Sunday, 1 April 2018

Jimmy Hannan- 1964 - Hokey Pokey Stomp & Beach Ball @320

The Hokey Pokey/You Make Me Happy/Beach Ball/You Gotta Have Love

Jimmy Hannan is a Gold Logie-winning variety show host, singer, actor and game show host. Making appearances on over 20 shows, his career in Australian television and radio spanned 30 years. In 2015, he donated a wealth of memorabilia to the NFSA, including photographs, audio recordings, film and video recordings, scripts and sheet music.

Jimmy got his start on television as a bright-eyed 18-year-old contestant on Name That Tune. It was 1956 and television had just launched in Australia. Very few people had televisions in their homes so people crowded around TV shop windows to watch, and listen - the shops kindly left the sound on. Jimmy was on the show for six weeks and never made a mistake guessing the songs. He used his £500 prize to go to Canada to further his career.

Jimmy's charming TV persona is well-reflected in his carefree, welcoming stance and huge trademark grin in the publicity photo below. Tall, with naturally blonde curly hair and blue eyes, he is perhaps most recognisable for his fantastic teeth.   

 After snagging a compere role on the musical variety show Saturday Date (1963-67, TCN-9), Jimmy wanted to make a record of his own. 'Beach Ball' was originally recorded by The City Surfers in 1963 and the words and music were written by Roger ‘Jimmy’ McGuinn, who went on to start the band The Byrds, and Frank Gari. You can hear back-up vocals from the Bee Gees (early in their career) and the song also features musicians from Col Joye’s band on drums and guitar.

In a telephone interview with Jimmy, he recalled to me with a laugh that they got the echo effect on the vocals by putting the speaker in the toilet and recording that. The song was released in February 1964 and reached number 2 on the Australian charts. Looking back he says that he put out some ‘dreadful songs’, but he remembers ‘Beach Ball’, and that time of his life, fondly. Jimmy’s vocals are assured, but today the stand-out characteristic of the song is its infectious fast-paced momentum thanks to John ‘Catfish’ Purser on drums.

Surfing music and the dance 'The Stomp' were popular at the time. During the taping of Saturday Date in 1963 an article from the Australian Women’s Weekly notes, ‘the teenage audience were so carried away with stomping on the cement studio floor that the camera was vibrating and the singer couldn’t be heard. In the end the singer and [host] Jimmy Hannan gave up trying to compete, and joined in the stomp instead.’

Two black and white photos featuring Jimmy Hannan performing at the Sydney Stadium with a band. The photo on the right shows him making his way to the stage through fans.

The concert photographs above were taken by an unknown photographer at Sydney Stadium in 1965 and are a terrific example of Jimmy’s popularity and vitality. Jimmy remembers this particular concert at Sydney Stadium where he performed alongside Johnny Devlin, Little Pattie and The Denvermen. Jimmy looks very relaxed in his role as a teen idol, managing to appear casual even in a suit jacket and tie. Jimmy went on to win a Gold Logie for most popular television personality in 1965 for Saturday Date.

In articles you read about Jimmy, journalists often mention how hard working and down to earth he is. He said in an Australian Women’s Weekly article from 1981, ‘Whenever I’ve compered a show, I’ve always stuck to the philosophy that it [the show] comes first. I try to play it low-key so people watch the programme instead of me. So many performers grab the spotlight and don’t let go.’


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