|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
Peter Doyle (28 July 1949 - 13 October 2001) was a naturally gifted performer who started out in music when he was a child. By the age of nine he was already appearing on the Melbourne television talent show Swallow's Juniors. At fourteen, he was performing in Sunday afternoon pop shows at Melbourne's Festival Hall and by sixteen he'd scored a solo record deal with Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label (which included Normie Rowe) and became a regular on Melbourne's The Go!! Show.
Between 1965 and 1967 Peter (backed by veteran Melbourne band The Phantoms) Peter released eight solo singles, six for the Sunshine label and two more for Astor. His first two singles were Top 20 hits: his debut single, a cover of Conway Twitty's "Speechless (The Pick Up)" peaked at #14 (May '65) and the follow-up, "Stupidity", peaked at #11 (July). His cover of the Small Faces' "What'cha Gonna Do About It" only got to #35 (Nov. ’65), but a version of The Platters' classic "The Great Pretender " fared better, reaching # 22 in Jan. 1966, although this proved to be his last charting solo single in Australia. His last two Sunshine singles were "Something You Got Baby" in May, and "Mr Good Time" in November 1966.
In 1967, following the collapse of the Sunshien label, Peter switched to the Astor label and issued two singles "You Can't Put That in a Bottle" (April) and Neil Sedaka's "Plastic Dreams and Toy Balloons" (June). His backing band during this time was Grandma's Tonic, a group formed by ex-members of Tony Worsley's backing band The Fabulous Blue Jays) and who also later backed Normie Rowe, Jahnny Farnham and others.
In May 1968, with his solo career waning, Peter peroxided his hair and joined the Walker Brothers-styled vocal trio The Virgil Brothers, taking over from original recruit Mick Hadley (ex Purple Hearts) who was uncomfortable with the commercial orientation of the new group and left after only a few rehearsals. The other members were both formerly part of the original incarnation of The Wild Cherries singer/guitarists Rob Lovett (The Loved Ones) and Malcolm McGee (Python Lee Jackson). The Virgil Brothers released two singles in Australia in 1968, "Temptation's 'Bout to Get Me", which was a Top 5 hit), "Here I Am" and "When You Walk Away". McGee left in 1969, just after the trio had relocated to the UK, and he was replaced by Danny Robinson, vocalist extraordinaire and ex-frontman of the highly regarded “Mark II” version of The Wild Cherries with Lobby Loyde. They cut their third single with David McKay before Peter also quit and the trio dissolved.
Shortly after the Virgil Bros split in 1970 Peter joined Lyn Paul and Paul Layton in the second lineup of The New Seekers, replacing founding members Sally Graham, Chris Barrington and Laurie Heath. The clean-cut pop harmony group had been put together by former Seeker Keith Potger who had retreated into the less public role of manager after initially performing with them.
At first ignored in the UK, the group broke through thanks to a string of American hits, beginning with Top 10 cover of Melanie Safka's "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma". More hits followed, including "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" (originally written as a soft-drink jingle), "Beg, Steal or Borrow" (the UK's 1972 Eurovision entry, on which Peter shared the lead vocal with Lyn Paul) and the New Seekers' valiant cover of Pete Townshend's "Pinball Wizard" / "See Me, Feel Me" which featured Peter and Marty Kristian on lead vocals.
Peter contributed numerous original songs, including ballads such as "I Can Say You're Beautiful" and "Lay Me Down", contemplative songs such as "Move Me Lord" and heavier rock numbers like "Boom Town" and "Cincinnati" and his strong vocals gave the New Seekers' sound a tougher edge. Peter's songwriting talents were first showcased on the New Seekers album Beautiful People, which included "Cincinnati". Subsequent albums up to and including the last one he recorded with them (The New Seekers Now) all featured at least one of his songs. New Colours featured three -- "Boom Town", "Move Me Lord" and "Lay Me Down"; Circles featured two -- "Holy Rolling" and "I'll Be Your Song", and We'd Like to Teach the World to Sing and Now included one song apiece.
Although The New Seekers enjoyed huge international chart success, the members apparently saw little of the proceeds. Asked during a radio interview whether she'd made a fortune with The New Seekers, Lyn Paul replied:
"Absolutely not, no! ... We started off on a £50 a week salary. And when we had "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" in the charts we got £100 a week. And then every so often when we kicked up a bit of a fuss ... we'd get given, say £1,000, to go and buy clothes."
Disillusioned, Peter eventually quit the group in 1973 to pursue a solo career as a singer-songwriter. His cynicism showed through in lyrics like those of his song "Sailor Man", which begins with the line "They took me for a ride" and ends with a stern warning to other would-be pop stars:
"Stay at your school,
Don't be a rock'n'roll fool.
In the end your lawyer is the star."
(Lyrics © Copyright Peter Doyle Music / Heath Levy Music Ltd.)
After leaving the New Seekers Peter recorded advertising jingles for Ribena and Sugar Puffs and provided the vocal for a childrens' single, "Jungle Ted and the Laceybuttonpoppers". He also provided backing vocals for Lyn Paul's 1975 single "It Oughta Sell A Million". Peter continued to work in the UK until 1981, issuing five solo singles, including a cover of "Friday On My Mind", and one album, Skin Deep.
By the time Peter quit The New Seekers, they were being represented in the US by former Masters Apprentices bassist turned manager Glenn Wheatley. Glenn became Peter's personal manager and in the formative days of LRB, around 1975, he invited Peter to sign on as LRB's lead vocalist, but he turned it down. One can only imagine how different things might have been if he had taken up the offer! In 1981 he returned to Australia where he worked with a band called Standing Room Only. A year later, in 1982, he received an offer from Steve Holly (formerly the drummer with Paul McCartney's Wings), asking Peter if he'd like to join the group Regis. He accepted and went to the United States, where he worked for the next five years.
Peter returned to Australia in 1987 and was a regular performer on the club circuit for some years. Sadly, he was sidelined by throat and lung cancer in the 1990s and he died in Castlemaine, Victoria on October 13, 2001. He is survived by his wife, Jane.
Our thanks to the Lyn Paul website for additional information.
"Speechless (The Pick Up)" / "Like I Love You" (Sunshine QK-902)
"Stupidity" / "Heigh Ho!" (Sunshine QK 1001)
"What'cha Gonna Do About It?" / "Do It Zulu Style" (Sunshine)
"Great Pretender" / "Everybody Loves A Lover" (Sunshine) 1966
"Something You Got Baby" / "Go Away" (Sunshine) 1966
"Mr. Good Time" / "Tweedle Dee" (Sunshine) 1966
"You Can't Put That in A Bottle" / "I'm Not The Boy You're After" (Astor) 1967
"Plastic Dreams and Toy Balloons" / "You're My Reason" (Astor) 1967
with The Virgil Brothers
"Temptation 'Bout To Get Me" / "I See Her Face" (Parlophone A-8390)
"Here I Am" / "Shake Me, Wake Me" (Parlophone A-8470)
"When You Walk Away" / "Good Love" (Parlophone R 5802) UK
Peter Doyle solo 1973-1980
"Rusty Hands of Time" / "And So In Life" (Polydor 2058 384)
"Friday On My Mind" / "We Believe In Lovin'" (RCA 2730)
"Skin Deep" / "We Believe In Lovin'" (RCA PB 5051)
"Do You Wanna Make Love" / "Wake Up With Me" (Limelight BULB 1)
"This and That" / "It's All Over" (Limelight BULB 2)
as “Jungle Ted”
"Jungle Ted and the Laceybuttonpoppers" (EMI 2213)
Stupidty & Speechless (Sunshine QX-11060)
"Heigh Ho" / "Stupidity" // "Like I Love You" / "Speechless"
The Great Pretender (Sunshine QX-11151)
"The Great Pretender" / "Something About You" // "Everybody Loves a Lover" / "Is This The Dream?"
Peter's 1st Album (Sunshine QL-31863) LP
1. "Stupidity" 1:53
2. "Watcha Gonna Do About It?"
3. "Everybody Loves a Lover"
4. "Lovey Dovey" 2:44
5. "Heigh Ho"
6. "The Great Pretender"
1. "High Time Baby" 2:52
2. "Like I Love You"
3. "Speechless (The Pick Up)"
4. "Do It Zula Style"
5. "Something About You"
6. "Is This The Dream?"
Skin Deep (RCA Victor PL-25113) LP
1. "Skin Deep"
2. "Harlem Dream"
3. "Sailor Man"
4. "Reel Back"
1. The Way It Goes"
2. "Heart Filled Up"
3. "Rocky Lady"
4. "One More River"
5. "Shangri La"
Peter Doyle obituary,
immedia Nov.30 - Dec 2 2001
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
The Lyn Paul
& Zbig Nowara
Who’s Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)
Rate Your Music - Peter Doyle