Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Grantley Dee - Let The Little Girl Dance

Answer Me/Wild One/You're Sixteen/Let The Little Girl Dance

Singer and radio personality Grantley Dee (real name Grantley De Zoete) was a well-known and popular presenter on Melbourne radio station 3AK and he is especially notable for being the first visually-impaired pop DJ on Australian radio. But Grantley's achievements didn't stop there -- he was also a popular singer who recorded a string of singles for EMI between 1966 and 1968 and regularly also performed live during the late Sixties and into the early Seventies. Several years ago, Grantley was interviewed by media writer Ash Long, who wrote a comprehensive history of 3AK; he explained that station manager-of-the-day Nigel Dick originally recruited him as a 16-year-old in 1963, partly as a means of scoring publicity for the station. It proved successful, with Grantley and his guide dog Penny becoming popular station personalities.

Grantley started on 3AK in 1963 with "The Grantley Dee Show", a regular four-hour ‘Top 100' program on Saturday afternoons, plus the four-hour Big Sunday Show, featuring “big tunes and new releases” on Sunday afternoons. By the following year he was one of the station's top announcers and had graduated to the prime “drivetime” slot from 4pm-7pm Mon-Fri, as well as regular weekend shifts. In 1965 he moved to the morning shift from 7-9am, plus the four-hour Grantley Dee Show from 9am-1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

, Grantley was an accomplished singer and during 1966, he was the vocalist in the short-lived Melbourne-based band called The Hurricanes, although this band didn't make any recordings. His 3AK career slowed down somewhat during this year, after he was signed to EMI's subsidiary label HMV, for whom he recorded five singles, an EP and an LP. His first (and best known) single was a creditable cover of Billy Bland's 1960 hit "Let The Little Girl Dance", which is also notable as an early example of an Aussie rock single that is not sung in mock-American accent. It is now a sought-after collector's item and in late 2002 Vicious Sloth Collectables in Melbourne had this single listed for sale at AU$75. 

Grantley's next two singles during '66 were a cover of Bobby Rydell's "Wild One", followed by the Johnny Burnette perennial "You're Sixteen", and HMV also released his EP and LP that year. Grantley recorded two more singles in 1967, "We Must Be Doing Something Right" (a duet with Little Pattie) and his final single for HMV, "It Hurts Me" His very last release, "Love Is A Happy Thing", was issued on Columbia in 1968. This is sometimes credited as being a second duet with Little Pattie, but Grantley kindly corrected this for us -- it was in fact a solo effort.

Concurrent with his singing career, Grantley continued DJ-ing at 3AK, hosting the drive-time shift from 3-5pm weekdays and 4-5pm Sundays during 1967-68. At the end of 1968 3AK announced that it would be expanding to 24-hour operation after years of restricted-hours broadcasting (for most of the 60s the station went off air at 5pm) and it was announced that Grantley would host the station's first all-night shift. How long he held this post is not known but he evidently left the station sometime during 1969.

In the late Sixties and into the Seventies, he fronted his own Grantley Dee Band which included famed musos Gil Matthews and Les Stacpool (guitar) (later replaced by Ron Leigh), Alan Turnbull (drums), John Vallins (bass) and Mick "The Reverend" O'Connor (keyboards). During 1970-71 he was vocalist in the Melbourne band Taurus, also with Gil Matthews. Grantley's solo career tapered off in the early seventies although he performed with two other Melbourne acts, Rock Steady and The Henchmen in 1973, neither of which made it to record.

Grantley Dee passed away on 7 February 2005.

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