 50 years ago after hearing Uncle Ray play it on his radio program.

My mind drifted to the time when I was attending the concert at an open-air theatre under a clear evening sky. A calm autumn wind was blowing as I listened to the lyrics, “Starry, starry night …” with my then-girlfriend, now my wife, next to me. This time, my daughter and my grandson were with us!

Three generation of Lawrence Lee’s family: wife May, grandson Ayden and daughter Elene.

For a while, I was caught up in a fascinating thought: the oldest person in the Coliseum, Ray, 96, and my grandson, eight years old, were both attending the same event!  

Then I noticed a few other young children in the audience, likely because their parents took their grandparents to the concert and could not have left them at home!

The whole stadium hummed the chorus with Albert Au’s “When a Child Is Born.”

Singers like William So (not our William but 蘇永康), 葉振棠, 夏韶聲 performed  Chinese and Western songs familiar to our age group.

The last performer was Teresa Carpio, who flew in especially from Canada. Her songs, “I Got You Under My Skin,” “Always,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Those Were the Days,” brought smiles to our faces.

Performers gather around Uncle Ray for the grand finale.

The curtain came down amidst a chorus of “Hey Jude” – changed to “Hey Ray!” for the occasion.

“Great concert with songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Eddie said afterwards. “Good old memory when we were young one day!”

On behalf of all of us, I would like to express our gratitude to Peter Chan who took the trouble to get us the tickets, to Simon Cheng for organizing the restaurant dinner, and to Eddie for the idea of having dinner before the concert.

What a wonderful evening!

Lawrence Lee

Nov. 7, 2021.

Poster for the concert.