Category Archives: The Muster

Australian Guitar Stories

Australian Guitar Stories

 

The Saints donated a guitar to The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Private collectors pay a large amount of money for any instrument which has survived the 1960’s-1970’s. The great Australian guitar obsession probably began with Jimi Hendrix, seen here on the cover of a rare copy of Go-Set, ‘The Teen & Twenties Newspaper’ for music-mad Australians that inspired a whole generation of garage bands in the Sixties to go down to Brash’s music store with a fistful of cash. Since 1968 not much has changed.

 

Australian guitar obsession began with Hendrix.
Australian guitar obsession began with Hendrix.

Rowland S. Howard

 

The most famous Rowland S. Howard guitar is stored in the climate-controlled interior of Hamer Hall, Melbourne. Senior curator Carolyn Laffan and her team have many guitars in their care, including Rowland’s white Fender Jaguar.

His lifelong friend and collaborator Genevieve McGuckin (below, holding the Rowland S. Howard Lane sign at its St. Kilda launch), told the media –

“It followed him around his whole life. It was pawned a few times but it always managed to get back to him. I redeemed it a few times myself and so did others. It’s a hard life, being a musician.”

And “yes, that is his blood on the back”, she confirms. 

 

Rowland S. Howard Lane (Jessica Adams)
Rowland S. Howard Lane (Jessica Adams)

GUITAR STORIES – SCOTT ELLIS

 

Not every Australian guitarist becomes world famous, but in the local ‘who’s who’ of players  every bass (and its owner) still tells a story. Writer Scott Ellis remembers his Ibanez, here:

The first guitar I ever picked up was a bass.

It was 1980 and as usual, a mate and I were hiding in his room listening to The Jam or The Clash, blowing B&H Extra Mild cigarettes out of the window and discussing the deep issues of the day – like why Strontium Dog was cooler than Judge Dredd.

Then he picked up one of the ever-present guitars that his house always seemed to have (both his parents were art teachers) and started to play.

It was a three chord riff, nothing complex, but it needed, I was assured, something more.

So a bass was found, I was given about a minute of instruction (left hand here, hit that string there) and we were to my amazement, playing music. And like the first time I heard Joe Strummer play, I was hooked.

The next week I was looking to buy and there were two second-hand bass guitars I could afford, a Gibson Thunderbird and an Ibanez Roadstar. The Gibson had flatwound strings – I didn’t know what they were, but I knew they felt weird – so I bought the Ibanez and went home.

By now my mate had turned those three chords into four songs, lyrics were written, almost all about skateboarding and we convinced a guy we vaguely knew to play drums. When the song count hit ten – still almost all about skateboarding – we organised a gig with ourselves on the bill and played. And in one form or another, with the same bass, I haven’t stopped.

I’ve played parties, pubs, festivals, clubs, more gigs than I can remember and some I’ll never forget.

That bass has been dropped, thrown, caressed, thrashed. It’s been played with fingers, plectrums, coins, drumsticks, mikestands, bottles, fists, whatever worked to get a decent sound.

Scott Ellis Guitar

 

It’s been scarred, patched, covered in stickers, scraped clean then covered up again, graffitied, etched, rewired, retuned, retired (briefly, for a Rickenbacker interloper), rediscovered and never let go.

I was never that good – those first three chords are still my favourites – but my bass has become, after more than 30 years, an extension of my arms.

I can find any note without thinking, know which control to grab at what time and where to turn it to make whatever sound I want.

I know exactly how far it reaches if I need to butt someone off stage, how much weight I need to put into the swing to get all the strings to buzz when you belt it against an amp… and I know when I’m playing it, it doesn’t matter that I’m really just some guy who lucked onto stage; those moments are gold.

Even when I’m not playing it, just opening the case reminds me who I was, who I am and how I got from one place to the other. I haven’t played the bass for a while now; there’s an acoustic six-string that gets more attention, but it was the first guitar I ever owned and I’ll never sell it.

One day one of my kids might want to have a play. Or maybe I will.
And I’ll know where to find it.

Scott Ellis is an entertainment journalist for Fairfax Media who somehow, much to his amazement, managed to get two listings in The Who’s Who Of Australian Rock’N’Roll for playing in punk bands almost nobody has ever heard of. It still makes him laugh.

Collecting Australian Music

Naomi Dinnen's musical memories.
Naomi Dinnen’s musical memories.

Collecting Australian Music

Thanks to AC/DC but also obscure Australian artists like Leong Lau (his 1977 album is currently selling for $1574) the backstage passes, tickets, vinyl and other collectables from Down Under are now seen as a good investment.

Naomi Dinnen, part of whose personal collection was kindly  photographed by her for AMMP, had more than a decade in the music industry, successfully publishing an independent music magazine. She was a columnist for Rolling Stone, Drum Media, 3D World and Juice Magazines, worked for EMI Music and PolyGram Records.  Not everyone has a collection of laminates but they can and do turn up at street markets and garage sales – and on eBay.

 Collecting Go-Set Magazines

Go-Set magazines retail for around AUD$50 online. They are already preserved at The State Library of Victoria on film archives and at the National Film and Sound Archive. A copy of Go-Set bought in 1973 for 25 cents has increased in value 200 fold.

 

GERRY ON TV BILLY THORPE amazing_west_coast-lr_ruqkrmi

 

Collecting Nick Cave 

Nick Cave is one of the few Australian musicians to have crossed the threshold from ‘muso’ to sought-after museum, art gallery and library name. This famous photograph by Bleddyn Butcher (below) appeared in an exhibition on Australian Bohemia, presented at The State Library of Victoria.

Euchrid’s Crib, a gelatin silver photograph, taken in West Berlin on 3rd August 1985 captured Nick Cave when he was writing his novel And the Ass Saw the Angel  and Butcher’s title identifies the character from Cave’s book. This was both Cave’s  bedroom and study, complete with human hair.

When Australian musicians cross the line from gigs to galleries, libraries and museums, prices tend to rise accordingly.

This photograph of Nick Cave with Rowland S. Howard (and unfortunate cat) taken by Peter Milne was part of his superb Juvenilia exhibition at the Strange Neighbour gallery in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

Ballarat painter Casey Tosh captured Nick Cave in a portrait which has also found its way onto T-Shirts. He has also drawn Warren Ellis, a former Ballarat resident. The fact that Tosh has also created a whole laneway of street art dedicated to Rowland S. Howard in Ballarat may one day make his paintings and T-shirts collectable.

 

NICK BLEDDYN SHOT MILNE PHOTOS NICK CAVE BY CASEY TOSH WARREN ELIS BY CASEY TOSH

 

Paper Investments

What to watch for –
Australian magazines and street press that has a) vanished and b) escaped household recycling bins could be tomorrow’s Go-Set.

Bon Scott (seen here pointing to Juke magazine) has left a paper trail which is worth collecting.  On the Street, Drum Media and Ram are also worth watching out for.  Tony Mott, the Australian photographer who has exhibited widely and also produced a number of books, has helped to make what used to be free street press, collectable (below).

Australian music posters are best represented in Plastered  by Murray Walding with Nick Vukovic (The Miegunyah Press, 2005) which is now, by itself, a collectable book. The Hair and Masters Apprentices posters, here, are from Plastered.

 

HAIR AT METRO JUKE BON SCOTT SMASH HITS INXS IMG_5636 RAM JJB OTS OOO MOTT DIVINYLS

The Masters Apprentices at Parramatta Town Hall.
The Masters Apprentices at Parramatta Town Hall.

Vinyl Investments

 

A copy of the Masters Apprentices 1979 album Now That It’s Over signed by the late Jim Keays sells for $80 online. Meanwhile, the Taman Shud Evolution LP is valued at $150

Australian pressings of British punk singles and albums are worth watching. The Clash put out London Calling in a Down Under version in 1979 which is now worth $100.  Looking for an eclectic selection? Try Vicious Sloth. This online store is a good source.

From Radio Birdman/Iggy Pop cancelled tour posters to mint-condition box-sets you may find that your Australiana ends up becoming far more valuable than stamps or coins to collectors.

Most people know that The Beatles Yesterday and Today is worth a lot of money (about $995 as we head towards 2020).

 

Who knew that a Tasmanian Christian folk group called The Ascension Four would put out an album worth $65 today, though?

Age and obscurity are not always the keys to a good investment, though. Famous, recent names like Magic Dirt are worth watching. You can buy a poster advertising a gig with Magic Dirt and Rowland S. Howard at The Corner Hotel on 29th October 2008 for $124.99

The poster was free at the time. So was the poster advertising a Nick Cave story in The Monthly magazine – now worth $84.99.

Nick Cave posters are highly collectable.
Nick Cave posters are highly collectable.

 

Start Small or Start Big?

Start small or start big? You don’t have to have a huge outlay to start collecting and vinyl is easily stored and portable.

Artists within bands – who contributed to memorable sleeve art – include Mental As Anything. Vinyl singles with iconic Australiana may help you to up your investment one day. Try  the Mental as Anything ‘Creatures of Leisure’ single for $20.

Sometimes mysteries occur in the marketplace and That Rongeng Sound by Leong Lau is one of them. Asking price? $1574.62 online.

The Beatles in Australia

There are two redesigned Antipodean Beatles covers – Beatles for Sale (tour photographs) and With the Beatles.

An Australian promotional copy of The White Album on eBay is $6000. One of the reasons for this is the censored photograph of a naked John Lennon on the poster which came with the album.

What to Watch

Bands like The Sunnyboys who found their career revived with a television documentary are now seen as an investment. Their self-titled, limited-edition, yellow vinyl album is now $325.

The Sunnyboys on yellow vinyl $325.
The Sunnyboys on yellow vinyl $325.

Midnight Oil posters are worth a long look as the band’s touring exhibition  and its important place in Australian political history is bound to make them desirable to the investors of the future. Blank Canvas Australia sell this poster (from Noosa, below) for almost $250.  It’s also strange but true that a mere flier, from a band like INXS, is now worth $49.99 online.

It is worth trawling eBay, record collectors’ fairs, secondhand shops and open-air markets to see what you can find.

Should this single (below) turn up in a car-boot sale, though, you’d better snap it up. This is God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols on A&M Records and it’s currently worth $24,411.

Do you have a photograph of your Australian music memorabilia you’d like to share with AMMP? Please let us know. Thank you.

The Sex Pistols' famous single $24, 411
The Sex Pistols’ famous single $24, 411

 

 

This Oils poster is worth $249.99
This Oils poster is worth $249.99

INXS Flier 49 99

Collecting Australian music – this INXS flier measures up.