Many Singaporeans as well as people in the ad industry were sad to hear that at the beginning of February 2015, Mike Ellery had passed away from lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. He was 82. In recent years, he had also been suffering from fits which meant an end to his driving licence and probably led to the stroke that had put him in a wheelchair from June 2014.
Ellery was well-known to older Singaporeans because he was one of the most prominent radio DJs from the 1950s right up to the 1980s. Born in Bristol, UK, he came to Malaya in 1949 and helped to launch Rediffusion (a popular cable-transmitted radio programming firm) in Kuala Lumpur and eventually joined Rediffusion in Singapore in the mid-1950s. Apart from a short break back in the UK in the 1970s, Ellery spent most of his working life in Singapore.
He set up an audio recording studio called ‘CueVision’ in the same office block as ad agency ‘Dailey, Naidu & Chan’, and helped produce many of the radio commercials and sound tracks for TV spots heard in the 1980s. In more recent years, his company moved more into film production mainly in the area of documentaries. He filmed the beginnings of the MRT tunnelling right through to completion and his familiar voice was also heard on number of Government and corporate videos.
He was well-respected in the ad industry as a professional and had many good friends in the media and entertainment areas, including broadcaster Larry Lai with whom he started a mobile disco called ‘Moby Dick’ in 1969 and Vernon Cornelius, the front man and singer with former top local band, The Quests.
Despite his long association and contribution to Singapore, he failed to get his employment pass renewed in 2012 and moved to Thailand (it was surprising to many that he had not become a PR or citizen in the Republic) as he wished to stay in Asia but ill-health forced him back to England to be with his family.