|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
THE WILD CHERRIES
Melbourne 1964-66, 1967-69
Wild Cherries Mk I 1964-66
John Bastow (vocals, harmonica)
Les Gilbert (bass)
Geoff Hales (drums)
Rob Lovett (guitar, vocals)
Malcolm McGee (lead guitar, vocals)
Kevin Murphy (drums)
Wild Cherries Mk II
Keith Barber (drums) Jan. 1967- Oct. 1968
Peter Eddy (bass) 1967
Les Gilbert (organ)
Danny Robinson (vocals) Jan. 1967- Oct. 1968
Lobby Loyde (aka Barry Lyde) (lead guitar)
John Phillips (bass) Jan. 1967 - Oct. 1968
Wild Cherries Mk III (Oct. - Nov. 1968)
Barry Harvey (drums)
Lobby Loyde (aka Barry Lyde) (lead guitar)
Steve Pristash (bass)
Barry Sullivan (rhythm guitar)
Matt Taylor (vocals)
Wild Cherries Mk IV (Nov. 1968-April 1969)
Brian Wilson (lead vocals) Nov. 1968
Tim Piper (guitar) Dec. 1968-Apr. 1969
Steve Pristash (bass) Nov.-Dec. 1968
Barry Sullivan (lead guitar (Nov. 1968), bass (Dec. '68 - Apr. '69)
Wild Cherries Mk V (1971-72)
Lobby Loyde (guitar)
Teddy Toi (bass)
Johnny Dick (drums)
For the more radically-inclined and discerning rock aficionado of the mid-60s, there could have been few more perfect musical formations than The Wild Cherries. They sported a wild and innovative lead guitarist in Lobby Loyde, a stunning vocalist in Danny Robinson, and apart from the skills of their superb rhythm section, they displayed an onstage creative abandon to rival the mayhem of their pioneering Sydney peers The Missing Links. It was a persona that earned The Wild Cherries notoriety, respect and wide popularity in equal measures.
Like so many Aussie bands there was more than one version of the Wild Cherries -- in fact there were at least five! -- and the various lineups and the later careers of its members are a prime example of the intricate interconnections between so many major Australasian groups.
The original Wild Cherries was a jazz / R&B band that formed in Melbourne in 1964. They often gigged with The Purple Hearts and this connection proved important in the formation of the next incarnation of the next lineup of the Cherries. The Mark I version broke up sometime in 1966 without releasing any commercial recordings, although seven studio tracks recorded by the original band have been rediscovered and included on Half A Cow's new Wild Cherries CD compilation.
Three of its members were to go on to other notable groups in later years -- Rob Lovett of course joined the legendary Loved Ones, Mal McGee joined Python Lee Jackson, Kevin Murphy played with several notable groups including The Aztecs, and Lovett and McGee were reunited in The Virgil Brothers.
In early 1967 Les Gilbert put together a new version of The Wild Cherries, switched form bass to organ and crucially recruited guitar hero Lobby Loyde, who had just left The Purple Hearts. The Mark II Wild Cherries blitzed the trendy Melbourne disco circuit with its Cream and Hendrix-influenced amalgam of hard R&B and experimental psychedelia, a style that had scarcely been witnessed with such commanding power in Australia before. Gobsmacked audiences were bludgeoned with a menu of songs from those afore-mentioned artists, as well as fire-breathing versions of the band's early original Singles. The bizarre title of their debut 45 "Krome Plated Yabbie", belied its Move-ish incendiary power. Driven by Lloyd's feedback guitar pyrotechnics and the evil vocal inflections of Robinson, this emotive and dynamic tune sounded like nothing else on the airwaves during '67, and closed in a welter of Townshend-inspired guitar feedback freakery.
Its phased, crazed feedback-wild mod follow-up "That's Life", released in November 1967, was arguably even better. While not proving the major chart success that critics had predicted, it did well, earning the Cherries their only chart placing, #38 in Melbourne. "That's Life" represents a high-point in Aussie '60s pop, and stands as one of the finest examples of innovative rock writing and recording of that extraordinarily creative decade.
In early 1968, John Phillips (ex-Running Jumping Standing Still) replaced Peter Eddy and this lineup of The Wild Cherries released two more excursions into a their own surreal musical space -- "Gotta Stop Lying" / "Time Killer" (Apr. 1968) and "I Don't Care"/ "Theme for a Merry Go Round" (Sep. 1968).
Their Wild Cherries' music occupies a similar niche to that carved out by their legendary peers The Missing Links and The Purple Hearts, and one which was only later inhabited by groups like Detroit's legendary MC5 and The Stooges. Ian McFarlane has lauded the band's recordings as "classics of hard guitar psychedelia -- exciting, revolutionary excursions into a musical void with no concessions to commercial demands." Theirs was a place where only a few dedicated followers travelled at the time, although the passing of years has since accorded the band its due and their records are now acknowledged the world over as some of the finest in Sixties rock.
In late 1968 the band went through a dizzying series of personnel changes before finally falling apart. In October, Keith Barber, Danny Robinson and John Phillips all left, to be replaced by Matt Taylor (fresh from the break-up of Bay City Union) and three ex-members of Brisbane blues band Thursday's Children -- Barry "Big Goose" Sullivan (rhythm guitar), Steve Pristash (bass) and Barry "Little Goose" Harvey (drums). One month later, Gilbert, Loyde and Taylor all moved on. Brian Wilson joined as frontman, and Sullivan played lead guitar for four weeks until Tim Piper (ex-Chants R&B, Electric Heap) joined in December. At this point Steve Pristash left and Sullivan switched to bass, but this final line-up split in April 1969.
Lobby resurrected The Wild Cherries' as a three-piece in 1971 with the veteran rhythm section of Teddy Toi and Johnny Dick (both former members of Max Merritt & The Meteors, The Aztces and Fanny Adams) but this endured only long enough to produce a one-off single -- the environmentally-themed guitar tour-de-force "I Am The Sea" (anthologised on Raven's Golden Miles compilation in 1994) -- and to make a short round of touring, including an appearance at the inaugural Sunbury Festival in January 1972. They split In February 1972.
The Wild Cherries reformed for a special one-off show at the Corner Hotel in Richmond on Australia Day 2002. In the lineup included Lobby Loyde, Danny Robinson and Keith Barber.
After The Wild Cherries ...
Keith Barber replaced Bryan Harris in The La De Das and remained with them until they split in 1975. He died in 2004.
Lobby Loyde (who was a distant descendant of Oscar Wilde) is acknowledged as the godfather of heavy rock in Australia. Among those who have cited Lobby as an influence are his old mate Billy Thorpe, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, Pavement's Stephen Malkmus (who covered The Coloured Balls "That's What Mama Said"), Henry Rollins (who owns all Lobby's recordings) Bored! and Cosmic Psychos. After leaving the Cherries he had a brief but crucial tenure as a member of Billy Thorpe's new Aztecs in 1969-70 and he was instrumental in steering Thorpie and the Aztecs into their new "heavy rock" incarnation. This was followed by shortlived "New" Wild Cherries in 1971, and his acclaimed solo LP Plays with George Guitar, followed by a stint with former Loved One Gerry Humphries as part of Gerry & The Joy Band. In 1972 Lobby took over the The Coloured Balls name for his own band, although it had no other connection to Mick Hadley's earlier group. Tagged, for better or worse, as a "sharpie” band and criticized by the media for supposedly inciting violence, The Coloured Balls were a favourite on the pub and festival circuit and an undoubted influence on later bands like Rose Tattoo. From 1972 until their demise in 1974 they released six Singles and three LPs, Ball Power, Heavy Metal Kid and First Supper Last (originally recorded in 1972) as well as performing with Billy Thorpe and others on the Sunbury '73 live album Summer Jam. Lobby then went solo again releasing the single "Do You Believe in Magic" (1975) and the acclaimed Obsecration album (1976). Lobby spent about two years in the UK (1976-79) where he embraced punk and sat in on recording sessions with Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Police and Roxy Music. On his return to Australia he joined Rose Tattoo as bass player. That line-up of the Tatts recorded an album in Los Angeles which has never been issued. He went on to work for a time with Southern Electric, recording the rare Live With Dubs LP.
In the '80s he moved into production and live sound mixing. He produced acclaimed recordings for the likes of Sunnyboys, Kevin Borich, Machinations, Flaming Hands, X and Painters And Dockers. He returned to the stage in the early '90s with the supergroup Dirt. In recent years he has concentrated on recording and performing with his "pleasure band” Fish Tree Mother. In late 2002 Lobby reunited The Coloured Balls to take part in the Long Way To The Top concert tour. In October 2002 he celebrated his 40th year in music by being inducted into the Australian Blues Foundation Hall of Fame at a special gig at the Mercury Lounge in Melbourne, with Chain. Lobby was diagnosed with cancer in the early 2000s but he lived long enough to be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, but sadly, only months after the sudden death of his old mate Billy Thorpe, Lobby died on day month 2007, aged age.
Rob Lovett joined The Loved Ones and Malcolm McGee joined Python Lee Jackson. They were reunited in The Virgil Brothers, the trio which originally included former Purple Hearts lead singer Mick Hadley, who . Mick quit after the first rehearsal and was replaced by Peter Doyle; in another strange piece of synergy, when Mal quit shortly after their arrival in the UK, he was replaced by Danny Robinson.
Kevin Murphy (who replaced original drummer Geoff Hales) went on to work with several major '70s bands including Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Chain, King Harvest and Levi Smith's Clefs.
Danny Robinson replaced Mal McGee in The Virgil Brothers, contributed backing vocals to the classic Company Caine album A Product Of A Broken Reality (1971), scored a 1971 solo hit with a cover of Cat Steven's Wild World (under the pseudonym Fourth House) and later sang with studio group Duck. He has also worked extensively as a session singer and recorded many commercial jingles and continues to perform in Melbourne as the lead singer .
Tim Piper went on to join a string of important bands, including Savage Rose Blues Band, Chain, Genesis, Ray Brown's One Ton Gypsy, Blackfeather, Alta Mira and The Ray Burton Band.
Barry Sullivan and Barry Harvey, joined Chain in October 1969 and have been mainstays of the band ever since, among their many other notable musical ventures. Sadly, Barry Sullivan died from a heart attack in 2003.
Brian Wilson went on to front heavy blues band Sunshine with Ralph Boyd (guitar), Ian Holding (bass) and Wally Edwards (drums). They issued one single, "Luke McCoy" / "Sweet Little Mama" (1971), on the RCA label.
Original article by Paul Culnane (revised 2007)
All songs credited to Barry Lyde. Produced by David Flint.
"Krome Plated Yabbie" / "Every Thing I Do Is Wrong" (Festival FK 1879)
"That's Life" / "Try Me" (Festival FK 2052)
"Gotta Stop Lying" / "Time Killer" (Festival FK 2258)
"I Don't Care" / "Theme For A Merry Go Round" (Festival FK 2535)
"I Am The Sea" / "Daily Planet" (Havoc H 1006)
Krome Plated Yabbie (Festival FX 11422)
"Krome Plated Yabbie" / "That's Life" // "Try Me" / Everything I Do Is Wrong"
Australian Rock Archives #5 (Raven RV 05)
33-1/3rpm 7" EP shared with The Throb; limited edition of 1,000.
"That's Life" / "Krome Plated Yabbie" // "Gotta Stop Lying"
The Wild Cherries: That's Life (Half A Cow) CD
The complete Wild Cherries compilation featuring all the tracks from their four groundbreaking Festival singles, plus seven previously unreleased studio tracks by the original (jazz) incarnation of the group, and a recently unearthed treasure trove of nine tracks recorded live at the Melbourne's Fat Black Pussycat club in 1966.
References / Links
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Chris Spencer & Zbig Nowara
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)
Glenn A. Baker
Liner notes to Wild Cherries EP
"Wild Cherries Ripe for Reprise", The Age, Melbourne, 26 January 2002