APRA'S 75th ANNIVERSARY

by Paul Culnane

On  28 May 2001, The Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) hosted their annual awards ceremony, but this was a special occasion, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the organisation's establishment. Basically, this outfit tries to ensure that royalties for performing rights of Australian music are duly paid to the artists. For more information about APRA, try this link: http://www.apra.com.au.

In this year's contemporary gongs, artists like Powderfinger, Savage Garden and Killing Heidi won significant awards, while multi-platinum producer Charles Fisher was honoured with the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Industry.

To highlight the landmark 75th anniversary, a special poll was conducted among 100 distinguished Australian writers, musicians, critics, broadcasters and other prominent industry figures to decide what were the Top 30 Australian Songs of all time. An entirely fine or maybe bogus exercise, depending I guess, on one's level of cynicism. But, come to think of it, it remains a large call by any stretch, if you wanna play the game; which many pundits have, since the controversial (wasn't it supposed to be?) announcement of the final APRA list.

Anticipation mounted before the gala event. Teasers and leaks were put out as to what the # 1 choice might be. There seemed to be a sudden, mysterious ubiquitousness on various TV shows and in the dailies, of the normally reclusive Harry Vanda and George Young. Cue, natch, speculation that Friday On My Mind; the sublime piece of perfect pop that The Easybeats crafted in 1967 to form a lasting international Aussie legacy-hit; would storm home. It did.

You can find the list of the top ten finalists, together with a rundown of the next 20 voted songs at the APRA website.

The celebratory, and indeed celebrity event, held in the Randwick Racecourse complex, drew many prominent and revered figures from the treasured back pages of Aussie rock and pop who mingled enthusiastically with some of the younger new-guard performers like You Am I. How exciting it was that this most appropriate of successors to the Easys (who've covered them a couple of times) should render Friday On My Mind in typically rambunctious style, with none other than the song's main architect, Harry Vanda, in a rare appearance on guest guitar. Guest? Christ! He and George Young wrote what - forget contention for the moment - has been voted the best Oz song ever!

There were many other highlights during a reportedly fun-filled knees-up. Ross Wilson delivered his classic Daddy Cool number, Eagle Rock with feeling and gusto. So too the too-rarely-seen Dave Mason with The Reels' haunting Quasimodo's Dream, while interesting combinations of performer/song gave us Tex Perkins and his all-girl band excelling with The Loved Ones' unique benchmark The Loved One, and former Cloud Jodi Phillis pillowing Crowded House's indelible Don't Dream It's Over. And what would such an event have been without the presence of evergreen country legend Slim Dusty, and his lump-in-throat performance of The Pub With No Beer?

Award presenters ranged from the predictable and ubiquitous, to the delightfully out-of-the-blue; and included APRA chief and distinguished kiwi musical all-rounder Mike Perjanik, Glenn Shorrock, Glenn A Baker, Savage Garden's Daniel Jones, Arts Minister Peter McGauran, Jimmy Little, Marcia Hines, Ian Meldrum, Brian Cadd, veteran rock entrepreneur Michael Chugg, journalist (and former Split Enzer) Mike Chunn, David Hirschfelder, veteran broadcaster Bob Rogers, and the perenially youthful-looking Billy Thorpe. To have been a fly on the wall among the assembled distinguished guests would have been a MILESAGO-surfer's delight, I'm sure!

Throughout the presentation, many classic "film clips" of the 30 best songs were screened, and guests were given a specially-packaged souvenir video of those clips (including seminal early work from Chris Lofven who made those groundbreaking clips for Eagle Rock and I'll Be Gone)! A collectors' item? Undoubtedly. A bootlegger's motherlode? You betcha...

All in all, the 2001 APRA shindig provoked more media coverage and resultant around-the-water-cooler comment than ever before. Whatever your personal views on what should or should not have been acknowledged on the final list as a great Aussie song, this writer was thrilled at the level of very nice healthy nostalgic discussion about some of OzRock's best tunes, emerging from the most unlikeliest of places. F'rinstance, one of my nieces told me she always thought Friday On My Mind was a Bowie composition. She has since heard the Easybeats' original. She now understands...

 

...and here are the pix!!

Mike Rudd, a significant figure in the history of OzRock, and author of the iconic Aussie song, I'll Be Gone (coming in at a healthy #13 on the APRA Top 30 best poll) has graciously, and exclusively for MILESAGO, provided us with a groovy set of photos from the APRA bash. Don't they all look so very happy & healthy??

(click on the 'thumbnail' to get a full-screen image)


Brian Cadd, Jo Shorrock and Bill Putt


Mike Rudd, Billy Thorpe, Bill Putt


Michael Chugg & Bill Putt


Rob Lovett
from The Loved Ones


A handful of
dead-set legends

 

 

REFERENCES / LINKS

Australasian Performing Rights Association
http://www.apra.org.au/

Stevie Wright interview by Andrew Probyn
conducted the day after his band's song got the #1 gong!!

 

THANKS
  • Our friends on the 'RocknRollScars' discussion list for their enthusiastic participation
     
  • Mike Rudd - for so much great input to our site. In this case, the great photos you can all enjoy here in this feature article
     
  • Andrew Probyn and Simon Smith (with or without his amazing dancing bear) - for their fantastic generous contributions

2001 ICE Productions / MILESAGO. All photos 2001 Mike Rudd

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