The Hi-Fi's have been playing Rock and Roll in the Hunter / Newcastle NSW area for the past 50 years. Enjoying the popularity of the big dancehalls of the 60's (Newcastle Palais Royale) to the larger clubs of the 2000's
The Original Band
LR: Craig Gleeson, Allan Greedy, Don Frazer, Garry Gleeson and Brian Watson.
Photograph above courtesy of Bryan Bronner.
This story is about two bands that eventually merged as one, the other band being.
Beginning on 20th August 1959 at Cessnock Police Boys Club as a five piece group called “the Mystery’s” they won a position in August 1964 to play alongside the resident Rock and Roll band ”The HI-Fi’s” at the "Palais Royale" dance hall in Hunter Street Newcastle.
The Mystery's in 1960; LR: Garry Hafey, Garry Murray, Alistair Wilson, Les Murray and Peter Whiting.
The two groups eventually merged into one under the Hi-Fi’s name, and in 1968 when Bobby Le Brun opened the Savoy Theatre Restaurant in New Lambton, he took the original Hi-Fi’s Pianist (Craig Gleeson) Bass player (Garry Gleeson) and Drummer (Allan Greedy) to back his artists.
The remaining members of the band Garry Murray (guitar), Les Murray (guitar) (RIP) and Donnie Farnham (vocals) were from the original Mystery’s and so they recruited their old Bass player (Gary Hafey) and Drummer (Alistair Wilson) back to the group, and so in 68/69 the “Mystery’s” became the “Hi- Fi’s”.
They are now a three piece, and have virtually grown up with Rock and Roll, and the songs that they still play are just as popular now as they were originally.
Their dedication to a set dance tempo has kept them in high regard and demand over all of those years.
Most of their success has been as a dance band turning their hand to the various styles but always maintaining a variety of Rock and Roll in their programme.
The Hi-Fi’s today
Guitarist, Garry (Gus) Murray, who plays an excellent rhythm and lead guitar, as well as vocals and backing harmonies, and also features the great instrumentals of the "Shadows" in between sets.
Alistair Wilson on Drums and lead vocals, has been playing music with Gus since they were 14 years old at High School in 1959.
Garry Gleeson on Bass was one of the original band members when the HI-Fi’s formed in Maitland in 1956, he has returned to play with the band after an eight year break, enjoying a retired lifestyle.
Their years of experience with music, dances, etc can be attributed to their presentation and dedication as teenagers, which have maintained their popularity to this day.
A Timeline History of The “Hi-Fi’s”
Original band members formed in Maitland playing in Church and Social Halls in the area. Craig Gleeson (piano), Allan Greedy (drums), Brian Watson ( guitar), Garry Gleeson (bass), Don Frazer (saxophone).
LR: Garry Gleeson, Don Frazer, Allan Greedy, Craig Gleeson and Brian Watson
August 20th 1959
At Cessnock police boys Club Garry Murray, Les Murray and Alistair Wilson formed a band using the clubs guitars and pipe band drums.
Over the next year 1960
John Freebairn (vocal) and Peter Whiting (piano) were included, but were replaced later with Garry Hafey (bass) and Donnie Farnham (vocal) and called themselves “The Mystery’s”
The Hi-Fi's become the resident band at the "Palais Royale" in Hunter Street, Newcastle.
LR: Craig Gleeson, Brian Watson, Allan Greedy, Don Frazer and Garry Gleeson.
LR: Garry Gleeson, Craig Gleeson, Jan Porter, Brian Watson, Don Frazer and Allan Greedy.
LR: Garry Gleeson, Brian Watson, Don Frazer, Craig Gleeson, Jan Porter, Barry Livermore (seated) and Allan Greedy.
Photographs above courtesy of Alistair Wilson.
TV Week Newcastle December the 8th
TV Week Newcastle December the 8th.
TV Week Newcastle November the 24th.
Clippings above courtesy of Alan Greedy and Tom Wynn.
20th August 1964
The Mystery’s began playing at the “Palais Royale” in Hunter Street Newcastle alongside the original “Hi-Fi’s”. The Mystery's lineup: Les Murray (guitar), Garry Murray (guitar), Garry Hafey (bass), Alistair Wilson (drums), Donnie Farnham (vocals).
The Mystery's in 1965
LR: Garry Murray, Alistair Wilson, Don Farnham and Les Murray
After some changes to both groups the original five “Mystery’s” became the “Hi- Fi’s”
The Hi-Fi’s finished at the "Palais Royale". Garry Hafey had left the group and Les Murray wrote the song “Don’t Knock the Knock’s” we recorded it at Vista recording studio’s Newcastle.
That year Cessnock Goanna’s won the 72 comp and the song became a local hit!!
Sadly on the 11th January Les Murray passed away, which left only three in the band Garry (Gus) Murray on guitar, Alistair Wilson on drums and Donnie Farnham on bass and vocals.
Became the resident Saturday evening band at Kurri Kurri Workers Club
Wrote and recorded “Three Cheers for Kurri”.
LR: Don Farnham, Alistair Wilson and Garry Murray
Became resident band at Cessnock Workers Club and included Geoff Travers on Sax and Clarinet.
Began playing at Maitland City Bowling Club on Sunday evenings as resident “Old Time Dance Band” during the next few years Alistair began to sing some of the lead vocals and wrote several songs for the new vogue dances.
LR: Garry Murray, Don Farnham and Alistair Wilson.
Played as resident “Old Time dance Band” at “Telarah Bowling Club”
Donnie Farnham was replaced by Garry Gleeson (an original Hi-fi) on bass.
Alistair wrote the words and Gus the music for a song called “Lay in the dark and think of you” as a tribute to Roy Orbison. They recorded it in Kurri and it proved a popular request over the next few years.
Garry Gleeson finished up and was replaced by Bruce Campbell on bass. Alistair wrote and recorded a song for the Newcastle Knight’s called “the Knight’s are here” it received some air play on the radio but sadly failed to make it as a signature tune for the team despite all efforts and good intentions.
We are still playing our music although the performances are only a few dances per month but we like to think it is more quality than quantity these days.When we began to play for dances all those years ago we set ourselves some disciplines that we have adhered to ever since. We have never had a leader of the group, each member has tasks to undertake, and we have always attempted to wear a presentable uniform on stage and have never smoked or drank alcohol on stage. And we have never worked for an agent in all that time, over the years we have built up a repertoire of music and songs that enables us to play rock and roll, old time, new vogue, dinner music, ball’s and weddings etc. Our favorite instrumental group was Cliff Richard’s “Shadows” and Gus has recently acquired some backing for the shadows songs and enjoys playing some of them in between sets.
We have had a great association with the Westpac helicopter fund raisers over the last 15 years and have run successful dances and played Drayton’s post vintage family day at the winery every year. It is a very worthwhile organization and we are proud to be able to do our little bit to help out! Thank you, for attending this evening and doing your little bit to help them out!
Other photographs and clippings
Above photographs and clippings courtesy of Alan Greedy and Tom Wynn.
Donnie Farnham and The Hi-Fi’s Endless Sleep/Big City VISTA
Above photograph courtesy of Gerry Bates
Biography by Alistair Wilson 16th August 2008.
Editing and additional information added May 2015.