|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
Perth - Melbourne 1966-70
Bruce Abbott (drums) early 1968
Paddy Beach (drums) May 1969-Aug 1970
John Cooksey (bass) 1968
Warrick Findlay (drums) 1966-July 1968
Doug Lavery (drums) July 1968-69
John Lockery (bass) 1966-68
Vince Lovegrove (vocals)
Wyn Milson (lead guitar)
Bon Scott (vocals)
Ted Ward (Ted Junko) (rhythm guitar)
Alongside their Adelaide contemporaries Zoot, Perth pop group The Valentines was, for a brief period, one of the most popular bands in the country. Although they started out a energetic soul/R&B band, their best known image was associated with the so-called "bubblegum pop" phenomenon of 1968-70. But there was a wild side to the band which was evident in their live performances (and their off-stage carousing). These days, of course, they're best known by reference to the fact that one of the singers ended up in a little band called AC/DC -- although the enormous interest in them has resulted in many previously unreleased tracks becoming available in recent years.
The Valentines formed in Perth in mid-1966, bringing together members of three leading local beat groups: Scott and Milson were from The Spektors, Lovegrove, Ward and Cooksey from The Winztons, and Findlay from top WA band Ray Hoff & The Off Beats. Playing a mixture of soul, R&B and mod covers, by the start of 1967 they were already Perth's top group. A major drawcard was the double-vocal attack of dynamic frontmen Bon Scott and Vince Lovegrove, and within a few weeks of their live debut they were packing in crowds at their shows at venues like Canterbury Court and the Swanbourne Surf Livesaving Club (known locally as the Swanbourne Stomp).
It wasn't long before their local popularity came to the attention of Martin Clarke, who operated Perth's only record label in the 1960's, Clarion. The Valentines signed to Clarion in March 1967 and released their first single in May. The single was a good indication of where their early influences lay - the A-side was a cover of Arthur Alexander's "Every Day I Have To Cry", and backed by a cover of "I Can't Dance With You", an early track by British mod icons The Small Faces. It was a strong beginning, sellling well locally and peaking at #5 on the Perth charts.
The second single was a Beatlesque Vanda & Young composition, "She Said", released in August '67. It didn't do quite as well but still made the lower reaches of the Perth Top 40. The song came their way because The Valentines had become friends with The Easybeats, whom they supported when they toured Western Australia. Vanda and Young went on to write two more Singles specially for them.
In early 1967 they won the Perth heats of the Hoadleys Battle Of The Sounds, and in July they flew to Melbourne to compete in the national finals, where they came in runners-up to The Groop. In October '67, encouraged by their reception there, they made the inevitable they moved to Australia's pop Mecca and they soon became a popular attraction on the booming local disco circuit.
The third Clarion single, released in February 1968, was also their first original effort. "I Can Hear The Raindrops" / "Why Me?" were both Lovegrove-Ward compositions. Promoted as a double A-side release, loyal Perth fans boosted the record to number 30 on the local charts, but again it failed to chart in other cities. There was also a lineup change in early '68: original drummer Warrick Findlay quit, and he was briefly replaced by Brian Abbot, but in July '68 the lineup stabilized with Bon, Ted, Wyn, Vince and hot-shot drummer Doug Lavery, whose sterling credentials included stints The Questions, Andy James Asylum, Running Jumping Standing Still and Doug Parkinson In Focus.
Despite press reports in April 1968 that the Valentines would join Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label, this never eventuated. In July they released their fourth and last single for Clarion; the A-side was a faithful cover of The Easybeats' 1967 psychedelic nugget "Peculiar Hole In The Sky". The flip side was a cover of the only single ever released by avant-guarde British outfit Soft Machine, "Love Makes Sweet Music", a track which had been brought to their attention by top Melbourne DJ Stan "The Man" Rofe. Both tracks were produced on Martin Clarke's behalf by the great Pat Aulton (Normie Rowe, Dave Miller Set, Kahvas Jute), and they're both fine recordings, but regrettably the single never made it into the charts. The original Easybeats version was not released in Australia until 1969, much to the chagrin of the band, who had only ever intended it as a demo for The Valentines, and they saw it's released as a cynical attempt to cash in on their reluctant Australian tour. It sank without trace.)
Their breakthrough finally came in 1969. At the end of 1968 they signed to Ron Tudor's June Productions, who recorded them and then leased the singles to Philips (in the same manner that Albert Productions recorded The Easybeats and then leased the records to EMI). The "bubblegum" craze was by then in full swing and local bands -- or at least their managers and labels -- were enthusiasically embracing the new fad. Bands like Zoot and The New Dream were donning matching coloured outfits, and churning out catchy slices of sugary pop confections like riding high on the teenybopper success of their "Think Pink" campaign, with matching pink outfits, pink guitars etc. Many otherwise repectable bands were lured into the squishy clutches of bubblegum pop -- pioneering country rockers Flying Circus were diverted down this path for some time, scoring two major national bubblegum hits with the American song "Hayride" and Doug Rowe's delightfully vacuous "La La". Even the redoubtable Masters Apprentices seemed in some danger of succumbing to the insidious trend (under pressure from then-manager Daryl Sambell), as evidenced by their less-then-crucial 1969 single "Linda Linda".
In the same vein, The Valentines completely overhauled their stage act to include matching scarlet outfits, co-ordinated stage moves, exploding coloured smoke bombs and sparklers. On Valentines Day (February 14) they released their next single through Philips, "My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man" / "Ebeneezer" (another Vanda/ Young composition); the formula seemed to be working -- at first -- and it went on to become their first Australia-wide Top 40 hit. The single launch was reported by Go-Set who excitedly related the tales of fan frenzy which resulted in Bon's clothes being almost completely torn off during the show!
In May '69 Doug Lavery was poached by Brian Cadd, to join to join his new country-rock supergroup Axiom; Doug was replaced by Paddy Beach (ex-Compulsion). In September John Cooksey also left, so Ted Ward took over on bass, reducing the band to a five piece. Later that month they made headlines when they became the first major Australian group to be arrested for the possession of marijuana -- although they were not the first, as is often reported -- members of The Id had been busted in Sydney a couple of years earlier. Luckily for the Valentines, they were treated rather leniently by the standards of the day -- they were each fined $150 and placed on good behaviour bonds. They were unrepentant, however, and made an open statement in Go-Set in favour of the legalisation of pot -- quite a controversial move at the time.
In July '69 The Valentines had their second stab at the Hoadleys, but again they were runners-up, this time to Doug Parkinson In Focus. In September they released their next single, which was an updated version of "Nick Nack Paddy Wack", and then took part in the historic Operation Starlift tour, which featured most of the leading acts of the day - Russell Morris, Johnny Farnham, Ronnie Burns, Johnny Young, Doug Parkinson In Focus, Zoot, and The Masters Apprentices. Needless to say The Valentines led the way in after-hours hijinks, with points being awarded for the most depsicable acts. Some of the more outrageous incidents have since passed into Aussie rock legend (one in particular which involved the daughter of the mayor of a country town). For those who are interested, the incident is recounted in detail Jim Keays' memoir His Master's Voice.
By early 1970 the group was close to splitting up, but they solidiered on for several more months. As the bubblegum fad faded out, The Valentines and Zoot both jettisoned the matching outfits and dinky tunes, and went for a more streetwise image, and a heavier sound (e.g. Zoot's version of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby). The Valentines released their last single in March '70; "Juliette" / "Hoochie Coochie Billy". It was a local hit in Melbourne in April, reaching #28, but four months later, in August, the band split up.
After The Valentines ...
- Bon Scott went to Sydney where he joined Fraternity (1970-73) who enjoyed moderate success. After recuperating from a near-fatal motorbike accident in Adelaide he was invited to replace original AC/DC lead singer Dave Evans in late 1974. The band shot to national and then international fame making Bon a bona-fide rock legend. Bon fronted the band from Spetember 1974 until his untimely death in 1980.
- Wyn Milson became a live sound engineer and pioneered the use of large-scale sound systems in Australia
- John Lockery later joined Rock Revival.
- Paddy Beach joined Wholly Black and later moved to South Africa
- Doug Lavery moved to America after the split of Axiom, and at last report he was teaching drums in Los Angeles
- Vince Lovegrove worked as a writer for Go-Set, compered a television show in Adelaide called Move and issued a couple of solo singles in 1971 and 1972. He worked as a booking agent in Adelaide where, in September 1974 he introduced Bon Scott to the members of AC/DC - the rest is History. In the late '70s he worked on the Nine Network's A Current Affair covering stories on youth and the rock scene, and he was producer of The Don Lane Show for some time. In the '80s he continued his work as a rock writer and went into management; he managed The Divinyls until 1984. In the late 1980s, it was discovered that Vince's second wife Susie had unknowingly been infected by the HIV virus before the couple had met. As if that was not bad enough, the Lovegroves then discovered that their infant son Troy, who had been born just before his mother's disease was diagnosed, had also been infected. Vince produced a deeply moving documentary, Susie's Story, which charted the course of her illness and eventual death. After Suzi's death, Vince produced an equally heart-rending follow-up, A Kid Called Troy, which doumented their son's courageous battle against AIDS. Both programs were of enormous importance in raising public awareness in Australia about AIDS and HIV, and it's a lasting tribute to Vince and his family that they went through with the films in spite of such overwhelming personal tragedies. After Troy's death, Vince moved to London, where he wrote for several years for the Australian online music magazine Immedia.
"Everyday I Have To Cry" / "Can't Dance With You"" (Clarion MCK-1773)
"She Said" / "To Know You Is To Love You" (Clarion MCK-1975)
"I Can Hear The Raindrops" / "Why Me?" (Clarion MCK-2167)
Produced by Martin Clarke
"Peculiar Hole In The Sky" / "Love Makes Sweet Music" (Clarion MCK-2441)
Produced by Pat Aulton
"Ebeneezer" / "My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man" (Philips BF 427)
Produced by Ron Tudor, June Productions
"Nick Nack Paddy Wack" / "Getting Better" (Philips BF 444)
"Juliette" / "Hoochie Coochie Billy" (Philips BF 469)
"My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man " (Philips PE 81)
The Valentines did not record a full LP, but the widespread interest in Bon SCott's pre-AC/DC career resulted in several compilation albums in the 80s and 90s, which included material by The Spektors, The Valentines, Fraternity and The Mount Lofty Rangers.
Change: Bon Scott - The Early Years 1967-72
Also released as Bon Scott: The Early Years by See For Miles in the UK
1) "To Know You Is To Love You" (Spector)
2) "She Said"(Young)
3) "Everyday I Have To Cry" (Alexander)
4) "I Can't Dance With You" (Marriott-Lane)
5) "Peculiar Hole In The Sky" (Vanda-Young)
6) "Love Makes Sweet Music" (Ayers)
7) "I Can Hear The Raindrops" (Lovegrove-Ward)
8) "Why Me?"(Lovegrove-Ward)
9) "Sooky Sooky"(D.Covey)
10) "Getting Better (Scott-Milsom)
12) "Hoochie Coochie Billy" (Lovegrove-Ward-Milsom)
13) "My Old Man's A Groovy Man" (Vanda-Young)
14) "Nick Nack Paddy Wack" (Lovegrove-Scott-Junko-Cooksey-Beach-Milsom)
17) "Welfare Boogie" (Fraternity)
18) "Hemming's Farm" (Fraternity)
19) "Sommerville R.I.P." (Howe-See)
20) "Getting Off"(Jurd)
21) "If You Got It" (Fraternity)
22) "Seasons Of Change" (Robinson-Johns)
23) interview with David Day of 5Ka in Adelaide
Tracks 1-15 by The Valentines; tracks 16-22 by Fraternity
The Legendary Bon Scott with the Spektors and the Valentines (See For Miles SEECD 704)
"It Ain't Necessarily So" 3.04
"On My Mind" 1.57
Interview by Allan Mannings featuring Vince Lovegrove 22.47
"Gloria" 2.41 (As original TV Broadcast)
"It Ain't Necessarily So" 3.08 (As original TV Broadcast)
"On My Mind" 1.59 (As original TV Broadcast)
"Yesterday" 2.12 (As original TV Broadcast)
"To Know You Is To Love You" 2.57
"She Said" 2.46
"Every Day I Have To Cry" 2.29
"I Can't Dance With You" 2.53
"Peculiar Hole In The Sky" 2.46
"Love Makes Sweet Music" 2.16
"I Can Hear Raindrops" 1.49
"Why Me" 1.49
"Sooky Sooky" 2.17
The Valentines on YouTube:
References / Links
Australian Music Homepage
liner notes to Raven compilation CDs
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
Zbig Nowara &
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 1994)