Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Dig Richards - 1960 - At The Melbourne Town Hall

Bony Moronie/Lotta Lovin'/My Babe/Please Don't Tease

Digby George Richards (1940-1983), singer and composer, was born on 12 September 1940 at Dunedoo, New South Wales, elder child of New South Wales-born parents Gordon Forrest Richards, policeman, and his wife Mona, née Dennis. Dig attended Narooma Central and Moruya High schools. After completing the Leaving certificate in 1957 he worked at Waltons-Sears Ltd in Sydney.

His family and American rock’n’roll music were major influences on Dig. His brother Doug learned melody lines on their father’s guitar and started writing songs. Dig abandoned his retail traineeship for music, after becoming the vocalist for the band ‘The R-Jays’, which sought a recording contract. Ken Taylor of Festival Records auditioned the band in 1959 and, largely on the strength of Doug’s song I Wanna Love You, signed them. They became the third local artists, following Johnny O’Keefe and Col Joye, to gain a contract with Festival Records. The song entered radio 2UE’s Top 40 on 25 July 1959, and spent seventeen weeks on the charts, reaching number eight. Between his first hit and May 1960, Dig recorded more songs with ‘The R-Jays’, three of which—I’m Through, (Real Gone) Annie Laurie and Comin’ Down with Love—entered the charts, but did not have the success of their first record.

A handsome man with a good stage personality, Dig Richards was a popular performer who supported American singers including Ricky Nelson and Crash Craddock. Television shows such as ‘Bandstand’, from 1958, and O’Keefe’s ‘Six O’Clock Rock’, from 1959, extended his audience and popularity beyond dances and live performances. From August 1959 ‘The R-Jays’ were the studio band for ‘Teen Time’ on Channel 7.

Richards’ career was threatened as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident in October 1959. A couple of years later he and ‘The R-Jays’ parted amicably and he began to write his own material. While he kept his early fans, he wanted to broaden his appeal. He took voice and guitar lessons and developed a new image. A comeback single in 1962, Raincoat in the River, defined his change from rock’n’roller to a slightly folky, country singer. On 10 July 1964 at the Church of St John the Baptist, Milsons Point, he married with Anglican rites Susan (Suzanne) Margaret Clark, a telephonist. That year he hosted the ‘Ampol Stamp Quiz’, a television show for children. Often performing in clubs, he sought new markets in South-East Asia, touring there—including Vietnam—in the late 1960s.

In 1970 Dig went to England, returning as Digby, complete with beard and longer hair. He recorded Harlequin, an album of his songs, which had several hits including A Little Piece of Peace and People Call Me Country. Recording earlier with CBS Records, he switched to the Radio Corporation of America and RCA Records of Australia Pty Ltd. In 1973 he recorded in Los Angeles with top session-musicians, who were attracted not only by the quality of his songs but also by his Australian accent. This album, Digby Richards, also produced several hits.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 1982, Richards died on 17 February 1983 at St Leonards, Sydney, and was cremated. His wife and their son and daughter survived him.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Johnny O'Keefe - JOK

Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw/My Heart Belongs To Only You/The Steady Game/It's Too Late

A national icon. An inspiration to Australians everywhere. The man who single-handedly defined Australian Rock and Roll. Johnny O'Keefe can say yes to all those and more. Johnny O'Keefe single-handedly did more to influence Australian pop-culture than any other national figure. Born on the 19th of January, 1935, Johnny was the younger of two boys. Older brother Barry (b. 1933) Became a prominent Judge and lawyer in Australia. Born only eleven days after Elvis Presley, Johnny O'Keefe was often called 'Australia's answer to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis'. He was all this and more. Right from the get go this raw, precocious, kinetic, talented, young, self-promoting rocker from Sydney rocked the ultra-conservative world of Robert Menzies' Australia in the 1950's, with his gyrating, rebel-yelling performances out the front of his band, The Dee-Jays. Australia, stuck in the conservative 1950's, had never seen anything like this leopard skin suited, ripple soled rock and roll maniac who was 'morally corrupting their children'. And he was Australia's. Someone to call their own. Johnny O'Keefe was Australian, and proud of it. Johnny O'Keefe spoke to the very heart and soul of a generation of Australian teenagers who were screaming out for an identity, and he forever changed the way Australian's view themselves, because he was the first, the very first, person who showed Australia that they could rock just as hard as an international singer. And that is exactly what Johnny O'Keefe did. O'Keefe's success was by no means confined to Australia. In the late 50s he toured through the U.S. where he appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan Show', and became a local legend with his hilarious boomerang throwing exploits as 'the boomerang kid' in New York's Central Park. Johnny O'Keefe is hard to comprehend in today's celebrity for celebrity's sake world. He was the real deal. Johnny O'Keefe was the truly unique Australian.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Dave Allenby - She Works In A Woman's Way

She Works In A Woman's Way//Midnight Special/Let's Get A Little Sentimental/Bygone Days

Dave Allenby was a popular Sydney TV and club performer of the late '60s /early '70s who made several interesting crossovers into the pop arena. In April-May 1970 he supported The Beach Boys on their Australasian tour, performing on all the New Zealand and Australian shows except for the band's concluding 10-day residency at Sydney's Chevron Hotel.

Allenby also had a brief burst of pop success in 1971 when he released a single on the independent Chart label. Backed by popular Sydney band Autumn, he recorded the catchy single "She Works In A Woman's Way", backed by a raucous version of the Leadbelly standard "Midnight Special", arranged by Barrie McAskill, lead singer of Levi Smith's Clefs..

The A-side, originally recorded by Edison Lighthouse, was penned by UK songwriters Barry Mason and Tony Macaulay, who also wrote "Melanie Makes Me Smile" (recorded by The Strangers). 

The single was quite successful in Sydney #5, where Allenby and Autumn were both popular, and it also managed to briefly scrape into the bottom spot on the national Top 40 in February 1971. The two tracks were included on Autumn's debut album Song For Raymondo, and "Midnight Special" was also included on the Chart EP The Best of Whisky A-Go-Go, which comprised two tracks by Autumn ("Midnight Special" and "Day Tripper") and two tracks by Levi Smith's Clefs. This EP is highly sought after and now fetches around $200 on the collector's market.

Normie Rowe - Going Home

Going Home/I Don't Care/If It Don't Work Out/The Night

Norman John "Normie" Rowe AM (born 1 February 1947) was a solo performer of Australian pop music in the 1960s, and an actor of theatre and soap opera for which he remains best known as Doug Morrell in (Sons and Daughters). As a singer he was credited for his bright and edgy tenor voice and dynamic stage presence. Many of Rowe's most successful recordings were produced by Nat Kipner and later by Pat Aulton, house producers for the Sunshine Records label. Backed by his band, The Playboys, Rowe released a string of Australian pop hits on the Sunshine Records label that kept him at the top of the Australian charts and made him the most popular solo performer of the mid-1960s. Rowe's double-sided hit "Que Sera Sera" / "Shakin' All Over" was one of the most successful Australian singles of the 1960s.

Between 1965 and 1967 Rowe was Australia's most popular male star but his career was cut short when he was drafted for compulsory military service (called National Service in Australia) in late 1967. His subsequent tour of duty in Vietnam effectively ended his pop career and he was never able to recapture the success he enjoyed at his peak


New Dream - Soft Delights

Soft Delights/You Got Me Singing/Candy Love/Do You Think You Can Make Me Happy

The Dream formed in 1967 when singer Alex Opitz and keyboard player Jenny Johnson, both from The Changing Times, joined forces with members of another Melbourne discotheque band, The Final Four. In January 1968 they appeared as a support on the infamous Who-Small Faces "Big Show" tour, and in June Peter Nicoll left the group, to be replaced by Brian Holloway. Holloway left later in the year to join the remaining members of Somebody's Image, which became The Image after the departure of lead singer Russell Morris, and he subsequently played in Ronnie Charles' shortlived supergroup Captain Australia & The Honky Tonk.

The Dream did not make any known commercial recordings. In April 1969 the group was relaunched as The New Dream, and their style changed to exploit the current "bubblegum pop" trend; Glenn A Baker has written that their agency was grooming the band to take over from Zoot. They signed with Festival and issued their first two singles during the year, "Yours Until Tomorrow" (April) and Catching Up On Fun" (July), which made the Melbourne charts.

Their first national success came with their third single, "Groupie", one of a string of successful formula bubblegum songs written by Buzz Cason, the American who also penned "Hayride" (the hit debut for The Flying Circus) and "Everlasting Love", which was also a big hit for The Town Criers. "Groupie" became a national hit, reaching #28 in March 1970, but the time the single came out the lineup had changed to Kadell, Johnson, John Bois (bass) and Peter Reed (drums).

Regular dance circuit bookings and TV appearances on Happenning '70 helped the band to build up popularity with teen audiences, and their next three singles all made the charts. "Soft Delights" (May 1971) only just missed out on a Top 20 placing, and although "Candy Love" (Sep. 1971) only scraped into the lower reaches of the Top 100, "Turned 21" (March 1972) fared much better, reaching #31. In January 1972 John Bois left to join Country Radio and he was replaced by Graham Jones (also ex Iguana, Captain Australia & The Honky Tonk).

This new lineup recorded their only LP and their last two singles, a cover of T-Rex's "Ride A White Swan" (Dec. 1972) and "Girl I'm Gonna Get You" (Feb. 1973). Their self-titled LP, produced by Brian Cadd, featured what Ian McFarlane describes as "...a gloriously campy mix of the band's bubblegum hits, easy listening pop fluff replete with sweet harmonies and schmaltz strings, plus a cover of joni Mitchell's 'Cheslea Morning' ...".

The group broke up at the end of 1972; with Kadell embarked on a solo career, and Peter Reed joined Gary Young's Hot Dog (he later played with Pantha and Bandicoot, the group that featured Mick Fettes (Madder Lake) and Shane Bourne). Kadell and Johnson revived the New Dream name for two singles released during 1974. The first, "I Can't Stop Dancing (In The Dark)" (July) was written by Andy Fairweather-Low and produced by Steve Groves (ex Tin Tin); the second the oddly-titled "Schlick Schlak Boom Boom" was produced by Buddy England. Neither single made any impression, and the group faded from view.


Rondells - The Rondells

She'll Never Know/Carol Ann/I'll Be Gone/Whatcha Gonna Do

The Rhondells were one of the more notable bands on the Australian music scene of the mid-1960's, if only for the fact that three of their members went on to serious careers in music. They first showed up in an important way on record backing Bobby & Laurie (another down-under act) on "I Belong To You, " before getting signed themselves to the Go!! label in 1965, for which they cut a pair of singles and an EP. Bernie O'Brien was the leader and did some songwriting when they weren't covering rock 'n roll standards, and the constantly shifting line-up, at one point, included Wayne Duncan (bass) and Gary Young (drums) who, at the turn of the decade, became the rhythm section for Daddy Cool and, later still, Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons; and Gil Matthews, later a member of Max Hamilton & the Impacts, Levi Smith Clefs, and The Aztecs, among other bands. One early line-up, in addition to O'Brien, included Denis Tucker (bass), John Sullivan (rhythm guitar), and Dennis Collins (drums). In any incarnation, they were a hard-rocking outfit, surprisingly close in spirit to the Kinks.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Penny Rockets - Johnny B. Goode

Johnny B. Goode/The Storm Is Over/What Am I Living For/Loving Woman

Formed 1958 Adelaide, South Australia known as "The Rock and Roll Kings" of South Australia.One of South Australia’s first true recognized rock groups to make inroads at that time.Coming out of the Big Band era they could probably see how the scene would change, and that it did.

The Penny Rockets were stars in there own right and even though they only had two record releases for those days it was something very special and in actual fact, they were special.The group would often include’ The Four Tones’. The Penny Rockets spanned a career of over 10 years playing at all major venues including ’The Princeton Club’ dances and Radio.

Members included

RAY O’CONNER - saxophonist, lead vocalist
RON CARSON - double bass
BRIAN PENGLASE - lead vocalist
KNOBBY DOUG CLARK - saxophonist/flute
VONNIE JAY - vocalist
LEE SELLARS -vocalist
DOUG TOLL - guitar - Leader
FRANK NEWLAND - guitar Brother of Ron Carson)
REX BLAIR - Drums replacing John "Slick" Osborn.

The band backed "The Four Tones" which included some of the above such as Lee Sellars,Rhett Walker, Ray O'Conner.

The band through the years had many line up changes in the group but kept on going, now we have lost most of the members but the band will always be remembered as the very first to enter the arena of South Australian popular rock music.


Friday, 3 April 2015

De Kroo Brothers - Scarlet

(And Her Name Is) Scarlet/All Right Be That Way/Tears Of Pity/It Never Came True

In March 1960 Columbia released their debut single On The Job Too Long and then much to their surprise, Columbia released their second Loveland six days later. With little airplay both records flopped. By the end of 1960 they had appeared on the Six O'Clock Rock, Bandstand, and Teen Time. In March 1961, Columbia issued their third and final single, but once again it failed to make an impression on the charts. When Columbia didn't take up the option on their contract they moved to Festival Records. In October they played on the support bill for the Cliff Richard and the Shadows Show tour of Australia and New Zealand. In September 1963 they finally scored their first Top 10 hit with their fourth Festival single (And Her Name Was) Scarlet. Festival released three more singles over the next year or so without much success. They continued to perform on the club circuit until 1972 when they decided to call it quits. Doug opened up a music teaching business in Sydney and continued playing with various rockabilly groups while Les bought a farm in Dubbo where he is a weekday morning radio announcer with 2DW.