Category Music

Stranglers in strife: the 1979 Australian tour

Brian Johnstone, one of my oldest and dearest friends, passed away in Adelaide in January after a long battle with cancer. We met in Adelaide in the late 70s, in the early days of Roadrunner, were housemates for awhile and he wrote a few pieces for the mag, including this entertaining account of the media shenanigans surrounding the Stranglers tour which was the cover story in the March 1979 edition.

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Capricorn Dancing: JJJ’s 10th birthday

Goodness me—can it really be JJJ’s 40th birthday this coming weekend? And even more incredibly—is it really 30 years since its legendary 10th birthday concert on Sydney Harbour featuring the mighty Midnight Oil? I was there for Countdown Magazine and this was my report in the March 1985 edition. When Jay Jay Jay-FM turned ten on the nineteenth of January it was most appropriate that the focus of the celebrations

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Jim Keays: master craftsman

I interviewed Australian rock legend Jim Keays for the ’60s retro issue of Roadrunner (September 1978). Although in a fallow period between his space-opera concept album The Boy from the Stars and 1983’s Red on the Meter, at the time Keays was a dynamic performer and as always, had some interesting observations on the then Australian music scene. He continued to entertain audiences, most notably with fellow ’60s icons Russell

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Young Modern

Young Modern were the fresh new thing on the Adelaide scene when I interviewed them for the debut issue of Roadrunner (March/April 1978). Their music has stood the test of time. For a band that has been together for only four months Young Modern have received a lot of media attention—articles in RAM, Juke, the Advertiser and Adelaide Uni’s On Dit. I caught up with singer John Dowler, guitarist Vic

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Stiffs Greatest Stiffs Live

Just before I left the U.K. to return to Australia after two and a half years away, I was fortunate to catch this remarkable concert. The venue was Bath University, the date 7 October 1977 and it was the third date on the Stiffs Greatest Stiffs Live tour. This review was my second ever published article, in the Adelaide punk fanzine Street Fever (December 1977). Nick Lowe bounds on stage and

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Epitaph for a working class hero

It was mid afternoon on Tuesday 9 December 1980 when the news hit. John Lennon’s been shot. And killed. We were working on the December 1980—January 1981 edition of Roadrunner: Geoffrey Gifford, Richard Turner, Kate Monger and myself. In Geoffrey’s studio up the east end of Rundle Street in Adelaide. We stopped what we were doing of course. And just talked. And after a couple of hours I went home and wrote

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Sex Pistols at the Stowaway Club, Newport

My first published article. From Street Fever, the punk fanzine produced by Stuart Coupe and myself in Adelaide in December 1977. I was on a train from Darlington to Bath in 1976 when I first heard of the Sex Pistols. I had been away from England for six weeks working in Libya for a surveying company. I was on my way home after delivering some maps to head office. I

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This Is Our City: Carlton Conquers Sydney

Melbourne OWNED Sydney last night. First there was the Sydney launch of the compilation CD, (When the Sun Sets Over) Carlton—Melbourne’s Countercultural Inner City Rock Scene of the 70s. A less cuddlesome affair than the Lygon Street love-in that I also attended last month, but under the judicious stewardship (stuartship?) of ex-Roadrunner editor Stuart Coupe, it was perhaps a more erudite conversation. Second was the demolition of the A-League’s Sydney

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Walking Down The Road; Split Enz in the U.K. 1976

The first interview I ever did was with Tim Finn of Split Enz, in Bath, England in October 1976. I sent the piece to Nation Review, but never heard back. Thus it is published here for the first time. ‘Split Enz are on the road becoz travel broadens the mind’ blared the full-page ad in Sounds last week. ‘Surreal Maoris’ Hair Raising Tale’  ran the headline in New Musical Express.

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Exile on Lygon Street

School reunions can be awkward at the best of times. Imagine if at your reunion, the yearbook had been repackaged by a multi-national and was selling online and at retail, the public were invited, the venue was an iconic Carlton wine-bar and the prefects were up on stage being interviewed by a lanky, blonde-curled faux-hip DJ about  schooldays—’Ring, ring goes the bell/The cook’s in the lunchroom ready to sell’  and

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Live, Work & Play: the Sports’ 1979 U.K. tour

I first met Keith Shadwick in 1978 when he came to Adelaide on tour with the High Rise Bombers. Keith was a poet and a saxophone player and he was friends with my housemate Larry. They’d both been part of the Melbourne mid-70s performance poetry push, with people like Eric Beach, Gig Ryan and πο. Keith had an impressive musical pedigree too, having been in Renee Geyer’s first band Sun, Sydney

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Roadrunner once

Around three years ago, David Nichols, a former writer at Australian Smash Hits, interviewed me on the phone for a book he was doing on that magazine. He asked about the rock mags I used to read growing up, how I got into the game and my impressions of Smash Hits. He was kind enough to send me a transcript to check, but ended up only using a small part. The

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When the sun sets over Carlton

It was one of those memorable car trips. Driving to Coogee last Friday night with Ralph and Hilary Kerle and Greg Taylor to see Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows and listening to the new compilation (When the Sun Sets Over) Carlton – Melbourne’s Countercultural Inner Ciy Rock Scene of the ’70s. Unusually for three such grizzled veterans of the rock’n’roll circus as Greg, Ralph and myself, none one of

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Seasons of change: the Adelaide music scene in the 70s

Australia has always been an accurate mirror of the world’s music scene, reflecting and balancing US and UK trends and styles. As the most typical Australian city, Adelaide going into the 1970s provided a fascinating microcosm of the state of play in world music. The emergence of the rock album as an artform in its own right, a process started by the Beatles with Revolver and Rubber Soul in the

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Reeling and a-rocking: the Adelaide music scene in the 60s

The sonic boom that was the Beatles reverberated around the world and perhaps nowhere was the effect more apparent than in Adelaide. Over 300,000 people, about one-third of the city’s population, lined the streets  when the Fab Three plus Jimmy Nicol (standing in for the tonsilitis-stricken Ringo) arrived on 12 June 1964 for the first concerts of their three and a half week down under tour. As Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor

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