Posts by Donald

Australian Rock: The Late Seventies

The rise and rise of Skyhooks in 1975 sounded the death knell for the loud progressive blues-style bands that had so dominated Australian rock in the early seventies. The contrast between the two could hardly have been more striking. In place of denim and long hair, Skyhooks wore colourful and zany stage clothes. Instead of standing in the one spot while the guitarist did a twenty minute improvised solo, Skyhooks

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Australian Rock: The Early Seventies

As the sixties drifted into the seventies, the split in the Australian music scene between ‘underground’ and ‘chart’ acts became even more pronounced. Go-Set, still the leading music publication of the day, acknowledged this fact by introducing an ‘underground’ supplement titled Core that featured long, analytical pieces about the ‘significance’ of major artists and styles. The Go-Set Awards of January 1970 saw Doug Parkinson In Focus the most popular group, Johnny

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Australian Rock: The Late Sixties

From the peak of Friday On My Mind’s world-wide success for the Easybeats in late 1966 and early 1967, the story of Australian rock’s attempts to capture a world audience in the rest of the decade is rather a sad and sorry one. Group after group rose to prominence in Australia and entered the annual Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds. Those that didn’t win either broke up or rethought their

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David Day

Following the news of the passing of Adelaide radio legend David Day overnight, Stuart Coupe contacted me this morning and asked if I would post the interview he did with David for Roadrunner, published in the June 1978 issue. At the time, David was music director at 5KA Adelaide, generally considered the most progressive radio station in the country for most of the 1970s, with a reputation for breaking new acts

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Australian Rock: The Early Sixties

As the sixties dawned the prospects for Australian rock seemed bright. Johnny O’Keefe, the undisputed leader of the rock pack, was hurriedly preparing for his first American promotional trip. The first crop of Australian rock singers and groups were revelling in the exposure provided by the new TV rock shows like Six O’Clock Rock and Bandstand and the newly introduced Top 40 radio was playing their records. When O’Keefe hit

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Australian Rock: The Fifties

‘The public for pop in the years 1954 to 1964 created a new social order which changed the fabric of life and the course of the century … ‘It was not merely a case of roll over Beethoven, more the almost entire rejection of an inheritance of style, taste, manners, behaviour and ethics in the pursuit of change.’ — Bob Rogers with Denis O’Brien, Rock ‘n’ Roll Australia — the

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Quietly Confident: Republic of Australia

The clip for Quietly Confident’s one and only single. Republic of Australia (1983). Featuring lead vocalist Len Lindon; vocalists Larry Buttrose and Mark Conway; Russell Handley on the ( )ASIO keyboards; and backing vocals from Mandy and Melanie Salomon.  Quietly Confident was the alternative cabaret act I managed in the period when I left Adelaide and moved to Sydney (1982-83). The track was recorded at Basilisk Studios in Hurstville, Sydney, Martin

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No Fixed Address: young, black and proud

At the time of this Roadrunner cover story from August 1980, I thought No Fixed Address was the most important new band in the country. A bunch of young Aboriginal musicians at the South Australian Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music, bouncing around Adelaide from gig to gig, they were about to start filming a movie, Wrong Side of the Road, loosely based on their lives and experiences and songs from

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Russell Handley (1953-1985)

When Russell Handley, my deputy editor at Countdown Magazine, died at Easter 1985, I wrote the following obituary. Countdown Magazine‘s publisher declined to publish it, preferring a brief notice, so here it is for the first time. Although always camera-shy while working on the magazine (he claimed he didn’t want little girls to recognise him and kick him in the shins after he made a cutting aside about Prince or Duran

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Hoodoo Gurus In The Land Beyond Beyond

Russell Handley always wanted to start a story with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’. At Countdown Magazine, I granted his wish. All photos by John Webber (September 1984 issue).

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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Brian Johnstone (1950-2015)

Eulogy delivered at Brian’s funeral, 4 February, Norwood, South Australia. My name is Donald Robertson and Brian was my friend. Our friendship went back nearly forty years and actually started less than a mile south of here, in Donegal St, Norwood. It was the late 70s. I’d come back from two and a half years in the U.K. with a rabid enthusiasm for punk rock and new wave music and

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1946 Army kilt

Ian Robertson (1926-2015)

A selection of images from the slide show put together by my sister Carol and her daughter Zoe Tooby and played at my father’s funeral in Whyalla, South Australia on 20 January 2015. Thanks for everything dad and as they say in the Highlands: Gus am bris an là agus an teich na sgàilean (until day breaks and the shadows retreat).

Eulogy for my father

The eulogy delivered at my father’s funeral on 20th January 2015, in Whyalla, South Australia. Family and friends—thank you all for coming today, especially those who have travelled from outside Whyalla. We are here to pay our respects and honour and remember the life of my father, Ian Robertson, born 20 August 1926, Kinlochleven, Scotland, died 11 January 2015, Whyalla. To paraphrase the words of the poet, Dylan Thomas, my

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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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