Category: Australian-owned independent label

Date: 1974-76

Location: Sydney, NSW (?)

Owner: Billings Gate Marketing Pty Ltd (Jimmy Stewart, Doug Ashdown)

Distribution: Festival Records


Billings Gate was jointly founded and co-owned by producer Jimmy Stewart and singer-songwriter Doug Ashdown. It was the successor to their previous label, Sweet Peach and was established in late 1973 or early 1974, after they returned to Australia from an extended stay in the United States. The origin of the name is not known. There was another Billingsgate label around the same time, based in Germany, which specialised in "Krautrock" acts such as Neu!

Six of the eleven Billings Gate releases were by Doug Ashdown; the other five were by South, Labas, expatriate New Zealand band Tole Puddle and The Palm Court Orchestra, whose LP Nights Of Gladness (April 1976) was apparently the last Billings Gate release. The label's debut single was "Those Sweet Yesterdays" by the band South. It was followed by Doug Ashdown's fifth and most successful LP, Leave Love Enough Alone, and the two singles lifted from it, "They Always Seem To Look Like Marianne", and the evocative LP title track, co-written by Doug and Jimmy during the bitter winter they spent in Nashville. 

"Leave Love Enough Alone" was one of the classic 'sleeper' hits of the period. Originally released as a single in September 1974, it received moderate airplay, but neither it nor its predecessor made any impression on the charts at the time. It became a major hit when reissued more than a year later under its alternate title "Winter In America". The song was picked up by stations around the country and became a national Top 40 hit during late 1976 and early 1977, reaching #14 in Melbourne and #30 in Sydney. It remains one of the most enduringly popular Australian songs of the '70s; it has been featured on many anthologies, and it has been covered by artists around the world including our own Margret RoadKnight. In 1988, Dutch singing star Rene Froger's version was a Top 5 hit in Holland, and Froger's live version topped the charts there again a few years ago.

Billings Gate recordings were manufactured and distributed by Festival Records. In late 1973, around the time Billings Gate was set up, Festival ended its old cataloguing system, which used prefixes to identify the various independent labels it distributed and began cataloguing all releases under its new 'K-5000' series for singles and 'L-30000' series for LPs.



Date Cat# Artist Title Notes
1974 K-5380 South "Those Sweet Yesterdays"
"Throw A Little Sun At The Rain"
Feb. 1974 K-5428 Doug Ashdown "They Always Seem To Look Like Marianne"
"Tomorrow Is The Last Time"
Sep. 1974 K-5627 Doug Ashdown "Leave Love Enough Alone (Winter In America)" (Ashdown-Stewart)
"Skid Row" (Ashdown-Stewart)
1975 K-5823 Doug Ashdown "You're The Song"
"Love Ain't Worth ... "
1975 K-5951 Tole Puddle "Diggy Liggy Lo"
"The Minstrel"
Also released in the UK on the Interfusion label
1976 K-6262 Tole Puddle "Disco Indians" (Aranda-Lyons)
"Palm Court Boogie" (Halsey)
Produced by Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart


Cat. # Date Artist Title Notes
L-35294 1974 Doug Ashdown Leave Love Enough Alone Produced by Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart
L-35762 1976 The Palm Court Orchestra Nights Of Gladness Recorded at Festival Studios, Sydney
L-35796 1976  Tole Puddle In Search Of A Breath Of Fresh Air Produced by Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart

References / Links

Hank B. Facer
Museum of Indigenous Recording Labels

Ian McFarlane
Encyclopedia of Australia Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)

Vernon Joyson
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares - Australia (Borderline Books, 1995)

Palm Court Orchestra