Friday, 29 January 2016

The Delltones - 1963 - Come A Little Bit Closer

Come A Little Bit Closer/Joanie/ Little Darlin'/Tonight (Could Be The Night)

Sydney vocal group The Delltones, featuring the bass of the ironically nicknamed 'Pee Wee' Wilson, were a fixture of the Australian rock'n'roll scene from their formation in 1959.

 "Come A Little Bit Closer" released in 1963  charted #3 Sydney #2 Melbourne #5 Brisbane #6 Adelaide #4 Perth.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Fourmyula - 1969 - Four Hits Of The Fourmyula

Home/Come With Me/Alice Is There/Lady Scorpio

 The story of the Fourmyula begins with songwriter Wayne Mason. He was born in New Plymouth in 1949, and lived in Rotorua for a period in the 50's before moving to Upper Hutt in 1958. There he began to take piano lessons. Although serious, he would break into a bit of boogie-woogie whenever there were a few spare minutes at lessons. In 1962 his father bought him a guitar and he formed his first band with classmates from Heretaunga College. Calling themselves the Southern Auroras, they consisted of Frank Stevenson on vocals, Martin Hope on lead guitar, Les Gruebner on bass, Jim McEwan on drums, and Wayne on rhythm guitar and piano.

 As a group they never really got going, but it was a sufficient experience to learn their musical basics. In September 1963, they changed their name to the Sine Waves. They got regular work playing at Saturday night dances, but in 1964 Jim McEwan had to pull out of the group as his parents objected to his late nights. His place was taken by another school friend, Chris Parry.

With Parry now in the group, they decided on another name change, calling themselves the Insect. For the next two years they played the Hutt Valley circuit of high school dances, youth clubs, social functions and bible classes, gaining a considerable reputation for themselves. The Hutt Valley produced some very reputable bands during the 60's, and by the mid-60's the better ones were the Bitter End, the Roadrunners, the Dedikation and the Insect.

By mid-1966 Frank Stevenson left the group to begin his cabaret career as Frankie Stevens. A reshuffle of the group took place with Martin Hope taking over lead vocals, and Wayne Mason moving to keyboards. Les Gruebner also left and his position was taken by Ron Gascoigne, but Ron stayed less than six months and by the end of 1966 he had left to join the Simple Image. A new bass player was required and he was Alistair Richardson. Time for a new name and the Fourmyula was born, consisting of Hope, Mason, Richardson and Parry.


Right: 1969, Richardson, Parry, Mason, Evenson and Hope.

 The Fourmyula debuted at an Upper Hutt dance on March 11, 1967, and the more they played the stronger their popularity became. They invested all their spare cash into new equipment and clothes to perform in. They entered a "National Battle of the Sounds" competition in September 1967 and won the Wellington heat. In January 1968, the finals were held in the Lower Hutt and the winners of other regional heats included the Hi-Revving Tongues and the In-Betweens. Supported by a home audience, the Fourmyula easily won the final and the prize that went with it was a trip to Britain aboard a Sitmar liner.

 While the band had been rehearsing for the competition, they made a demo tape which they gave to HMV's Howard Gable. He liked what he heard, but felt they needed a stronger lead singer. Meanwhile they set off for their first tour of the South Island. Their booking agent found a new vocalist and he caught up with the band in Dunedin in March 1968. His name was Carl Evenson, and he had been vocalist with the Kal-Q-Lated Risk.

While they were traveling, Richardson and Mason began writing a song. The result was "Come With Me", which they took to their first recording session. The group wanted to release it as their first single, but Howard Gable already had a song by Martha and the Vandellas, "Honey Chile", lined up. The boys persisted and a compromise was reached by putting "Come With Me" as the B-side of the single. When the single was released by HMV in July 1968, it was only "Come With Me" that received the attention of DJs and the public. It spent three weeks at number two on the national charts and stayed on the charts for three months.

 The Fourmyula had become New Zealand's top band overnight. Television appearances, radio interviews and newspaper articles followed. Mason and Richardson continued writing new songs and in October 1968, HMV made the unusual move of releasing the next two singles at the same time. They were "Alice Is There"/"I Dig Your Act" and "I Know Why"/"It's Only Make Believe". The two singles reached number 4 and 7 respectively on the charts. They also released their self-titled debut album in time for the Christmas market. 

At this stage they still hadn't taken their prize for winning the "Battle of the Sounds" competition, so in January 1969 they recorded their second album, "Green B Holiday" and three more singles to be released while they took their trip. They were "Start By Giving To Me"/"If I Had The Time", "Home"/"Tell Me No Lies" and "Forever"/"Mr Whippy".

On February 8, 1969, the  Fourmyula sailed to England on the Fairsky. Once there, they were soon faced with the realities of international rock'n'roll. With very little work available for them, they spent a lot of time watching some of the major acts that were performing at the time. They did get a few poor-paying gigs, and after a lot of pestering to Decca, they had a recording session at Abbey Road. The result was a cover of Hans Poulsen's "Lady Scorpio" and it was released in New Zealand in August and reached number 7 on the charts. An EP of four hits was subsequently released, called "Four Hits Of The Fourmyula".

While they were in England they realised there was new music around and that they were out of touch with current trends. They stayed in England for four months and returned to New Zealand with the best musical equipment available, their hair longer, their music louder and themselves a lot wiser.

Their first gig back in New Zealand was at the Astoria Ballroom in Palmerston North. The venue was packed, but the crowd was in for a big surprise. This was a totally different band to the one that left New Zealand six months earlier. Their clothes were different, they looked different, but when they plugged into their massive stack of equipment, heads jerked back as they opened with a version of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times". What followed was a set of covers from what they had heard in England and by the time they had finished, the audience just stood in total disbelief and silence. It wasn't what the audience wanted and bowing to their pressure they had to revert to the style they had become famous for.

They went back to the studio and worked with Peter Dawkins to record their next two singles and an album for release in the new year. The first single, "I'll Sing You A Song"/"Mill Stream" was released in October 1969. This was the last of the Mason-Richardson compositions. From this point on, the songwriting role was left to Mason alone. The single reached number 3 on the charts.

Right:In England 1969.

The Fourmyula spent most of October and November touring the country, trying to earn as much income as they could, so that they could return to England and have a decent go at making it big on the international circuit. They left in December, knowing perfectly well what lay ahead of them, and vowing not to return to New Zealand unless they returned in triumph.

The second of the two singles was released in December 1969. It was a composition Mason had put together while they were in the studio recording their album. The group had forgotten about it, but Peter Dawkins saw great potential in it, which was evident by the amount of work he put into the production. The single was "Nature"/"Home" and in the first few weeks of January 1970 it had reached number 1 on the national charts. "Nature" also won Wayne the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award. Their third album they had recorded before departure was also released. It was called "Creation".

 When the boys received the news of the success of their single in New Zealand, they didn't really care as that part of their life was behind them, as was the style of music that "Nature" represented. They were now free from audience demand and could concentrate their efforts on a more aggressive sound. They did however use their New Zealand success status to keep the pressure on Decca. A follow-up single, "Make Me Happy"/"Lord, I'm Coming Home", struggled on the charts, only making it to number 19. HMV released a fourth album called "The Fourmyula Live (With Special Guest Star Shane)".

Throughout 1970,  Fourmyula performed extensively around Britain and Europe, proving very popular in Scandinavia. Their sound became heavier, but with Mason's melodic touches, they could not be branded heavy metal.

In mid-1970, Decca took a gamble and allowed the group to record an album. Out of those sessions came a track called "Otaki". It was released in August 1970, with "Which Way Did She Go" on the reverse. It would rate as their heaviest single and made it to number 15. That was the last time the Fourmyula made it onto the New Zealand charts. Two more singles, "Turn Your Back On The Wind"/"Believe In Love" and "Lullaby"/"Molly", were released and both failed miserably.

To avoid confusion with a similar named group, Fourmyula renamed themselves Pipp (a Danish word meaning 'mad') for the release of "Otaki" in Britain. It received no airplay and sold very few copies. Decca's interest in the band waned and they kept postponing the release of the album, eventually advising the group that it would not be released at all.

At that point enthusiasm in the band died. Wayne Mason was the first to leave. He was replaced by Canadian Paul Pryde in October 1970. The group continued as Pipp for a little while, but without success they slowly disbanded.

     Martin Hope (Lead Guitar / Vocals)
     Wayne Mason (Rhythm Guitar / Organ / Vocals)
     Ali Richardson (Bass Guitar / Vocals)
     Chris Parry (Drums)


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Rob E.G. - 1962 - Si Senor (I Theenk)

Si Senor (I Theenk)/Swan River Twist)/Teardrop/Peter Gunn

Robert George Porter was born in 1942 and raised in Ashfield, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney. He reluctantly took steel guitar lessons from the age of eight - he wanted to play football instead. Sydney TV show Bandstand featured hits from the UK and US played by Australian artists. As Rob E.G., Porter made his TV debut in 1959 performing the lap steel guitar instrumental "Sleep Walk" (originally by Santo & Johnny); he was soon signed to Rex Records and became a Bandstand regular.

 His first single, "Your Cheatin' Heart", a cover of the Hank Williams hit, appeared in February 1960. In 1961, Porter received severe spinal injuries in a car accident, he adapted his playing style and continued to record. Top ten hits in Sydney include, instrumentals "Si Senor (I Theenk)" which peaked at #1 in May 1962, "Jezabel" at #2 in May 1963, and "55 Days at Peking" at #1 in July; and the vocal single "When You're Not Near" at #7 in August 1964.

 Although not as popular in Melbourne, these four singles also peaked into the top ten. On the advice of The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, Porter moved to the UK in 1964 where he wrote and recorded singles for Festival Records but had no chart success. During 1967 he moved to the USA and appeared in several television shows: Malibu U, Popendity, Daniel Boone, Mannix and The Immortal. In 1969 Porter co-starred in the movie Three.

 In 1970, Porter was back in Australia where he purchased a controlling share of independent record label, Sparmac. He recorded three of his own singles for Sparmac before focusing on managingand promoting bands and producing records. Porter produced three of doo wop rock band Daddy Cool's LPs including their debut 1971 album, Daddy Who? Daddy Cool, which peaked at #1 and became the highest selling Australian album at the time.

 Other Sparmac artists included Rick Springfield and Healing Force. In 1973 Porter started a new label, Wizard in partnership with Steve Binder, with Daddy Cool and Springfield the new label also signed Hush, Mighty Kong and Marcia Hines. Porter and Binder also managed Springfield and introduced him to the US market. He co-wrote the song "Shining" with Jill Wagner-Porter, which was recorded by Marcia Hines on her 1976 LP album Shining, and also wrote "Empty" and "A Love Story" on the that album. In the 1980s, Porter produced albums for Air Supply, Tommy Emmanuel and The Nauts. He returned to the US to live and worked in television production and as a horse breeder. During 2006 Porter formed another record label named, Musique, with flautist Jane Rutter.

Rob E.G. - The Great Instrumentals

Hawaii Tattoo/Carmen/Senorita/Soul

Porter began his musical career as a teenager in the early 60s under the stage-name "Rob E.G.". The young steel guitar prodigy recorded a string of successful instrumental singles for Festival Records, beginning in 1959, although he had a setback when he suffered serious spinal injuries in a car accident in 1961. He appeared regularly on TV and hosted his own show, Surf Sound. He very successful, scoring four top ten singles in the early Sixties, including two #1 hits with Si Senor and 55 Days At Peking.

In 1964 Porter took the advice of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and went to the UK, then moved on to the USA, where he continued to write and record. While in the US he also made several TV appearances. He had a role the short-lived 1967 beach party series Malibu U., starring Ricky Nelson, performed in the 1967 TV special Popendity hosted by Flip Wilson and featuring Neil Diamond, Buffalo Springfield and Aretha Franklin, and appeared in Daniel Boone, Mannix, The Immortal. He co-starred opposite Sam Waterson and Charlotte Rampling in the movie Three in 1969 and also featured in the 1972 mystery movie The Carey Treatment, directed by Blake Edwards.

It is presumably at this time that porter came into contact with American writer-producer-director Steve Binder, who became his business partner a few years later, and whose TV credits include Hullabaloo, The TAMI Special and Elvis's 1968 Comeback Special.

Porter returned to Australia in 1970 and bought a controlling share of the independent record label Sparmac, which had been established (as the name suggests) by Melbourne DJ Ken Sparkes, and John MacDonald. He released three solo singles on Sparmac -- Gemini /He is Not Me (August 1970), Santa Claus / Funky Version (December 1970) and a cover of the Joe Cocker/Chris Stainton song Try to Find More Love (There Must be a Reason) / Empty (March 1971).

In May 1970 porter saw Daddy Cool at a gig in Melbourne and signed them to Sparmac with tremendous success. He produced all three of their LPs and all their singles, including Eagle Rock. He also produced the classic 1971 single Golden Miles for Healing Force.

In 1973 he set up a new label, Wizard in partnership with Steve Binder, and the pair also became the co-managers of former Zoot guitarist Rick Springfield and helped to launch his career in the United States.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Executives Book

Interested in getting a copy then just click on the picture on the right and it will take you to the site

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Merv Benton - 1966 - More Merv Benton

Feel  It/You Got What It Takes/The Worryin' Kind/I'll Go Crazy

 The Merv Benton story is a fascinating chapter of the Beat Boom in Australia. From his base on the Melbourne dance circuit, Merv gained national attention and quickly became one of the most popular male singers in the country. In early 1964 he signed with Melbourne's W&G Records and became one of their most prolific artists, releasing seventeen singles, six EPs, and three LPs between 1964 and 1967, and scoring an impressive run of fifteen Top 40 singles in his hometown (several of which also charted in other cities). But in 1967, at the height of his popularity, Merv was struck down by throat problems that ended his singing career.

Merv (real name Mervyn Bonson. b. 12 August 1942) grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir and went to school at Preston High, where he was an enthusiastic tennis player. After he left shool he joined a major Victorian bank as a trainee but as a teenager he listened avidly to rock'n'roll on Melbourne radio and was captivated by the music of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Merv saw his first Lee Gordon 'Big Show' in 1957, which featured Bill Haley & The Comets, The Platters and Freddie Bell and it was Bell especially who fired Merv's desire to become a singer.

His entry into showbiz was a classic tale, not dissimilar to that of American comedy star Adam Sandler. He started to attend dances at which pioneering Melbourne rock'n'roll band The Planets were the headliners, and he became friends with several of the group, especially the pianist Graeme Howie. Unbeknownst to Merv, Graeme entered him in a talent contest at the local Canterbury Ballroom in October 1960. By the time his name was called it was too late to back out, but as it turned out his very first public performance -- singing "Don't Leave Me This Way" -- won him first place. The same night he met young promoter Brian de Courcy.

 A week later Merv met with De Courcy and decided to tfollow his dream of becoming a singer. Brian installed Merv as the vocalist with The Ramrods, a group led by Ian B. Allen and he was soon performing with them at venues like Whittlesea Hall and the Preston Migrant Centre. He quickly built up a strong local following -- creating what historian Noel McGrath charmingly describes as "mild hysteria" -- and even before his first record release he had his own fan club, with over 250 members -- a remarkable feat considering his only exposure at this stage was at local dances in Melbourne.

Early in 1964 Merv was invited to make some demo recordings for the W&G label. The session was produced by Johnny Chester and the backing was provided by Les Stacpool (guitar), Albert Stacpool (keyboards), Frank McMahhon (bass) and Mick Lynch (drums); also in the studio was the renowned Stan Rofe, who helped advised and encouraged many Australian acts including Merv.

W&G were happy enough with the demo to select two tracks from it for Merv's debut single -- a version of Elvis Presley's "Baby, Let's Play House", backed by "Endless Sleep", which was the first in a string of Top 40 singles, reaching # 17 on the Melbourne charts, which in turn led to TV appearances on Graham Kennedy's In Melbourne Tonight.

He was soon back in the studio to cut his next single; the original choice was Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't" but this was abandoned after The Beatles' version was released. a version of the Eddie Cochran classic "Nervous Breakdown" (b/w "Don' Cha Think It's Time") -- this time backed up by W&G's brilliant 'house' band, The Strangers -- but amid the hullaballoo of The Beatles tour was largely ignored and only reached #40 on the Melbourne charts, although Merv says that it was one of his most requested numbers.

Merv's look has been described as being in contrast to the new wave of long-haired, Liverpool-sound groups of the era but this is something of a misnomer. Films and photos of the period wll reveal that Merv's style was actually fairly typical of the time -- take a look at an old Aztecs clip, for example -- and with his clean-cut image and matinee-idol good looks, immaculately coiffed hair and sharply tailored clothes he undoubtedly won the hearts of young fans all over Australia.

Merv's next single, "Be Sweet" b/w "You're The Dog" (Aug. 1964) was issued as a reaction to criticism the W&G label was getting from radio. W&G's two-trackstudio was fairly primitive, even by the standards of the day, and some Melbourne DJs were critical of the poor sound on W&G recordings. This became a perennial problem for Australian artists and led to the long-standing practice of taking major releases to the USA to be mastered, due to Australia's relative lack of expertise in that area. Both songs on this sngle were covers of German pop songs which W&G had sourced through its publishing connections. The instrumental tracks were completely recorded in Germany, with Merv's vocals overdubbed vocals over the top. It helped to restore Merv's chart fortunes, reaching # 22 in Mebourne.

 Merv's first year as a pop star was frantic -- in just nine months he had released four singles, one EP and one LP By the end of '64, the 19-year-old singer had appeared on appeared on national television shows such as Brian Henderson's Bandstand and Johnny O'Keefe's Sing Sing Sing, and W&G released his debut album, Come On And Get Me, by which time he had become a regular on national and local TV pop shows; and had toured the country supporting Merseybeat star Billy J. Kramer.

Merv's career peaked during 1965, thanks to a continued run of successful singles. "I Got Burned" / "Cincinatti Fireball" (May) became a double-sided hit and proved to be his most successful 45 -- the A-side reached #3 in Melbourne, and the B-side was Top 5 in both Brisbane and Adelaide. His cover of Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Yield Not To Temptation" (August) reached #6 in Melbourne and also made the Adelaide Top 40. Merv's version of Crahs Craddock's "Don't Destroy Me" (October) was a Top 20 hit in Melbourne, and is also notable as one of the very first Australian pop singles to be released in a picture sleeve. Merv recalls that Noel Watson's "Can I Believe It's True" was always intended as the A-side and that he was disappointed when radio picked up "Don't Destroy Me" instead.

His next single "(I Do) The Shimmy Shimmy '65" (Dec. 1965) was evidently a filler track, issued by W&G to maintain Merv's release schedule. It was in fact a 'very simple remix' of the B-side of "Come On And Get Me"; the only difference was an additional backing vocal by Noel Watson, and Merv recalled: "No-one was more surprised than I when I heard it on the radio."

Throughout the year he toured around Australia with his new backing group, The Tamlas. The original lineup was Charlie Gauld (guitar, ex-Thunderbirds), Ian B. Allen (bass, ex-Planets), and Eddie Chappell (drums, ex-Checkmates), but for most of their career The Tamlas comprised Chappell, the legendary Les Stacpool (guitar, ex-Chessmen), Noel Watson (guitar) and Dennis Tucker (bass, ex-Rondells). The lineup that backed Merv on most of his recordings was Les Stacpool and Noel Watson (guitars), Murray Robertson (keyboards), Dennis Tucker (bass) and Eddie Chappell (drums), with backing vocals on most of the singles by the trio of Pat Carroll, Anne Hawker and Julie McKenna.

 Merv was evidently widely popular -- on her Brisbane In The Sixties site, Queensland rock fan Di Bingham cites Merv as one of her favourite Aussie performers of the period. He released four more singles in 1966 and, says McGrath, "created great excitement amongst female fans wherever he sang". He continued into 1966 "on the crest of a wave" with his winning formula of re-recordings of rock'n'roll standards. However it was at this time that he gradually began to be troubled by a nagging throat problem.

 By August 1966 his throat condition had become so serious that he was forced to withdraw from a major concert at Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl. Later that month it was announced that he was suffering from a paralysed larynx, and that he would be out of action for two years. However Merv himself has since revealed that this story was not true -- he was in fact suffering from the growth of polyps on his vocal cords, the same problem that threatened Elton John's career in the 1980s. The condition necessitated surgery, but this was years before the precise laser techniques of today, and unfortunately Merv's vocal cords were lacerated during the operation. The result was that he was not even able to speak, let alone sing, and he faced a long recuperation.

Merv: "By the time my throat had healed some six to eight months later, there was no interest (except for a few loyal fans) in the career of Merv Benton. Due to the lack of positive interest, I made the decision that it was time to bow out gracefully as one could; it was time for the dream to end. For those few short years that I lived what I had dreamt. I thank all the fans and all those that supported and contributed to allow me to realise that which occurred."

W&G had some unreleased material stockpiled, and Merv was able to make a few TV appearances, miming his last few singles on television. One of his last public appearances was on The Go!! Show, and it is all the more poignant seeing it now, knowing that the hopeful predictions of his return would come to naught. Unfortunately for Merv, the temporary retirement became permanent. It was a indeed tragedy for the young singer who had only recently been voted Australia's third top male vocalist, after Normie Rowe and Ronnie Burns, in the inaugural Go-Set Pop Poll.

 With the end of his show business career, Merv returned to work with the State Savings Bank of Victoria in their public relations department. However he began to feel stifled and frustrated with bureaucracy, so, he relocated to Queensland in 1969 and set up his own real estate development business.

However, Merv did make some final recordings for W&G after recovering from his throat problems. Accompanied by Melbourne group The Fendermen, he returned to the studio in 1970 to cut a number of country tunes that were released on the album Great Country Songs (Movin' On). This is a now something of a rarity, but several tracks were included on the Canetoad CD compilation Great Shakin' Fever.

In the early 1980s Merv returned to the recording studio after he was approached by his old fried Ian B. Allen to perform again in Melbourne. Merv agreed when he found out that the backing band, The Allstars, included Les Stacpool on guitar, the legendary Henri Bource on sax and Murray Robertson on keyboards (both ex Thunderbirds), Ron Chapman on drums and Ian on bass. This group recorded a 5-track EP, with Merv singing on three of the cuts.

In 1991, Merv migrated to the USA and became a consultant and manager for the American Child Care Centres chain. However he has made occasional live musical appearances and in the early 2000s he he has returned to Melbourne from his new home near Phoenix, Arizona Australia to perform at an annual Sixties concert.

Campact and The Dream - 1968 - Something Easy-Mercy Mercy Mercy

 Something Easy/Michael
The Dream
Who Could Be Lovin' You/Mercy Mercy Mercy

Cam-Pact were formed in Melbourne in April 1967 with a line up of Mark Barnes on bass guitar (ex-Moppa Blues, Roadrunners, Delta Set); Keith Glass on vocals and guitar (Rising Sons, Eighteenth Century Quartet); John Pugh on guitar, vocals and autoharp (Roadrunners, Delta Set, Eighteenth Century Quartet); Chris Stockley on guitar (Roadrunners, Delta Set); and Bob Lloyd (aka Bob Tregilgus) on drums. Originally named The Camp Act but, as that was "too outrageous", they soon changed to Cam-Pact. Initially they performed soul music in the Stax Records and Tamla-Motown mould. By 1968 Greg Cook, on organ and guitar, had replaced Pugh; and Trevor Courtney had replaced Lloyd on drums.

In March 1968 they issued their debut single, "Something Easy", on Festival Records followed by a four-track extended play of the same name. The track was written by Glass. Their second single, "Drawing Room", appeared in May and was also written by Glass. It was followed by a third single, "Good Good Feelin'", in September, which was co-written by Cook and Courtney. Late that year Barnes left and Glass took up bass guitar. The group issued a fourth single, "Potion of Love", in June 1969. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described these singles as "fine examples of late 1960s psychedelic pop".

 A balcony in Carlton, Melbourne (circa 1967)
Left to right - Mark Barnes, Chris Stockley
 Keith Glass, John Pugh & Robert Lloyd

By mid-1969 Glass had left to join the cast of Hair and Stockley left to join Axiom, and they were replaced by Chris Löfvén on bass guitar and Russell Smith on guitar, respectively. The group issued a second EP, Cam-Pact / Pastoral Symphony, with two tracks by Cam-Pact and two by label mates, Pastoral Symphony, which were a studio ensemble. Soon after Cook was replaced in Cam-Pact by Bill Blissett on organ and vocals. In September that year they released another single, "Zoom Zoom Zoom", and an EP of that name.

Outside The Stokehouse at a beach stomp
L to R: Trevor Courtney, Keith Glass, Chris Stockley & Greg Cook

Early in 1970 Ray Arnott (ex-Chelsea Set, Browns) replaced Courtney on drums and Cliff Edwards replaced Löfvén on bass guitar. They toured to Sydney with Matt Taylor guesting on lead vocals (ex-Wild Cherries). A three-piece line up of Arnott, Edwards and Smith continued until March 1970 before the trio formed Company Caine with Gulliver Smith on lead vocals and Jeremy Noone on saxophone.

  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.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Red Onions Jazz Band - 1964 - Red Onions At Home

Oriental Man/The Onions/Farewell Blues/Gatemouth Stomp

The Red Onion Jazz Band (c. 1960–2008) was a trad jazz band formed in Melbourne (Australia) in the early 1960s and was also known as "The Red Onions” and "The Onions".

The Red Onion Jazz Band was formed around 1960, as the Gin Bottle Jazz Band, by Allan Browne who was taking lessons from Melbourne University Jazz Band's drummer, Norm Hodges, and Brett Iggulden who was taking trumpet lessons from Ade Monsbourgh, then one of Australia's leading jazzmen. The original lineup, drawn largely from the bayside Beaumaris, Sandringham and Brighton suburbs of Melbourne, consisted of Allan Browne, drums; Brett Iggulden, trumpet; Kim Lynch, tea-chest bass; Bill Howard trombone; Felix Blatt, banjo and John Pike, piano, while Brett’s sister Sally (aka "Sweet Sal", who later married Browne and became a clothes designer) was an occasional addition on washboard. John Funsten, another pupil of Ade Monsbourgh, was added on clarinet. They played New Orleans inspired traditional jazz and infused it with their own vitality, their flair for presentation and promotion and zany sense of humour.

Jazz standards were the material for their first job at St Michael & All Angels Anglican Church hall dance in Beaumaris, and by about April 1961, they were given a brief spot at the Melbourne Jazz Club; their first introduction into the Melbourne jazz scene and in June Corrine Kirby included them on her ABC T.V. programme Let's Make a Date for which, at the insistence of Channel 2 executives a name change from their original Gin Bottle Jazz Band to the more respectable Red Onion Jazz Band was made, the title chosen in honour of an early Louis Armstrong recording group. They opened then at the 'Oxford' Jazz Club, where they continued for six months, with Fred Charles on clarinet.

In November 1961, Geoff Thomas took over from Felix Blatt as banjoist and the band started the Red Onion Jazz Club in Brighton. They also played at the Downbeat Jazz Concert in 1962 before Fred Charles and Geoff Thomas left the band in October and were replaced by Gerry Humphries (born Brian Anton Humphrys, 1941, in Battersea, England) and Rainer Breit. After securing gigs at the Ormond R.S.L. Hall and Beaumaris Yacht Club, they joined the 17th Jazz Convention in Sydney in December 1962, where their long hair, formal wear, violins and mad vocals caused a stir. Returning to Melbourne they played Friday nights at the 'Newport' Jazz Club at the Edithvale Life saving Club and on Saturday nights at their own venue ‘The Onion Patch' in Oakleigh. In early 1963, the group released their first 7” EP, An Impromptu Recital by the Amazing and Entertaining Red Onion Jazz Band on the tiny EAST (Elwood Audio Services Transcriptions) recording label, and it received conspicuous airplay on radio station 3XYs Jazz As You Like It program. John Pike left in March and for 11 months the band played without a pianist, but had a busy year of concerts that included Moomba, Myer Music Bowl, a 3-day tour of Tasmania including radio, T.V. and dance engagements in Hobart, as well as the 18th Australian Jazz Convention. The Red Onion Jazz Band at the 1963 Jazz Convention EP (their second recording) contains two vocal tracks; the bawdy sea-shanty "Barnacle Bill", and a version of Tommy Dorsey's "It’s Tight Like That". Gerry Humphrys left the band for four months in June 1963, and Jerry Salt, Derek Miller or Eddie Robbins replaced his clarinet, while Brett Iggulden took up alto sax for special numbers. Venues then included the 'Driftwood' Club and the 'Downbeat' Jazz Club where in February 17-year-old pianist Ian Clyne first sat in and thereafter became a regular member.

In July 1964, The Red Onions signed with W&G Records who put out a well-received EP entitled The Red Onions At Home and they transferred from the 'Onion Patch' to the popular 'Campus' Club. They appeared again on TV for GTV9 and ATV0, most importantly on Graham Kennedy’s influential In Melbourne Tonight. In November the band opened at ‘Opus' discotheque in South Yarra where it was estimated that more than 2,000 attended the first night. The entire band also featured at the 19th Jazz Convention in Newcastle.

In early 1965, The Red Onion Jazz Band released their self-titled debut LP. Its black-and-white cover art was designed by tuba player Kim Lynch, however in October, he and two other members, clarinetist, vocalist and occasional violinist Gerry Humphreys and Ian Clyne left, after three years of success, to play together the electric Rhythm and Blues that was beginning to eclipse jazz amongst younger audiences, especially after the visit of the Beatles to Melbourne in 1964. Humphrys and Lynch went on to form The Loved Ones.

After this split The Onions’ Brett Iggulden (trumpet and vocals), Bill Howard (trombone and vocals) and drummer Allan Browne persevered, joined by John Scurry (banjo and guitar) and Richard Miller (clarinet) in 1965. In 1967 the group left Australia for a 10-month, 50,000-mile tour of Europe. During the tour the band performed at the Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw, Poland, during October 1967, and at jazz clubs, ball rooms, jazz festivals and on radio. On return to Australia they continued to appear on television, at balls and discothèques, jazz clubs, university concerts and fashion parades.

Between 1974 and 1983 the Onions did not perform together. In 1983 they reunited in a benefit for Bill Howard who had lost his house and possessions in the Ash Wednesday bushfires. Thereafter they performed quite regularly, with festival appearances and occasional gigs in Melbourne. They travelled to Europe a third time in 1992, and released the CD Crisis shortly thereafter.

With Bill Howard’s death from cancer in 1996 the Red Onions finally disbanded, with their last formal appearance at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues. At this performance they featured their mentor and long time friend, Ade Monsbourgh.

•Allan Browne - drums (1961-
•Brett Iggulden - vocals, trumpet, alto saxophone (1961-
•Kim Lynch - tea-chest bass, tuba (1961–65)
•Bill Howard - trombone, vocals (1961-
•Felix Blatt - banjo (1961)
•John Pike - piano (1961–63)
•Sally Iggulden - washboard (1961-?)
•John Funsten - clarinet (1961)
•Conrad Joyce - bass (1969-
•Fred Charles - clarinet (1961–62)
•Geoff Thomas - banjo (1961–62)
•Bill Morris - tuba (1965-1969)
•Gerry Humphrys - vocals, clarinet (1962–63, 1963–65)
•Rainer Breit - banjo (1962-?)
•Jerry Salt - clarinet (1963)
•Derek Miller - clarinet (1963)
•Eddie Robbins - clarinet (1963)
•Ian Clyne - piano (1964–65)
•John Scurry - banjo, guitar (1965-
•Richard Miller - clarinet (1965-

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Cherokees - The Cherokees

That's If You Want Me To/The Angels Listened In/Only If You Care/I Can Tell

Named after a popular ice cream of the time, the Cherokees were formed in 1961 when Johnny Chester suggested to Billy Dale the guitarist in his backing band the Chessmen that he should form his own band as the Chessmen were getting to big as sometimes the band included 3 guitarists so Billy left forminfg the Cherokees and began playing Shadows-styled music around Melbourne, Australia.

 Signing with W&G Records, the Cherokees released two singles and the rare Here Come the Cherokees album in 1965. They began playing pop reminiscent of the Beatles and moved to the short-lived Go! label. Several of their singles made the Top 40 in Melbourne. By 1967, the Cherokees were playing swing-styled music and several more singles again made the Melbourne Top 40. An album followed, Oh Monah!, but with the collapse of Go!, the band was left without a deal. Despite releasing one more single on Festival records and supporting the Monkees during their tour of Australia in October 1968, the Cherokees broke up at the end of the year.

The first line was

Billy Dale - guitar
Alan Chung - rhythm guitar
Mick Lynch - drums
David Thompson - Bass

Later Barrie Windley came in on drums plus Barrie King on rhythm guitar and vocals. Barrie King left the band and was replaced by Lindsay Morrison on rhythm guitar. With this line-up they recorded the instrumental album "Here Come The Cherokees".

Doug Trevor went from bass to lead guitar with Pete Tindale formally from "The Scorpions" replacing Doug. The band was playing at a venue called "Tenth Avenue" during lunch times, a venue many must remember. "The Cherokees" went into the studio and recorded "I've got something to tell you baby" on W@G records B/W Hubble Bubble. This was around the time of GO! records became known. They recorded many singles at that time.

Around this time the group toured Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and Tasmania. By the time of the "THE MONKEES" tour 1968. Around this time guitarist Mike Macquire, a former member of Adelaide's "Harts" joined.

The band were probably at their best with the hit "Minnie The Moocher" with singer Kevin Smith.

Other members included.

Pete Tindal - guitar
Kevin Smith - vocals
Barrie Windley - Drums
Billy Dale - Lead Guitar
Doug Trevor - Bass
Lindsay Morrison - Rhythm Guitar
Mike McQuire - lead guitar

Bobbie & Laurie - I Belong WithYou

 I Belong To You/The Glory Of Love/Hold Me/Goodnight Irene

 Bobby & Laurie were a popular Australian singing duo of the 1960s, featuring Laurie Allen (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Bobby Bright (vocals, guitar). Their regular backing band were The Rondells. The pair formed one of the leading acts in the first wave of the Australian 'beat pop' era between 1964 and 1967, alongside contemporaries such as Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Ray Brown & The Whispers, The Easybeats and Normie Rowe. They became one of the most popular and successful acts of their day.

Allen's first amateur group was in Melbourne in the late 1950s and called The Three Jays. This was followed by The Lories (c.1958) and The Roulettes (1958–59), a long-running Melbourne revue band. From 1959 to 1961, he was lead guitarist for Malcolm Arthur & The Knights and in 1962 was lead singer/organist of a previously instrumental group The Blue Jays. At about the end of 1963, The Blue Jays became The Fabulous Blue Jays, the backing band for singer Tony Worsley. Laurie then rejoined The Roulettes.

Bright had previously worked mainly as a solo artist, starting his singing in Adelaide. He later moved to Melbourne and released two solo singles on the W&G Records label in 1963.

One of The Roulettes was Ron Blackmore who decided to leave the performance side of the industry and move into band management. In about 1963, Allen also left the band and he and Bright performed separately as soloists under Blackmore's management in the dance club circuit around Melbourne. On 11 March 1964, Allen made his first solo television appearance, on Graham Kennedy's In Melbourne Tonight. Later in 1964, the two appeared on The Go!! Show and soon teamed up to create a highly successful duo through their good looks, a clean cut image and sharp performances. Originally billed as Laurie Allen and Bobby Bright, the duo became regulars on the show alongside The Strangers and were paid 50 pounds per appearance.

They had the first record on the new Go Records label with I Belong With You #9 which was released with its 45 B-side song Trouble in Mind in August 1964. The record was produced by English producer Roger Savage, who had just arrived in Australia from London where he had worked with the Rolling Stones. I Belong With You was a hit staying at number-one on the Melbourne charts for two weeks and won Laurie an Australian Record Award for 'Best Composition' in 1965.

At this time, Bobby & Laurie started working with a Blackmore-managed backing band The Rondells (previously called The Lincolns and The Silhouettes). The duo reached their peak in late 1964, busily touring the country and appearing in numerous concert and television performances. They had dozens of engagements and personal appearances every week, with as many as six shows on a Saturday night. One unusual performance was playing 'Tweedledum' and 'Tweedledee' in a Christmas pantomime production of Alice In Wonderland at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne in December 1964.

In early 1965 the pair appeared on the Teen Scene music television show on the ABC, where they were famously dragged off the stage by screaming female fans. They appeared in the premiere episode of Channel 0's new children's program the Magic Circle Club on 23 January, playing characters 'Twoddle' and 'Boddle'.

They released three more successful singles on the Go label during 1965: Someone (which reached #3 in Melbourne), Judy Green and Crazy Country Hop which reached #25.

In May 1965 they supported a national tour by The Dave Clark Five, The Seekers and Tommy Quickly. Later in the year they supported American P. J. Proby on his national tour.

In 1966 they switched to the Albert Productions label, releasing Sweet And Tender Romance and Hitch Hiker, which gave them a national number-one hit for five weeks in May and June. At about this time they also changed management from Blackmore to Mal Fisher. On the strength of Hitch Hiker, the ABC gave them their own television show, It's A Gas, which was later rebadged as Dig We Must. The name change was designed to attract a more sophisticated 'adult' market, but lost the duo much of their 'teen' appeal which led to friction between the two singers.

After recording their last album Exposaic, the pair officially split in early 1967 after just three years as Australia's chart-topping stars.

Chicks - The Chicks

The Birds And The Bees/I Want You To Be My Boy/The Hucklebuck/Looking For The Right Guy

The Chicks were sisters Judy and Sue Donaldson. Both girls were born in Wellington in 1950 and 1952 respectively. They moved to Auckland at an early age and were brought up on a farm in the Huapai district.  They got their first taste of success at a talent quest in Napier one Christmas when they were still children singing as the Dots. A neighbour on the farm was Kevin Borich (later with the La De Da's) and with him they made a couple of acetates at Ascot Studios.

Their lucky break came after the family moved to Henderson, when another neighbour was entertaining, and one of his guests was Peter Posa and his manager Ron Dalton. After hearing them sing, Ron thought the girls had some potential and a few weeks later he invited them into the Viking Studio to make their first real recording, "Heart Of Stone"/"I Want You To Be My Boy". The session players on that gig were among the best in Auckland, the Mike Perjanik Band. It was Mike who gave them their name, the Chicks, and the record was released on Viking in 1965.

Because they hadn't performed in public, Dalton organised a spot for them at a teenage dance in Dargaville, to test public reaction. They also had a spot on the TV show "On The Beat Side", where they sang their second single "Hucklebuck", which was released with "Looking For The Right Guy" on the reverse in 1965.

In August 1965, the were support act on a tour featuring Sandi Shaw, the Pretty Things and Eden Kane. Following that there was another tour with Tommy Adderley and Dinah Lee.

Two more singles were released in 1965, "Do You Want To Dance" with Peter Posa, coupled with "Terry" and "Java Jones"/"He's My Guy". It was time to release their first album and this was called "The Sound Of The Chicks".   

1966 saw the Chicks appearing on TV in "A Swinging Safari" and more tours with the likes of P J Proby. Another single for Viking "Cumala Be Stay"/"Be Bop A Lula" and then one single on Impact "Tweedle Dee"/"Rebel Kind". In 1967 a visit to Australia gave them guest spots on TV shows over there. Two singles were recorded on Festival "You Won't Forget Me"/"Gotta See My Baby Every Day" and "What Am I Doing Here With You"/"River Deep Mountain High" in 1967 and 1968 before the girls joined the team on TV's "C'Mon". This show ran for 26 weeks, thereby cutting out much of their live work because of its heavy schedule.    

Three singles for Polydor were released during 1969, "Say A Prayer For Michael"/"Society's Child", "Miss You Baby"/"Are You Sure" and "Stoney End"/"Get Ready-Uptight". They also signed to a new manager that year and he tried to steer them into the more sophisticated adult-orientated cabaret scene. This was not successful and in 1970 they split up while under the management of  Ray Columbus, with their last single being "I Will See You There"/"Long Time Comin'".

During their time 1965 to 1970, they also had 3 EP's and 6 albums released. After the breakup  Judy married Ross Hindman from the Rumour and settled down to raise a family, not before recording one solo single on Philips called "Heaven Is The Place"/"I Can Hear The Picture" in 1970 and  Sue went solo under the name Suzanne.



Bobby and Laurie - Hitch Hiker

Sweet And Tender Romance/Down In The Valley/You'll Come 'Round/Hitch Hiker

 Hitch-hiker released in 1966 was #1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #1 Adelaide #1 Perth #4 NZ .

Melbourne's Bobby Bright and Laurie Allen had a number of pop hits in the mid-60s, from the danceable Laurie Allen composition I Belong With You (1965) to the country style Hitch-hiker. They were regulars on the Go!! TV pop show and later had their own show on ABC-TV (Australia), It's A Gas, later Dig We Must.

Bobby & Laurie broke up in 1967 but their 1969 reunion produced two further hits, The Carroll County Accident (1969) and Through The Eyes Of Love (1970).

Later, Laurie Allen moved into country music, and Bobby Bright, who had been a disc jockey with Melbourne radio station 3XY, also acted on TV and film (his career is summarised, incompletely, at the Internet Movie DataBase).

Double-sided hit in Brisbane with You'll Come Around.

Booka Hyland - Booka At The Police Boy's Club

Sweet Thing/We've Got Something Going/The Right Time/Transistor

Booka Hyland (b. John, c.1940) was an established pub singer when he was heard by Warren Williams and his band who urged him to contact Johnny O'Keefe. He ended up as a regular on O'Keefe's TV show Six O'Clock Rock and joined O'Keefe on tour.

 John Hyland began his career in 1956, entering talent quests in local pubs. Six years later he became lead singer for the Leedons who of course the became Booka Hyland and The Leedons. Then 4 years as lead singer for The Chessmen.

Hyland released a handful of singles, only one of which charted, the John Marascalco-Scott Turnbull song Sweet Thing (1960, #33 Sydney). His second single, We've Got Something Going (1960) was another John Marascalco composition. He also released a four-track EP, Booka At The Police Boys Club, featuring the three A-sides plus a B-side. See also I Dig Girls, the B-side of Sweet Thing.

At this time O'Keefe was an active A&R man and producer for the Lee Gordon and Leedon labels. He often used the name Eddie Cash Jr because, as he put it, I think the disc jockeys got a bit sick and tired of hearing my name all the time [quoted in The Wild One, see below]. The "Eddie Cash" vocalists and musicians covered a studio roster that included many well-known Sydney performers.

"Booka" was a childhood nickname. Until his first record showed his surname, Johnny O'Keefe had billed him simply as Booka.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Johnny Farnham - Number One

One/Underneath The Arches/Rose Coloured Glasses/Jamie

"One" is a song written by Harry Nilsson and made famous by Three Dog Night whose cover in 1969 reached number 5 on the Billboard chart. The song is known for its opening line "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do." It appeared initially on Aerial Ballet (1968), Nilsson's third album. Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal. He stayed on the line listening to the "beep, beep, beep, beep..." tone, writing the song. The busy signal became the opening notes of the song.

In 1968, Al Kooper released the song on his debut album I Stand Alone. In 1969, the rock band Three Dog Night covered the song on their debut album Three Dog Night, with Chuck Negron on lead vocal. The song was released as a single and became a hit, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year it was covered by Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham, reaching number 4 on the Go Set National Top 40 Chart.

"Underneath the Arches" is a 1932 popular song with words and music by Bud Flanagan, and additional lyrics by Reg Connelly. It was one of the most famous songs of the duo Flanagan and Allen.
In 1968 Australian pop singer, Johnny Farnham, covered the track, as his second single, which reached No. 6 on the Go Set National Top 40 Singles Chart.

"Jamie" is a song written by singer songwriter Hans Poulsen and released by Johnny Farnham in 1968 reaching No. 8 on the Go Set Charts.

"Rose Coloured Glasses" was also written by Hans Poulsen and released by Johnny in 1968 and climbed to No. 16 on the Go Set charts

Friday, 1 January 2016

Billy Thorpe - 1965 - Stand By Me

Stand By Me/Half As Much/My Babe/High Heel Sneakers

Three tracks taken from their second album "Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs" released in 1965 while the 3rd track My Babe only appeared on this EP.