SWANEE: BY Steve
How can Swanee not be considered a Newcastle band. Tinno, Screenie,
Butler, Mick Stove, Pammy & me all served time in the ranks as did
Spencer (an adopted novocastrian). The crew was at one time or another
all Newcastle guys as well. Tony (Ex-Rox bass player) Mal from Atlantis,
Dale from Heroes...all did time with Swanee...and they're just the names
I can remember. Also, the band's best reception outside of John Swan's
hometown of Adelaide was always here in Newcastle.
We did 2 sold out nights at The Workers Club on the Swanee / Barnsey
Tour that absolutely took the roof off. I was recruited by Tinno once
After the first gig at Mt. Druitt I wake up in St. Mary's hospital.
My driver, Mono & I
had headed back to some local girls' house for a post-gig party. I stumbled
out to the car in the wee hours for a nap (trying to do the right thing...I
at the time) while Mono indulged in the pleasures of the flesh. Mono
I fraudulently claimed came from him being testicularly challenged)
was a notorious premature ejaculator so I figured it wouldnt be long
till he joined me in the car and got us home.
Not to be.
I awoke to find myself laying on the back of a flat bed truck, covered
blood after being catapulted through the front windscreen of the vehicle
"driving".He'd run into the back of the parked truck and the
car, much to our dismay, was wedged under it. He was reasonably uninjured
due to his correct use of a seat belt. I unfortunately had laid the
passenger seat down and wasnt strapped in at all.
There's the message for today. So its an ambulance ride for me and Screenie's
called back in to fulfill the next week's gigs while I recover. First
gig back in at Wyong Leagues and I walk into the band room to be met
by a flying Karate kick from Swan. My natural reaction was to defend
myself and I accidentally slammed him on his arse into a pile of rare
& expensive guitars owned by Tinno, Bob & bassist Gus Fenwick...all
now thankfully undamaged but needing to be retuned. The lads berated
me for my unthinking stupidity...never once mentioning the initial assault
which prompted my instinctive reaction. A few nights later we're at
Sweethearts in Sydney's west and I was stupid / honest enough to tell
Swanee his stage outfit made him look like a french farmer...jokingly
referring to him as Pierre.
No one laughed.
During the encore when Swanee would play a drum soloette he seemed to
be struggling so (always the team player) I jumped on the kit behind
him...kind of straddling over him one foot on the back of the stool
one foot on my second floor tom...and began playing. The crowd went
nuts. Then Swanee grabbed me by the balls and unceremoniously launched
me over his head, through the kit... drums, cymbals, mike stands went
every where. I did a forward roll as I hit the stage and arose to take
a bow just in front of the wedges. It was hilarious, glorious, wanton,
mayhemic theatre. I soaked up the adulation before turning to see Swanee
stomping through my kit, storming off stage in disgust. I was greeted
with silent, stoney faces in the band room...except for Swanee who was
trashing everything in sight and ranting about me "trying to upstage
At least thats what I thought he was saying in that broad scots brogue.
to explain myself but was shot down with a glare and the inevitable
"dont vex me
cretin." The boss had spoken...end of conversation. Amid this sort
of madness I have to say I had a wonderful time touring the country
with Swanee whom I regard as one of the greatest rock'n'roll singers
ever to step on a stage. He was a gracious host and taught me a great
deal about life on the road....and I certainly had access to places
& people I never would have if it hadn't been for John. I'll never
forget opening night at the Launceston Velodrome in front of 10,000
screaming fans and a drum fold back that could blow your brains out,
the Adelaide stripper who gave Bob Spencer a temporary toupee (wink
wink nudge nudge say no more), hanging out talking about the early Stones'
tours with legendary security / body guard Bob Jones or snorting lines
of coke off a Hell's Angel's Bowie knife (without a note or straw) and
sitting up till sunrise drinking honey tea, eating avocados and listening
to Glenn Hughes era Deep Purple at John & Virginia's house where
I lived for 3 months. I even wrestled those psychotic Great Danes apart
one day....and survived. God bless ya Swanee. Aye ready !!!