MILESAGO - Media - Press


Pop music / teen pinup magazine,

Published 1968-71


Gas was a teen-oriented offshoot of Australia's 60s-70s pop music "bible" Go-Set. It was published by Go-Set founder Phillip Frazer. The founding editor was Go-Set staffer Ian McCausland, and he was later succeeded by Ian Meldrum.

It is notable that this move into editing a pop magazine coincided with the development of Meldrum's parallel career as a record producer for Russell Morris (whom he also managed for a time) and for other acts including Ronnie Burns. Meldrum had specialised in pop news and gossip on Go-Set for three years, he was a close friend of many of the local stars and was in touch with music trends.

By 1968, Go-Set's original audience was aging into their late teens and early twenties and in order to access the emerging 14-to-16 market -- similar to that targetted by England's Fabulous magazine or by the mid-60s Australian magazine Everybody's -- it was necessary to develop a new publication. Another factor was that Go-Set was beginning to branch out to cover the new wave of psychedelic and progressive music, but still wanted to cater to younger readers without increasing the magazine's size.

The specific event that made Gas possible was the Monkees tour of Australia in September-October 1968. Gas was a 'fanzine', aimed squarely at the teenage market interested in posters, pin-ups, pop star gossip and competitions, its sub-title being "Australia's Greatest Pin-up Magazine". The content was lighter than Go-Set, with no differentiation between news and gossip, and the writing style was generally chatty and informal. After Gas was launched, Frazer then created a third and more serious magazine, the politically-oriented Revolution.

According to Go-Set historian David Kent, the reason for creating the first edition of Gas was a simple economic one -- Go-Set had a collection of exclusive photographs of the Monkees tour by staff photographer Colin Beard and they were keen to make use of them. The first issue was a dedicated Monkees souvenir, featuring a photo spread of the group on tour. This proved timely -- the band split not long after the Far East tour. Other stories included The Rolling Stones, The Herd, The Beatles and Canned Heat.

There was a three-month break before the second edition which was published in January 1969 featuring a Johnny Farnham cover story by Lily Brett. After the second edition it was published monthly and sold for 40 cents, providing about twenty pinups and posters of various sizes. It was initially printed in black-and-white, but gradually changed over to colour. Editorially the magazine generally catered to the teen end of the spectrum -- Johnny Farnham and Zoot were typical fare -- although some more progressive local acts like Party Machine were covered.

The regular contributors were drawn from the Go-Set staff -- Meldrum, McCausland, staff writers Jean Gollan, Wendy Saddington and David Elfick, with photography by Vera Kaas-Jager. According to David Kent, this grouping was a particular clique within the Go-Set staff structure. During its third year of operation Ian Meldrum took over as editor, assisted by Stephen McLean, Michelle "Mitch" O'Driscoll and Sydney's Greg Quill as State Editor for NSW, although McCausland remained as editorial consultant. (McCausland, however, could not recall editing the magazine when interviewed by David Kent in 2001!) Stan Rofe, a Go-Set columnist from the beginning, was brought in to provide a history of rock & roll

With Issue 9 (November 1969) the magazine was changed from the original tabloid on newsprint format to to a glossy covered half-tabloid size. From this point on the pin-up component was reduced and feature articles became more text-heavy, in line with the prevailing editorial style at Go-Set. The content remained teen-oriented, but it's especially notable that by this issue Gas was featuring only Australian acts. The half-tabloid style was retained until around November 1970, when it reverted to the tabloid newspaper format.

Jon Hawkes, then editor of Go-Set, introduced the change of format in an article on 7 November 1970. Despite Ian McCausland's exhortation in the February editorial to "stick with us thru '71" Gas evidently lasted only a few months longer, and appears to have folded the following month. According to David Kent's research, the last advertisement for Gas that appeared in Go-Set was in March '71, after which there was no further reference to it. Copies available in the Australian library system only go as far as February, so it is probable that the final issue was publishd in either February or March 1971.


 References / Links
David Kent
Go-Set: The Life and Death of an Australian Pop Magazine
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