|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Features|
Keith Glass: A Life
Originally published in Rhythms magazine
INTRO | PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6
Early memories and The Rising Sons
Larry & Lorrie Collins on television’s "Ranch Party" …. Yellow Festival label Bill Haley & The Comets 78’s my dad brought home … Hearing Little Richard sing "Long Tall Sally" the very first time … Obtaining that "Alver" (Maton’s budget range) acoustic guitar and going for lessons at Lou Toppano’s music school near St. Kilda Junction … Walking in one day as my guitar teacher was playing a Tal Farlow record …. Stan Rofe on the radio.
Hanging around in my mate Gregor Milne’s house with Dennis "Fred" Forster and deciding to form a band. He has a drum kit, I have an Maton electric guitar and small Goldentone amp by that stage. Two of Fred’s fellow Brighton Grammar students also have instruments. Clive Davies playing rhythm on his Ibanez solid body and Russell Naughton has acquired an ancient (even then) Hofner "Beatle" bass which sort of makes a muffled thumping sound through its strange antique pick-ups. With Russ looking like a pudgy Paul McCartney and the bass being the first example of this desirable instrument anyone had ever been able to touch we are up and running. Rehearsing first at Gregor’s, who becomes our nominal sound man even though he has nothing to mix, then wherever/whenever parents won’t get too upset at the racket.
The year is 1963. We are not so much a garage band as a rumpus room/sunroom band. Most suburban houses in affluent Brighton have these, although my dad never gets around to adding ours on to the basic brick veneer. We don’t have a singer as yet basically because we don’t have a mic so The Ventures, Duane Eddy and The Shad’s get a work-out along with some tomfoolery of our own.
I’m being drawn to the R&B I hear on Stan’s show plus by default on 3KZ general programming because the rest of the "announcers" know nothing, thus a "High Heel Sneekers" by Tommy Tucker slips out over the airwaves before some-one apologises and promises never to play it again (true story). Hanging around at Tony Standish’s Heritage Record shop above Frank Traynor’s folk/jazz club is an eye-opener too for obscure singles and stuff noone else has.
By the time of our first bona-fide gig we have decided we are an R&B band because I have purchased the first Rolling Stones album the very day it is released. The irony of the event being a Brighton Grammar School dance (where everyone in the band except me attends) and at the toffy Brighton Yacht Club to boot, is lost on us. We play in between sets by Dennis Farrington’s dance band and violinist Eddie Zavod and his son Allan on piano.
Almost our second gig is at the Melbourne University Union "Mixed Lounge", we are called "The Group" by then and that gig is memorable both because a steaming mad Peter’s McKeddie and Bruce show up to tell us their outfit already has almost that name and a tosser wearing a pink tab-collar shirt and lambswool lined motor cycle boots insists on getting up to sing even more woefully than me. He won’t take no for an answer -- his name is Izzy Dye.
In the wake of the beat music explosion, every jazz club in Melbourne is changing it’s music policy to accommodate young hopefuls with guitars and amplifiers. As ex-jazzers (that peculiarly Melbourne cult group deserves more time/explanation than available here) we’ve already got the long hair and therefore the jump on the more established, instrumental based regular "rock" groups who see this new thing as a passing fad. Soon we are working at Stonehenge in Beaumaris, Harlem in Caulfield and Penthouse in Ormond. Mentone Rock has become Mentone Mod, Jazz Centre 44 in St. Kilda is billing R&B nights each week, ditto the Fat Black Pussycat in South Yarra and dances such as OddMod at Kew Civic Centre are raking it in for the promoters while the bands are just excited to be there.
Come Christmas we and The Pink Finks become the house bands at Bluebeat, a dance studio above Henderson’s Real Estate in Rosebud now slated as R&B/Mod headquarters. By the end of the holiday season and the wildest four weeks of my short life (so far) there is no turning back.
Both groups now have a manager in the shape of promoter Ian Oshlak who previously guided The Spinning Wheels in their (as we hypocritically saw it) slavish impersonation of The Rolling Stones. Oshlak in fact named Ross’s Wilson and Hannaford’s "Pink Finks", although a sickly kid who lives in my street called Rick Dalton is the nominal leader of the group at that time (shades of Brian Jones). We on the other hand thought up "The Rising Sons" all by ourselves, no help from the Animals or The Stones honest, and we certainly didn’t know about Taj Mahal/Ry Cooder’s outfit with the "u" instead of our "o".
Soon after recovery from the wild holidays Oshlak ushered both groups into the modest lounge room/studio of East recording in Elsternwick. The aim, to record four tracks from each on the same day. Our efforts were LaVern Baker’s "Saved", Bo’s "Diddley Daddy", Muddy Waters "She Moves Me" and also "Dr Feelgood". Two of these I purloined from a couple of Liverpool bands but "Saved and "She Moves Me" no-one else to my knowledge was doing. That is not to say we did them well I have the acetates and it is painful listening.
The Fink’s did K.C Douglas "Mercury Blues" and Sleepy John Estes "Drop Down Mama" among their tracks; Wilson always had a good ear for a song, I remember those two ‘cos I sang what passed for a harmony on them. Out of that session came interest from Phillips Records in us and in fact I still have the contract we signed. Although more recording was done, nothing was released.
The Pink Finks had the brighter idea of doing an indie record and so "Louie Louie" came about (on the Mojo label) and even made the Melbourne charts, we stuffed around with the local sales manager for Phillips insisting on being "producer" (he was paying the money) and did two or three sessions (at Bruce Clarke’s and Rambler in Frankston) that went nowhere.
I filled in with The Spinning Wheels in Lorne that Easter and sang "Saved" which planted a seed and subsequently turned up as one side of their final single. Meanwhile the clown at Phillips was taking our recordings around to DJ’s asking them what they thought. We had recorded an old Everly Brothers thing called "You Don’t Know What Love Is", The Who’s "Can’t Explain" (I can’t explain why), a song I loved from the Righteous Brothers called "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and the Merle Travis penned hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford "Sixteen Tons" which I’d found one day on a 78 around at Clive Davies place. Our record company man played the latter to DJ Don Lunn who promptly recommended to a group who were from Horsham called "The Sonomatics" they record it theirs was released!
Tertiary education was breaking up that old school band of mine anyway. After me failing first year Law at Melbourne Uni, Fred and I were reunited at RMIT doing various courses with one eye on the forthcoming draft (stay in school, stay out of the army), Clive I’m not sure of and Russell was just beginning his long association with the ABC that continues to this day and has seen him receive a doctorate of sound, or something. Fred and I would continue our association for a while in the crazy, mixed-up, slightly manufactured world of The Eighteenth Century Quartet that’s next time!
PART 2 ...