|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
JOHN A. BIRD
Pianist; born Hobart 1945
Hobart - New Orleans Jazz Band with the legendary trombonist Cliff Wright and cornettist Paul Turnbull. Unfortunately I don't remember the names of the other players as the band played infrequently however it wore two hats in that it played as a standard jazz band and also as a jug band with Cliff playing a wide-necked jug and myself playing washboard.
Gut Bucket Five Minus One, with Chris Cruise, Frank Povah, Rainer Gartz and Frank Amendola. The band was named such because Chris was in the army and only played with us when he was in Hobart. Its inaugural gig was at the Sullivans cove Jazz Club where it appeared as the Gut Bucket Five Minus Four. My first Solo Gig!
I was called up but only lasted three months. Returned to Hobart but left for Sydney in October. I occasionally sat in with Cocaine Spells, Phil Manning and Charlie Watts band from Devonport.
One of the first musos I met in Sydney was Phil Eizenberg and I joined with him in the Victorian Tea Party. At the same time I was playing solo at Whitties Wine Bar on Taylor Square and also with The Sons of Agamemnon with Wally Mudd. In this year Phil Manning had left Tasmania with Tony Worsley and the 20th incarnation of the Blue Jays. He picked me up on their way through Sydney for a disastrous tour on the show circuit up the east coast to Cairns.
I rejoined the Victorian Tea Party with Phil Eizenberg, Simon Turnbull, Kevin Quick and Mike Carter. That year we played often at Ward Austin's Jungle. Also in ths year I had my own band playing at Whitties, French's on Oxford Street and John Huis wine bar at the Quay. My own bands were loose collections of players but often included Phil Eizenberg, Syd Smith and Ian Barnes (Colonel Crints Queens Own Foot and Mouth Deserters), Dave Ovendon and Hutch. Towards the end of this year Phil and I and Dave joined with Lloyd Hardie (ex Python Lee Jackson) and Andy James (ex- Missing Links — Andy James is Andy Anderson). Southern Comfort was born.
Southern Comfort moved into the residency at Sammy Lee's Cheetah Room. Phil Eizenberg had been replaced with Gary McDonald and Bobbi Turnbull (Marchini) was there from the start. Later Bernie McGann joined and Lloyd Hardie was replaced with Phil Cogan. I still kept my own bands at the wine bars. SC worked 6 nights a week from 8.30 to 2.30 and 3.00 on weekends. It lived and played together and is still in touch with a planned reunion in November this year thanks to Dunks putting the last piece into place with the reconnection with our lovely Bobbi. At the end of that year SC left the Cheetah Room and went on to the Millers circuit. I left and went with R.J. Taylor to form the R.J. Taylor Band with Ace Follington and Bill Twyman. Andy later became a substantial actor. (The Sullivans, Phoenix, etc ) Gary McDonald became a major film music writer. (The Thornbirds, Flipper, etc ). Dave Ovendon became the Bloke in Bullamakanka. Phil stills plays in Canberra and married the last singer Pat who joined after Bobbi left. And Bernie is still a major force in Australian jazz.
The R.J.Taylor Band worked for Caesars International at their clubs in Sydney and its single was Can't Shoot Your Brother Down. During this Year I recorded with John J. Francis, Maple Lace (I am the piano player on Gimme Dat Ding), and Benny and the Jets from Newcastle.
With the demise of the R.J.Taylor band Ace and I joined Country Radio. CR is well documented with hits like Gypsy Queen, Listen to the Children, WinterSong and a live albumn. Ace went off to England with the Cleves and was eventually replaced with Tony Boulton. Of all the bands I have played with this one holds the warmest place in my heart musically.
CR worked consistently around the country with appearances at the two Sunburys. During this year I continued to record with John J. Francis. Also with Aiden Nolan and an ill-fated rock opera Terry and Frankie with Graham Lowndes and Jeannie Lewis.
I left CR at the end of Sunbury and spent the year working for Terry Hannigan on jingles and sound tracks. I also continued to record with John J. Francis recording in all four albumns. I also had a single of my own released this year under the psuedonym of Willie Wozzoe -- an instrumental that sold a total of 64 copies and I never heard it played on air.
I joined Jeff St. John and went off to England where I joined up with Ace and Bill Twyman and Vince Maloney to back Jeff on his London gigs whilst we waited the start of a world tour with Bo Diddley which never eventuated. Jeff and I returned to tour Australia. Broke and desperate I left Jeff to take up a day gig, get married and prepare to return to Tas. to retire from the music business.
I returned to Tas. where I played with the Laughing Moon Band, Ian Young and various other R'n'R Refugees until I retired to the bush.
I returned to the music and eventually ended up with the Beebop Bros (with Billy Whitton and Mike Waldren ) in the Hobart Casino in '91, '92 and '93. I returned to Sydney in 1996 and have not really played since.
I am still in touch with many of my old and dearly loved
friends from the business and as mentioned before have a reunion
planned with Southern Comfort in November 2003.
Note: on some of these Albums I am playing on only one or two tracks; on others all the way through.
John J. Francis
Rock and Roll Refugee
(Warner Bros WS 20007)
Breaks, Works and Thoughts
(Warner Bros WS 20009)
(Warner Bros 20019)
(Warner Bros WS600009)
Greg Quill and Country Radio
Country Radio Live
(Festival/Infinity INL 34726) LP 1972
(Festival L25113)LP (compilation) 1974
(Festival/Infinity D 19556) CD (compilation)1992
Tales From The Sun
(Copperfield CF 30003) LP 1974
Aidan (aka Fred) Nolan was the former lead singer of Brisbane band Daisy Roots
Benny and the Jets
Hey Rock and Roll
((label?) CLF 2002)
Jeff St. John
Ian Young Live at Round Midnight
Various Artists recordings
Terry and Frankie
Original cast recording
Tracking the Blues
Morning of the Earth original soundtrack
The Great Austraian Rock Festival
"Can't shoot your brother down"
"Gimme Dat Ding"
"Listen to the children"
Jeff St. John
"Willie's gone a'huntin"
That's all I can remember!
Our sincere thanks to John for contributing his recollections to our site, and to Simon Turnbull for additional information.