471 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

ca. 1967- ca. 1970


Doug Ford (Masters Apprentices) and Lobby Loyde (Wild Cherries)
photographed at fancy dress night at Catcher
in 1967 (photographer unknown)


Sixties discotheque Catcher was located in central Melbourne. Most of the top Australian bands of the period layed there in te late 1960s, and commentators including David "Dr Pepper" Pepperell and Stephen Cummings rate it as one of the hottest music venues of the period, alongside The Thumping Tum, Berties and Sebastians, Opus and The Biting Eye. Judging from gig listings in Go-Set, Catcher appears to have opened around the end of 1966 or early 1967. 

In contrast to the opulent appointments of Berties and Sebastians, Catcher was a relatively spartan venue, and like Mad Hatter it was housed in a converted warehouse. It presented bands on the "hard core" end of the pop music spectrum, and was open virtually all night -- Wild Cherries guitarist Lobby Loyde recalled that the band often ended their nightly round of gigs at Catcher, where they played until 5am. Among the many leading Aussie groups known to have performed there were The Masters Apprentices, The Twilights, The La De Das, Party Machine, The Spinning Wheels, Running Jumping Standing Still, Adderly Smith Blues Band, Python Lee Jackson, Chelsea Set, Wild Cherries, The Clefs, Mind Excursions, The Loved Ones, Chants R&B and The Creatures.

Writer Stephen Walker discussed Catcher in his article "Invisible Innocence" (originally published in Rhythms magazine):

"The most notorious club at the time was the Catcher, in the dark deserted & desolate end of Flinders Lane, an austere painted black disused warehouse that you could hear from blocks away before you could even find it. It was a walk on the wildside, the surly sociopathic end of the rock music crowd slouched around a bare room listening to the harder and wilder end of the music scene. Bands like The Purple Hearts, Running Jumping Standing Still & The Wild Cherries raged until the early hours. There was a totally dark, mattress filled room called The Gobble Room and everyone had an edge that may have come from raiding their mother's diet pills. It was very Malcolm McLarenesque punk ten years early and with a not-so-different soundtrack. The Truth newspaper had shock horror headlines for months about the club that seemed to be open all the time and attracted such an antisocial clientele!"

The Masters Apprentices played there many times during their career, and Catcher featured prominently in their turbulent history as the venue for their last concert with original lead guitarist Rick Morrison. His health was fragile, due to the fact that he had lost one lung as a child, but during a Catcher show in June 1967 he passed out on stage, suffering a collapsed lung. He was ordered to give up performing, and was replaced by Tony Summers (ex Johnny Young's Kompany).

Catcher was still operating in 1970, and Billy Thorpe's 'new' hard-rock Aztecs played many shows there, but no later references have been found as yet and it appears to have closed around 1971.

References / Links

Go-Set magazine, 1967

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

Noel McGrath
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)

Wild About You: The Purple Hearts
Interview with Lobby Loyde by Iain D. Mcintyre