|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
GREG QUILL / COUNTRY RADIO / SOUTHERN CROSS
Sydney, late 1960s-1975
Orlando Agostino (guitar) 1971
Mal Algar (bass) 1971-72
John A. Bird (piano) 1971-72
Chris Blanchflower (aka Chris Anderson) (harmonica) 1970-73
Tony Bolton (drums) 1972-73
Kim Bryant (drums) 1971
Rod Coe (bass) 1971
John Bois (bass) 1972-73
Ace Follington (drums) 1971
Dave Hannagan (drums, vocals) 1970-71
Russ Johnson (guitar) 1973
Greg Quill (vocals, guitar) 1971-73
Kerryn Tolhurst (guitar, dobro, slide guitar, mandolin) 1972-3
John Walsh (bass) 1971
Greg Quill & Southern Cross:
Greg Quill (vocals, guitars)
Chris Stockley (guitar)
Sam See (guitar)
Bruce Worrall (bass)
Tony Bolton (drums)
The blending of rock with elements of country music and folk was one of the most important directions in music in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Singer-songwriter Greg Quill and his band Country Radio were pioneers in this field in Australia, alongside groups like Flying Circus and Keith Glass's Sundown. Many people will remember Country Radio for their popular and enduring hit "Gypsy Queen", which made the Australian Top 20 in late 1972. But like almost all the artists covered in Milesago, there's much more fine music to be discovered on further investigation.
Prior to forming Country Radio, Quill was already well-known on the Sydney folk scene as a solo performer, and he also ran The Shack, the fondly-remembered folk venue at Narrabeen, on Sydney's Northern Beaches in the late 1960s. A meeting with publisher and producer Gus McNeil led to Greg being signed to Gus's new Cellar Music publishing company. Gus produced Greg's first commercial recordings, the single "Fleetwood Plain" and the subsequent album of the same name, recorded for EMI in 1970, on which he was backed by John Walsh (bass), Chris Blanchflower (harmonica), Orlando Agostino (guitars) and members of Pirana, the band which had formed from the final lineup of McNeil's old backing group The Nomads -- Graeme Thompson (bass), Jim Yonge (drums), Tony Hamilton (lead guitar) and Stan White (piano). The LP was released on EMI's new progressive subsidiary Harvest, although curiously the single "Fleetwood Plain" / Song For David" came out on EMI's pop subsidiary Columbia.
To promote the record, Greg put together the original Country Radio touring lineup (June 1970) with Walsh, Anderson, Agostino and Hannagan. At first an acoustic folk act, during 1970-71 thr group's musical style evolved into electric country-rock, the style gaining great popularity (especially amongst musicians) under the influence of albums like The Band's Music From Big Pink, Dylan's Nashville Skyline and The Byrds' Sweethart Of The Rodeo.
By May 1971 the group's lineup had changed to Quill, Blanchflower, Bird, Algar and Follington (ex-Chain). They signed to Festival's Infinity label in October 1971. At this point Follington was replaced by Kim Bryant, who was in turn replaced a few months later by Tony Bolton (ex-The Affair, Freshwater). Their debut single "Listen To The Children" came out in Nov. 1971, although it did not chart. Bolton and Quill became steadfast musical partners, and Greg is unequivocal in his summation of Tony's talent and his importance to the band:
He and I remained together for six years. He was indispensible to me, my loyal friend and an exceptional drummer -- economical, dynamic, always looking for the deepest groove in the song, and the hardest hitter in the business.
In January 1972 Algar left and John Bois (ex-Circle of Love, New Dream) and Kerryn Tolhurst (ex-Adderly Smith Blues Band, Sundown) joined the group. The addition of Tolhurst was of crucial importance; he and Greg formed a very successful songwriting partnegsubip, and Greg describes their collaboration as:
" ... the most rewarding and productive in my musical life".
With the classic CR lineup in place -- Quill, Tolhurst, Bird, Bois, Bolton and Blanchflower -- Country Radio recorded their second and most successful single in Melbourne in April '72, the beautiful and evocative "Gyspy Queen". It was co-written by Greg and Kerryn (who provided the song's wisftful mandolin part and, I'd wager, drew on it as an inspiration for The Dingoes' debut single "Way Out West") and featured a string arrangement by session musician Peter Jones (who later worked on Greg's solo album). Released in August, the single spent 13 weeks in the national charts and peaked at #12. With its wistful mood and its elegant, lyrical images of the road, "Gypsy Queen" is reminiscent, at least in mood, of Spectrum's "I'll Be Gone", and it has similarly become one of the genuine classics of the era, although it is regrettably rarely heard these days.
The success of the single led to a contract with MUCH Productions for live work and recording in Canada, and in Sept. 1972 Country Radio made a three-month tour there, marking the beginning of Greg's long association with what woud become his adoptive homeland. Their beautiful follow-up single "Wintersong" made the Top 40 in December; Greg describes the song as being
"... about a man straining at the edge of a loving relationship and wondering about what's beyond the horizon".
The same month that they released the excellent Country Radio Live. Apparently unable to make the time for extended studio sessions, they recorded their debut LP in one evening, in front of an politely enthusiastic invited audience at Melbourne's TCS Studios on 4 October 1972. It's a great document, showcasing the group's at their peak as a performing unit, and it features a fine selection of originals, plus two songs by John Stewart, one of Greg's favourite songwriters. Stewart is not as well-known these days as some of his songs, with which he has had considerable success. Originally a member of The Kingston Trio, he is a respected singer-songwriter who had massive success with "Daydream Believer", the worldwide 1967 hit he wrote for for The Monkees, and in the late 70s he scored an international hit under his own name with the single "Gold", produced by Lindsay Buckingham and backed by members of Fleetwood Mac.
Soon after their return from Canada, Country Radio made a successful appearance at the 1973 Sunbury Festival; the live track "Silver Spurs" was included in Mushroom's 3LP recording of the event, which was released in April 1973. To Greg's dismay, Kerryn Tolhurst abruptly left the band just after Sunbury, briefly joining Mississippi before putting together his new band The Dingoes, and regrettably he was soon followed by Bird and Blanchflower.
Greg put together a new lineup including Russ Johnson (who effectively swapped places with Tolhurst, having himself just left Mississippi). Guitarists Les Stacpool (a veteran of many of Melbourne's top bands of the 60s and lately of Aesop's Fables) and Russ Hinton (ex-Moonstone) alternated on lead guitar for live dates and Stacpool also appeared on Greg's subsequent solo LP (see below). In May 1973 the lineup of Quill, Johnson, Bolton and Du Bois recorded their fourth single "Bound For South Australia" / "I Need Women", which did not chart. John Bois left in August, when the single was issued, rejoining Tolhurst in the newly formed Dingoes and Greg dissolved Country Road in December 1973.
In 1974 Greg finally recorded the studio album he hadn't been able to make with Country Radio. His superb solo LP The Outlaw's Reply was produced by John Sayers and featured most of the 'classic' Country Radio lineup, including Tolhurst, Bois, Bolton and Blanchflower, plus Russ Hinton (guitars), Peter Jones (keyboards), Peter Walker (keyboards), Chris Neal (synth) and Barry Leef (backing vocals). Two singles were taken from it in 1975: "She Do It To Me" / "Terry's Time" (Apr. '75) and "Blackmail" / "The Outlaw's Reply" (Sept). "Terry's Tune" was a re-recording of the track from the Country Radio Live LP. The album also included Greg's song "Almost Freedom", which was covered by former Company Caine singer Gulliver Smith on his 1973 solo LP The Band's Alright But The Singer Is ...
During 1974 Festival also released a de facto "Best Of" compilation entitled Gypsy Queen, credited to "Greg Quill & Country Radio". It included a good selection of album tracks and single A- and B-sides, and is of particular interest for the inclusion of a rare track that for many years was available only on this LP -- Greg's cover of the country classic "Singin' The Blues", which featured Renee Geyer on backing vocals.
Alongside Margret RoadKnight and Rob MacKenzie of MacKenzie Theory, Greg was one of the first Australian rock musicians to be awarded an Arts Council grant, which enabled him to travel overseas. He moved part-time to Canada in mid-1975, and put together a new band, Southern Cross, in 1977; it included the long-serving Tony Bolton and noted Aussie musos Chris Stockley (Cam-Pact, The Dingoes), Sam See (Sherbet, Flying Circus, Fraternity) and Bruce Worrall (also ex-Sherbet); both Stockley and See joined in Canada, as their respective groups had both moved to North America in the preceding years.
Southern Cross recorded a single, "Been So Long" / "I Wonder Why", for Warner's Elektra label, which featured Greg, Sam See, Chris Stockley and Tony Bolton, plus Steve Hogg (bass), Ian Thomas (harmonies) and Hugh Syme (keyboards). It was released in Oct. 1978 but the group split at the end of 1978 during a tour of Australia. Sadly, the split was also effectively the end of the performing careers of both Quill and Bolton. Tony gave up playing after Southern Cross and eventually went into business; Greg too gave up playing professionally for over two decades, and settled permanently in Canada, eventually becoming a prominent journalist and music writer. His exit from music was, as he recounts, a disheartening experience at the time:
"Our adventures had burned both of us out ... admitting to ourselves that our musical dream had foundered and sunk after so many years was hard on both of us."
Drwaing on his Go-Set experience, Greg returned to journalism; since then he has written books about Michael Jackson (1988) and The Rolling Stones (1989), and in 1993 was reported to be working on a novel. For many years he has been a prominent TV and print journalist reporting on the arts scene in Toronto, where he is the senior arts correspondent for the Toronto Star newspaper.
Postscript - 1999 and beyond
Happily, that was not the end of the story for Greg Quill's music. He returned to Australia to visit his family in September 1999, and although he had long set aside thoughts of his earlier life in music, he experienced what he describes as an 'epiphany' on returning. He came home to find that his old hit "Gypsy Queen" had been just been re-recorded by country singer Adam Harvey. Heading to Melbourne, he had a emotional four-day reunion with former bandmates like Kerryn Tolhurst and Chris Stockley, and attended a concert by up-and-coming young country-rock artist, Cyndi Boste, whose recent album Kerryn had produced. That night she performed Greg's second hit "Wintersong" which, he discovered, had been a staple of her sets ever since she began performing at 15. Greg has written eloquently about the experience and I commend his article to you.
Over the next couple of years, Greg and Kerryn maintained contact and quietly began working on songs together. The result was the clutch of new tunes which eventually appeared in early 2003 on the superb Quill-Tolhurst album So Rudely Interrupted. Greg and Kerryn celebrated the Canadian release with a concert in October 2003 at C’est What? in Toronto, performing with a full band featuring The Band’s legendary keyboardist Garth Hudson on accordion and piano. The show was aired nationally several times on Bravo! Canada’s Arts & Minds program and on CP24. They then headed to Australia and delighted fans around the country with their first public performances together since 1973. Their gigs in Sydney were special events: the Manly show reunited Greg with many old mates from his days at The Shack, and the final show at the Bridge Hotel saw Greg and Kerryn joined onstage by the great Chris Blanchflower. Also in the audience that night were CR keyboard player John A. Bird and Greg's producer and publisher Gus McNeil.
In 2006 original Kerryn Tolhurst produced the sessions for Delightful Rain, a DVD/CD project celebrating Australian surf music and beach culture over the last five decades. Filmed and recorded between May 13th and 27th 2006, in the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club, the Delighful Rain album was produced by Kerryn and recorded by Mick Wordley, the Freshwater sessions included The Atlantics, Les Green (The Denvermen), Richard Clapton, Rob Hirst and Martin Rotsey of Midnight Oil, The Backsliders’ Dom Turner, Tamam Shud, Pete Howe, Tim Gaze, Celibate Rifles, GANGgajang, Cruel Sea founder Dan Rumour and his band, The Pigram Brothers, Beau Young and Andrew Kidman.
Greg Quill talks about his guitars, then and now.
"I have several guitars. My favorite is a
'66 Guild D-55 NT, solid, loud, crisp, with a bottom end approaching
the Jumbo, and a very easy neck and action. I've had it for 20 years.
My 12-string is a Takamine acoustic-electric, very tough and
serviceable with excellent electronics. My favorite electric is a
custom job, likely a solid body kit, which an antiques-dealer friend
picked up in an estate sale, with three pickups, full crossover -- all
Dean Markley fittings. It's main advantage is a beautiful neck, the
same dimensions and feel as the Guild (i.e., not too thin) and a wicked
low, buzzless action. I also have a so-so Japanese Strat knock-off with
fancy electronics, a Takamine 6-string acoustic-electric
(indestructible), and a high-end Suzuki gut-string flamenco/classical
guitar, plus assorted lap steels and a dodgy Italian mandolin."
"In Country Radio I played mostly Maton mid-range acoustics (6 and 12) with magnetic pick-ups. I lent them to Jimmy Page once for a performance at Sydney Showgrounds and he tried to steal them from me ... (more on this story to come, we hope! - Ed.) . For a while I played a Fender acoustic, an experimental model with a cutaway and a Strat neck which sounded awful on mike and and via pick up."
"My all-time favorite electric was a Gretsch Country Gentleman with gold fittings and Bigsby claw, circa 1965. It played itself. I sold it just before I came to Canada, figuring American electrics would be a whole lot cheaper over here than in Oz. I took $350 for it -- the same price I paid -- only to discover the CG's were already collectors' items going for $2,000 U.S. and more. Now, of course, I occasionally see my model CG on vintage guitar websites going for $6,000-$10,000."
"Two of my Matons were stolen -- my favorite, a $2,000 Southern Star with beautiful inlay and the best electrics I've ever heard, was only a couple of months old when someone jemmied the trunk of my car outside a studio where I'd recorded with it for the first time. It was a magic instrument, and uninsured. I never saw it again, though I still look at acoustics for the big mother-of-pearl M on the stock in the hope that one day we'll be reunited."
as Greg Quill & Country Radio:
"Fleetwood Plain" (Quill) / "Song To David" (Quill) (Columbia DO-9081)
"Listen To The Children" (Quill) / "Last Time Around" (Quill) (Festival/Infinity INK-4427)
as Country Radio:
"Gypsy Queen" (Quill-Tolhurst) / "Radio Rag" (Tolhurst) (Festival/Infinity INK-4720)
Produced by John French. Also released on Sweet Plum Records, Canada
"Wintersong" (Quill-Tolhurst-Bois) / "Observations From A Second Storey Window" (Quill) (Festival/Infinity INK 4908)
"Bound for South Australia" (Trad. - Arr. Quill-Bolton-Bois-Stacpool) / "I Need Women" (Quill) (Festival/Infinity K-5167)
Greg Quill solo:
"She Do It to Me" (Quill) / "Terry's Tune" (Quill) (Festival/Infinity K-5878)
"Blackmail" (Quill) / "The Outlaw's Reply" (Quill) (Festival/Infinity K-6069)
as Greg Quill & Southern Cross:
"Been So Long" (Quill) / "I Wonder Why" (Quill) (WEA)
*Remixed and re-edited in Toronto by Alan Thorne
Greg Quill (vocals, electric guitar)
Steve Hogg (bass)
Ian Thomas (harmonies)
Hugh Syme (keyboards)
Sam See (lead guitar)
Chris Stockley (electric guitar)
Tony Bolton (drums)
Recorded at EMI Studios, Sydney, Australia
Engineer: John Taylor
Greg Quill - vocals, guitars
Orlando Agostino - guitars
Chris Blanchflower - harmonica
Graeme Thompson - bass
Jim Yonge - drums
Tony Hamilton - lead guitar
Stan White - piano.
All songs by Greg Quill © Cellar Music.
Reissued 1982 under licence to the World Record Club R-02351
Country Radio Live (Festival/Infinity INL-34726)
1. "Some Lonesome Picker" (John Stewart) Schroeder Music (4:55)
2. "Never Goin' Back" (John Stewart) Schroeder Music (3:47)
3. "Terry's Tune" (Quill) Cellar Music (3:53)
4. "Listen To The Children" (Quill) Cellar Music (4:30)
5. "Silver Spurs" (Quill) Cellar Music (4:43)
6. "Gypsy Queen"l (Quill-Tolhurst) Cellar Music (4:02)
7. "Last Time Around" (Quill) Cellar Music (3:32)
8. "Wintersong" (Quill-Tolhurst-Bois) Cellar Music (5:20)
9. "Observations From A Second Storey Window" (Quill) Cellar Music (5:03)
Producer: John French and
Recorded live at TCS Studios, Melbourne, Australia, October 4, 1972.
Engineers: John French and Graeme McCrae.
Greg Quill, vox and acoustic guitars
Kerryn Tolhurst, lap steel, dobro, mandolin, electric guitar
Tony Bolton, drums
John Bois, bass, harmony vox
John A. Bird, piano and Hammond B3
Chris Blanchflower, harmonica.
Gypsy Queen (Festival/Infinity/Harlequin L-25113)
1. "Gypsy Queen" (Quill-Tolhurst) Produced by John French, TCS Studios Melbourne 1971. String arrangement by Peter Jones. Single. (4:00)
2. "I Need Women" (Quill). Produced by John French, engineered by John Sayers, TCS Studios Melbourne, 1973. B-Side. (4:31)
3. "Bound For South Australia" (Trad. arr. Quill-Bolton-Bois-Stacpool). Produced and engineered by John French at TCS Studios Melbourne and ATA Studios Sydney, 1974. Single. (3:06)
4. "Radio Rag" (Tolhurst/Cellar Music). Produced by Richard Batchens, Festival Studios Sydney, 1971. B-Side. (2:05)
5. "Listen To The Children" (Quill). From Country Radio Live. (4:30)
6. "Last Time Around" (Quill). From Country Radio Live. (3:32)
7. "Wintersong" (Quill-Tolhurst-Bois/Cellar Music).
Produced by John French, TCS Studios Melbourne, 1972. String and cor' anglais arrangements by Peter Jones. Single. (5:20)
8. "Singin' The Blues" (Endsley-Acuff-Rose). Produced and engineered by John French, TCS Studios Melbourne, 1974. Arrangement: Greg Quill. Piano, Hammond organ, vibraphone, celeste, conga drums by Peter Jones. Harmonies by Renée Geyer. Single. (3:53)
9. "Observations From A Second Storey Window" (Quill/Cellar Music). From Country Radio Live. (5:00)
Greg Quill, vox, acoustic guitars
Kerryn Tolhurst, lap steel, dobro, mandolin, electric guitar, harmony vox
Tony Bolton, drums, harmony vocals
John Bois, bass, harmony vocals
John A. Bird, piano, Hammond B3, harmony vocals
Chris Blanchflower, harmonica, harmony vocals.
Greg Quill: vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Russell Johnson, electric guitar, vocals harmony
John Bois, bass, vocals harmony
Tony Bolton, drums, vocals harmony.
Tracks 3 and 8:
Greg Quill, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Les Stacpool, electric guitar, vocals harmony
John Bois, bass, vocals harmony
Tony Bolton, drums, vocals harmony.
The Outlaw's Reply (Festival/Infinity L35472)
1. "She Do It To Me" (3:41)
2. "Terry's Tune" (3:50)
3. "Almost Freedom" (4:07)
4. "So Now, Lady" (5:29)
5. "Where Elephants Go To Die" (5:18)
6. "Silence" (7:09)
7. "Crazy People" (4:33)
8. "The Outlaw's Reply" (3:49)
9. "Blackmail" (5:47)
Executive producer: Charles Fisher
Recorded at Trafalgar Studios, Sydney, Australia, November 1974 - February 1975
Greg Quill: vocals, acoustic guitars
Kerryn Tolhurst: lap steel, mandolin, dobro, acoustic and electric guitars
Tony Bolton: drums
John Bois: bass
Chris Blanchflower: harmonica
Peter Jones: keyboards
Peter Walker: electric guitar, clavier
Russell Hinton: acoustic and electric guitar
Terry Walker: pedal steel
Barry Leef: harmonies and harmony arrangements
String arrangements: Peter Jones.
All songs by Greg Quill © Cellar Music.
Wintersongs: The Festival File
Compilation of single and album tracks from Fleetwood Plain, Country Radio Live, Gypsy Queen and The Outlaw's Reply, with liner notes by music archivist Glenn A. Baker.
1. "Fleetwood Plain" (3:30)
2. "Susannah Lee" (4:23)
3. "Listen To The Children" (4:30)
4. "Last Time Around" (3:30)
5. "The Gypsy Queen" (4:00)
6. "Radio Rag" (2:05)
7. "Wintersong" (5:20)
8. "Observations From A Second Story Window" (5:00)
9. "Some Lonesome Picker" (4:55)
10. "Never Goin' Back" (3:47)
11. "Terry's Tune" (3:50)
12. "Silver Spurs" (4:43)
13. "Bound For South Australia" (3:06)
14. "I Need Women" (4:31)
15. "Singing The Blues" (3:53)
16. "She Do It To Me" (3:41)
17. "Almost Freedom" (4:07)
18. "The Outlaw's Reply" (3:49)
so rudely interrupted (So Rude Records QTCD001-2 Australia / True North Records TND 309 Canada)
1. "Back This Way" (Quill /SOCAN) (4:59) Drums: Marco Giovino, Bass: Neal Pawley, Fiddle: Anne Lindsay, Harmonica: Brad Smith.
2. "Clever Lines" (Quill/SOCAN) (3:52) Fiddle: Anne Lindsay, Upright bass: Adam Armstrong.
3. "The Killing Heart" (Quill-Tolhurst/SOCAN-ASCAP) (4:31) Drums: Marco Giovino, Upright bass: Paul Ossola.
4. "The Game" (Quill-Tolhurst/SOCAN-ASCAP) (3:29) Accordion: Charlie Giordano.
5. "Always To The Light" (Quill-Tolhurst/SOCAN-ASCAP) (5:38) Drums: Andrew Swann, Additional vocals: The Pigram Brothers.
6. "Jigalong" (Tolhurst/ASCAP) (1:57)
7. "A Tale Too Plain" (Quill-Tolhurst /SOCAN-ASCAP) (4:30) Drums: Marco Giovino, Bass: Neal Pawley.
8. "Fleetwood Plain" (Quill/SOCAN) (3:17)
9. "Come To Me" (Quill/SOCAN) (3:52) Drums: Andrew Swann.
10. "The Boys Of Narrabeen" (Quill/SOCAN) (4:13) Additional vocals: The Pigram Brothers.
11. "Lost In A Moment" (Quill-Tolhurst/SOCAN-ASCAP) (4:27) Accordion: Charlie Giordano, Fiddle: Anne Lindsay, Upright bass: Adam Armstrong, Piano: Monique Dimantina.
Kerryn Tolhurst: Acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel,
dobro, mandolin, harmonium, banjo, tiple, percussion and, except where
otherwise indicated, bass.
Greg Quill: Vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion
Recorded by Kerryn Tolhurst, Julian McBrowne, Paul Mills and Joe Johnson.
Recorded at Unique Studios, New York City; Studio 900, New York City; The Millstream, Toronto, Canada; Emerald City, Melbourne, Australia; Lapland, Brooklyn, NY; Howland House, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada; Pearly Shells Studios, Broome, Western Australia.
Mixed at Studio 900, New York City, by Kerryn Tolhurst, assisted by Joe Johnson.
Producer: Kerryn Tolhurst.
Executive Producers: Kerryn Tolhurst and Greg Quill
Cover Image and Graphics: Hugh Syme.
The Great Australian Rock Festival: Sunbury (Mushroom 1973)
Country Radio (one track only) Silver Spurs (live) (Quill/Cellar Music) included on the various artists LP
Recordings by other artists:
"Gypsy Queen: has been covered by:
The Glaser Brothers, (MGM Records, USA, 1974 (single)
Joe Camilleri, Earth Music, (Independent, Australia, 1997)
Adam Harvey, Sugar Talk (Warner Music, Australia, 1999)
The Band's Alright But The Singer Is ... (Reprise RS 4001) Australia, 1973
References / Links
Country Radio perform "Gypsy Queen" (from the ABC's Hit Scene, 1972)
"Back This Way" - Greg Quill and Kerryn Tolhurst with Garth Hudson & The Usual Suspects, Toronto, 2003
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
"Going Home To Face The Music"
Toronto Star, Oct. 16, 1999
& Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)
Our sincere thanks to Greg Quill for his interest, input and encouragement and the discography, and thanks to Greg, Kerryn, John Bois, John Bird and all the former members and friends of Country Radio for the wonderful music.