Promoter, artist manager, venue operator, record label owner, 1960s-1970s

The late Ivan Dayman played a major role in the Australian music industry in the mid-1960s. He's often mentioned in connection with the pop artists he recorded, managed and promoted, but there is very little factual information about the man who was one of Australia's most successful pop impresarios in the booming Australian pop industry of the mid-60s. What follows is a compendium of the various scraps of information, claim and fable that we have been able to locate.

It's fair to say that Dayman is a controversial figure, and he has been criticised for his management style. The late Dean Mittelhauser, for example, blamed Dayman for splitting the singer from his original band, The Bowery Boys, and grooming him as a Normie Rowe clone/successor:

"A lot of the blame can be rested firmly at Mr Ivan Dayman's feet. He was already middle-aged and knew nothing about rock & roll. He continually pushed Furber while leaving the Bowery Boys out of television appearances and interstate tours. It's strange now to imagine, but we all think that Furber was a solo star and The Bowery Boys were a bunch of patsies who were just paid to back him. This of course is false, but it was exactly what Dayman wanted everybody to think. Well, he succeeded even though the guys from The Bowery Boys still thought of themselves as part of the whole box and dice and not just Mike Furber's backing band."

Certainly, Dayman exerted a considerable degree of control over his clients, since he was typically managing them, booking them and producing their recordings, regularly sending his artists off on package tours which included gigs at his various venues. He promoted a string of Australian artists, many of them originally from Brisbane, the rest predominantly from Melbourne and there's no question that under his patronage Normie Rowe, Tony Worsley and Mike Furber became major national pop stars.

Although there many be questions about Dayman's business style, there is no doubting the strength of Sunshine's artist roster and the quality of the material they produced. The label's diverse lineup ranged from solo singers like Normie Rowe, Peter Doyle and Mike Furber & The Bowery Boys to hardcore Brisbane blues-R&B band The Purple Hearts, highly-rated Kiwis expats The Librettos, Beat Boom stars Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, Rowe's backing band The PlayboysMarcie Jones & The Cookies, teen punkette Toni McCann, surf legends The Atlantics, Ricky & Tammy, Melbourne's feedback kings Running Jumping Standing Still, trans-Tasman folk duo Bill & Boyd, popular NSW band Rev. Black & The Rockin' Vicars, Brisbane solo star Jonne Sands and Brisbane popsters Wickedy Wak (which featured a young Rick Springfield). 

Sunshine was also the 'big-league' breakthrough for musician and producer Pat Aulton, the former singer with Adelaide band The Clefs (whom Dayman managed). Aulton performed, MC-ed and backed other performers at Dayman's Brisbane Bowl and was soon appointed as Dayman's Musical Director and house producer. Dayman's other partner in Sunshine was expatriate American producer, songwriter and entrepreneur Nat Kipner, who was Sunshine's other 'house' producer until 1966, when he sold his share in the business and The Bowl venue in Sydney and took up an offer from Cyde Packer to become the &AR manager of Packler's new record label, Spin.

Bobby & Laurie
Both Bobby Bright and Laurie Allen worked for Dayman in the earlier part of their careers. Laurie Allen was a veteran of the earliest days of rock'n'roll in Melbourne. His first amateur group in the late Fifties was The Three Jays, followed by The Lories ca. 1958. In 1958-59 Laurie was a member of The Roulettes ,  the long-running Melbourne revue band whose roster included Ron Blackmore, Phil Blackmore, Graham Trottman and Bob Arrowsmith. From 1959-61 he was lead guitarist for Malcolm Arthur & The Knights, one of Melbourne's pioneering rock & roll bands. Original Knights members Graham Trottman and Phil Blackmore later joined Normie Rowe's backing group The Playboys. After leaving the Knights, Laurie joined established Melbourne band The Blue Jays as singer/organist in 1962 and he stayed with them until the end of 1963, when the band signed with Dayman's Sunshine agency; shortly after that they were assigned as the backing band for rising Brisbane singer Tony Worsley and became became the "Fabulous Blue Jays". Laurie left when they became part of Dayman's Sunshine management stable, eventually teaming with another former Dayman solo act, Bobby Bright. 

Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays
After teaming up at the start of 1964, Tony and The Blue Jays" immediately set about creating a dynamic stage show, based around Tony's brash but appealing tenor voice, rough'n' tough stage presence and cheeky, boyish good looks. Backed up by one of the tightest and most competent bands in the country and the Blue Jays trademark "fat" sound blended sax and guitar in a potent lead instrumental assault, giving them a much heavier attack than many of their contemporaries. From his recently acquired Brisbane base, the legendary Cloudland Ballroom (a landmark Queensland venue, sadly demolished in the 1980s) Dayman promoted the group on his popular "Bowl" dance circuit package extravaganzas. and Tony & the Blue Jays quickly earned a reputation for upstaging the main acts.

In mid-1964 Tony and The Blue Jays left for Melbourne. Dayman had taken up a Saturday night lease on Festival Hall, renaming it "Mersey City", and on 2 May 1964 he opened with Tony and the Fabulous Blue Jays. Over 4500 teenagers attended: "That was 500 more than saw the Beatles" proudly proclaims Tony. Dayman also used them to launch his new venues in Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Inala, Surfers Paradise and the city.

Sunshine Records
In late 1964, Dayman established his independent record production company and label called Sunshine Records. His partner in the business was the enterprising and multi-talented American-born Nat Kipner, who had previously been working as a real estate salesman on the Gold Coast. Sunshine signed a distribution deal with  Festival Records and released its first two singles late in the year. The first, released in October, was an original instrumental by The Blue Jays called "Jay Walker". The second (November) was the debut single by Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, and it was a killer combination: the A-side was a scorching version of "Sure Know A Lot About Love", backed by a terrific acoustic-driven original, "Me You Gotta Teach", composed by what soon developed into the bands resident writing partnership of Beaky Clarke and Royce Nicholls.

As Glenn Baker points out, in many respects Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays were Sunshine -- they were crucial to to its early success, and Tony Worsley/Blue Jays releases accounted for seven of the label's first thirteen singles. Together they also rank as one of the most prolific recording units of "the scream years", between them they churned out  three full albums, eight EPs and seven singles in less then two years. Their Sunshine recordings including many original tracks by Clarke and Nicholls, which was fairly unusual for Aussie bands of the time. The Easybeats were one of the few other Australian outfits playing mainly original material, but most local beat groups relied on covers, typically blues or R&B covers that had already been popularised by UK bands like The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals, Them and The Pretty Things.

Over the next three years Sunshine racked up an extraordinary run of hits, including some of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the decade

Normie Rowe
By early 1965 Dayman was well established on the Melbourne scene and it was here that he made his biggest discovery. Popular young singer Normie Rowe, a former PMG apprentice, had become a popular draw on the Melbourne dance circuit and had a regular on Melbourne pop TV shows like Teen Scene -- produced by Nat Kipner -- and The Go!! Show. According to historian Ed Nimmervol, EMI apparently had the chance to sign him but turned him down, claiming that he couldn't sing! Sunshine had no such qualms and signed him to a recording and management deal. 

Sunshine's new house producer, Pat Aulton, was the former lead singer of Adelaide band The Clefs (which was, coincidentally, led by Tweed Harris, who went on to found The Groove, whose guitarist was former Playboy Rod Stone). In the liner notes for The Early Anthology, Pat recalled his introduction to Normie:

"Ivan said to me one day 'We've found this kid, come and have a listen and tell me what you think'. So I saw Normie sing at Preston Town Hall and thought 'Well, he's pretty good'. The girls loved him, and he had great presence. He really worked hard. He'd get out there in front of the crowds and he really punched the sky, and I liked that. So I took Normie down to Armstrong Studios to record his debut single."

Normie's first single,"It Ain't Necessarily So" (April 1965) was huge success, making the Top Ten in most cities and peaking at #6 in Sydney, #1 in Melbourne, #3 in Brisbane and #5 in Adelaide. Its lower chart position in Sydney was reportedly due to the fact that Sydney pop station 2SM (then owned by the Catholic Church) banned it because of its supposedly 'sacrilegious' lyrics. Over the next twelve months Normie enjoyed a virtually unbroken run of hits around Australia including his double-sided smash hit "Que Sera Sera" / "Shakin' All Over", which became still one of the biggest-selling Australian singles of the 1960s.

By mid-1966 Normie was the biggest solo pop performer in Australia, and the next logical step was to try his luck in the UK. In preparation he revamped the Playboys lineup. Cartwright, Billings and McArthur wanted to stay in Australia for family reasons, so Normie replaced them with Brian Peacock (bass) and Rod Stone (guitar), both from the recently defunct New Zealand band The Librettos. Arriving in London in August 1966, ahead of his band, Normie took on Ritchie York as his London agent, and began to record with producers Trevor Kennedy and John Carter, using the cream of London's session musos, including Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, famed drummer Clem Cattini and vocal group The Breakaways. The London sessions produced a clutch of new songs -- "Ooh La La", "It's Not Easy", "Mary Mary", "Turn On The Love Light" and "Can't Do Without Your Love".

Despite Normie's absence in London, his run of chart success in Australia continued unabated. His next single, "Ooh La La" / "Ain't Nobody Home" (Nov. 1966) was another double-sided hit Top 5 hit in most capitals (#2 in Sydney, #1in Melbourne and Brisbane and #4 in Adelaide). Up to this point there had been no national pop chart in Australia, and most pop stations in the state capitals and major cities published their own competing charts. However, on 5 October 1966 Go-Set magazine began publishing its own weekly national Top 40, compiled by Ed Nimmervol. "Ooh La La" / "Mary, Mary" debuted at #6 on the new chart on 7 December 1966, and it hit the top spot in the 21 December chart, giving Normie his first official national #1 hit. It stayed at #1 for two weeks before being briefly supplanted by The Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind" on 4 January, but returned to the top for the next two weeks. "Ooh La La" reportedly also made it into the lower end of the British Top 40. While "Ooh La La" was riding at the top in Australia, Normie's next single "It's Not Easy" was also shooting up the chart. It debuted at #17 in the Go-Set chart in the last week of December 1966, and reached in the Top Ten by the second week of January; through the end of January and into February, Normie enjoyed his greatest chart success to date and achieved an Australian 'first' by having two singles simultaneously in the national Top 3 for three consecutive weeks. The new Playboys lineup arrived in London in December and Normie briefly flew home for Christmas, which no doubt assisted the chart ascent of "It's Not Easy". Capping a year of extraordinary success, Normie was voted Australia's top male singer in the first annual Go-Set Pop Poll.

Normie worked in England for ten months and toured with the likes of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, The Spencer Davis Group, Kiki Dee, Gene Pitney and The Troggs. There were high hopes of a British breakthrough, and there's no doubt that Normie had the talent, ambition and work ethic to see it through. In the early months of 1967 the pages of Go-Set were filled with breathless predictions of imminent UK stardom, but it never materialised. Meanwhile, back home, Normie's British stay was proving a heavy drain on Sunshine's finances, and sometime in late 1966 or early 1967 Sunshine Records went into liquidation and was evidently taken over by Festival, which was presumably Sunshine's major creditor.

Much has been written about the reasons why Aussie talents like Normie, The Easybeats, The Twilights and the Masters Apprentices weren't able to break through in the UK. Some have pointed the finger at the so-called "Pink Mafia" who allegedly controlled by British pop industry, but this explanation seems far too simplistic. In retrospect, the biggest obstacles was the sheer difficultly of making any impression against the overwhelming volume of talent on offer in the UK without top-line management, full support from record labels and a virtually bottomless bucket of money. 

Another factor which had a significant impact on the exposure given to Australian artists on British radio was the emergence of pirate radio. Transmitting from ships and sea-towers just outside the UK territorial limit, pirate stations Radio Caroline, Radio London and Radio Atlanta shook up the hidebound British music scene, giving Britons their first taste of the weird and wonderful world of commercial pop radio. Although it's not well known, many Australians were prominently involved in these pirate stations -- Radio Atlanta was in fact founded by expat Australians Alan Crawford and Ken Evans, and many Australian DJs worked on the 'pirates' in this period, including former 2SM 'Good Guy' Tony Withers (by then calling himself Tony Windsor), future 2SM breakfast star Ian McRae, and future Sounds producer Graeme "Spider" Webb. Many Australian acts including The Easybeats and Johnny Young were given solid support by patriotic Aussie pirate DJs and this seems to have had a major effect on the eventual success of "Friday On My Mind" in particular. However, by early 1967 the British government was becoming deeply concerned about the massive popularity of the pirate stations and on 1 June 1967 the declaration of the Marine Broadcasting Act 1967 closed the loophole that allowed the pirates to operate, effectively put them out of business overnight.

Normie returned to England in January and in March 1967 he and The Playboys embarked on a tour of the UK supporting The Troggs, Gene Pitney and Sounds Incorporated. Around this time Phil Blackmore left the group for family reasons and returned to Australia; he was replaced by English keyboard player Trevor Griffin. Rod Stone left in April 1967 and returned to Australia (where he joined The Groove) and he was replaced by former Adam Faith sideman Mick Rogers.

In June, Normie and The Playboys travelled to North America, supporting Roy Orbison on a US tour, and along with The Seekers they represented their country in a special "Australia Day" performance at Expo '67 in Montreal. Normie returned to Australia in July, where he appeared as a special guest at the Hoadleys Battle Of The Sounds final in Melbourne. Graeme Trottman also returned to Australia but the rest of the band remained in the UK, drafting in former Librettos drummer Craig Collinge to replace Trottman. The Playboys secured a one-off single deal with Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label, and they recorded and released one single "Sad" / "Black Sheep RIP" in August. Meanwhile, Normie scored another Top Ten hit in late 1967 with "Going Home" / "I Don't Care". It debuted at #22 in the Go-Set chart in late April and stayed in the national Top Ten until the end of May, peaking at #7. His next two singles, produced in the UK by Giorgio Gomelsky were "Sunshine Secret" / "But I Know" (June 1967) followed by "Turn Down Day" / "Stop To Think It Over" (October), which charted in Melbourne. But in September 1967 Normie received his call-up notice for national service. In October Normie and The Playboys parted ways. The group remained in the UK, changed direction and re-emerged in December as one of Australia's first progressive rock bands, Procession.

Around August 1965, Brisbane R&B band The Purple Hearts joined The Easybeats, Vince Melouney, Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, Ian Saxon and others on a marathon north Queensland tour from Brisbane to Cairns and back, organised by Dayman, which was the first ever 'beat band' tour of the region. Dayman immediately saw The Purple Hearts' potential and signed them to Sunshine. Their first Sunshine single (recorded at Festival studios in Sydney) was a re-recording of "Long Legged Baby" (which they had previously cut for the Brisbane label Soundtrack) backed by a new B-side, "Here 'Tis", which was released in October 1965. Thanks to their dedicated following in their hometown, it made the Top 10 in Brisbane. For the remainder of 1965, Dayman kept the band busy promoting the single and holding down a residency at the Brisbane Bowl. By early 1966 the Hearts were looking south to the major markets of Sydney and Melbourne and their first big break came when they scored the opening spot on the Sydney leg of the Herman's Hermits/Tom Jones Caravan of Stars tour promoted by Harry M. Miller, plus more gigs at Dayman's Sydney Bowl.

Another Dayman "discovery" was expatriate New Zealand singer Dave Miller, who led The Dave Miller Set in the late 1960s, came to Australia in early 1966. His former (NZ) Byrds bandmate Al Dunster was friends with the new manager of The Bowl, Graham Dent, and through this connection Dave scored a job MC-ing and performing at The Bowl in Castlereagh St in early 1967. Dent was himself an Kiwi expat and at the time that Dave arrived in Sydney Dent's was managing Dave's old mates Max Merritt & The Meteors. Dave worked for several months at The Bowl and other venues as MC, introducing Sunshine acts like Normie and Peter Doyle, and performing as a DJ and solo singer. This period proved important for Dave in making connections on the Sydney music scene, particularly  boss Nat Kipner, who had recently sold his share in Sunshine and The Bowl and joined the new Spin Records label as their A&R manager.

By late 1966 Dave was considering moving into to the lucrative club circuit, but he was drawn back into the pop scene in late 1966 by Dayman and Dent's decision to revamp The Bowl as a discotheque and rename it the Op-Pop Disco. Dave was asked to put together a house band, so he contacted an old friend from New Zealand, drummer Ray Mulholland, (ex- The Rayders) who was keen to come over and work in Sydney. Dave then recruited a talented young bass player, Harry Brus (ex-Amazons) who went on to become a longtime backing player for Renee Geyer and one of Australia's most respected musicians. The lineup was completed by guitarist Mick Gibbons (ex-The Bluebeats) and keyboard player Greg Hook (who later worked with Respect, Odyssey, Stevie Wright and Lindsay Bjerre), thus creating the first lineup of The Dave Miller Set. However, by the time Dave had put the group together, Dayman and Dent had changed their mind about the house band and the DMS were forced to find work elsewhere.

Late in 1966 renowned Sydney surf band The Altlantics (who had been dropped from the CBS label) signed with Sunshine and over the next year they issued three gritty rock singles -- "It's a Hard Life" b/w "Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do?" (July 1966), a cover of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put a Spell on You"b w/ "By the Glow of a Candle" (January 1967) and the renowned "Come On" b/w "You Tell Me Why" (March 1967), all of which are now considered classics of Aussie '60s rock, and are often classified in the 'garage-punk' genre, a somewhat innacurate label originally coined to cover the music of American "garage" bands of the 60s. Raven Records included "Come On" on their original LP version of their acclained 60s 'garage-punk' compilation Ugly Things in 1980, and Sydney band Wet Taxis (led by the legendary Louis Tillet) recorded their own version, released as a single in 1984.

Meanwhile, Tony Worsley had split from The Blue Jays, and he put together a "New" Blue Jays, which included such future OzRock luminaries as Vince Maloney (Aztecs, Bee Gees, Fanny Adams), John A. Bird (Country Radio) and Phil Manning (Chain). In December, they played at a huge Dayman-promoted event, "The Johnny Young Show", at Brisbane Festival Hall, sharing the bill with virtually the entire Sunshine roster -- Ronnie Burns, Peter Doyle, Mike Furber, Ross D. Wylie, Thursday's Children, Graham Chpaman, Greg Anderson, The Escorts, Marcie & The Cookies, The Pleazers, and Julien Jones & The Breed -- in what proved to be a virtual valedictory for the label; the notable absence was of course Normie Rowe, far away in London. Tony Worsley managed to steal the show with his version of James Brown's famous fainting routine, in which he pretended to collapse and have to be led off-stage, only to only to be doused with water, revive and return for encore after encore.

By the end of 1966, in spite of his continued run of Australian hits, the expense of Normie Rowe's sojourn in London had exhausted Sunshine's coffers and it was taken over by its distributor Festival Records (which was presumably its major creditor). According to Spin Records historian Bill Casey, Dayman was also forced to close his Bowl venues in Sydney, Brisbane and Toowoomba. When the creditors moved in, Pat Aulton discovered that Dayman had made him a director of the business without his knowledge, and as a result of his liability, Pat had his car and his furniture repossessed. His salvation came in the form of a job offer from Festival MD Fred Marks, who hired him as a staff A&R manager and house producer, and he went on to great success as Festival's main pop producer in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Dayman continued to operate as a manager and promoter and in mid-1967 he was involved in the first Australian visit by top New Zealand pop band The La De Das. The release of their new single "Find Us A Way " in New Zealand in May 1967 coincided with the band's first trip to Australia. Although the band had their sights set ultimately on the UK, the only logical way to get there was via Australia, so they followed Stebbing's advice and flew to Sydney. The trip started fairly well with a week-long engagement at Ward Austin's Jungle disco, followed by a support slot on the historic homecoming shows at the Sydney Stadium by The Easybeats, who were back in triumph from the UK, riding high on the international success of "Friday On My Mind". Unfortunately it was pretty much downhill from there on. Stebbing had arranged for Ivan Dayman to manage the group's affairs while they were in Australia, and Dayman in turn put sideman Jimmy Murta in charge of promoting them. Murta's first order was that they clean up their image, so they were duly obliged to have their near-shoulder-length hair trimmed back. Murta arranged expensive publicity photos, and press and radio interviews, pitching the band squarely at the teenage market, a ploy which didn't sit very comfortably with the group.

While they toiled away in Sydney, living in a squalid Kings Cross hotel and appearing at Dayman's Op Pop disco, two singles were culled from the Find Us A Way album for release in NZ. Both did extremely well in spite of the band's absence -- the first, "All Purpose Low" / "My Girl", was released in June and went to #3 on the NZ charts, followed in August by "Rosalie" / "Find Us A Way" which reached #5. However, they hadn't had a single released in Australia since "Don't You Stand In My Way", so Stebbing negotiated a deal for the boys to record a new single for Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label, which was distributed by Festival. Unfortunately, their sole Festival session was a disaster -- the La De Das were used to having their own way in the studio, and they clashed with producer Steve Neale, leading to the mutual termination of the Sunshine contract, and more ill-feeling all round.

In July 1967, The Master Apprentices made a tour of NSW, including shows at the the famed Sydney Stadium, at Rushcutter's Bay (July 30th) and The Trocadero. Heading to Queensland they toured extensively for Dayman and while in Brisbane lead singer Jim Keays had a memorable meeting with Johnny O'Keefe, who praised the Masters as the most "Australian" new band in the country.

One of the latest mentions of Sunshine we've located was a report dated April 1968 claiming that The Valentines would join Sunshine, but this obviously never eventuated.

References / Links

Dean Mittelhauser
Australian Record Collector, Vol. 2, No. 4

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

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

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