Biography's By Steve 'Mac' McLennan
What you are about to read is not a definitive history of the band featured in the bio's 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 name came from an "Aragorn: Lord Of The Rings" T shirt. I liked the sound of the name without the "R". I still haven't read "Lord Of The Rings" and can't stand the movies. My son Zac however loves them. Anyway,,,this was a band for firsts.
First drum kit (A Tempo kit that looked like it was made of copper wire...my dad picked me up after soccer and we drove out to Toronto to pick it up).
First band, first gig (Wallsend Primary 6th Class Farewell), first time asked to sign autographs, (This was very cool...I was in High School so the 6th class kids thought I was a rock star).
First groupies, (my brother actually sold some of my clothes and old drum sticks to a couple of girls from the school).
First time stopped mid performance by disgruntled gig officials (we were playing our Wallsend High School dance...some of the teachers took exception to us singing The Stones' classic "Starfucker").
First arrest (New Years Eve...a pub in Abermain...all band members except John busted for underage drinking).
First realisation that keyboard players make excellent "whipping boys". (we stripped Huggo one night coming back from a gig and dumped it on Lake Road. No we didnt go back and get him and no I dont know how he got home. He left the band shortly after this episode.)
First band to break up because of musical differences. Rocka & Danny and I wanted to write our own songs "in the style of" (rip off) Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin...John wanted to be Francis Rossi from Status Quo...he also liked The Eagles & America (he had a full time girl friend)....plus aforementioned keyboardist problems.
We used to rehearse in my parents shed, my Uncle Bill ran a power cable from his house to the shed for us so we could plug in our amps. It had two male ends. I picked it up one day while it was turned on..BANG...first taste of 240 volts.
We practiced for hours getting the riffs right for "Wishing Well", "Sunshine Of Your Love" & "Satisfaction". Great fun. This was also a period when we would organise our own gigs. Book a hall, set up our gear, mums would make drinks, biscuits, cakes etc. to sell, dads and older brothers would be "security" and boot out any drunken louts who turned up.
Pretty much Aragon once the keyboard player left. Biggest problem was....
no natural "whipping boy".
Man 'o War: (70's)
Logical next step from Aragon & Backwater. Danny called me in for a gig as "singer". ( A sign of things to come much later) Didnt work...the drummer however looked like Robert Plant (couldnt sing like him but looked just like him...also had a ute & a PA)...so I resumed my natural position behind the kit and Dave Swift moved out front.
We played lots of Bad Company, Ted Nugent, KISS, David Bowie...and of course...Led Zeppelin. One night playing up in a hall in Morpeth, bassist Robbie Bell walked around the corner to the pub to get some drinks...came back with a black beer for me...I wasnt very keen...I was a Port & Coke afficianado....I drank a mouthful and topped it up with Raspberry cordial....not bad...and some Mandrax...ah...thats the ticket.
We took a few girls back to the Largs farm house we were staying in that night and I recall watching in amazement as one young lady was being fucked on a bed without a mattress...just the wire springs to cushion the impact of an over enthusiastic roadie. She saw me in the doorway and said "Do you know what a U.B. is ?" "No" I answered honestly. "You be fucked if I hit you with one then wouldnt ya...ha ha ha." came the reply. I still dont get it. I left her to her fun (and wire burns).
Raiding Party: (80's)
I was recruited into The Raiding Party (or The Felching Party as we were dubbed by a group of very playful young ladies) by Tinno after original drummer Gary Wilson vacated the drum spot. The band had achieved local success with their single "Loveland" and were working on average 6 nights per week raking in the cash hand over fist. Combined with the opportunity to play with Tinno this was an offer I couldnt refuse.
Once in the band though it became obvious that all wasnt as it seemed from the outside. Tinno had manufactured a pop band based around the song writing skills of Brien McVernon and the bitch-magnet skills of Ian "Candy" Sandercoe and Jim "Flicka" Davis. In retrospect it became obvious that I was perceived as a missing link in the puzzle...someone the beer swilling yobs and metal heads could relate to.
The gigs were packed, primarily with girls who'd come to drool over Candy and Jim and every night the band room was like a smorgasbord, filled to over flowing with lusty young wenches offering all types of sensual pleasures and guys with pockets overflowing with pot, pills & potions. Life was good.
There was of course unrest in the camp. The personalities were too diverse. Jim and Candy were blissfully unaware of their roles as hood ornaments and were frustrated at every turn as their attempts at creative involvement were thwarted. I railed against the unadulterated pop sensibilities of the product and attempted to toughen up every thing we did. (Now even I have to admit that "Loveland" worked better without the double kick patterns.)
Brien's songs became darker and more disturbed in reflection of his personal life. There were holes punched in band room walls, people thrown out of 2nd storey windows, Heroine addicted girl friends, Road crew imprisoned, drink driving offences, self mutilation and Brown Water Syndrome.
Meanwhile, Tinno kept counting up the cash. We blew 10 grand on a second single "Violet" which although a wonderful song (penned by Jim) made no impact on even the local chart. Candy and I came into conflict when he felt compelled to add a confessional disclaimer to my ode to over-indulgence "Sinner". Eventually the whole thing imploded. Candy was first to jump ship. We continued with Brien up front for a few months but it just wasnt the same and The Felching Party faded to black. Gone.
Glam Gods: (90's)
Looking for something to do on Tuesday nights Brien McVernon & I came up with the idea of a 70s tribute show/band to play our childhood favourites from Slade, Bowie, Gary Glitter etc. We wanted Tinno to play guitar (he was after all a founding member of real 70s glam rockers Rabbit!!!) but he declined suggesting Dennis Butler would be perfect. He also suggested I should "front" it.
We didnt like to refer to me as "the singer". I couldnt really refer to my vocal stylings as singing. In fact a guy waited around at The Castle till 3:00am after one gig to tell me I was the worst singer he'd ever heard....ever. I thanked him for sharing his opinion and as I left with a couple of girls under each arm suggested that "singing" wasnt my main priority.
Ronnie Bult R.I.P. was up for the drum spot and The Glam Gods were born. Local promoter Chris Varley must accept some of the blame for the band (especially my character Damien Hades) developing into the outrageously offensive Frankenstein monster it became. He saw our very first gig at the Cambridge supporting Stevie Wright. He loved the songs, the concept & the band but thought I needed to be "a bit wilder". I took him at his word and never looked back reinventing myself as the bastard son of Gene $immons and Alice Cooper with a touch of Keith Richards thrown in for good measure. (All pre-Marilyn Manson I should add).
Brien became the beautiful and talented Jehovah St. Andrew. He may see it differently but I thought Joey was an amalgam of Brian Jones' sensitivity, Dave Hill's flambuoyance and Woody from Bay City Rolers' boyish charm. The ladies loved him!!!
Dennis was hilarious as munchkin guitarist extraordinaire Little Tommy Doubter and Ronnie recreated the madness and ferocity of Keith Moon while adding his own warped take on life as (The God Of) Thunder. I can still see him (and his oversized appendage) hanging upside down from a harness strapped to the lighting rig singing "Beth". There were others as well. Pete Hoolihan actually shaved his beard off to become Karen Carpenter. Badly Druncan also deputised on the drum stool. Ngariki was an articulate non-english speaking guitarist ala Michael Schenker in the guise of Rudolph Schwarz. Rudy also sat in on drums when Tommy returned to the fold.
Our Christmas Shows featured a star studded cast of guests including John Shelley as a very decaying Marc Bolan, Dave Carter as Rod Stewart, Ronnie's sister Jannette as Suzi quatro and the inimitable Tony "Round Mound Of Sound" Heads as an Alfoil covered Gary Glitter. Pete "Cyd" Lindsay might even have sat in on bass when Joey was in re-hab. In all honesty towards the end of this circus I dont really recall with any clarity what was going on. There was backstage bondage, joints and beer being passed from stage to crowd and vice versa, pill popping, on stage sex acts with live (and inflatable) women, chrome, satin, sequins, lipstick and eye liner, pyros and fire, lots of fire.
And there were TheCrazees!!! This was the name affectionately given to our beloved army of misfits and miscreants who would follow us to the ends of the earth if it meant a chance to swill some God Juice and raise their fists in the air in salute to their heroes. They were as much a part of the show as the band was...encouraging us to get more wildly out of control with each performance. They would bring gifts like sacrifices to the alter. Everything from ukeleles and guitars to be smashed and burnt to Sootie ( a negroid inflatable sex doll) to be violated and dismembered....they even brought the sword toimpale her on. It was a symbiotic relationship. They fed the debauchery and we spewed it back to them ten fold. I will never forget the tears rolling down Joey's face as we watched them writhe around in a frenzied, drunken mass, coughing and spluttering, covered in fire extinguisher powder and cat piss soaked bean bag balls. I guess you had to be there.
Eventually the stress on band members, (especially Tommy), began to show when I was arrested after a gig in Sydney and charged with lewd public acts and civil disobedience causing serious affront. As in all the best rock'n'roll stories the dream had become a nightmare. The end was nigh. The most important factor contributing to the success (albeit short lived) of The Glam Gods was the wonderful music of the early 70s. Much maligned by music critics and historians today the music created by the Glam Era bands was a joyous celebration of over indulgence, flambouyance and above all fun. I still love it to death!!!!