John Shelley had arrived in Newcastle from Singleton (or Scone or
Muswellbrook) with his band Bourbon Street and had sought to record
some demoes with...of course..Mark Tinson. Tinno in his inimitable style
had suggested he ditch the drummer & the 2nd guitarist (Tony Hobbs
RIP)...so John was on the look out for replacements. Trevor Dare had
been suggested by Tinno but as yet a suitable drummer hadn't appeared.
Over post-gig drinks at The Castle Mark Robinson suggested to John that
might be the right guy for the job. At the time I was doing lights for
Globes and playing the odd / rare gig with Contrax so I was open for
a regular paying gig. I turned up to the audition with my girlfriend
(soon to be ex-wife #1...the lovely Debra Joy) and our Old English Sheep
Dog, Nelson. Hung over from the night before I forgot to take my drums.
(DUH!?!?) Luckily the exiting drummers kit was set up at The Cordial
Factory and the lads (especially Trevor and Graham) put me through some
hoops before telling me the gig was mine. Tinno took us under his wing
seemed to be given an inordinate number of Heroes supports.
I hated The Heroes muzak but thought the guys were pretty cool (I was
a huge Rabbit fan!!!) and enjoyed the chance to play in front of the
big crowds they attracted. I hoped every night to blow them off the
stage and once we added my old Barracuda band mate Mick Visser up front
we rattled their cage on a number of occasions.
Tinno disagrees of course.
Anyway..we started building up our own loyal following and hooked ourselves
up with Ando and Rock City Promotions. Our clandestine meetings initially
took place at the offices of some insurance company Ando worked for
but eventually he moved shop and RCP had real offices and even staff....
primarily payed for I believe by DV8,Atlantis, Total Fire Band and The
Idols. We recorded some demoes for Alberts which
amounted to nothing. We recorded a single at The Cordial Factory which
amounted to nothing and once Trevor and Graham left to be replaced by
Dave Hinds (Rabbit, Finch) & Al Wade (Contrax) we recorded more
demoes which amounted to more nothing. We bought The Heroes truck...it
blew up. We toured up and down the east coast playing anywhere and everywhere
and never seemed to have 10 cents to rub together. We were playing sold
out gigs at Doylason RSL, Wyong Leagues Club, Cessnock Supporters, The
Hoey Moey but our earnings seemed to disappear in
commissions, advertising material, truck repairs and PA payments. Hindsy
jumped ship and headed back to Port Macquarie and we continued 4 piece.
We began getting more & more fucked up at gigs...more out of frustration
than anything else.
I remember Visser being really wasted one night up at The Hoey Moey
and for some reason we locked him out of the room. Next thing the door
is knocked off its hinges and a huge pot plant bounces into the middle
of the room. Al Wade turned up with his junkie girl friend just as we're
finishing, 2 1/2 hours late for a gig at Cessnock Supporters. He'd "slept
in"(wink wink nudge nudge say no more squire !!). I thought John
was gonna kill him. At one of our final performances Visser started
about me and him being conjoined twins who had been separated at birth.
"You dont believe me ??...Mac come down here and show 'em our scars!!"
We both swaggered to the edge of the stage, spun on our heels and simultaneously
dropped our strides to expose two perfectly matching arse cracks. We
pissed ourselves laughing.
Venue management werent laughing and Ando was less than amused. Eventually
we came to an amicable agreement. The band didnt want to do this anymore
and Ando didnt want us on his books or further soiling his reputation.
All we had to do was play enough gigs to pay out our "outstanding
commissions, administration fees, advances etc." and
we could all go our separate ways and live happily ever after.
Heard this story before ??? You bet.
Our final gig was on New Years Eve supporting DV8 at Norths Leagues
Club. It went so well that for a few seconds I think we all thought
possibly rebuild the band and rise Phoenix like from the ashes. Visser
came to his senses first and went off to Tamworth to start a Lawn Bowls
John, Al & I did get together for a couple of rehearsals for our
proposed "power trio". It didnt really excite us so how would
it possibly excite anyone else ??
Trev and Graham and I have remained great personal & musical friends
over the ups and downs of the past 25 years. Some of my favourite musical
memories include one or both of those guys. Ironically both John &
Mick moved away from Newcastle and became bookers / promoters (splitters!!!)
having learnt at the feet of the master.
I see Ando occasionally at gigs he's promoting and was employed by RCP
for a while as a poster guy till I got busted, also run into him at
our kids' soccer games occasionally.
I recorded the Dave Evans 'Sinner' album with Hindsy & Tinno in
Al Wade lives in Canberra and has some beautiful children.
THE IDOLS (fondish rememberances from Graham
There are many things I could write on the subject
of the Idols - talking to
horses while tripping, Mac disappearing into the air-conditioning ducts
Doyalson, playing to capacity rooms all over the place, an audience
at Cessnock, the perception held by some folk that the outfit was Mick
Visser and supporting band or John Shelley and supporting band, John
Brett forever prostrating themselves at the altar of elevator muzak
(Heroes), promoters, agents, everybody robbing us blind, the problems
encountered when trying to fit egos as well as bods into dressing rooms,
Visser's continuation of fights with Anne from the stage, the band's
continual struggle to find an identity, Mac nearly bleeding to death
a tooth extraction.... the list is endless -
It's all so long ago. It's perhaps best left in the realm of private
questionable memory. I've got what I want from that period of my
semi-existence. A couple of life long friendships and a neat nickname.
What more could I ask for?