Melbourne, 1972-73

1972 lineup:
Tony Buettel (drums)
Phil Gaunt (bass) Apr-Jul 1972
Gus Fenwick (bass) Jul-Dec. 1972
Phil Manning (guitar, vocals)
Tony Naylor (guitar, vocals)

1973 lineup:
Tony Naylor (guitar)
Peter Roberts (guitar)
Fran Kelly (bass) until Jun 1973
Peter Curtain (drums) until Jun 1973
Paul "Sheepdog" Wheeler (bass) Jun 1973 ...
Dallas Royal (drums) Jun 1973
Steve Webb (drums) late 1973


Band of Tabalene is one of the many fascinating "intersection" groups that played a important part in the evolution of several other significant Australian bands of the early 1970s. It was also one of the string of notable groups to feature the great Phil Manning, one of Australia's finest rock guitarists. Phil had begun his professional career in the mid-Sixties in the final incarnation of Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, followed by a stint in Bay City Union, which first united him with both Matt Taylor and drummer Tony Buettel.

From 1969-71, Phil rose to national prominence as a member of Australian blues-rock legends Chain. Phil left the band in mid-1971 to form the acoustic duo Pilgrimage with Warren Morgan, then rejoined Chain in November, but quit again just before the inaugural Sunbury Festival in January 1972, where he performed in an acoustic guitar duo with Steve Cooney.

Band of Tabalene began its short career in April 1972 under the name Willy & The Philtones, consisting of Manning, Buettel, guitarist Tony Naylor and bassist Phil Gaunt (both ex Ida May Mack). The original name was inspired by Eric Clapton's group of the time, Derek & The Dominos. There was no "Willy" in Manning's band, but the "Philtones" of course combined the names of the two Phils and the two Tonys.

A few months later, Phil's young daughter Kim had a dream in which she saw a band called 'Tabalene' that featured pumpkins playing guitars. Taking this as a good omen, Phil renamed the group accordingly. In July '72 bassist Gus Fenwick (ex Pleazers) replaced Gaunt. They recorded one single, the rocky "Herbert's Boogie" / "Tell It Like It Is" (Nov. 1972) which was released on Ron Tudor's new Bootleg label. This lineup split in December 1972 when Manning left to join Mighty Mouse, which in turn led to him rejoin Chain during 1973.

Tony Naylor kept the Tabalene name, however, and put together a new lineup featuring Peter Roberts (Freshwater, La De Das, Band of Light) on guitar, Fran Kelly on bass, and former Party Machine drummer Peter Curtain. They signed to and released one single, "Oh Darlin" / "Blind Man" (April 1973). By June '73 the lineup had changed again -- Kelly and Curtain were replaced by the great Paul "Sheepdog" Wheeler and Dallas Royal, although Royal was soon replaced by Steve Webb (ex Blackfeather, Duck). This last incarnation of Band of Tabalene dissolved/devolved at the end of 1973, with Naylor joined the Bootleg Family Band, which included Gus Fenwick, former Cycle drummer Geoff Cox and ex Ram Jam Big Band trumpeter Russell Smith.



Nov. 1972
"Herbert's Boogie" / "Tell It LIke It Is" (Bootleg BL 143)

Apr. 1973
"Oh, Darlin" / "Blind Man" (Bootleg BL 169)

References / Links

Phil Manning official website

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

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

Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry
Who's Who Of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)

Vernon Joyson 
Dreams Fantasies & Nightmares: Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)