Monday, 13 June 2016

Tony Worsley - 1966 - Raining In My Heart

Raining In My Heart/Knocking On Wood/Ready Steady Let's Go/Tell Me Why

Unfortunately, around this time Pat Aulton and guitarist Ray Eames had a major disagreement in the studio, and Eames was unceremoniously ousted from the group and replaced by Jimmy Cerezo, from The Pleazers. Jimmy fitted in well and also brought his own writing skills to the group, contributing the ska-flavoured "I Dream Of You" to the flip-side to their next single, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Talkin' 'Bout You" (April '65). Over the course of 1965 Tony and the Blue Jays reputedly sold over 70,000 records, climaxing in their biggest and best-remembered hit, a dreamy cover of the Australian pop ballad, "Velvet Waters".

 The song had first been recorded in the early Sixties as an instrumental by Perth band The Megatrons; this was followed by Bruce Gillespie's vocal version which featured lyrics penned by renowned Australian songwriter Dorothy Dodd, although neither of these versions had any success at the time. Near the end of a recording session in mid-1965, producer Nat Kipner asked the band if they had any other tracks they could record; Cerezo, who had learned the song from Gillepsie, suggested "Velvet Waters"; after a quick run-through, they cut the track in a matter of minutes.  

 Tony and the Blue Jays' version was released in September 1965 and it quickly shot into the national Top 5. The fact that one of the "softest" of their recordings became their biggest hit for our hard-rocking heroes was an irony that wasn't lost on the group, as Tony recalled in an interview with the late Dean Mittelhauser for the Born Loser fanzine:

"We were going leave the studios in Sydney, at Festival at Pyrmont and we'd just recorded an album ... oh, about twenty songs, and we thought, 'Oh, we're gonna go home now'. And Jimmy Cerezo, the guitarist said 'What about this?' And we did it in about ten minutes and of course the rest is history. You could spend, like, days on a song -- now they tend to spend years -- but in those days we spent days on a song and it went nowhere, and you'd do something in ten minutes and it just catches the public ear, y'know? It just took off; we were really thrilled about that! I remember getting back from a tour and hearing that it was number one somewhere, and I couldn't believe it. Our stage act was full of really wild tracks, both covers and originals, and I could never understand why our ballad records went so well."

 With a major hit coming almost out of nowhere, Sunshine hoped they'd hit on a winning formula, so they immediately followed it up with another finely-arranged ballad, "Missing You", but this only managed to get into the lower reaches of the some charts, with its best placing being #28 in Sydney. But The Blue Jays continued to draw a healthy following, particularly among young female admirers, and Tony and pals developed a certain notoriety for their off-stage antics as well. (The old chestnut, "lock up your daughters!" should suffice as an explanation!) and the records kept coming, including a second LP, My Time of Day. This included a cover of the song "How Can It Be", originally recorded by UK band The Birds, and the Worsley-Blue Jay is considered by many to be superior to the original.

During 1965, the group won prestigious support slots with The Seekers, Johnny O'Keefe and Johnny Farham, as well as supporting the 1965 Australian tour by Britain's Dave Clark Five. Probably the most notorious show from this period was the now-legendary 4BC Sound Spectacular concert in Brisbane in December 1965. The first half of the show, featuring MPD Ltd, went smoothly enough, but when Tony and The Blue Jays hit the stage things had started to get out of hand, and by the time headliners The Easybeats came on a full-scale riot had broken out, with kids breaking down barriers, repeatedly storming the stage and smashing chairs and equipment. 

Police stopped the Easys after only 17 minutes and halted the show. In the melee that followed, the Easybeats only barely escaped the frantic fans, who stopped their 'getaway' car and stomped all over it, puncturing the roof and bonnet with their heels and doing hundreds of pounds' worth of damage. Tony himself nominates the January '65 tour with The Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Honeycombs and Tony Sheveton as the highlight of the band's career -- even though he copped some flak from the irascible Manfred Mann, who was apparently rather jealous of the frenzied fan reaction Tony & the Blue Jays were generating, both on and off stage.

(Bio continued in post below)

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