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Six degrees

Kenny Hodgart

 

George Lam Chi-cheung, the veteran Canto-pop singer and actor, last month performed a members-only private gig at the Galaxy Macau. Lam (right), who sings in Cantonese and English, celebrated 35 years in the pop game last year. As a vocalist, he is capable of reaching the very highest tenor notes, but his major asset is his excellent pencil moustache, which, he has revealed, he not only trims but plucks every day. Sadly, his wife, the singer Sally Yeh Chen-ven - with whom he is said to have a "rocky" relationship - dislikes it and says she has begged him to shave it off. Lam has recorded two versions - both in Cantonese - of Uptown Girl, a hit in 1983 for Billy Joel …

 

The colossally successful American singer-songwriter, pianist and composer took up boxing as a teenager after being bullied for his lack of interest in sport. He won 22 bouts on the amateur circuit before retiring after breaking his nose in his 24th. It is estimated that, in 1986, Joel lost more than US$1 million of his own money on a series of concerts in the USSR that made him one of the first United States artists to play there since the Berlin Wall went up, in 1961. The New Yorker was a student of the American pianist Morton Estrin …

 

Estrin, now 90, was taught piano by one Vera Maurina-Press, herself a student of Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni, and is therefore able to claim pedagogical lineage going back to Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven and even Franz Joseph Haydn. Instructed in the Russian tradition, Estrin has been acclaimed for his interpretations, in recordings and in concert, of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff …

 

Considered one of the last great Russian Romantic composers, Rachmaninoff (being of the aristocracy, though his family had little money) was forced to flee the country after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. Commenting on his absconsion, he later said: "There are only two things which I took with me … my wife and my precious Bluthner [piano]." Other Bluthner owners have included Prussian and Austrian emperors, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner and Liberace, and one was used in the recording of The Beatles' Let it Be, a song penned by Paul McCartney …

 

We couldn't find much about McCartney on the internet but believe he is best known for his early work in skiffle band The Quarrymen, who became Johnny and the Moondogs, solo classics such as We All Stand Together (aka The Frog Chorus) and his dabbles in children's animation with such characters as Wirral the Squirrel, "a cheeky Scouse nut-muncher". McCartney was given a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth in 1997, a year in which the monarch's honours list also made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) of Hong Kong filmmaker Ann Hui On-wah …

 

Hui's early directorial career involved making films, in 1977, for the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The idea was to dramatise the commission's work to encourage public vigilance against bribery and kickbacks. However, some of those projects were shelved because the topics were considered too sensitive. Hui is best known for her Vietnam trilogy, which focuses on the plight of Vietnamese refugees. The last of those films was 1982's Boat People, the main character in which - a Japanese photojournalist - is played by the impeccably groomed George Lam.

 

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