British-born producer, arranger and songwriter Joe Halford played a major important role in the Australian music industry over several decades through his work as a staff producer and A&R manager, first for EMI and later for Festival Records.

Unfortunately there is virtually no information about Halford's early career in the UK but it can be safely assumed that he trained as an engineer with EMI in London. He came to Australia in the late 1950s as the A&R manager for EMI's subsidiary label HMV, which recorded and released tracks by a wide variety of Australian and New Zealand popular artists including Little Pattie and Patsy Ann (Trisha) Noble, Chad Morgan, Jay Justin, The Chessmen, Warren Williams, The Delltones, Bryan Davies, Dave Bridge, The Allen Brothers, The Denvermen, Lonnie Lee, Dinah Lee, The Spinning Wheels, The Librettos, Jade Hurley, Buddy England, Grantley Dee, The Mixtures, The Masters Apprentices, The Town Criers, Johnny Farnham and Russell Morris. 

In a business that was heavily dominated by male performers, HMV's Australian roster had a relatively high proportion of female performers, beginning with The Shepherd Sisters in 1957. HMV helped to launch the careers of several of the most successful female singers of the 60s -- Bandstand discovery Patsy Ann (Trisha) Noble, Little Pattie, "Dynamic" Dinah Lee, Lynne Randell, Cheryl Gray (aka Samantha Sang), Bev Harrell, Michelle Myers, Robyn Alvarez, Carol Deene, Vicki Forrest, The Taylor Sisters, Anne Reilly, Lynn Fletcher, Ann Sidney and Maggie Jodrell.

Halford was also an accomplished songwriter who contributed musically to many of the songs he produced. He collaborated with a number of writers and musicians including guitarist Dave Bridge, and in the early Sixties he formed a productive writing partnership with HMV singer Jay Justin, co-writing many songs recorded by Justin himself and writing for other HMV artists including Patsy Ann Noble, Little Pattie and Robyn Alvarez. 

Among Halford's many writing-arranging credits are Dave Bridge's "Bondi Stomp" and Little Pattie's breakthrough single "He's my blonde headed, stompie wompie, real gone surfer boy" / "Stompin' at Maroubra", both songs co-written with Jay Justin. Joe also co-wrote several songs for Patsy Ann Noble including "Johnny sings a love song" (with Geoff Harvey) and "When you find your true love" (with Ray Swinfield).

In 1965 Joe left EMI and moved to Festival Records. According to Carol Rodgers’ pop column in the Sunday Telegraph of 27 March 1966, the Bee Gees’ new single, "Cherry red"/ "I want home" was the first to be recorded on Festival’s newly installed 4-track equipment, and it was the first recording Halford produced for Festival. [3]

In late 1966 Joe was joined by former Clefs singer and ex Sunshine/Kommotion records producer Pat Aulton. When Pat was hired as a staff producer it was decided that Halford would concentrate on the company's 'mainstream' clients, who mainly recorded during the day shift, and Aulton would take over the "night shift", producing pop and rock recordings for Festival's house label and the various independent labels it distributed (including Spin).

Halford continued working as a producer into the late 1970s, usually with country performers and 'mainstream' vocalists. His production credits in this period include Barry Crocker, Johnny Ashcroft, John McDonald, Rocky Emmett, Reg Lindsay, Judy Stone, The Herbie Marks Trio and Buster Noble (father of Trisha).

References / Links

1. National Film & Sound Archive

2. Music Australia

3. Bill Casey
Nat Kipner & The Bee Gees