Sydney, 1968-70

Aesop's Fables (Mk I), 1968-69
Cheryl Blake (vocals)
Jimmy Doyle (guitar)
Russell Dunlop (drums)
Michael Lawler (bass)
Gary Moberley (keyboards)

Aesop's Fables (Mk II), February - October 1970
Owen Booth (bass) Feb. 1970 - mid 1970
Russell Dunlop (drums)
Brenda Glover (vocals)
Brian Holloway (guitar) Feb. - Apr. 1970
Les Stacpool (guitar) Apr 1970 - Oct.1970
Charlie Tumahai (bass) mid 1970 - Oct.1970


Aesop's Fables was one of a number of polished harmony-pop bands that worked in and around Sydney in the late Sixties. Other similar acts included The Executives, The New Dream, The Affair and The Clik and all were strongly influenced by the softer and more 'sophisticated' sounds of groups like The 5th Dimension. Although they never became a major force on the national scene, Aesop's Fables are an interesting group, especially as an 'intersection' band whose various well-known members went on to bigger and better things.

Aesop's Fables started out as a cover band. This statement has a pejorative quality these days, but the reality was that for working bands throughout the Sixties (this was the height of the R&R boom) it was essential to know a very wide range of material, from jazz standards through to the latest R&B, psychedelic, hard rock and bubblegum hits. The band did begin to develop original material during its second incarnation, but their career proved to be too short for it to make any difference.

Aesop's Fables boasted some fine players. Guitarist Jimmy Doyle had been a member of the backing bands for The Delltones and Dig Richards and also worked for a time as musical director for pianist Winifred Atwell. Organist Gary Moberley's previous band was The Ramrods, a group now best remembered because future Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating was their manager.

Aesop's Fables built up a strong following in the Sydney area and in 1969 they were runners-up in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds band competition, as well as winning the Vocal Group section, but they seem to have been one of the casualties of the 'Hoadley's hoo-doo' and they split later in the year without having made any recordings. Jimmy Doyle went on to a stint with Doug Parkinson In Focus and in the Seventies he was a founder member of jazz rock band Ayers Rock.

In February 1970, Moberley and Dunlop formed a new version of the band (initially called "The New Aesop's Fables") with Brenda Glover (vocals, ex-Jet Set), Brian Holloway (guitar; ex-The Dream, Image) and Owen Booth (bass). Holloway quit about two months later, subsequently hooking up with Ronnie Charles, former lead singer of The Groop in Captain Australia & The Honky Tonk, who later travelled overseas. Holloway was replaced by Melbourne guitar legend Les Stacpool whose CV included stints with The Chessmen, Merv Benton & The Tamlas, Levi Smith's Clefs, Rockwell T. James & The Rhythm Aces, The Browns, a short stint withDoug Parkinson In Focus, and Genesis.

Brenda Glover was one of the new generation of dynamic, blues-inspired female vocalists that included Wendy Saddington, Carol Lloyd, Bobbi Marchini and Alison McCallum. With Brenda fronting the band, Aesop's Fables took a tougher blues-rock direction. Another legendary player, the late Charlie Tumahai (bass) replaced Booth in mid-1970, but the band lasted only a few months more and had broken up by October 1970.

Aesop's Fables' only single was "Little Yellow Pills" / "Sandman" which came out as the first single on Gus McNeil's new Generation label in February 1971, several months after the group had split. "Little Yellow Pills" was a cover of a song by British singer Jackie Lomax; "Sandman" was a Les Stacpool original.

After Aesop's Fables ...

Brenda Glover issued a solo single on the Violet's Holiday label in March 1971; the A-side was a cover of The Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" b/w "Fanny Adams". She changed her name to Brenda Kristen and released a fine version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" in 1972 on EMI/HMV, which was arranged by Col Loughnan (Ayers Rock) & produced by Rod Coe (Freshwater). She later turned up on RCA Records with the single "Touch The Wind (Eres Tu)" / "Put A Little Love Away" and an album also called Touch The Wind. The single charted in some states and according to chart compiler David Kent it reached #70 on the national charts for seven weeks in March 1975. By this stage Brenda had moved away from the blues/rock belter style she is best known for and had settled into an MOR/soul style (similar to Alison MacCallum's second album and Albert Singles). Another single from the album was "Tequila Sunrise" / "Queen Of The Silver Dollar", also released in 1975 it's uncertain whether if any other Singles were released. From there Brenda went into cabaret but we know nothing else of her career since the late '70's.

Gary Moberley went on to a remarkable career. After joining Brian Holloway in the shortlived Captin Australia and the Honky Tonk he settled in the UK. In the mid-Seventies he joined the John Miles Band, which included renowned British singersDoreen Chanter and her sister Irene as backing vocalists. The Chanter sisters' stellar credits include work with Elton John, Long John Baldry, Chris Farlowe, Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music, John Miles, The Secret Policeman's Ball, Van Morrison, Roger Waters, Meatloaf, Joe Cocker and many other famous names. Gary was a touring member of one of the later lineups of '70s glam rock band The Sweet and in the late '70s and early '80s he worked regularly as musical director for American soul artists touring Europe, including Rufus Thomas, The Platters, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Wilson Pickett. He performed and recorded with leading UK New Wave bandABC in the mid-80s and was a member of the band that backed The Bee Gees on their One For All live video in 1989. His numerous session credits include Mick Taylor, Prefab Sprout, Wet Wet Wet, Fine Young Cannibals, The The, Jody Watley, Talk Talk, Terence Trent D'Arby and The Damned.

Charlie Tumahai and Les Stacpool initially made plans to form a new band together, but nothing came of it. Tumahai then relocated to Melbourne where he had a short stint in Nova Express before joining the renowned Healing Force, followed by stints in Friends and the shortlived Alta Mira in 1973. He then joined Mississippiand travelled with them on their ill-fated trip to the UK. Charlie remained in England after Mississippi broke up, subsequently joining Bill Nelson's renownedBe Bop Deluxe . He returned to his native New Zealand where he became a founder member of The Herbs, and he also did much work on behalf of the Maori community until his sudden death from a heart attach in 199?

Les Stacpool issued a solo single on Generation in November 1971, a cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River" b/w "Don't Go Away". He subsequently joined Sasha, had a short stint in Country Radio, followed by Gulliver's Travels, Living Legends and The Allstars (among many others) as well as being an in-demand session player.

Russell Dunlop later played with Aunty Jack & The Gong and has many session credits as a drummer for Albert Productions artists (notably with JPY) and others. He became one of Australia top producers, working extensively in collaboration with Bruce Brown, first at Alberts Studios and then freelance, producing hit singles and Albums for acts including Mental As Anything, Kevin Johnson, Jon English, Dave Warner, The Reels and Phil Judd.


February 1971
"Little Yellow Pills" (Lomax) / "Sandman" (Stacpool) (Generation GE 001)

References / Links

Thanks to Mick Robbins for additional information about Brenda Glover's solo career.

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

Musician's Olympus - Gary Moberley

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