Greg Lee Band
LR: Trevor Dare, Steve 'Mac' McLennan, Greg Lee.
LR: Graham Whitingham, Trevor Dare.
Photographs courtesy of Trevor Dare
By Steve McLennan
|What you are about to read is not a definitive history
of the band featured
in the bio below. It is a very subjective snap shot of a specific moment in
time. It just so happens that I was "there" in that moment and the snapshot
was taken from my point of view. These are my memories and any scholar can tell you that memory and history, though related, are not the same thing. I hope any and all readers who can offer a different perspective, alternative point of reference or personal insights will add them to the page. I would love to know what was going on in other peoples heads at the time....these bios are a way for me to assess what was going on in mine. To anyone who feels in any way misrepresented I feel compelled to
apologise...however...keep in mind...my memory of you from that moment in time may be very different to your own. Just for starters...Im color blind.
God bless you and all who sail in her...MAC
|THE GRUNGE BAND / GREG LEE BAND
I place these two bands together because they are basically the same. The
Grunge Band was basically something a bunch of mates put together so we could play at our local pub (Fig trees At Wallsend) when I wasnt on the road with Swanee.
The Greg Lee Band was simply the title we gave the band after fearless leader Greggie organised a concert at Speers Point Park to raise money for a Cancer Appeal telethon.
Greg was an incredible force during the Cancer Appeal Project...booking
recording sessions for the band to record the single (Im Alive...a tribute Greg's personal triumph over cancer), organising every aspect of the event which was a resounding success featuring activities for "the whole family", Martial Arts and Medieval Warfare displays as well as lots of different musical performances by local artists and a special guest appearance by Big Dog and his cute girly assistant (sorry her name eludes me at the moment). Here the plot thickens: apparently said "girly assistant" was a
former conquest of Greggy....hence our appearances on the Big Dog & Friends show.
That was surreal..I remeber arriving home in the wee hours from a gig in Sydney with Swanee to find a message on my machine saying that I needed to be at NBN Studios by 7:00am for a performance of the single. I didnt know why we had to be there that early till I got to the set. Arriving a little late (and some what worse for wear) I was confronted by Big Dog, the girly, 15 to 20 kids and a guy in white overalls and Jerry Lewis glasses handing out baby cartons of Oak flavoured milk. We performed the
song to a stunned crowd of kids and their off set parents. Mick Boyle did a
great job pulling the sound and vision together.
On another appearance our bass player and resident luney Graham was nowhere to be found so my old school mate and former Aragon and Battered Fish bassist Pete "Rocka" Reay deputised for the performance. With only minutes to go before we
went to air we couldnt agree on a song but Greg was keen to play Chisel's
"Four Walls". Rocka didnt know it so he mimed while the rest of us played live. Once again Mick Boyle was on hand to pull it all together. Watching the clip now I realise I'm using Mark Robinson's old Ludwig kit (the reason eludes me). So in a nut shell The Greg Lee Band was the high profile version of The Grunge Band.
Mosty of my favourite recollections of The Grunge Band took place somewhere between my old place in Brooks Street Wallsend and The Fig Trees Hotel at the bottom of the hill.
The gig's would start around midday for me and Graham as we drove the PA down to the pub. We'd of course have a few beers with Dennis the publican and whoever I knew who happened to be in the pub at the time. Then we'd smoke a joint as we walked back up the hill (no drink drivers in this band) through Wallsend Park to start walking down the hill again with pieces of backline equipment (drums, bass amps etc.) By 6:00pm (after quite a few more beers) we'd be ready for a Wallsend Burger and a few Sea Shantys after everything was set up and tuned. Back over to Wallsend
Park for an after dinner joint then ready to rock by 7:30pm. Greggy, Trev &
Piney would be set up waiting. The first set was usually full of Stones, Beatles & The Who before the Greg Show would begin in the 2nd set. Greg would have all these bizarre costumes including wigs, make-up etc. stashed behind the little enclosure we'd built him earlier in the day. He never did anything by halves. He was an all or nothing kinda guy (probably still is). One night he disappeared during the intro to "Beat It" and came out of his enclosure looking like a cross between Al Jolson & General
Patton. Then back into the enclosure during the intro to "Jump" before
reappearing looking like a cross between Dee Snider & Liza Minelli with just a touch of Jimi Hendrix because he still had black shit smeared all over his face. It was hilarious.
There were the occasions where his enthusiasm was overshadowed by his drug intake however. He disappeared one night at the start of the 2nd set and didnt make it out at all. He was laying on the floor throwing up in a bucket for the rest of the night. We thought this was funnier than any of his planned performance so we opened the enclosure up to public scrutiny and set a microphone up over the bucket. I still have the cassette tape of the show and you can hear Greg throwing up as Graham stumbles through an impromptu version of "The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde".
The coolest thing Greg ever organised was our "Uninvited Flat Bed Truck Tour" of Newcastle pubs one summer afternoon. We didnt have a gig and were trying to get some. So Greg "borrowed" a flat bed truck and a generator and turned up at my place in the morning.
We loaded the truck with our equipment and drove around Newcastle playing with the generator running our amps and we'd pull up outside pubs like The Beaches,Cambridge, Delaney, Kent etc. and do a 15 minute set in the street before leaving for the next pub. It was awesome. It was a beautiful summer's afternoon as only Newcastle can provide, people came out into the street to listen and dance, they'd shout us beers and we ended up with a procession of cars following us from pub to pub, before eventually heading back to Wallsend for burgers and beers at The Figgies.
A splendid time was had by all.
I dont know how we didnt get arrested...
but I'm sure Greg had something to do with it.
Addendum to bio
By Graham Whittingham
|Ah yes. The Groggy Lee Band.
Me and Mac wanted to call it Free Beer.
What a crowd puller!
FREE BEER at the Fig Trees, Friday night from 8pm.
Dennis didnt like that idea.
A memorable time.
Dont ask me what I was doing. I was very looney at the time and just trying to have fun, I think.
Loved the Uninvited Flat Bed Truck Tour. Taking music to the people. Ain't that what it's all about?
Thought the Groggy gurge was hilarious. I wonder if Greg ever attempted the seven Medi-Slim with alcoholic accelerant chaser trick again. At least it wasnt me. That time.
Me, Big Dog and Jack Daniels at Speers Point Park. Watch out for those little kids, Big Doggy!
His girly assistant Kim and her nasty right hook. I discovered that when I showed her a particularly unflattering photo of herself. Never drink and have your photo taken. Never!
On the turps with Turps and another verbal altercation with Donnie Sutherland at the Telethon (the first was at Doyalson when he insisted our - Idols, that is - dressing room was his).
One ball-tearing rendition of Crossroads that earned me a nod of approval (and the hint of a smile) from Trev for my vocal efforts. High praise indeed (accustomed as I was to the Dare Glare).
The chalk board for the punters to write their requests.
Bonnie and Clyde played, somewhat incongruously, on a BC Rich Eagle (a very heavy metal type of bass guitar) named Basil.
Nigel (the Maton JB4).
The half hour I had to learn Im Alive before we did the demo.
The decade it took to get the thing out of my head.
Wallsend burgers, Rocka, Buzzsaw, McDeb, Mr and Mrs Mac, Broom, Wendy, Groggy, Piney, Tinno
All great memories.
And a friendship, forged during Idol moments and solidified in the Groggy daze, with Trev and Mac which has endured and which I hope continues to endure.