Monday, 24 October 2016
I've Been Everywhere (Great Britain)/ I've Been Everywhere (USA)/ I've Been Everywhere (New Zealand)/I've Been Everywhere (Australia)
Born Leslie Morrison (in 1941), Lucky Starr presented an image as an `all-Australian' teenage idol. He dressed in sharp suits and played a trademark star-shaped guitar embossed with his initials on the scratch plate beneath the strings. One of Starr's major claims to fame was that he became the first Australian performer to headline his own show in Las Vegas, with three seasons at the Flamingo Hotel. Although he was one of Australia's early rock'n'roll stalwarts, by the late 1960s Starr had moved into the country music field.
Morrison began singing in 1957 using the stage name of Les Starr. He formed The Hepparays and the band issued one of the first Australian rock'n'roll instrumental singles when `Xmas Rock Medley'/`I Remember Xmas at Home' appeared in late 1959. After winning seven talent quests in quick succession, Les Starr became Lucky Starr. He signed to Festival and issued four singles during 1960, `Somebody Touched Me'/`When You Come Back to Me' (January), `The Big Hurt' (March), `Wrong'/`Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home' (#40 in Sydney during May) and `Yeah That's How (Rock'n'Roll was Born)' (#31 in September).
With two minor hit singles under his belt, Starr supported US visitors The Mouseketeers on their 1960 Australian tour. The publicity that surrounded his romance with 17-year-old Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge certainly helped to boost Starr's career. For a brief period in 1960, Starr compered Six O'Clock Rock while Johnny O'Keefe was in America.
Starr issued his fifth single in March 1961, `Someone Else's Roses' (Sydney #37 in May). Starr scored his first and only major hit single with the novelty tongue twister `I've Been Everywhere', written by unsigned singer Geoff Mack. Three weeks after release, the single reached #1 in Sydney and #2 nationally (April 1962). It stayed in the charts for 15 weeks and went on to sell 45000 copies. The B-side was Starr's own `Cuddle Closer'. Starr issued two more singles during 1962, `June in Junee' and `Hot Rod', plus a couple in 1963, `Mule Skinner Blues' and `Come on in'.
While playing a club in Pitt Street, Sydney during early 1963, Starr met visiting jazz singer Billy Eckstine, who persuaded him to try his luck in the USA. Starr played the Nevada circuit, opening in mid-1963 at the Mapes Hotel Casino Room, Las Vegas. Although Starr signed a recording deal with local label Dot Records (one single: `Poor Little Jimmy Brown'), the proposed American movie roles and major record deals never happened. Dot Records also issued an American version of `I've Been Everywhere' as a single by Hank Snow. It reached #1 on the American country chart.
Starr returned to Australia in late 1963, and appeared in the Christmas `surfing musical' Once Upon a Surfie with a cast that included Dig Richards, Jackie Weaver, Bryan Davies, Jay Justin, Rob EG, Jan Green and The Delltones. He issued an album in 1964, The Silver Spade Digs Lucky, before turning his attention to international club dates around the world including the USA, New Zealand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Italy. By the late 1960s, he had moved into the country music field and took his travelling show around the Australian bush. During the late 1980s, the Lucky Starr Band included his son Craig Morrison, who went on to minor success with his own band, De Mont.