Location: Sunbury, Victoria

Promoters: Odessa Promotions

Attendance: unknown

Ticket price: unknown

MC: Paul Hogan

Sound System: Jands

Festival lineup:

Band Of Light
Glenn Cardier
Coloured Balls
Country Radio
Flying Circus
Healing Force
MacKenzie Theory
Madder Lake
Max Merritt & The Meteors
Johnny O'Keefe
Sid Rumpo
Matt Taylor
The 69'ers
Dutch Tilders
Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs


April 1973
The Great Australian Rock Festival Sunbury 1973 (Mushroom)
A rare 6-track promotional EP was also issued, featuring Friends,
Madder Lake, Country Radio, Johnny O'Keefe, 69ers & Glenn Cardier.
This record is now worth at least $150 on the collector's market.

April 1973
On The Air (EMI)

Summer Jam (Havoc)
feat. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Lobby Loyde & The Coloured Balls and Leo De Castro
Recorded Live at Sunbury '73 between 3:30am and 4:45 am on Monday 29 January


Sunbury '72 was widely touted as the beginning of a new era, and Sunbury '73 consolidated the festival's success. However it also marked a changing of the guard, with a number of notable bands -- Carson, Country Radio, Friends, Healing Force -- all splitting for good in the months following their Sunbury appearances. It was also the final Australian performance by Flying Circus, who had already been in Canada for some time. They returned specially for the festival, but were coolly received, and returned to Canada immediately after Sunbury, where they remained until they split some years later.

The Aztecs headlined again, reprising their huge success of the previous year and Max Merritt & The Meteors again returned from the UK to perform. One of the surprise hits of the festival was rock'n'roll legend Johnny O'Keefe; he was cheekily introduced as a "newcomer" by MC Paul Hogan, but despite an initially derisory reception, he won the crowd over and by the end of his set, as Ian McFarlane notes, he "had the audience of hippies eating out of the palm of his hand".

"Sunbury 1972 was the first, but the 1973 festival is often remembered as the best. It has a place in our music history, just like the vintage clips of the Easybeats performing 'Friday On My Mind' and AC/DC travelling down Melbourne city streets on the back of a tray truck while belting out 'It's A Long Way To The Top'."
- Steve Waldon, The Age

Like Sunbury '72, the performances were taped made on a mobile multi-track facility; it is presumed that some film or video footage was made but it is not known how much of that (if any) still exists. The sound recordings were edited to become the inaugural release for the newly established Mushroom Records label, founded by Michael Gudinski and Ray Evans. With commendable hubris, it was the first Australian triple-album set ever released. A limited edition six-track EP was also released and this is now very rare and commands high prices on the collector's market.

The fine performance by Carson (which would prove to be their last major concert appearance) was also released by EMI as the On The Air LP; this has long been out of print but it is scheduled for re-release on CD by Aztec Music. The other major recording culled from the festival was the extended early-morning jam session between The Aztecs, Lobby Loyde's Coloured Balls and Leo De Castro, which was released on the Havoc LP Summer Jam. This has recently been reissued on CD by Aztec Music.

References / Links

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

Adrian Rawlins
Festivals in Australia: An Intimate History (D.T.E Publishers, Spring Hill, Vic, 1986)

Steve Waldon
"Sunbury, 1973. Strike any chords with you?"
The Age, 25 Jan. 2003