Category Archives: Stories

1971 – Sweet Sweet Love

1971 – Sweet Sweet Love – Russell Morris

 

Russell Morris

The Real thing - Russell MorrisAfter the shock waves of the mighty ‘The Real Thing’ had abated Morris’s follow up singles maintained a quality that saw him constantly charting. Eschewing the abstract psychedelia of his biggest hit Morris composed great songs and in ‘Sweet Sweet Love’ a devastating tune. From a tender vocal/acoustic guitar intro through an expert key change from Dmin to E to D (not something the listener would notice) Morris kicked his ballad up several gears into a riff-based rocker before pulling back again into the ethereal starting point. The ‘Na na na na, na na na naaaa’ outro is pretty much stuck in the head of anyone who has an interest in Oz music prior to the 80s. Morris had a melancholy, yearning in his voice, both optimistic and vulnerable. With other hits like ‘Wings Of An Eagle’ he created a set of unique songs in just two years which have made a critical mark around the world. Morris hasn’t stopped recording or playing for nearly fifty years.

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Michael Witheford is a freelance writer and author. He has been published by RAM, Juke Magazine, On The Street, Beat, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Launceston Examiner, The Melbourne Sunday Sun, Melbourne Times and various periodicals. His novel Buzzed was published by Penguin in 2002. 

He wrote songs, played bass guitar and sang in the Fish John West Reject and ARIA nominated Lust In Space, among many bands.

He now lives in Tasmania and is working on a memoir and personal account of the Tasmanian and Melbourne Music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

michaelbest6386272

CLASSIC CLIP Bill Bonney Regrets

 

Bill Bonney Regrets was released by Sydney band The Celibate Rifles in 1986. Taken from the album, The Turgid Miasma of Existence, the song was written about academic Bill Bonney, who had passed away in 1985.

Tasmanian Bonney died from cancer, aged 53,  on July 19th 1985 – he had been a philosophy lecturer at the University of Sydney, and was Associate Head of School in the Faculty of Humanities at the NSW Institute of Technology. With Helen Wilson, he wrote Australia’s Commercial Media. 

The song, and particularly the clip, has passed into Australian punk legend.  One-time student Damien Lovelock, who found inspiration in Bill Bonney,  would eventually go onto a career in the media, alongside his frontman role with the band – as an SBS-TV football commentator. The Celibate Rifles continued to play live.

Do you have a favourite Australian music experience to submit to The Vault?  You can leave it here.

Bill Bonney Regrets by The Celibate Rifles.

1965 Flashback – The Carnival Is Over

1965 – The Carnival Is Over – The Seekers

It’s hard to overemphasize just how big The Seekers were, how they eclipsed by some distance the achievements of any other Australian band in Australia and the UK with the exception of INXS. Eight top ten singles in Australia, Seven in the UK including two number ones, this at a time when pop was at its most fertile and competitive. The band were an enigma for their time. A folk band veering towards pop with no electric guitars but with a double bass, about as fashionable as a bonnet in Swinging London. With no concessions to the Beatles or Stones or the plethora of nascent rockers emerging in their wake, The Seekers stuck to their guns and won over the world with a combination of indelible melodies magnified by the angelic vocals of Judith Durham.

I’ll Never Find Another You - The Seekers

Their first single ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ topped the charts in Australia and the UK and rose to number 2 in America, instantly spotlighting the band as a charming and unique anomaly in the pop scene. A World Of Our Own was another monster hit in all three charts.

Tom SpringfieldTom Springfield (brother of Dusty) was the song-writing Svengali for The Seekers. When he adapted an old Russian folk song, ‘Stenka Rasin’ (who would you pay copyright to? The Kremlin?) into ‘The Carnival Is Over’, The Seekers hit a sweet and deeply melancholy spot which made for their most exquisite track.

Covered by Nick Cave who might have preferred the Russian version since it concerns a young girl being sacrificed, tossed overboard from a boat, for the glory of the nation, The Seekers sang instead of the desperate last hours of a romance which will end when our hero, a carny forever, shifts base, and heads off to the next town. The briefest of loves, compressed into days that will live on forever, “until I die”.

The Carnival Is Over - Nick Cave

The song moves at a funereal pace but this is not something you notice as Durham stretches each perfect note and a percussive shuffle lifts the tempo. The song shot to the top of the UK and Australian Charts. The band won Best New Act at the NME awards defeating nominees who would themselves become household names.

When they returned to Australia 200 000 people attempted to squeeze into The Myer Music Bowl to see the group perform a brief set (they were completely unprepared for the leviathan nature of the crowd). In the mid ‘60s The Seekers with their unfussy captivating music were, against all odds one of the biggest bands in the world.

Myer Music Bowl - The Seekers

Michael Witheford is a freelance writer and author. He has been published by RAM, Juke Magazine, On The Street, Beat, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Launceston Examiner, The Melbourne Sunday Sun, Melbourne Times and various periodicals. His novel Buzzed was published by Penguin in 2002. 

He wrote songs, played bass guitar and sang in the Fish John West Reject and ARIA nominated Lust In Space, among many bands.

He now lives in Tasmania and is working on a memoir and personal account of the Tasmanian and Melbourne Music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

michaelbest6386272

FLOWERS I Can’t Help Myself

FLOWERS I Can’t Help Myself

Flowers’ classic single I Can’t Help Myself is almost thirty years old. The band became Icehouse and Iva Davies is now famous around the world, but when they started out, they were shooting their film clips in Sydney suburban car parks and playing taverns.

Part of a continuing online exhibition about Australian New Wave.

 

The New Wave in 1980

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Can’t Help Myself was released in May 1980 by Flowers, reaching #10 on the Australian Singles Chart. Flowers were Iva Davies, Michael Hoste, John Lloyd and Keith Welsh. The single was produced by Iva Davies and Cameron Allan.

Iva’s parents, Neville and Dorothy Davies, speaking to Spellbound, remember Flowers

Spellbound: When did you first realise that he (Iva) was gaining notoriety in the Sydney area?

Mrs. Davies: When he asked us to come and watch the filming of his first film clip in that car park in Chatswood.

Mr. Davies: Can’t Help Myself.

Mrs. Davies: We saw makeup people floating around and doing things. It was just a very great experience.

Mr. Davies: So we didn’t see one of those, but probably the first time we ever saw Flowers in concert was after they’d already released their first record and they were supporting XTC at the Capital Theatre in Sydney. We were actually invited to go.

Mrs. Davies: He virtually was saying to us, “I have got my toe on the first rung of the ladder. You can come now.”

Mr. Davies: By that time the first album was out and they were quite well known and I think that particular concert line-up was the Divinyls and then Flowers and then XTC.

Flowers were part of the New Wave circuit around Australia from the late Seventies to early Eighties, playing small venues with other bands – like The Reels – who specialised in wildly original music, sleeve art work, film clips and styling.

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Flowers and New Wave

Flowers, Divinyls, The Numbers, INXS, The Reels, Sports, Mental as Anything and other bands crossing over from post-punk 1978 to the Eighties, were part of the New Wave.

Flowers won  the 1980 TV Week / Countdown Rock Awards Johnny O’Keefe New Talent Award, beating INXS before they had to change their name to prevent confusion with the Scottish group, The Flowers. They became Icehouse.

XTC, Flowers and The Numbers 1979

From the State Library of Queensland

“From the late 1970’s, until its controversial demolition in 1982, Brisbane’s Cloudland Ballroom became a regular venue for rock concerts. Some of the fledgling bands who played at Cloudland during this period went on to achieve chart success and establish longstanding careers in the music industry. One example is the concert of July 28, 1979 featuring three talented up-and-coming bands: XTC, Flowers, and The Numbers. State Library of Queensland is fortunate to hold several photographs taken during this concert.”

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Flowers (later known as Icehouse) performing at Cloudland, Brisbane 1979. (Keith Welsh on bass guitar and Iva Davies on leader guitar and vocals). 29127 Paul O’Brien Collection 1970-1987. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY

Iva Davies on the Eighties

Speaking to The Australian, Davies summed up the era: “I know it’s very easy to look back through rose-tinted glasses and say that period was good, but it’s accurate to say it…The energy that came out of the punk movement in England transferred here. When we started we were doing Sex Pistols songs alongside T. Rex songs. It was quite a weird collection of stuff. That whole energy ran into the new synthesiser technology as well.”

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The Elvis Costello Songbook

With modern Australian acts like Cut Copy and Jet declaring what an influence Flowers was on them, the band (signed to Regular/Festival, above)  remains seminal. But how was the group created?

As a trained musician, Sydney-based Davies was approached to music publishing companies to write the sheet music for Elvis Costello, among others.

Speaking to Stuff, he remembers, “These music publishing companies discovered there was a young fella – me – who could read and write music and they started sending me reel-to-reel recordings of every song in the Australian charts and then lots of international music as well – we’re talking about the days when sheet music was quite in demand, people wanted to buy the music for their favourite song and go home and try to play it. I wrote entire song books for Little River Band, Dragon, Sherbet, Cold Chisel, and then Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads… My life was pulling apart songs and putting them down on paper which was very instructive.”

With Icehouse and in his own right, Davies has become known worldwide for his work, including his composition of the score for the Russell Crowe/Peter Weir film Master and Commander.

Flowers in Roadrunner

Roadrunner is one of the few global music publications from the New Wave era to be published online. Find more on Flowers in this issue – and in their cover issue.

Buy I Can’t Help Myself

You can find I Can’t Help Myself on Icehouse Essentials, available to buy now on iTunes.

1983 – I Hear Motion

1983 –  I Hear Motion by Models

 

The Summer of 1983 Soundtrack

Programmed on Rage by Toby Cresswell, Craig Mathieson and John O’Donnell as an Australian classic, extended to nearly seven minutes since it first appeared in 1983, I Hear Motion is now 35 years old.

From the Top 20 album, The Pleasure of Your Company, produced by the soon-to-be-famous Nick Launay, the single reached number 16 in the Australian charts. Andrew Duffield, James Freud, Sean Kelly and Barton Price found themselves adopted by Countdown and appeared in this film clip on 25th September, 1983, just as the song became an unforgettable Australian summer soundtrack.

 

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The Melbourne Art-Rock Experiment

The most subversively odd pop group in Oz musical history, Models have had more line-up changes than recipe ideas in Nigella Lawson’s head, but Sean Kelly has remained steadfast front and centre stabbing at his stuttering staccato guitar. Originally an art-rock experiment, Models moved into commercial territory without selling out. I suppose they did eventually but that was a few years after this single.

I Hear Motion sheet music

Andrew Duffield has always been my personal favourite amongst keyboardists and the sequenced opening riff to I Feel Motion,  nodding in appreciation to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, is some of his finest work. Kelly’s voice is strangled and bursts out after what seems like an argument in his mouth. The chorus is Ebola catchy, the verses peculiar as always.

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One of the tracks on the sublime The Pleasure Of Your Company LP, this was Models at their best appealing to pop and rock fans alike. It was a memorable time for Melbourne bands. Hunters and Collectors, Australian Crawl, the list is long.

The band still plays. And you’ll see your friends there. Or mine at least. Michael Witheford.

The Models in Roadrunner

The November 1980 edition of Roadrunner is now available to read online. It came with a free copy of Models’ classic record AlphaBravoCharlieDeltaEchoFoxtrotGolf for subscribers and was priced at 60 cents.

The Models in Roadrunner
The Models in Roadrunner

Buy Models Books, Music and Sheet Music

Buy James Freud’s autobiography here.
Buy I Hear Motion here.
Buy sheet music here.
The Nick Launay website is here.

Michael Witheford is a freelance writer and author. He has been published by RAM, Juke Magazine, On The Street, Beat, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Launceston Examiner, The Melbourne Sunday Sun, Melbourne Times and various periodicals. His novel Buzzed was published by Penguin in 2002. 

He wrote songs, played bass guitar and sang in the Fish John West Reject and ARIA nominated Lust In Space, among many bands.

He now lives in Tasmania and is working on a memoir and personal account of the Tasmanian and Melbourne Music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

michaelbest6386272

Chrissy Amphlett – Geelong and Melbourne

Chrissy Amphlett –  Geelong and Melbourne

 

This is just a small selection of photographs of public tributes to Chrissy Amphlett in both her home towns, Geelong and Melbourne.  Pictured are early shots from the first street art at Amphlett Lane, off Little Bourke Street, Melbourne – and at her memorial off James Street, Geelong.

The Chrissy Amphlett podcast tour will launch in 2018. Please follow  @ammptv on Twitter for updates.

This walking tour will take you from Amphlett Lane to The Vault and give visitors to Victoria all the information they need to find more tributes to Chrissy beyond Melbourne  – with expert commentary from very special guests.

Referencing Chrissy’s autobiography (with Larry Writer) Pleasure and Pain,  the 30-40 minute Melbourne walk will include important landmarks in her life – from Collins Street to Melbourne’s famous laneways – passing Flinders Street Station – one of the city’s gateways to Geelong, where Chrissy grew up.

Melbourne Lanes in Chrissy’s Life

“It was the most wonderful thing; I don’t know why they don’t do it nowadays. During our lunch hour, we’d see bands such as The Easybeats, The Wild Cherries, The Purple Hearts and The Loved Ones.” Mary Renshaw, Live Wire, Allen & Unwin 2015.

Mary Renshaw was a close companion of Bon Scott’s in the same era that Chrissy Amphlett was discovering Melbourne’s inner-city music. Mary was visiting clubs like 10th Avenue on Bourke Street, and The Bowl, beneath a bowling alley in Degraves Street, near Flinders Street Station, en route to today’s Music Vault.

It was at 10th Avenue that Mary made friends with Bon Scott and made him hippie beads and a velvet bolero, while he was in The Valentines’ share house with Vince Lovegrove (later to manage Chrissy and Divinyls).

As part of Chrissy’s tour, you’ll be passing the Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection that was immortalised by AC/DC in their flatbed-truck clip for (It’s A) Long Way to The Top.

Also on the map – Spring Street, which fronts onto Little Bourke Street, off Amphlett Lane. It was at 1 Spring Street that AC/DC had a residency at Bertie’s. It opened, alcohol-free, in 1967 to ringing endorsements from someone who could come to know Chrissy well – Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum.

“I can only say that in my vast experience in the disco scene in Melbourne, and indeed the whole world, that unquestionably Bertie’s rates absolutely first class,’ Meldrum raved at the time.

You can read more in Live Wire, which is a great guide to the city and decade that Chrissy knew so well.

The Chrissy Amphlett  Tour podcast  is produced by Jessica Adams and Charley Drayton with funding assistance from the Victorian State Government. Thanks to @AmphlettLane on Twitter for the Geelong images.

Chrissy Amphlett art work in Geelong (@AmphlettLane on Twitter)
Chrissy Amphlett art work in Geelong (@AmphlettLane on Twitter)

 

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LOST VENUES The Corkman

LOST VENUES The Corkman

The Corkman in Carlton, Melbourne was never going to be a classic hipster band venue (although it was once home to the ‘hanging judge’ who sentenced Ned Kelly, upon whom most hipster beards are based). Instead, it was a regular haunt of Irish musicians in the city until it was illegally demolished. Asbestos warning signs are all that remain.

And these photographs. Do you have any unseen photographs of The Corkman? Let us know.

MEL CORKMAN SIGNS

MEL CORKMAN WALLS COPY DICK WYNNEMEL Corkman irish

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Festival Hall. So Long, Dylan, Beatles, Sinatra.

Festival Hall – So Long, Dylan, Beatles, Sinatra.

Story – Jessica Adams

Dylan, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra all played at Festival Hall, Melbourne – and Patti Smith recently picked up her plectrum there, literally picking up where Lou Reed left off, last century  – but Australia is about to lose her piece of global music heritage to (you guessed it)  yet more expensive high-rise apartments.

One of my first stories as a music journalist was about XTC playing at Festival Hall. It’s been at the heart of so many more stories since then. In fact, the Patti Smith gig there was nominated by some Australian critics as one of the best gigs of the year.

There is no other venue in Australia where young bands can pick up that timeline of tradition. Who wouldn’t want to play on the same stage as Dylan, the Beatles and Sinatra?

It’s not enough for people defending the demolition to say some Australians are just being nostalgic and they get to keep their memories.

Festival Hall, Melbourne is a world-class historic venue which is on a par with the Budokan in Tokyo, the Apollo Theatre in New York and The Hollywood Bowl.

In fact, many of the same acts which made them famous, made Festival Hall famous too.

The Beatles Connection

 

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Nippon Budokan (日本武道館 Nippon Budōkan), often shortened to Budokan, was originally built for the 1964 Summer Olympics. This Tokyo legend has parallels with Festival Hall, Melbourne, which was also a boxing and wrestling venue for many years.

The Beatles were the first rock group to play at the Budokan in a series of concerts held between June 30 and July 2, 1966. Several live albums were recorded at Budokan, including releases by Bob DylanCheap Trick, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Festival Hall, Melbourne has seen exactly those huge names grace its stage. Tokyo has hung onto the Budokan and made it work.

The same might be said for the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York,  which began life in 1914. In 1983, both the interior and exterior of the building were designated as New York City Landmarks, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is estimated that 1.3 million people visit the Apollo every year.

It was resurrected after closing in 1976 then in 1983, it was bought by Inner City Broadcasting,  obtained federal and city landmark status , then in 1991, purchased by the State of New York, which created the non-profit Apollo Theater Foundation to run it.

In 2009-10, in celebration of the theater’s 75th anniversary, the theater put together an archive of historical material, including documents and photographs and, with Columbia University, began an oral history project.

This (below, from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) will be what Melbourne ends up with, instead, if demolition goes ahead.

Image Twitter at abcmelbourne

 

Older Than the Hollywood Bowl

 

Festival Hall is older than the Hollywood Bowl, but California has chosen to preserve and cherish the latter.

The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles has been there since 1929. It is owned by  the County of Los Angeles and is the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the host of hundreds of musical events each year.

So, what is Melbourne about to lose? Some of the story you may know – some you may not. No matter if you saw Sinatra here, Lionel Rose or The Clash, though – this is what Australia is about to trash.

 

FESTIVAL HALL LOU REED 1975

From The Who to Lou

The Who sang My Generation here, on 25th January 1968. Lou Reed, above, toured Festival Hall in 1975.

The Who at Festival Hall, Melbourne, 25th January 1968.
The Who at Festival Hall, Melbourne, 25th January 1968.

Frank Sinatra and Festival Hall

Festival Hall is where Frank Sinatra made the notorious speech to the crowd attacking the Australian media – and particularly female journalists – that would see him in turn get bound up in politics with Bob Hawke, later the Australian Prime Minister. Sinatra is pictured here storming his way past the media, into Festival Hall. (Image: Fairfax/SMH)

 

His Way. Frank Sinatra storms his way into Festival Hall (Fairfax).
His Way. Frank Sinatra storms his way into Festival Hall (Fairfax).

The Who and PM Sir John Gorton

Festival Hall, Melbourne is also where The Who played with the Small Faces on 25th January 1968, attracting the wrath of another Australian Prime Minister, Sir John Gorton.

The Festival Hall story is also the story of the Wren family, though . Frank Sinatra sang My Kind of Town when he played their hall onJuly 9th 1974, but is Melbourne the Wrens’ kind of town, and if so, why has it taken just two years for this part of the city to go from celebrated local history, to yet more high-rise?

The Wren Family and Festival Hall

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Frank Sinatra did it His Way in the Seventies (above, a famous limited-edition bootleg of the Festival Hall concert). So how are the Wrens doing it their way? The story’s changed a lot since 2015.

“Managing director John Wren, the grandfather of the man who bought the stadium in 1915, told the Herald Sun in 2015 that there was no plan to change things.”

“I’m honoured and privileged to carry on what my grandfather started,” Wren said at the time. “As long as there is live music, we’ll be here.”

And now? It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.  The City of Melbourne has this in their hands again, just as they had The Palace Theatre. Also marked for demolition.

Bob Dylan at Festival Hall, April 19th 1966

Festival Hall saw Bob Dylan grace the stage on April 19th 1966 (the bootleg of the concert survives).  He was following The Beatles, who had stunned Australia there, two years previously.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.  Poets and boxers have both graced Festival Hall.

 

Bob Dylan, the Nobel prize-winner who played Festival Hall.
Bob Dylan, the Nobel prize-winner who played Festival Hall.

 

The Beatles at Festival Hall

Australian teenagers of the Sixties had their coming of age at the Beatles concerts at Festival Hall, Melbourne in June 1964. Fans jumped onto the police to land on stage. John Lennon shook 19-year-old Brent McAuslan’s hand before Paul McCartney told police to ‘let him go’. He was nineteen.

 

FABS AGAIN

Pink Floyd – Quad Sound in Melbourne

Melbourne Festival Hall was home to Pink Floyd’s quad sound on August 13th 1971. Unusually, they had support bands drawn from the local music scene – Pirana and Lindsay Bourke.

Australian support acts, not to mention headliners, have had a long, proud tradition at the venue – one of the few mid-sized spaces in Melbourne where fans can get close to the front of the stage.

Nick Cave and Chrissy Amphlett

Melbourne locals are rightly wondering what has happened, within the space of two years, to change this part of their city from a heritage precinct (honouring Nick Cave, Chrissy Amphlett, Michael Hutchence, Angus Young, Kylie Minogue, Daniel Johns) into a new demolition site.

In recognition of Festival Hall’s long standing contribution to live music in Melbourne, Dudley Street was even renamed Wren Lane in honour of the Wren family, after 100 long years of faithfully maintaining Festival Hall.

Australian artists who  performed at the ‘House of Stoush’ (harking back to its wrestling ring past) or as it is has also been known to generations, ‘Festy Hall’ were celebrated at the time. And now?

 

 

 

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It’s cultural heritage. But even in Melbourne, where some buildings qualify as ‘Heritage Overlay’ it does not protect places like Festival Hall.

Once it’s gone, as Melbourne’s heritage activists say, it’s gone forever. Welcome To My Nightmare, as Alice Cooper might have said (below, on tour in Australia in 1977).

 

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Brisbane versus Melbourne

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that proposed apartments, retail and office space would hit 16 levels if passed by the City of Melbourne.

Speaking to The Age, Helen Marcou, co-founder of SLAM – Save Live Australian Music, said it would be “a tragedy for Victoria” to lose the venue.

“When Brisbane are rebuilding their Festival Hall because they see how important it is to culture, it would be an absolute travesty to lose ours in Melbourne,” she said.

Support Acts Lose Out

From Patti Smith‘s 40th anniversary Horses tour with Australian  Courtney Barnett. all the way back to Pink Floyd’s choice of (unusually for them) two local Australian bands as support, Festival Hall has been a unique place for local music to find its place on a world stage. Not just a Melbourne one. They will also lose out.

The Internet Reacts

Goldie @goldie_fm wrote on Twitter,  on 23rd January 2018, the day of the official announcement – “As I look out my hotel room all i see are apartments being built. That west end (docklands) area is a lifeless concrete hole. Keep culture/history alive.”

And –

“This city will be nothing but poorly built apartments in 10 years. #festivalhall

Not to mention –

“Yes! More #apartments. Just what #Melbourne needs… #FestivalHall “Keeping historic reminders my arse”

The petition, started by Lucas Eldridge‏ @Bozza03 is here. 

We Make a Little History

Festival Hall was known as the original House of Rock and Roll, from Beatles, Bill Haley and Johnny Cash to the Lee Gordon “Big Shows”, through to Frank Sinatra, Liberace and Shirley Bassey. It’s also seen Red Hot Chili Peppers, Powderfinger, The Foo Fighters, The Script, Lily Allen, Ed Sheeran, and Lorde.

It’s part of Australian boxing history. As the Budokan in Tokyo hosted judo, so the Festival in Melbourne saw famous biff.

Lionel Rose was here. So was John McEnroe at a first for Melbourne – an indoor Tennis Exhibition featuring John McEnroe.

The Ballad of Ringo Starr

Beatles fans around the world know Festival Hall for other reasons. The Beatles Bible – “At 8am on the morning of 15 June 1964, Jimmie Nicol left the Southern Cross Hotel on Bourke Street, Melbourne. Accompanied by Brian Epstein, he was driven to the airport where he was given a final agreed fee of £500, as well as a gold watch with the engraving: “To Jimmy, with appreciation and gratitude – Brian Epstein and The Beatles.”

“Nicol didn’t say goodbye to The Beatles; they were sleeping off the previous night’s party, and he felt he shouldn’t disturb them. The group was celebrating their reunion with Ringo Starr, who had missed the early part of their world tour after being struck down by acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis.”

The Melbourne 17th June concert at Festival Hall was recorded by GTV 9 and broadcast as a TV special The Beatles Sing for Shell.

This is it. Ringo Starr might now be Sir Ringo Starr, but none of the descendants of these Melbourne fans will ever see music here again. This is that venue. Are you or your family in the audience?

 

Captured from YouTube Channel  by Никита Беспятых

 

I Did It My Way

Frank Sinatra’s famously controversial monologue (below) along with other comments in Australia, saw him face off with future Prime Minister Bob Hawke – and it all started on the stage at Festival Hall.

“I do believe this is my interval, as we say… We’ve been having a marvellous time being chased around the country for three days. You know, I think it’s worth mentioning because it’s so idiotic, it’s so ridiculous what’s been happening. We came all the way to Australia because I chose to come here. ”

 As The Sydney Morning Herald reported –

“Frank Sinatra was in the wrong country at the wrong time. He arrived in Australia for concerts in July 1974, just three years after Germaine Greer had published The Female Eunuch and only 18 months after Melbourne singer Helen Reddy had a worldwide hit with I Am Woman, virtually the theme song for the then rapidly expanding women’s liberation movement. It was hardly the right moment for Sinatra to get up on stage at Melbourne’s Festival Hall and describe Australia’s female journalists as “buck-and-a-half hookers”.

Only after the involvement of Bob Hawke, then leader of the ACTU, did Sinatra agree to sign a statement to the effect that he regretted any inconvenience caused. You can read more here.

The Age  and Men’s Style have both immortalised the Sinatra Festival Hall stoush. In fact, it was even made into a film.

The Night We Called It a Day  is “Based on the true events surrounding Frank Sinatra’s tour of Australia. When Sinatra called a local reporter a “two-bit hooker”, every union in the country black-banned the star until he issues an apology.

Starring Dennis Hopper, Portia de Rossi and Melanie Griffiths it’s part of Festival Hall legend. For now.

 

 

From AC/DC to Zappa – A Brief A to Z

 

ACDC

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The Beatles at Festival Hall, Melbourne.
The Beatles at Festival Hall, Melbourne.

 

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And W is for The Who, as Miles Ago records – 

“Prime Minister John Gorton sent Pete Townshend a telegram telling The Who not to come back to Australia; Townshend reportedly sent back a fruity reply and left Australia swearing never to return — a promise he has kept faithfully to this day! Once in New Zealand, things calmed down briefly, although they again ruffled establishment feathers in Auckland when Keith Moon indulged his famous penchant for wrecking hotel rooms.”

 

The Who at Festival Hall Melbourne
The Who at Festival Hall Melbourne

X is for XTC, because this is where the band delivered a blistering concert before stage fright stopped lead singer Andy Partridge touring. You can see it on YouTube. 

 

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XTC

 

And Z is for Frank Zappa who played here in 1973.

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If you want to help save Festival Hall please follow AMMP on Twitter @ammptv or sign the petition above. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Stevie Wright

Happy Birthday Stevie Wright

The Easybeats’ Stevie Wright was born on 20th December and was a massive star in Sixties Australia. Just one news story about The Easybeats would make the front cover of Go-Set in the Sixties and he was mobbed by young women, as The Beatles were mobbed in London. They called them The Easys and Wright had a gift for projecting happy-go-lucky, easy charm. Wright was British and his Beatle DNA is obvious in all the old clips, but The Easybeats’ sound was raw and powerful. Bruce Springsteen would later cover Friday On My Mind. The song reached Number One in Australia and Number Six in Great Britain. Wright’s energy had a lot do with it.

 

David Bowie and The Easybeats
Later on he would make headlines as an addict, but Stevie Wright has been a massive influence on musicians and been widely covered. In a song that lasted around three minutes (Friday on My Mind), Wright and the Easybeats found a song David Bowie wanted to sing too – and summed up an Australian working class attitude that Jimmy Barnes would attempt with Working Class Man, years later.

Stevie Wright Tributes

Stevie Wright and The Easybeats continue to inspire cover versions and tributes. Easy Fever in December 2017, Australia,  is just one example. Something about Wright still speaks to singers and musicians today, beyond David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen who delighted Sydney audiences with his version of Friday.

Wright was a fascinating frontman who also took to the stage in Jesus Christ Superstar. Not the average rocker.  Steve Hoffman’s website is an excellent Wright resource about this period.

EASYBEATS TEX EASYBEATS STEVIE WRIGHT Stevie Wright in Jesus Christ Superstar as Simon Zealots stevehoffman dot tv

I’ll Make You Happy

I’ll Make You Happy is just one Easybeats classic which put Australian music on the Sixties international hipster map.  It stands the test of time, as does The Divinyls’ blistering cover version which Chrissy Amphlett made her own.

 

 

I Give You Love

The Easybeats wrote as they spoke. They created three-minute poems about Australian life in the Sixties which Stevie Wright drilled into the camera, then onto the transistor radios of the time. He was Australia’s first international star. Happy Birthday Stevie.

 

Mental as Anything Art

Mental as Anything Art

 

Mental as Anything first played at The Unicorn Hotel on Oxford Street, Sydney and went on to become one of the country’s best-loved, most critically acclaimed bands.

Guitarist Reg Mombassa (Chris O’Doherty) has become the most recognised artist in the band, although the Mentals have also been immortalised by Paul Worstead (1950) a graduate of East Sydney Technical College, where he studied alongside the Mentals . Both Mombassa and Worstead went on to design for Mambo as well as pursuing exhibitions in major Australian galleries. Mombassa’s Australiana is instantly recognisable, below, in a beachside pouch.

Reg Mombassa Beachside Pouch.

 The $1950 Vanilla Slice Poster

 

Vanilla Slice poster by Paul Worstead $1950 AUD (2017)
Vanilla Slice poster by Paul Worstead $1950 AUD (2017)

The vanilla slice poster advertising a gig by Mental as Anything at the Bexley North Hotel is one example and in 2017 the sale price was AUD$1950.

Band Portraits by Paul Worstead

 

There were two series of posters produced by Paul Worstead to promote Mental as Anything’s Get Wet and Creatures of Leisure albums in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. This Australian homage to Andy Warhol is now in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia.

NPG IIIIIIIIdownload-1NPG IIIIIPaul Worstead NPGNPG III

 

Drinking Beer

Speaking in the landmark ABC-TV series Long Way To The Top, Peter O’Doherty said of Mental As Anything,

“They didn’t do anything. Hung around drinking beer at each other’s houses. That’s where the band got its impetus from, all that time listening to records thinking ‘we can do that’. I don’t know where the art came in. Art came in on the t-shirts and album colours later on.”

His brother Reg Mombassa, aka Chris O’Doherty, remembers his family childhood elsewhere, “I drew all the time on little square blocks of butcher’s paper which is a sort of a thin grey paper that my mother bought, with an HB pencil.”

Peter: “As kids he was always drawing dismembered soldiers. That was one of his popular themes.” The idea of themes is important in the work of both brothers and the bands they played in and wrote for. Peter wrote Berserk Warriors, but it is Reg who is in the clip here, part of his general Viking obsession, which later revealed itself in his work for Mambo. The BBC Mental As Anything file is here

Berserk Vikings

Peter was inspired by his childhood enthusiasm for Viking stories to write the satirical tribute to ABBA. ‘Berserk Warriors’, written by Peter and sung by Martin Plaza, was one of three singles to be released on Mental As Anything’s 1981 album, ‘Cats and Dogs’. Peter still performs the song with his brother, Reg Mombassa, in their band Dog Trumpet.

 

 

The Mentals in Australian Galleries

Beyond Vikings, Reg Mombassa’s nostalgic and patriotic landscapes and portraits, many inspired by his childhood in New Zealand, are characteristic of his work.

Mombassa’s archives can be found in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Australia and many more online. Patrick WhiteElton John and Ewan McGregor  all  purchased his work.

Australian Nobel Prize winner, Patrick White, became an early patron.

 Mombassa Art on YouTube

Reg Mombassa’s life, art and work is captured on a number of YouTube videos.  Here are three, below.