The Hi-Jacks – Aquarius, Let The Sunshine In / Sing A Simple Song

During the early 1960’s the instrumental bands reigned supreme throughout the Philippines club scene. Clubs with names like Wack-Wack, The Sky Room, Circuit, and Rufino Building Penthouse were host to events that featured these new instrumental groups. These bands were heavily influenced by The Ventures and The Shadows and often did covers by those groups while working their own originals into their sets. The Hi-Jacks were no different, but perhaps were one of the more energetic of this new breed.

The Hi-Jacks started at the beginning of the 1960s and began releasing vinyl almost immediately. They were managed by Eddie Mesa, who was known as the Filipino Elvis. Mesa had huge success in a string of rock’n’roll records and movie appearances during the 1950s and 1960s. When he first managed the Hi-Jacks, the band mostly played and recorded covers of popular instrumental rock as well as their originals in the same vein. After The Beatles penetrated Asian radio in 1963, Mesa started using the band as his personal backing band for his recordings of Beatles songs and similar originals.

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The band was fronted by Rudy “Nonoy” Jereza who played bass. Jereza is deceased now, which has prevented the band from doing reunions; although the other existing members rally around legendary Pinoy guitarist for the group, Ben Tesoro, to play sets of the group’s music at revivals. Other members throughout the years included Eddie Dizon on drums, Jesse Manahan on keyboard, Eddie Nicolas as a later vocalist (deceased), and Bert Buencamino as a second guitar. Buencamino was originally with The Moonstrucks during the 1960’s and joined the Hi-Jacks in the early 1970’s. The Hi-Jacks lasted until 1974.

Here we have ‘Aquarius, Let The Sunshine In’ a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music), released as a single by American R&B group The 5th Dimension in 1968 and from the same year ‘Sing a Simple Song’ by the soul/rock/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, the b-side to their number one hit “Everyday People”.

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