|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975
|Agents, Managers & Promoters
Promoter, artist manager, venue operator, record label owner, 1960s-1970s
"A lot of the blame can be rested firmly
at Mr Ivan Dayman's feet. He was already middle-aged and knew nothing
about rock & roll. He continually pushed Furber while leaving
the Bowery Boys out of television appearances and interstate tours.
It's strange now to imagine, but we all think that Furber was a solo
star and The Bowery Boys were a bunch of patsies who were just paid to
back him. This of course is false, but it was exactly what Dayman
wanted everybody to think. Well, he succeeded even though the guys from
The Bowery Boys still thought of themselves as part of the whole box
and dice and not just Mike Furber's backing band."
Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays
After teaming up at the start of 1964, Tony and The Blue Jays" immediately set about creating a dynamic stage show, based around Tony's brash but appealing tenor voice, rough'n' tough stage presence and cheeky, boyish good looks. Backed up by one of the tightest and most competent bands in the country and the Blue Jays trademark "fat" sound blended sax and guitar in a potent lead instrumental assault, giving them a much heavier attack than many of their contemporaries. From his recently acquired Brisbane base, the legendary Cloudland Ballroom (a landmark Queensland venue, sadly demolished in the 1980s) Dayman promoted the group on his popular "Bowl" dance circuit package extravaganzas. and Tony & the Blue Jays quickly earned a reputation for upstaging the main acts.
In mid-1964 Tony and The Blue Jays left for Melbourne. Dayman had taken up a Saturday night lease on Festival Hall, renaming it "Mersey City", and on 2 May 1964 he opened with Tony and the Fabulous Blue Jays. Over 4500 teenagers attended: "That was 500 more than saw the Beatles" proudly proclaims Tony. Dayman also used them to launch his new venues in Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Inala, Surfers Paradise and the city.Sunshine Records
As Glenn Baker points out, in many respects Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays were Sunshine -- they were crucial to to its early success, and Tony Worsley/Blue Jays releases accounted for seven of the label's first thirteen singles. Together they also rank as one of the most prolific recording units of "the scream years", between them they churned out three full albums, eight EPs and seven singles in less then two years. Their Sunshine recordings including many original tracks by Clarke and Nicholls, which was fairly unusual for Aussie bands of the time. The Easybeats were one of the few other Australian outfits playing mainly original material, but most local beat groups relied on covers, typically blues or R&B covers that had already been popularised by UK bands like The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals, Them and The Pretty Things.
Over the next three years Sunshine racked up an extraordinary run of hits, including some of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the decadeNormie Rowe
Sunshine's new house producer, Pat Aulton, was the former lead singer of Adelaide band The Clefs (which was, coincidentally, led by Tweed Harris, who went on to found The Groove, whose guitarist was former Playboy Rod Stone). In the liner notes for The Early Anthology, Pat recalled his introduction to Normie:
"Ivan said to me one day 'We've found this kid, come and have a listen and tell me what you think'. So I saw Normie sing at Preston Town Hall and thought 'Well, he's pretty good'. The girls loved him, and he had great presence. He really worked hard. He'd get out there in front of the crowds and he really punched the sky, and I liked that. So I took Normie down to Armstrong Studios to record his debut single."
Normie's first single,"It Ain't Necessarily So" (April 1965) was huge success, making the Top Ten in most cities and peaking at #6 in Sydney, #1 in Melbourne, #3 in Brisbane and #5 in Adelaide. Its lower chart position in Sydney was reportedly due to the fact that Sydney pop station 2SM (then owned by the Catholic Church) banned it because of its supposedly 'sacrilegious' lyrics. Over the next twelve months Normie enjoyed a virtually unbroken run of hits around Australia including his double-sided smash hit "Que Sera Sera" / "Shakin' All Over", which became still one of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the 1960s.
By mid-1966 Normie was the biggest solo pop performer in Australia, and the next logical step was to try his luck in the UK. In preparation he revamped the Playboys lineup. Cartwright, Billings and McArthur wanted to stay in Australia for family reasons, so Normie replaced them with Brian Peacock (bass) and Rod Stone (guitar), both from the recently defunct New Zealand band The Librettos. Arriving in London in August 1966, ahead of his band, Normie took on Ritchie York as his London agent, and began to record with producers Trevor Kennedy and John Carter, using the cream of London's session musos, including Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, famed drummer Clem Cattini and vocal group The Breakaways. The London sessions produced a clutch of new songs -- "Ooh La La", "It's Not Easy", "Mary Mary", "Turn On The Love Light" and "Can't Do Without Your Love".
Despite Normie's absence in London, his run of chart success in Australia continued unabated. His next single, "Ooh La La" / "Ain't Nobody Home" (Nov. 1966) was another double-sided hit Top 5 hit in most capitals (#2 in Sydney, #1in Melbourne and Brisbane and #4 in Adelaide). Up to this point there had been no national pop chart in Australia, and most pop stations in the state capitals and major cities published their own competing charts. However, on 5 October 1966 Go-Set magazine began publishing its own weekly national Top 40, compiled by Ed Nimmervol. "Ooh La La" / "Mary, Mary" debuted at #6 on the new chart on 7 December 1966, and it hit the top spot in the 21 December chart, giving Normie his first official national #1 hit. It stayed at #1 for two weeks before being briefly supplanted by The Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind" on 4 January, but returned to the top for the next two weeks. "Ooh La La" reportedly also made it into the lower end of the British Top 40. While "Ooh La La" was riding at the top in Australia, Normie's next single "It's Not Easy" was also shooting up the chart. It debuted at #17 in the Go-Set chart in the last week of December 1966, and reached in the Top Ten by the second week of January; through the end of January and into February, Normie enjoyed his greatest chart success to date and achieved an Australian 'first' by having two singles simultaneously in the national Top 3 for three consecutive weeks. The new Playboys lineup arrived in London in December and Normie briefly flew home for Christmas, which no doubt assisted the chart ascent of "It's Not Easy". Capping a year of extraordinary success, Normie was voted Australia's top male singer in the first annual Go-Set Pop Poll.
Normie worked in England for ten months and toured with the likes of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, The Spencer Davis Group, Kiki Dee, Gene Pitney and The Troggs. There were high hopes of a British breakthrough, and there's no doubt that Normie had the talent, ambition and work ethic to see it through. In the early months of 1967 the pages of Go-Set were filled with breathless predictions of imminent UK stardom, but it never materialised. Meanwhile, back home, Normie's British stay was proving a heavy drain on Sunshine's finances, and sometime in late 1966 or early 1967 Sunshine Records went into liquidation and was evidently taken over by Festival, which was presumably Sunshine's major creditor.
Much has been written about the reasons why Aussie talents like Normie, The Easybeats, The Twilights and the Masters Apprentices weren't able to break through in the UK. Some have pointed the finger at the so-called "Pink Mafia" who allegedly controlled by British pop industry, but this explanation seems far too simplistic. In retrospect, the biggest obstacles was the sheer difficultly of making any impression against the overwhelming volume of talent on offer in the UK without top-line management, full support from record labels and a virtually bottomless bucket of money.
Another factor which had a significant impact on the exposure given to Australian artists on British radio was the emergence of pirate radio. Transmitting from ships and sea-towers just outside the UK territorial limit, pirate stations Radio Caroline, Radio London and Radio Atlanta shook up the hidebound British music scene, giving Britons their first taste of the weird and wonderful world of commercial pop radio. Although it's not well known, many Australians were prominently involved in these pirate stations -- Radio Atlanta was in fact founded by expat Australians Alan Crawford and Ken Evans, and many Australian DJs worked on the 'pirates' in this period, including former 2SM 'Good Guy' Tony Withers (by then calling himself Tony Windsor), future 2SM breakfast star Ian McRae, and future Sounds producer Graeme "Spider" Webb. Many Australian acts including The Easybeats and Johnny Young were given solid support by patriotic Aussie pirate DJs and this seems to have had a major effect on the eventual success of "Friday On My Mind" in particular. However, by early 1967 the British government was becoming deeply concerned about the massive popularity of the pirate stations and on 1 June 1967 the declaration of the Marine Broadcasting Act 1967 closed the loophole that allowed the pirates to operate, effectively put them out of business overnight.Normie returned to England in January and in March 1967 he and The Playboys embarked on a tour of the UK supporting The Troggs, Gene Pitney and Sounds Incorporated. Around this time Phil Blackmore left the group for family reasons and returned to Australia; he was replaced by English keyboard player Trevor Griffin. Rod Stone left in April 1967 and returned to Australia (where he joined The Groove) and he was replaced by former Adam Faith sideman Mick Rogers.
In June, Normie and The Playboys travelled to North America, supporting Roy Orbison on a US tour, and along with The Seekers they represented their country in a special "Australia Day" performance at Expo '67 in Montreal. Normie returned to Australia in July, where he appeared as a special guest at the Hoadleys Battle Of The Sounds final in Melbourne. Graeme Trottman also returned to Australia but the rest of the band remained in the UK, drafting in former Librettos drummer Craig Collinge to replace Trottman. The Playboys secured a one-off single deal with Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label, and they recorded and released one single "Sad" / "Black Sheep RIP" in August. Meanwhile, Normie scored another Top Ten hit in late 1967 with "Going Home" / "I Don't Care". It debuted at #22 in the Go-Set chart in late April and stayed in the national Top Ten until the end of May, peaking at #7. His next two singles, produced in the UK by Giorgio Gomelsky were "Sunshine Secret" / "But I Know" (June 1967) followed by "Turn Down Day" / "Stop To Think It Over" (October), which charted in Melbourne. But in September 1967 Normie received his call-up notice for national service. In October Normie and The Playboys parted ways. The group remained in the UK, changed direction and re-emerged in December as one of Australia's first progressive rock bands, Procession.Around August 1965, Brisbane R&B band The Purple Hearts joined The Easybeats, Vince Melouney, Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, Ian Saxon and others on a marathon north Queensland tour from Brisbane to Cairns and back, organised by Dayman, which was the first ever 'beat band' tour of the region. Dayman immediately saw The Purple Hearts' potential and signed them to Sunshine. Their first Sunshine single (recorded at Festival studios in Sydney) was a re-recording of "Long Legged Baby" (which they had previously cut for the Brisbane label Soundtrack) backed by a new B-side, "Here 'Tis", which was released in October 1965. Thanks to their dedicated following in their hometown, it made the Top 10 in Brisbane. For the remainder of 1965, Dayman kept the band busy promoting the single and holding down a residency at the Brisbane Bowl. By early 1966 the Hearts were looking south to the major markets of Sydney and Melbourne and their first big break came when they scored the opening spot on the Sydney leg of the Herman's Hermits/Tom Jones Caravan of Stars tour promoted by Harry M. Miller, plus more gigs at Dayman's Sydney Bowl.
By late 1966 Dave was considering moving into to the lucrative
circuit, but he was drawn back into the pop scene in late 1966 by
Dayman and Dent's decision to revamp The Bowl as a discotheque and
rename it the Op-Pop Disco. Dave was asked to put together a house
band, so he contacted an old friend from New Zealand, drummer Ray
Mulholland, (ex- The Rayders) who was keen to come
over and work in Sydney. Dave then recruited a talented young bass
player, Harry Brus (ex-Amazons) who went on to become a longtime
backing player for Renee Geyer
and one of Australia's most respected musicians. The lineup was
completed by guitarist Mick Gibbons (ex-The Bluebeats) and keyboard
player Greg Hook (who later worked with Respect, Odyssey, Stevie Wright
and Lindsay Bjerre), thus creating the first lineup of The Dave Miller
Set. However, by the time Dave had put the group together, Dayman and
Dent had changed their mind about the house band and the DMS were
forced to find work elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Tony Worsley had split from The Blue Jays, and he put together a "New" Blue Jays, which included such future OzRock luminaries as Vince Maloney (Aztecs, Bee Gees, Fanny Adams), John A. Bird (Country Radio) and Phil Manning (Chain). In December, they played at a huge Dayman-promoted event, "The Johnny Young Show", at Brisbane Festival Hall, sharing the bill with virtually the entire Sunshine roster -- Ronnie Burns, Peter Doyle, Mike Furber, Ross D. Wylie, Thursday's Children, Graham Chpaman, Greg Anderson, The Escorts, Marcie & The Cookies, The Pleazers, and Julien Jones & The Breed -- in what proved to be a virtual valedictory for the label; the notable absence was of course Normie Rowe, far away in London. Tony Worsley managed to steal the show with his version of James Brown's famous fainting routine, in which he pretended to collapse and have to be led off-stage, only to only to be doused with water, revive and return for encore after encore.
By the end of 1966, in spite of his continued run of Australian hits, the expense of Normie Rowe's sojourn in London had exhausted Sunshine's coffers and it was taken over by its distributor Festival Records (which was presumably its major creditor). According to Spin Records historian Bill Casey, Dayman was also forced to close his Bowl venues in Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba. When the creditors moved in, Pat Aulton discovered that Dayman had made him a director of the business without his knowledge, and as a result of his liability, Pat had his car and his furniture repossessed. His salvation came in the form of a job offer from Festival MD Fred Marks, who hired him as a staff A&R manager and house producer, and he went on to great success as Festival's main pop producer in the late 1960s and early 1970s.Dayman continued to operate as a manager and promoter and in mid-1967 he was involved in the first Australian visit by top New Zealand pop band The La De Das. The release of their new single "Find Us A Way " in New Zealand in May 1967 coincided with the band's first trip to Australia. Although the band had their sights set ultimately on the UK, the only logical way to get there was via Australia, so they followed Stebbing's advice and flew to Sydney. The trip started fairly well with a week-long engagement at Ward Austin's Jungle disco, followed by a support slot on the historic homecoming shows at the Sydney Stadium by The Easybeats, who were back in triumph from the UK, riding high on the international success of "Friday On My Mind". Unfortunately it was pretty much downhill from there on. Stebbing had arranged for Ivan Dayman to manage the group's affairs while they were in Australia, and Dayman in turn put sideman Jimmy Murta in charge of promoting them. Murta's first order was that they clean up their image, so they were duly obliged to have their near-shoulder-length hair trimmed back. Murta arranged expensive publicity photos, and press and radio interviews, pitching the band squarely at the teenage market, a ploy which didn't sit very comfortably with the group.
While they toiled away in Sydney, living in a squalid Kings Cross hotel and appearing at Dayman's Op Pop disco, two singles were culled from the Find Us A Way album for release in NZ. Both did extremely well in spite of the band's absence -- the first, "All Purpose Low" / "My Girl", was released in June and went to #3 on the NZ charts, followed in August by "Rosalie" / "Find Us A Way" which reached #5. However, they hadn't had a single released in Australia since "Don't You Stand In My Way", so Stebbing negotiated a deal for the boys to record a new single for Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label, which was distributed by Festival. Unfortunately, their sole Festival session was a disaster -- the La De Das were used to having their own way in the studio, and they clashed with producer Steve Neale, leading to the mutual termination of the Sunshine contract, and more ill-feeling all round.
In July 1967, The Master Apprentices made a tour of NSW, including shows at the the famed Sydney Stadium, at Rushcutter's Bay (July 30th) and The Trocadero. Heading to Queensland they toured extensively for Dayman and while in Brisbane lead singer Jim Keays had a memorable meeting with Johnny O'Keefe, who praised the Masters as the most "Australian" new band in the country.
One of the latest mentions of Sunshine we've located was a report dated April 1968 claiming that The Valentines would join Sunshine, but this obviously never eventuated.
References / Links
Australian Record Collector, Vol. 2, No. 4
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia or Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)