Posts by Donald

A Kangaroo Cousin Looks At The Saltire

In June 2017 Di and I left Sydney and spent two weeks in Amsterdam and then ten days touring around the Scottish Highlands. As much for myself as anything else, I decided to set out my impressions and thoughts of Scotland in this period of great uncertainty about the future of the place I was born. In the canal house flat where Di and I spent most of our time

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The History of Roadrunner—Introduction

When Martin Sharp, the internationally acclaimed Australian artist, died in 2013, I read that the University of Wollongong had created a digital archive of the Sydney and London Oz magazines that he was such a part of. I remember having a look and being impressed—not only that someone had put in the time and effort to do it, but that it was freely available to all. Then when Sharp’s friend

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The History of Roadrunner—Part 1: Development Stage (Dec 1977—Jan 1979)

When I returned to Adelaide in late 1977 after two and a half years in the UK I came back with 25 singles—Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Tom Robinson Band, X-Ray Spex, The Rezillos, Slaughter & the Dogs etc etc. I moved into a small cottage in Norwood owned by my old Adelaide Uni friends Larry Buttrose and Donna Maegraith and proceeded to go round

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The History of Roadrunner—Part 2: Growth Stage (Jan 1979—Jan 1980)

In January 1979, Roadrunner production editor Clive Dorman wrote to Michael Finucan at Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ asking if he was interested in writing for us about what was happening in Brisbane. Dorman was upfront about the magazine’s financial situation. ‘We’re poor as hell and will be so until the cheques for national sales start coming in, in about three months time. However we think we’ll be able to

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The History of Roadrunner—Part 3: Maturity Stage (Feb 1980—Jan 1981)

Roadrunner’s ‘End of the 70s’ double issue in December 1979 (issue 20) made a few people sit up and take notice. One of them was Paul Gardiner, publisher of Australian Rolling Stone. He used to play the occasional game of squash with Stuart Coupe in Sydney and asked Coupe if I might be willing to sell the magazine to him. He had just started a new publication, The Record (edited

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The History of Roadrunner—Part 4: Saturation Stage (Feb 1981—Jan 1982)

Roadrunner’s first issue of 1981 (issue 32) signalled some changes. First, the cover price went up from 60 cents to 80 cents. We attempted to offset this by a bumper subscription offer—two free albums (Vinyl Virgins, a Virgin Records Australia sampler and Tactics’ My Houdini) plus a year’s subscription (12 issues) for $15. The offer snared 61 new subscribers, netting $915, the magazine’s best ever subscription drive. Secondly, over the

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The History of Roadrunner—Part 5: Declining Stage (Feb 1982—Jan 1983)

The concerted push to increase sales and advertising revenue following the establishment of a Roadrunner Sydney office in mid-1981 was only a qualified success. While ad sales saw a marked increase and newsagency sales nudged six thousand for the first time (with the end of year issue), most of the extra revenue was offset by the higher production costs of going full colour, printing extra pages, plus extra typesetting and

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Still The Boss

As I stood in the foyer waiting for Calum a fragment of a lyric came into my mind—‘… thinking that maybe we’re not that young any more …’ There was a lot of grey hair, some walking sticks, and some big bellies—but, to be fair, some youngsters too. All in all a pretty representative cross section of Sydney. The tickets had been a last minute Christmas present for Calum. The

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In Search of John Maclean—part 1

Scotland has had few men whose names Matter—or should matter—to intelligent people, But of these MacLean, next to Burns, was the greatest. —Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Krassivy, Krassivy’ (1943) I’m standing at the grave of John Maclean with my newfound cousin Roddy. We’re in the New Eastwood cemetery on the southern outskirts of Glasgow. It’s a clear, dry afternoon in August and the sunlight filters through the trees and dapples the green

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In Search of John Maclean—part 2

John Maclean’s Glasgow A couple of weeks before I was due to head off to Glasgow in search of the ghost of John Maclean, I stumbled across a couple of articles online, both of which resonated strongly with me. The first was a feature about the Glasgow-based writer Ian R. Mitchell, ‘Following in the footsteps of Maclean and Maxwell’ by Russell Leadbetter, published in the Glasgow Herald magazine on 11

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1966 and all that

It started in the shires of the English midlands and finished in the arid saltbush of Whyalla, South Australia. It was the year my life changed. In September 1966 I turned 13. Two days after my birthday my family—my father, mother, sister and brother—got on a train in Kettering, Northamptonshire. It took us to London, very much still the Swinging City, where we changed trains for Southampton. There, berthed at

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Goosebumps—Australia v Croatia, World Cup 2006

I was sitting on the bench at St Joseph’s College on Saturday doing the paperwork after refereeing the Joey’s versus Riverview seconds. Two reds and four yellows—not a bad haul for 50 minutes work. The coach of the Joey’s First XI looked familiar. ‘Is that Jason Culina?’ I asked the Joey’s Master in Charge. He nodded. I finished my reports and caught Culina’s eye. ‘Hi Jason. Did you see that

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Shenanigans in the shires*

I guess my dad started following Leicester City shortly after we made the move from Kinlochleven in Scotland to Corby, Northamptonshire in 1957. At the time Leicester was the only First Division team in the East Midlands. It was 25 miles by road and although we didn’t have a car, I vividly recall him taking me to a couple of games on the bus. I don’t recall much about the

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The art of the Australian single 1975-80

When I returned to Adelaide in late 1977 after two and a half years away in the U.K., I brought home with me about twenty-five singles. I proceeded to do the rounds of my rather puzzled university friends to show them and play to them these artefacts from the sonic revolution I had just experienced. Most of them smiled politely and poured another cup of tea, but one old school

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Kensington Road runs straight before turning: Adelaide in 1979

As the 1970s wound to a close, the local music scene in Adelaide was struggling, although there were some new shoots starting to appear. It seemed everyone involved was either trying to get out, or just killing time, waiting for something GREAT to happen. And it did. The advent of the Progressive Music Broadcasting Associations’s community radio station 5MMM-FM in 1980 gave Adelaide music an absolute turbo-charge and helped to

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