One of the most beautiful rock’n’roll venues in the world is based on the gods and goddesses of Ancient Rome – in downtown Melbourne, Australia. Carefully preserved set lists backstage, and sculptures of Apollo and Diana hang over the famous stage curtain. Enjoy the digital exhibition.
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
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 Dylan, Cheap 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.
Older Than the Hollywood Bowl
Festival Hall is older than the Hollywood Bowl, but California has chosen to preserve and cherish the latter.
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.
From The Who to Lou
The Who sang My Generation here, on 25th January 1968. Lou Reed, above, toured Festival Hall in 1975.
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)
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
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.”
“This city will be nothing but poorly built apartments in 10 years. #festivalhall”
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?
“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. ”
“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.
“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.”
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.
And Z is for Frank Zappa who played here in 1973.
If you want to help save Festival Hall please follow AMMP on Twitter @ammptv or sign the petition above. Thank you.
Australian music and politics have been intertwined since Vietnam and its aftermath. Khe Sanh is sometimes called the alternative Australian national anthem. Only Nineteen, by Redgum, continued the tradition set by Don Walker and Cold Chisel, in the Eighties.
THE OILS IN THE EIGHTIES
The early-mid 1980s saw the rise of People for Nuclear Disarmament in Australia. Midnight Oil played strong songs that sold the anti-nuclear message and toured the country widely, educating a generation about nukes. This laminate, from the collection of Marshall Cullen, dates from that time. Hobart was a focus for the anti-nuke protests of the mid 1980’s after the controversial visit of the U.S.S. Enterprise – Peter Garrett was there.
STOP THE DROP, 1983
U.S. FORCES GIVE THE NOD
U.S. Forces lyrics which the crowd sing word-for-word in the Stop The Drop clip can be found at Midnight Oil’s official website . The song was written by Jim Moginie and Peter Garrett.
The anthem U.S. Forces name checks Shakespeare (‘dogs of war ‘) as well as the Wall Street TV-speak of the early Eighties (‘market movements call the shots.’) You can see the crowd mouthing the lines “People too scared to go to prison” at Stop The Drop which was also a reflection of the times. This T-Shirt, below, is in The Powerhouse Museum collection in Sydney.
The Stop the Drop concert held at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl on Sunday 13 February 1983 was attended by the T-shirt donor you see responsible for the Powerhouse Museum archive donation on this page – Kevin Fewster – who also happened to be one of the organisers.
The 1983 concert was attended by 8000 people. In 1984 Peter Garrett was to run for the Australian Senate in NSW for the Nuclear Disarmament Party but was not elected.
Also at this concert, members of Goanna, Midnight Oil and Redgum recorded an impromptu song to protest the proposed damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River. Released as ‘Let The Franklin Flow’ by Gordon Franklin and the Wilderness Ensemble, it reached number 15 on the charts in May that year.
The line “Superboy takes a plutonium wife” might just be one of the most mis-heard in Australian music, but ‘sing me songs of no denying’ is something most Australian music fans would automatically attribute to the band. The album was huge in the early 1980’s and together with Red Sails In The Sunset (which shows Sydney after the bomb) politicised part of a generation.
THE RANGER URANIUM MINE
Between 1979 and 1984, the majority of what is now Kakadu National Park was created, surrounding but not including the Ranger uranium mine. The two themes for the 1980 Hiroshima Day march and rally in Sydney, sponsored by the Movement Against Uranium Mining (MAUM), were: “Keep uranium in the ground” and “No to nuclear war.” Later that year, the Sydney city council officially proclaimed Sydney nuclear-free.
The Nobel-prize winning Australian novelist Patrick White led one such march, and was photographed with Tom Uren, pictured with dark glasses, bag and stick. This is his novel The Eye of the Storm.
RUBBERY FIGURES, RONALD REAGAN AND MIDNIGHT OIL
By 1982, there were 350,000 Australians at anti-nuclear rallies, focussed on halting Australia’s uranium exports, removing foreign bases from Australian land and creating a nuclear-free Pacific. The visits of U.S. nuclear warships – as far as Hobart – was also a major early Eighties issue and Midnight Oil sang the soundtrack.
The comedy puppet series Rubbery Figures (ABC-TV 1984-1990) satirised U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the same period. To put Midnight Oil’s anti-nuclear albums 10, 9, 8 and Red Sails in context, it’s also important to remember that in 1984, shortly after both records (still vinyl) were released, President Reagan joked in a soundcheck on National Public Radio, ‘My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.’
Rubbery Figures – Ronald Regan re Anzac Day
THE BOMB AND THE EIGHTIES
Writing in Meanjin, Simon Castles remembers, ‘In 1984 the Doomsday Clock kept by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was moved to three minutes to midnight, its most dire position since the invention of the hydrogen bomb. Midnight Oil released Red Sails in the Sunset the same year, an album whose cover shows Sydney after a nuclear strike.’
‘In the eighties there was a stack of pop songs about the bomb. To name just a handful of tracks on a list that ran long, as if to a mushroom cloud on the horizon: ‘Breathing’ by Kate Bush (1980), ‘1999’ by Prince (1982), ‘Seconds’ by U2 (1983), ‘99 Luftballons’ by Nena (1983), ‘Walking in Your Footsteps’ by The Police (1983), ‘Two Minute Warning’ by Depeche Mode (1983), ‘Forever Young’ by Alphaville and then Laura Branigan (1984–85), ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984), ‘Russians’ by Sting (1985), ‘Guns in the Sky’ by INXS (1987) and ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ by Morrissey (1988).’
Red Sails in the Sunset was a title more associated with Bing Crosby and Fats Domino in the Eighties – until Midnight Oil took it over with the help of a Japanese artist who was years ahead of his time. American blogger Sam Wade, writes at The Vinyl Odyssey:
“Japanese artist, Tsunehisa Kimura, created the post-apocalyptic vision of Sydney Harbor – no water only craters from nuclear bombs and a giant fireball near the bridge. It’s one of the coolest photomontages I’ve seen and it stuck with me even more because I have family in Australia. But remember, this record came out in 1984, six years before Photoshop 1.0 would ever hit the streets. In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that this type of art was much more painstaking and analog to create.”
Dr Sarah Engledow, Historian and Curator at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, wrote in Portrait magazine.
“In 1983, in an international climate of increased public involvement in protest, the Australian local news was dominated by environmental demonstrations on two fronts. The first was the Tasmanian NO DAMS campaign, making highly professional and effective use of photographs by Peter Dombrovskis,a wilderness photographer mentored by Olegas Truchanas. The second was the anti-nuclear movement. In February 1983 Midnight Oil helped organise the Stop the Drop concert in Melbourne, and headlined the event. That year, Tom Uren and Peter Garrett marched together at the head of an anti-nuclear protest. In 1984, when Tom Uren and Patrick White walked side by side at the front of an Australians for Nuclear Disarmament march and Peter Garrett stood unsuccessfully for the Senate on behalf of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, Midnight Oil released the album Red Sails in the Sunset, featuring sinisterly surreal cover artwork by Tsunehisa Kimura of the Sydney Harbour Bridge spanning an expanse of cratered red dirt, a bomb-like ball glowing lava-hot beside the Opera House. The following year, the Oils’ EP Species Deceases came with album notes on the theme of Hiroshima forty years on. Including the great track ‘Hercules’, Species Deceases was an exasperated exhortation to action: ‘Come to your senses and care/16 million I can’t hear you at all’, Garrett cried.”
Rowland S. Howard Lane is now on the map in St. Kilda, Melbourne thanks to a campaign by Nick Haines and Rowland’s friends, family and fans.
Rowland’s blood-stained guitar is in the archives at The Australian Music Vault. The rest can be found around the city of Melbourne and as far away as Ballarat.
A number of photographers and painters have captured Rowland S. Howard over the years.
Top: Rowland S. Howard with The Birthday Party, photographed for the NME in 1981.
Artist Casey Tosh created another lane for Rowland in Ballarat, home town of Warren Ellis.
A Day in the Life of Rowland S. Howard appeared in photographer Peter Milne’s exhibition, Juvenilia, at Strange Neighbour in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
The laneway sign is the only typographical tribute to Melbourne’s most famous guitarist. Seen here being carried across St. Kilda with Nick Haines and friends, ahead of the official opening by Minister Martin Foley.
The February 27th-March 28th 2015 Juvenilia exhibition by Peter Milne at Strange Neighbour in Fitzroy highlighted the life and work of Rowland S. Howard, Nick Cave, Tracey Pew and other members of The Birthday Party’s inner circle, at the start of their career.
Rowland S. Howard Lane – one of many ways Australia remembers him.
Rowland S. Howard on Studio 22
This clip shows Rowland introduced by Australian music journalist and author Clinton Walker on the ABC-TV program Studio 22.
An Interview with Nick Haines
How does Rowland fit into the Melbourne and particularly St. Kilda music scene?
Nick Haines: In the late 70’s when the “new music” was sweeping the world St Kilda became something of a hub for this new sound. So much so that it earned the nickname Berlin by the sea. Rowland’s contribution to the originality of the Melbourne scene at this time is a matter of record.
A fan who signed the petition lobbying for a laneway in his name, said Rowland was ‘One of the greatest guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll, anywhere in the world.’ Why do you think his guitar work mattered so much to music and musicians?
I’m not a guitarist so it’s hard for me to answer from a musician’s point of view on why his work mattered, but in my opinion Rowland showed other guitarists that you create your own sound and stick with it. But like I said, it’s hard for me to answer from a musician’s point of view.
What have been the highs and lows involved in the process of getting the lane way up? Where do things stand right now?
It’s been a long battle but I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. The low is, I never imagined that an unnamed laneway with no street address on it couldn’t be named with two names as it was too difficult for emergency services. To me it just seemed like bureaucracy gone mad. Almost like something out of an episode of Yes Minister. I mean seriously…. “Rowland S. Howard Lane” as opposed to the “unnamed laneway between Jackson Street and Eildon Road opposite the Jackson Street carpark!?” Which is more difficult?
The high, without a doubt, has been the hugely moving global support for a tribute laneway for Rowland, from noteworthy musicians through to fans in Asia, Europe, UK, USA and Australia. Their words and measure of love for him and his work motivated me to persist through the red tape and to keep going.
Here is another petition comment from a fan of Rowland’s – ‘Even though the St Kilda that Rowland impacted is mostly painted over by jeans shops and fancy restaurants, his influence is still strong between the cracks and in the shadows and makes perfect sense to name the street after him.’ And Shannon Rowe wrote, ‘Roland was a regular customer at our cafe, Miss Jackson in Jackson Street. Who was the Rowland S. Howard you remember and what was he really like? How did you get to know him and how did the friendship continue through his illness? And for fans visiting St. Kilda, are there are any other cafes he frequented?
Rowland was a regular fixture with his daily strolls down Fitzroy Street. Many locals knew him well by these without knowing of his background in music. I know Rowland frequented Miss Jackson a lot also he and I spent more hours together talking and drinking coffee than I care to admit at the Pelican.
Did you ever discuss a laneway memorial with Rowland?
I never discussed death or dying with Rowland, because he wanted to live and work and play forever. The idea of a tribute laneway occurred to me on my way to his funeral, not before he died. I wanted him to live and play forever too.
Your thoughts about Autoluminescent, the documentary about Rowland made by Richard Lowenstein? Is that the Rowland you knew?
Very much. The later one-on-one camera interviews with him I found very hard to watch as that was the Rowland I knew best. My wife and I got very teary during those shots.
Watch the Autoluminescent trailer again from Ghost Pictures, here, posted at YouTube.
What is your favourite Rowland S. Howard music?
My top three would be Exit Everything (off Teenage Snuff Film), Hyperspace (off the These Immortal Souls album – Never Gonna Die Again and Golden Age of Bloodshed (Off Pop Crimes)
Anything else you’d like to say here? Thank you Nick.
Considering the rich musical and arts heritage that Melbourne has I hope this sets a precedent for other musicians and artists who have made a significant contribution to be honoured similarly.
Rowland S. Howard Lane, Ballarat created by Casey Tosh.
The City of Melbourne’s movers and shakers want your views on Melbourne – past, present and potential – on their website, now. As the home of Go-Set and Countdown – and today, the home of The Tote, The Old Bar, The Labour in Vain, Cherry Bar, The Espy, AC/DC Lane, Amphlett Lane, The Forum (below) – Victoria’s capital is the nation’s music capital. This is your chance to be heard by Melbourne councillors.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC CITY SHOULD MELBOURNE BE? From SLAM to the Save the Palace campaign, Melbourne has been home to strong protests about live music venues. As the home of new bands as well as some national treasures in the Australian music industry it has a special part to play in Australian life and culture. If you haven’t already made yourself heard on the City of Melbourne’s website, do it now. What kind of music city, should the country’s music capital actually be?
Chrissy Amphlett loved dogs and bred them. At Amphlett Lane in Melbourne, a black Pekingese called Holiday (named after Billie Holiday) is now watching over her mistress. Chrissy Amphlett and her dogs were immortalised in stages and have since become a social media hit. These are just a few of the many photographs, below.
The award-winnng Tasmanian artist Peter Gouldthorpe was commissioned to create the mural. Since then, fans and Melbourne visitors have flocked to the portrait of Holiday, Saki, Tuppence and Dobro to take photographs on Instagram and Twitter. You can read more about Chrissy’s dogs in her autobiography, Pleasure and Pain. This great portrait of Chrissy Amphlett is by Reg Ryan, from social media.
The Chrissy Amphlett dogs, school uniform and Divinyls amplifier make a popular backdrop for fan photographs on Instagram and Twitter. Famous visitors to the Amphlett Lane include Blondie drummer Clem Burke and Paul Kelly.
Chrissy Amphlett and her dogs required an award-winning animal portrait painter. Peter Gouldthorpe’s dog murals also adorn Hobart.
Holiday, Saki, Tuppence and Dobro
Holiday stands on an amplifier bearing the name of Amphlett’s legendary band Divinyls, joined by Saki, Tuppence and Dobro her dalmatian. It is a mural that has been created from photographs lent by her husband Charley Drayton, drummer with Cold Chisel. You can see the mural being developed by Peter Gouldthorpe in stages, here. The hidden fire hose unit, bottom, became a Divinyls amplifier in his hands.
Chrissy Amphlett’s famous uniform at Amphlett Lane, Melbourne.
Holiday – Always by Chrissy’s Side
Holiday went everywhere with Chrissy and Charley, appropriately enough on holiday to Puerto Rico once, where the airline also let Chrissy put the Pekingese on the seat next to her, flying over. Later on in Chrissy’s life Holiday became her loyal companion during her breast cancer and MS: Chrissy told fans ‘My little dog Holiday lies on the end of the bed when I am not feeling great and doesn’t leave my side.’
Amphlett Lane also features a plaque donated by the City of Melbourne and a lane way screen mural by Melbourne artist Damien Arena.
Peter Gouldthorpe and His Street Art
Artist Peter Gouldthorpe’s work includes the 1994 Picture Book of the Year, First Light. He has illustrated books by Paul Jennings, John Marsden, Colin Thiele, C.J. Dennis and Ethel Turner. He’s one of the heavy lifters of Australian illustration, painting and street art.
Mural process photographs by Peter Gouldthorpe, with special thanks.
Midnight Oil went on the road in 2015 in the form of a travelling exhibition visiting Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Canberra, Riverina, Southern Queensland, and Wollongong. Ross Heathcote, Curator & Public Programs Coordinator, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, spoke to AMMP about one of the most successful mobile museums Australia has ever seen. The Midnight Oil exhibition showed everything from the famous Sydney 2000 Olympics ‘Sorry’ suits – to long-forgotten posters.
The exhibition of Midnight Oil’s was a huge success at the Sydney exhibition hosted by the Manly Art Gallery and Museum – what were the final numbers?
Yes, a huge success in many ways, not only big numbers (18,000 in Manly over a short few weeks, and even more at Newcastle), but really rich visitation with great experiences and some genuine interactivity.
There were thousands of Oils fans visiting of course, but also visitors who had never heard of the Oils. At Manly there was much interstate and overseas visitation. We were thrilled. We hosted several special events include a world premiere screening of the full ‘The Making of 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1’ documentary by Robert Hambling, and some great Q&A evenings which featured Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie from the Oils.
How was your Newcastle season?
We have just pulled down the The Making of Midnight Oil exhibition in Newcastle. It looked great in the old train sheds (now Newcastle Museum). Our exhibition is based around stages and risers…real ones, with the real Midnight Oil roadcases converted into showcases. Along with the graphics, a hundred or so gig posters, original lyric scrawls and many brilliant audio-visuals, the band’s instruments and other artefacts, the exhibition had a truly authentic and unique rock’n’roll look.
Newcastle was a perfect host venue for the show. The town has a fine pub rock tradition that is maintained there. One of the highlights at Newcastle was an evening event focussing on songwriting: the panel consisted of Rob Hirst, Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus) and Dave Mason (The Reels). Apart from the fascinating, revealing and iconoclastic discussion, each of them also played or sang. I’ve never seen a happier museum audience.
Did you and the other exhibition organisers Rob Hirst, Virigina Buckingham and Wendy Osmond make any major changes to the Newcastle exhibition?
We worked closely with Newcastle museum staff to adapt the show to their space and add some local content. How could we go to Newcastle and not refer to the earthquake gig and the legendary Redhead Beach gig? Each venue on the tour is different, so Wendy and I will assess each space. Rob will inevitably tell us a ‘war story’ about the Oils and every town that the show will travel to, so we will try to include local references and stories.
In talking to host museums and galleries, I have encountered people who have their own Midnight Oil story to tell, as well. In the exhibition there is a facility to leave your Oils story on a fan wall.
What’s your favourite part of the exhibition after all this time?
That’s really hard to answer. The icons in the show include the Sorry Suits worn at the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony gig, and the giant Exxon Oil spill protest banner that the band played in front of, at their guerrilla protest gig in new York City. These are great things but I also love Ray Argall’s beautiful film piece which has wonderful concert and crowd footage from the mid 1980’s. The the ’10-1’ doco is brilliant. I love the band’s gear as well – Jim’s Gretsch, Martin’s Strat, Giffo’s Bass and Peter’s skyscaper one-piece mic stand. The gig posters are also great: they are a magnificent collection that tell us about a rich social history of accessible world class live music, lost venues, lost bands, and of course the amazing career of the Oils.
There are a couple of soundbites including an unreleased Midnight Oil track, and a recording of Jim, Rob and Bear as teenagers in their trio Schwampy Moose. Jim offered that piece saying that ‘people need to know what we sounded like when we were shit’. I’m proud of the text in the exhibition where I had the pleasure of collaborating with the band’s biographer Mark Dodshon. The hand-scrawled lyric sheets are revealing and compelling; a rare insight into the process of the band’s three main songwriters. The hitherto unseen footage of the band playing at Tanelorn in 1981 is awesome….I could go on!
What about the piece which Rob Hirst described as follows: “The piece de resistance is a replication in a box which has sticky carpet, three screens when you walk in and a curtain you pull behind you. It has footage of the band playing at the Tanelorn Festival in 1981 and there’s two sets of headphones you can choose from – one is loud, the other is really loud – and you can stick to the carpet. There’s elbows that come out from the side of the box so that you can be elbowed in the ribs. What I was trying to do was replicate what it was like coming to see Midnight Oil back then at the Mawson Hotel, the 16 Footers or the Ambassador or whatever.”
This was Rob’s pet project! He wanted a space in the exhibition where visitors could get the feel of an early Oils gig. He suggested a bizarre kind-of ‘bush shower’ to begin- steamy, smelly, loud…as if you were at the Royal Antler Hotel in 1978. I talked him out of that, and we compromised on a portaloo. That wasn’t going to work either. Wendy Osmond (3D designer) suggested we make a big roadcase that you can walk into. It was put together by some helpers including Grant Pudig (a former tour manager for the Oils). Rob had some old pub carpet, but it just wasn’t nasty enough, so we regularly spill a middy of Toohey’s Old and some cigarette butts into the floor to give that special Sydney pub smell.
It’s cramped and heated, and you’re surrounded by three screens featuring crowd scenes from the Hordern and the Oils at Tanelorn playing Cold Cold Change. Rob’s dogged persistence made this ‘Antler Room’ happen, but we have reserved the right to tease him about and it, so it is known as Rob’s Folly. I need to add that without Rob Hirst and his remarkable energy and penchant for collecting, MoMO would never have been born.
Other efforts toward making exhibitions about rock bands have not had the privileged position of having band members at hand, supportive and involved, and yet hands-off when it comes to telling the true stories and avoiding ‘vanity pieces’. Rob, Jim, Peter, Martin, Giffo, Bear and Bones have all been really helpful and generous along with the Oils’ management. The fact that they are as fearless in telling their story as they were as a musical force has given the exhibition project particular grunt.
I once would have thought of Midnight Oil as a very serious band, with their songs and stance on indigenous issues, homeless youth and the environment (many of us might have been introduced to some of these issues through their songs). These chaps turn out to be relaxed, funny, creative, witty, self-deprecating, super-literate (Rob corrected some of my text panel grammar and he’s meant to be a rock drummer!) and very easy to work with.
Given your hands-on experience with the Oils’ exhibition lately, your ideas about an Australian Music Museum – particularly the venue, format, funding, space and viability would be very interesting to a lot of people.
The interest has been enormous. It’s not just about the Oils, there is broader interest in some recent times when Australian music (rock in particular) was a massive part of our identity. The Midnight Oil story included the politics and issues that band traversed, which gave the show an added dimension. However, the great thing about exhibiting the stories of popular music is how that resonates within our memories, generates intergenerational conversations and cross-cultural conversations (and this is all beautifully documented in our visitors’ writings in MoMO).
I imagine an Australian Music museum having some of the authenticity of MoMO; a place that can feel like a pub in Adelaide, or the Sydney Stadium or Cloudlands or the Countdown set or The Palais at any given opportunity. To do this you need great designers like Wendy Osmond and Virginia Buckingham, the involvement of audience, and willing and brave contributors like Rob.
I’d like to see the music museum go beyond one space. Perhaps a ‘mothership venue’ with pop-ups around the country. There must be capacity for performance and recording in this space and it must be alive (therefore acoustics and accessibility are important). The key space needs much flexibility. It should be built by roadies as much as by museum makers. A smart government would take on the support of such a venue. We had some good corporate support from Sony Music, perhaps it’s time the music industry to get behind the physical museum project.The benefits are great.
The campaigns around Australia, saving Australian music venues from demolition are part of an ongoing mission to preserve ‘living museum spaces’ which once gone – are gone forever. The Palace Theatre on Bourke Street, Melbourne (above) attracted over 30,000 people to its Save the Palace Facebook page. All ages and generations turned up to chalk protests about the destruction of the venue. In its place, developers plan a high-rise hotel.
Through petitions, crowdfunded legal battles, rallies and more, Australians are pushing back against the demolition of music venues in favour of high-rise inner-city apartments where once stood a ‘local’ with its own local bands. Pictured below – Australia music fans at The Esplanade (The Espy) in St. Kilda in the summer of 2016.
Relaunching the Espy
The Espy, or Esplanade Hotel, St. Kilda, is an Australian institution, and in Melbourne – which many argue is the musical capital of the nation – it has become a symbol of everything musicians and music fans want to save. From the ceiling down. Locals celebrated the return of this sprawling venue, ripe for recreation. Heritage issues in Australia go beyond the bricks-and-mortar historic value of a venue, many argue. We’re talking about memories. Cultural and social living history. The Espy has been a Melbourne institution for generations.
Andrew Street and Sarah Taylor on Venue Destruction
“The march toward transforming all of our nation’s cities into a Jenga-block landscape of apartment buildings has a lot of unexpected costs. They change airflow of our streets and recirculate car exhausts. They put massive localised strain onto sewerage systems. And they destroy rock’n’roll.” Andrew Street, The Sydney Morning Herald.
Andrew Street is just one of many writers, academics, historians and music lovers around the country who have argued for the priceless investment in people and music – as opposed to the pricey (and polluting) cost of ‘Jenga’ development. Sarah Taylor is another.
In the 1990s, Sydney was entering a well-documented decennium horribilis. By the late 1990s even the unofficial home-town booster band, The Whitlams, was singing (sadly) about their hometown more than in it. Speaking on radio in 1997, lead singer Tim Freedman commented that Melbourne had ‘a bigger sense of community, in pubs and being part of a crowd’, while inner-city Sydney had been ‘scattered to the wind’ … In addition, a variety of contemporary accounts point to a negative feeling in Sydney live music in the 1990s, depicting the city as a tough place to get a gig or find a friend…”
The Corkman Hotel Melbourne
The Corkman pub in Carlton, Melbourne became a symbol of the battle between developers and music fans when it was turned into asbestos dust after an illegal and shameful wrecking operation.
A long-standing home for Irish music in Victoria, The Corkman was also the occasional home of Ned Kelly’s judge and the local legal community – and a classic example of a piece of Melbourne history which has been trashed for apartments.
It is hoped, as the banners around the site proclaim, that The Corkman will rise again. The pink netting over the emergency fences erected to protect the asbestos-riddled, illegally-demolished pub remains – while in Victoria, a legal battle is set to be fought that will hopefully start a serious approach to the preservation of Australian history – and the conservation of the musician and music-lover’s natural habitat; the Great Australian Pub.
Saved! The Landsdowne Hotel, Sydney
After years of uncertainty, The Lansdowne Hotel – home to generations of Sydney University students and their favourite bands – is coming back. (Images: Pinterest, Twitter, Rock Brat, ABC).
Resurrecting The Lansdowne in Sydney
The Lansdowne is an Australian hotel worth preserving and resurrecting. Steve Pavlovic, a Sydney promoter who would book Nirvana for an Australian tour – before Nevermind hit the charts – famously began his career as manager at The Lansdowne, on Sydney’s Broadway
The Living End, Mudhoney, Hard-Ons, Died Pretty, Go-Betweens and You Am I all played the art deco Lansdowne, built in the 1920s, designed by prominent local architect Sidney Warden. Its state heritage listing describes it as a “prominent landmark”. Other pubs around Australia have not been so lucky and have met the bulldozers, ending memories – and sometimes, musicians’ careers.
The State Heritage listed Lansdowne had a history – like the ill-fated Corkman and Palace – of being much more than a music venue. At times it was an occasional haunt of the Sydney Push, a group of young left-wing intellectuals that began congregating in the 1940s.
Without The Lansdowne – there would have been no Half A Cow. Swirl played at an open mic night at the Lansdowne Hotel, and attracted the attention of Nic Dalton, founder of Half a Cow label (who was mixing all the bands that night). They were part of the “new breed” of Sydney bands that came in the wake of the success of Ratcat and The Hummingbirds.
You Am I and The Landsdowne
Why did Australia have such a healthy music industry as recently as the early 1990’s? Partly because musicians and their fans could afford to rent shared houses within stumbling distance of great pubs, with empty stages.
Tim Rogers – It was pretty fortuitous that you (Andy) just lived up the road, actually. Talking about the soundtrack to a house, Mudhoney were a massive band for us when I was in that Sheppard Street. Andy: And Bleach was huge. Tim: That was a big one, my brother Jaimie loved it – he used to live there, and he’d either wanna be Andy’s best mate or suddenly have a turn like us Rogers boys are known to do… it happened all the time. Andy: I remember he chucked everyone out once! I lived up the road, about 300 metres just on the left, and there was the Lansdowne, the Phoenician… all these great venues that had music happening. Everyone was living around here then; Annandale was far out in those days. You’d go to a pub here and they’d be people you know; you’d go to the Lansdowne or the Phoenician and there’d be people you know.
You Am I released their first EP Snake Tide at the Lansdowne Hotel on 3rd June 1991.
The Palace Theatre – It’s Not Over Yet
The Palace Theatre, Melbourne, is still boarded up, ready for demolition, years after the first protests to save her, began. Kate Ceberano is among many performers to have headlined at the venue, who has spoken out about the loss of heritage architecture. Patricia Amphlett, whose cousin Chrissy has a lane named after her, ending at the stage doors of The Palace, has also made a public statement. What’s next? Who knows. But as the campaigners behind Save the Palace say “It’s not over yet!”
“What a tragedy to have to lose such an iconic building with memories that can never be replaced. It’s too easy to demolish and simply put something up in its place, but you can never replace the investment that has been made in that space. Every note, every ounce of sweat produced on that stage all forgotten…. “like tears in the rain”! I’d like to think that Melbourne is a city that knows why it invests in its arts and culture…. Why stop at its heritage architecture, especially a building steeped in so much history?”
Every great city of the world has great theatres. Like the Lyceum Theatre in London, The Palace has been an opera house, and a venue for rock bands – including Divinyls, featuring my cousin Chrissy Amphlett – and some great theatre. Like the Lyceum in London, The Palace has also gone through many incarnations. Unlike the Lyceum, sadly, it is not a listed building. As a member of the ARIA Hall of Fame together with Chrissy, I would like to note the number of other ARIA inductees who have performed at The Palace. Perhaps most importantly, The Palace has always been there for the people of Melbourne and the people of Australia as an icon spanning the generations. For the sake of generations past, present and future we should preserve it for music, art and theatre – which it has housed since 1912.
Patricia Amphlett OAM:
National President of Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and former Vice President of Actors’ Equity. Member of the ARIA Hall of Fame.
An interactive Australian music map, inspired by the old Classic Countdown map, is an ongoing story at AMMP where we add new map pins every month.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Aunty Jack – Wollongong. The entire town. The Aunty Jack album ‘Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong’ features a young Norman Gunston with his Gunstonettes singing ‘Wollongong the Brave.’ Aunty Jack was at the inauguration of colour television in Australia on 1 March 1975. The special beat ABC’s commercial rivals by beginning 3 minutes early, at 11:57 pm 28 March 1975 in black and white and then wiping to colour at midnight.
The Marble Bar at The Hilton Hotel on George Street, Sydney is where Cold Chisel were photographed for their album Breakfast at Sweethearts. Sweethearts in Kings Cross no longer exists but a brass plaque in the pavement marks its location.
THE EASYBEATS/AC/DC FAMILY HOME
This before/after shot (Twitter, Pinterest) shows the Young family at 4 Burleigh Street, Burwood.
THE CIVIC HOTEL, PITT STREET
Mental as Anything featuring Greedy Smith (below, in a portrait by Paul Worstead) made The Civic Hotel on Pitt Street in the centre of Sydney their own. The old Phantom Records shop was steps away.
THE HOODOO GURUS The Hoodoo Gurus are a Sydney band not identified with any one venue, but as Le Hoodoo Gurus, they played The Mosman Hotel, Mosman.
Skyhooks created songs about whole suburbs in Melbourne. Carlton and Balwyn are just two of those namechecked.
HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS
Westgate after the song by Mark Seymour – but also Ormond College, University of Melbourne where John Archer, Doug Falconer and Mark Seymour first met on the way to forming Hunters and Collectors.
ST. KILDA From St Kilda to Kings Cross by Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls is just part of the St. Kilda story. So many bands are associated with the area and still play there – like Cold Chisel’s Don Walker – that it has a permanent pin on the Countdown Map.
Festival Hall needs no introduction, thanks to Sherbet, Daddy Cool and unknown third support act AC/DC.
THE COUNTDOWN STUDIOS, RIPPONLEA
This is where Classic Countdown was filmed and there is a fascinating story on the closure of the old ABC-TV Dream Factory here. Devoted fans including The Countdown Sisters used to make the pilgrimage. Follow them here. (Images: ABC Archives, Twitter, Instagram).
Arnhem Land – Yothu Yindi
Aboriginal members of Yothu Yindi came from Yolngu homelands near Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula in Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land.
D.A.A.S. – Canberra
You could use up a lot of pins on Google Maps just trying to follow all the busking spots where the Doug Anthony Allstars put their guitar cases down. D.A.A.S. began performing as buskers on the streets of Canberra in 1984, while they were attending university.
NEW! Chrissy Amphlett Street Melbourne has Amphlett Lane. Canberra now has Amphlett Street. Divinyls fans, start your engines. (Photograph: Twitter @AmphlettLane)
AC/DC – Largs Pier hotel, Adelaide
During the 70s and 80s Largs hosted Jimmy Barnes with Cold Chisel, AC/DC, The Little River Band and The Angels. Bon Scott, who later became the lead singer of AC/DC, met his wife at the Largs Pier Hotel after a gig in 1971.
INXS– Davidson High School, Perth. Imagine this. After recess, Andrew Farriss convincing his fellow Davidson High School classmate, Michael Hutchence, to join his band, Doctor Dolphin.The rest is history. If not actually a band called Doctor Dolphin.
The Innocents with singer Charlie Tauber put Hobart on the Countdown map when they appeared on the show. Sooner or Later is a power pop classic.
The Saints – Corinda High School.
Author and journalist Clinton Walker: “I first became aware of the Saints in 1974, while living in Brisbane. I had transferred to a new school, Corinda High. There, in art class, I met a gaggle of antisocial young long hairs that revolved around an embryonic band called the Saints. Perhaps the strongest common bond I had initially with the guys in art was that we all hated hippies. I fell in with them, and it wasn’t long before I fell in the Saints’ thrall too.”
Read more: Raven Records – The Saints – Wild About You 1976-1978
The Go Between Bridge – The Go Betweens
The Go Between Bridge, formerly known as the Hale Street Link, is a toll bridge for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists over the Brisbane River in inner-city Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
THE COUNTDOWN MAP ON TWITTER
Follow @ammptv on Twitter and send us your map suggestions.
England had the NME. America had Creem. Australia had Go-Set and in the Sixties and Seventies it played a crucial part in helping to create the Australian music industry. The future Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, shared cover space with Gerry Humphries (sic – his name was actually spelled Gerry Humphrys), lead singer withThe Loved Ones. In 1972, Go-Set cost 20 cents. The pantyhose it advertised cost 99 cents. The guitar lessons (below) were free. Today Go-Set’s market value is around AUD$50 and rising, thanks to the rise of auction websites like eBay.
Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and Go-Set
Countdown (ABC-TV) made Ian Meldrum famous. Go-Set helped him make the local Australian industry connections that would take the Sunday night television show to the top. Helped by Go-Set co-founders Phillip Frazer and Tony Schauble, he later became a household name.
Editor Iain McIntyre (Tomorrow is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era 1966-1970) interviewed Phillip Frazer about Meldrum’s arrival:
“Very early on, when we were still working out of our flat, a young guy came through the door and asked what he could do, and Tony said, “I don’t know, but you could clean the house.” They then realised what a talent they had just found, in the future Countdown Talent Co-ordinator. Ian Meldrum’s Keyhole News (below) was accurate – Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum would not only report on celebrities, he would party with them. Now, as then, Meldrum had Access All Areas. Eventually he would use that access to co-create a new Australian music industry.
The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story, Meldrum’s 2014 autobiography with Jeff Jenkins (Allen & Unwin) reveals that the young Ian was paid $10 for his first article in Go-Set on July 20th 1966. He promptly deposited it at the ANZ bank across the road from the Go-Set office in Charnwood Crescent, St. Kilda.
He was multi-tasking on the magazine in 1967, predicting trends for 1968 with writer Helen Hopper. “Whiskers, moustaches and mutton-chop sideboards won’t last as a trend much longer,” they proclaimed.
Four Corners considered Go-Set so important that they paid a visit to the office after it had been on sale for just seven months, interviewing a pipe-puffing, 21-year-old Tony Schauble.
The former Monash zoology student was in even younger company; the fashion writer, Honey Lee, was just eighteen. Yellow Submarine played in the background while Ian Meldrum sported a tweed jacket.
The Go-Set Mafia
Australia in the Sixties and Seventies had a music business that consisted of a very few names and faces – all of whom knew each other – all of whom would go on to bigger things. Vince Lovegrove was one of them.
He was a Go-Set writer, but had also been in The Valentines with Bon Scott, the leader singer of AC/DC. He later went on to manage Divinyls. (Picture of Vince Lovegrove: Courier Mail).
Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and singer/advice columnist Wendy Saddington can be seen at the right, in the photograph below. The co-creator of Go-Set Phillip Frazer has written a superb interactive record of their magazine here.
The photograph which shows the late Wendy Saddington seated next to Ian Meldrum was taken by Vera Kaas-Jager in the Drummond Street, Carlton office. From far left are: founding co-publisher and occasional editor Phillip Frazer, writer and novelist Jean Bedford, editor Jon Hawkes (later a strongman for Circus Oz), David Elfick (founder of Tracks), Meldrum and Saddington. Art Director Ian MacCausland who would also become a mainstay of Australian publishing is not pictured, but thanks to ABC-TV’s GTK (short for Get To Know) there is archival footage.
The Daily Planet
Anyone who didn’t work on Go-Set was working for its rival, Daily Planet, set up by Michael Browning, who would go on to manage AC/DC. He set it up with Michael Gudinski, who would set up Mushroom. The first issue of Daily Planet appeared on 13th August 1971. Created to settle a feud between Michael Browning and Ian Meldrum, it did not last.
David Nichols, author, former Smash Hits writer and music historian, recalls Daily Planet as ‘an artistic triumph’ in his book Dig: Australian Rock and Pop Music 1960-1985. The magazine employed Lee Dillow, who would go on to become John Paul Young’s tour manager. Jen Jewel Brown (then Jenny Brown) who would go on to write songs with Dragon, was also on the Daily Planet roster. She would also write a classic biography of Skyhooks.
Lily Brett would go on to become a novelist after leaving Go-Set but back in the 20th century, her main passion was writing about The Loved Ones. She was hired at the age of 19 after promising to lend her pink Valiant to Tony Schauble, one of Go-Set’s two publishers.
Lily perfected the whimsical, fab, writing style of the Sixties and early Seventies – a time when Incense and Peppermints ruled.
She interviewed Grant Rule, according to Ian Meldrum’s biography. Rule would later go on to work with Meldrum on Countdown, as its producer. Lily recorded, “He likes the colour black, greyhounds, girls with skinny legs, making movies and most important – sultanas.” Lily would later write a novel based partly on her time at Go-Set with the title Lola Bensky – the fictional magazine in her story is Rock-Out.
She reviewed the young Bon Scott and Vince Lovegrove in their band The Valentines unfavourably, if kindly. Their 1968 single I Can Hear the Raindrops brought this response: ‘I’d advise The Valentines to forget this record very quickly. There, now I’ve said it, I feel terrible!”
Today, Literature Lane is around the corner, although there is (as yet) no plaque or mural remembering the birthplace of the magazine that trained so many writers and authors.
Not only did this place give rise to Go-Set and some very impressive Paperback Writers after their journalistic careers, in its later punk incarnation, as Bernhardt’s, it was home to Nick Cave. Today the old Thumping Tum/Bernhardt’s is an apartment block.
Everyone went to the Tum in Melbourne. Frazer and Schauble had edited the Monash University student newspaper Lot’s Wife together and one historic night in 1965, met with Peter Raphael and photographer Colin Beard there, to dream up Go-Set, which first appeared on February 6th 1966.
With an office at 2 Charnwood Crescent, St. Kilda, they were in the heart of Melbourne’s low-rent music industry.
Once Go-Set was off and running, it sold 70,000 copies (McNair 1970) and had a readership of almost half a million Australians. They pulled off exclusive interviews with Mick Jagger and encouraged Letters page feuds with Ian Meldrum. It was all over by 1974, but while it lasted, Go Set was a phenomenon. It saw young Australians through the Vietnam war, women’s liberation, gay and lesbian rights, the Pill and Pot. AndSherbet’s takeover of Melbourne.
For an indispensable archive of GoSet covers, visit Pop Archives which has many of Colin Beard’s Sixties portrait photographs on display. Armed with a Pentax (no flash, at the beginning) he went backstage to photograph The Rolling Stones and made his name. Miles Ago is also an excellent Go-Set resource. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and the State Library of Victoria also hold good collections of the highly collectable magazine. Researcher David M. Kent has an unmissable blog.
Mummy Cool and Daddy Cool
Daddy Cool singer Ross Wilson was married to Pat Wilson, who agreed to write an advice column and was immediately nicknamed Mummy Cool. She succeeded Phillip Frazer’s then-girlfriend from Monash University, Sue Flett, who masqueraded as Leslie Pixie.
Other advice columnists included blues singer Wendy Saddington, from 1969. The job seemed mostly to go to women and by the time Suzi Quatro had her first single out in Australia, staffer Jandy (below) was tapping out replies to agonised questions.
Almost anyone who ended up becoming anyone at all in the Australian media, music and entertainment industry, ended up in the Go-Set offices at some point – or being interviewed by the staff.
Apart from the aforementioned names, the magazine attracted David Elfick, founder of Tracks and producer of Rabbit Proof Fence. Ed Nimmervoll became a powerful voice in the Australian music industry and went on to found Juke.
As Phillip Frazer explains in Iain McIntyre’s book on Australian psychedelia, Tomorrow is Today, everybody was under the age of 23 and everybody liked surfing and slot-cars as much as they liked music, so ‘lifestyle’ found its way into the Go-Set pages. So did horoscopes. Decades later, several staff found themselves living around Byron Bay, where a recent story of them surfaced in local media, along with this wonderful photograph of some original Go-Setters.
Denise Drysdale (below) who is still a successful Australian television face, was part of a Go-Set go-go dancing team. She would take her place with the Go-Set Mafia later on, and join Ian Meldrum in selling Countdown to Australia, below.
Pop Archives is the source for all the Go-Set office addresses.
2 Charnwood Crescent, St. Kilda
17 and 27 Drummond Street, Carlton
28 Cambridge Street, Collingwood
374 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
425 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
The Horoscope Your Stars as I See Them, by Evelyn King, ran until the end of 1966. Later, advertising sales manager Terry Cleary wrote the horoscope, or was it was known, The Go-Set-Oscope. His father was Jim Cleary, who played football for South Melbourne and according to Ed Nimmervoll, he used to make the astrology up. Some time later in the Age of Aquarius, Hair would appear at The Palace Theatre in Melbourne with its own in-house astrologer.
Writing for Crikey in 2016, Phillip Frazer confirmed, “I put go-go and jet-set together to get Go-Set.” Part of the success of the magazine was down to the fact that Frazer and his colleagues could speak the language.
The newspapers of the time, and magazines like The Australian Women’s Weekly, did their best – but these were teenagers and early twentysomethings speaking to their peers.
The fashion was for ‘the cool trendy blokes’ back in 1968. Prue Acton, who would later become a designer, also helped with the GoSet style section – and kept her signature for her clothing label. One striking thing about the Go-Set faces who remained successful in the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties is their understanding of trends, image and changing fashion. Not only Prue Acton, but Angry Anderson, formerly with Buster Brown (with hair) and latterly with Rose Tattoo, have an instinct for the zeitgeist.
Farewell to Go-Set
By the time ‘the teen and twenties newspaper’ had moved on from the shock of Normie Rowe’s Vietnam call-up, and Billy Thorpe and Gerry Humphries were making way for AC/DC – it was almost over.
As The Beatles were farewelling the Sixties and also each other, Go-Set was not far behind. RAM magazine would come along by the Eighties, together with Rolling Stone and Juke. Free street press would appear – On the Street, Drum Media, Beat.
Within a short space of years, The Thumping Tum, where the whole magazine had been dreamed up in such a classically Sixties way – would be turned into thumping rubble by Melbourne developers, after briefly being a punk venue favoured by Clinton Walker, Bruce Milne, Nick Cave and Rowland S. Howard.
While it lasted, though, Go-Set was the best training ground Australia has ever seen for what would become its world-beating music, media, fashion and entertainment industry. And all done with a flash-free Pentax and Ian Meldrum’s clattering typewriter.