|MILESAGO: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975
"I don't know anything about
music. In my line you don't have to."
- Elvis Presley
History of the Beat ‘n Tracks - Perth 1965-1967
Vale Nat Kipner
We are sad to report that producer, songwriter and
entrepreneur Nat Kipner died recently in the United States. Nat was one
of the most important figures in the Australian pop music
industry of the 1960s. As well as his role as house producer for the
Sunshine, Spin and Downunder labels, he was an accomplished songwriter
who wrote or co-wrote many of the releases he produced, including
several songs he co-wrote with Maurice Gibb. Among his later credits
was "Too Much Too Little Too Late", which was a major international hit
for Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis in the late 1970s. Nat is also
notable as the father of renowned musician and songwriter Steve Kipner.
After signing The Bee Gees to Spin, Nat introduced the trio to independent producer-engineer Ozzie Byrne, who took them under his wing and gave them unlimited access to his home-built St Clair studio in Hurstville, Sydney. It was during this very fertile period that the Bee Gees recorded their breakthrough hit "Spicks and Specks", which Nat produced.In collaboration with Byrne, Kipner also produced a string of singles and EPs for the shortlived Downunder label, and many of the songs recorded by these artists were co-written by Nat with either Maurice Gibb or Ossie Byrne.
At the same time, Nat's teenage son Steve was also enjoying his first success as the leader of pop band Steve & The Board, who scored several Australian hits in the mid-1960s. After that group split up Steve joined forces with Steve Groves, formerly of The Kinetics, relocated to the London. There, thanks to a chance meeting with Barry Gibb, they were signed by Robert Stigwood and as Tin Tin they scored an international hit in 1971 with "Toast and Marmalade For Tea".
Nat and his wife eventually moved back to USA and he spent the remainder of his life there. In later years he collaborated with a number of other songwriters including John Vallins (a member of the Kinetics with Steve Groves) with whom Nat wrote his most successful song,"Too Much Too Little Too Late".
Nat's great contributions to Australian music and the long-overlooked story of the Spin label were recently documented by historian Bill Casey, who has written the definitive history of the label, and fortunately he was able to interview Nat at length for his research. Speaking from his home in Melbourne, singer Dave Miller paid tribute to Nat, who signed The Dave Miller Set to Spin and helped to launch their career.
In closing, we in offering our sincere condolences to Nat's family and friends.
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