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The Idols

LR: Trevor Dare, Steve 'Mac' McLennan, Graham Whittingham,
John Shelly, Mick Visser


Souths Leagues Club


Adamstown Rosebuds

Adamstown Rosebuds

Hey Eric its the Idles !!

Photographs and tickets 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 memory of you from that moment in time may be very different to your own. Just for starters...I'm color blind.
God bless you and all who sail in her...MAC

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) 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 I
might be the right guy for the job. At the time I was doing lights for The
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 and we
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 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 this rave
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 we could
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 magazine.
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 ??
Post Script:
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 April 2004.
Al Wade lives in Canberra and has some beautiful children.


THE IDOLS (fondish rememberances from Graham Whittingham):

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 at
Doyalson, playing to capacity rooms all over the place, an audience of three
at Cessnock, the perception held by some folk that the outfit was Mick
Visser and supporting band or John Shelley and supporting band, John and
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 after
a tooth extraction.... the list is endless -
It's all so long ago. It's perhaps best left in the realm of private and
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?


Mac with hair ....

Photograph courtesy of Steve McLennan