Sydney, 1966-70

Page compiled by Ray Grieve with John Low

1967 recordings - ("I Got My Mojo Working" / "I’m Gonna Send You Back To Walker" / "Something You Got")
Ray Grieve (vocals, percussion)
Vaughn Brus (organ, harmonica)
Marty Van Wyk (lead guitar)
Charlie Deguara (bass)
John Chronopoulos (drums)

Ray Grieve (vocals, percussion)
Clive Disbery (lead guitar)
Jim Barker (lead guitar)
Neil Markwick: (lead and rhythm guitar)
Charlie Deguara (bass)
Jim Tattler (drums)
Keith Jackman (drums)
Chris Rees (drums)

Ray Grieve (vocals, percussion)
Gary Lothian (lead guitar)
Charlie Deguara (bass)
Chris Rees (drums)

Ray Grieve (vocals, percussion)
Gary Lothian (lead guitar)
Russ Hinton (lead Guitar)
Hugh Cehak (lead Guitar)
Charlie Deguara (bass)
Bob Montgomery (bass)
Chris Rees (drums)

2002 recordings
(Suzie Q / Who You Know / Condition Blue)
Gary Lothian (lead, slide, and rhythm guitars, bass)
Neil Markwick: (rhythm guitar)
Ray Grieve: (bass)
Nick Churkin (drums)


The Elliot Gordon Union was formed in Sydney in 1966 as a blues band comprising Ray Grieve on vocals and percussion, Vaughn Brus on guitar, organ and harmonica, Charlie Deguara on bass guitar and John Chronopoulos on drums. They took their name from their friend and first manager, Elliot Gordon, who left the music business soon after acquiring them a residency gig at Michelle’s disco at Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches and arranging a recording session.

For the recording session, which took place early in 1967, Brus decided to concentrate on organ and harmonica so Marty Van Wyk was brought in on lead guitar. Three blues tracks were recorded but were rejected by two major companies as not commercial enough for release.

By this time, however, the band had built a formidable reputation during their six months at Michelle’s, playing to a packed house every week. It was not long before they were in demand on the rapidly developing club and disco circuit around Sydney. During 1967 further line-up changes occurred, most significantly Neil Markwick coming in on lead guitar and Chris Rees taking over on drums.

One of EGU’s more interesting bookings was for Juanita Nielsen, the Mark Foy heiress who used the band for promotions in the store’s Elizabeth Street headquarters and in a number of its suburban branches. There was also a fashion parade on a passenger liner anchored in Sydney Harbour. These gigs were a great boost for the band because they were advertised on-air and were always on a Saturday morning, leaving them free to accept other bookings the same night.

Around this time the Rev. Ted Noffs was looking for a resident band for his Wayside Disco at Kings Cross and Nielson recommended the EGU. They formed a good working relationship with the Rev. Noffs and enjoyed two years playing to full houses at the ‘Wayside’.

During 1968 the EGU transformed themselves from a blues group to a more commercially oriented rock/soul band, incorporating a Hendrix/Cream style. Gary Lothian joined on lead guitar and the band were outfitted with Lenard PA, guitar and bass amplifiers, becoming the first band in Australia to use the new Lenard brand. They were made to a one-off design in bright orange with black fronts, supplemented by Rees’s Sonor drums, one of the first such kits made available in this country.

With psychedelic stage outfits to match, the EGU achieved immense popularity on the dance circuit as well as continuing to work the clubs and late night discos with their blues repertoire. They were interviewed for Go-Set and were nominated on one occasion as "Group to Watch". Although their material was heavily re-arranged they did not write any original material. Besides Sydney, the band played occasional gigs in Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong and on the NSW north coast.

The EGU often supported bigger name acts, such as Axiom, The Groove, The La De Das, Jeff St. John & Copperwine and Doug Parkinson In Focus. They also backed in live performance a diverse range of solo artists, including Ronnie Burns, Pip Proud and Wendy Saddington.

In 1969 Gary Lothian left the band and was replaced by Russell Hinton. When Hinton left after only a short time, Charlie Deguara decided that he too had had enough, so Hugh Cehak came in on guitar and Bob Montgomery on bass. With these line-up changes, the band was clearly unsettled. They returned more to their blues roots, playing wine bar residencies in Sydney and then undertaking a tour up the NSW north coast as far as the Queensland border. This was only mildly successful and by the middle of 1970, though they were still receiving bookings, they decided to call it quits and the EGU was brought to an end.

Ray Grieve went to Melbourne and then joined the Adelaide band W.G. Berg, which soon became War Machine; they were one of the acts who performed at the 1971 Myponga Festival, which was organised by the band's manager, Hamish Henry.

Following the demise of War Machine, Ray drifted out of the music world for a time, before returning as a folk musician and flautist. He played in the acclaimed '70s folk band The Rouseabouts and also released two flute instrumental Singles and a CD album on his own label, Bushlark. He also researched and wrote a book (with an accompanying cassette/CD set) on the History of the harmonica in Australia.

Charlie Deguara owns and operates a successful building supply business in the Sydney suburb of Brookvale and played with the band, The Jury.

Chris Rees went on to do session work and play jazz venues. After surviving the Granville train disaster in 1977 he started Galleon Records in Fairfield, which he and his wife operated for nearly twenty years. He retired recently due to ill-health.

Gary Lothian joined the Cyril B. Bunter Band, Galadriel, The King Bees and more recently, The Last Volunteers.

In 2002 a ‘re-union’ of the EGU was held in a Blue Mountains recording studio where three instrumental tracks were cut in a style reminiscent of their late 1960s sound. Two of these were original, previously unreleased compositions by Gary Lothian (Elecoff). Neil Markwick returned on rhythm guitar and Nick Churkin, a friend of the band, stood in on drums for Chris Rees who had retired from drumming. Ray Grieve played bass guitar on two tracks.

These three instrumentals were combined with the three original blues tracks recorded in 1967 and were released in 2003 on a CD-ROM titled “EGU: The Elliot Gordon Union”. Along with the six audio tracks the CD-ROM included over a hundred still photographs of the band in action in Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle during the 1960s.


Elliot Gordon Union

Special custom CD comprising 6 audio tracks, plus a CD-ROM component containing over 100 archive photos of the group.

You can purchase a copy of this CD by emailing Ray Grieve at bushlarkmusic@yahoo.com.au

References / Links

Many thanks to Ray Grieve, John Low and all the members of EGU

Ray Grieve interview

Lenard Audio - History