Vietnam's Rock 'n' Roll War

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01Your World2012111720121118
20121119 (WS)

In February 1975, as the years of war in Vietnam were coming to an end, the last of Saigon's Woodstock festivals was held. Just two months later, Ho Chi Minh's forces entered the city and took control. Rock and pop music were silenced. But the music didn't disappear, as Robin Denselow discovers in the second of his two programmes examining rock music in Vietnam.

In California's 'Little Saigon', the South Vietnamese flag and national anthem are still in evidence. South Vietnamese musicians have also kept their culture alive in California's Orange County where the old singers still attract big audiences to hear Vietnamese's popular music of the sixties.

Robin hears from the popular South Vietnamese singer Thanh Thuy, who talks about her reluctance to go back and perform in Vietnam. Elvis Phuong, a performer who settled in the US did go back to Vietnam in 1996. On his return, 11 concert dates in America were cancelled due to pressure from the anti-communist lobby within the Vietnamese community. But Robin finds that attitudes today are changing, as singers and musicians attempt to strengthen the ties between Vietnam and the US.

(Image: A guitar. Credit: AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

Robin Denselow revisits Sixties Saigon to find out what happened when rock hit Vietnam.

In 1965, the first US ground troops disembarked in South Vietnam and with them, they brought rock music. Robin Denselow revisits sixties Saigon to find out what happened when rock 'n' roll hit Vietnam.

Saigon in the sixties was a melting pot of musical styles. Rock music flourished alongside Vietnamese pop music and traditional styles. South Vietnamese rock star Elvis Phuong paid tribute to his musical hero by adopting his name and numerous Vietnamese young people started growing their hair and forming Western style bands. By 1970, Saigon even had its very own Woodstock where thousands of hippies gathered to revel in Vietnamese and American rock and escape the war.

In the first part of Vietnam's Rock 'n' Roll War, Robin hears the memories of those who were there, including the CBC band, singers Khanh Ly and Pham Duy and learns about the extraordinary mix of music they made.