THE VIBRANTS
Adelaide/Melbourne, 1965-71

Bobby James & The Vibrants 1965-66
Jeff Gurr (bass)
Brenton Hay (sax)
Bobby James (vocals)
Rick Kent (drums)
Terry Osmond (guitar)
Terry Radford (guitar)
Geoff Skewes (keyboards)

THE VIBRANTS (Mk I) 1966-68
Mick Hamilton (guitar)
John Hossen (sax)
Rick Kent (drums)
Mark Leon (vocals) Feb-Oct '68
(John (Rupert) Perry (vocals) Apr '66 - Feb '68
Bill Pfeiffer (bass)
Barry Rogers (bass) Feb-Oct '68
Geoff Skewes (keyboards)
Mike Wade (guitar) 1966

The Vibrants (Mk II) Oct.1968-71
Bob Flynn (bass) 1968-71
Mick Hamilton (guitar)
Rick Kent (drums) 1968-71
Ken Leroy (bass) 1971
Penny Parsons (vocals)
Geoff Skewes (keyboards)
Trevor Courtney (drums) 1971

History

Adelaide band The Vibrants started out as the backing group for singer Bobby James, with the original instrumental lineup comprising Geoff Skewes (organ), Terry Osmond (guitar), Terry Radford (guitar), Brenton Hay (sax), Jeff Gurr (bass) and Rick Kent (drums). In this guise they cut one single for EMI's Columbia imprint, "Jezabel" / "Tossin' and Turnin' ", in 1965, after which James left to form the Bobby James Syndicate. Ian McFarlane's article on the group also lists another James/Vibrants track "I've Learned" and a May 1965 single, "Furry Legs" / "Maybe Tomorrow" shared with Roger Dee and released on the W&G label.

Skewes put together a new lineup of the group in April 1966 with Rick Kent (drums), John (Rupert) Perry (vocals), Mike Wade (guitar), Bill Pfeifer (bass) and John Hossin (sax). All the members had previously been involved with other bands and Perry had worked as a soloist under the name Johnny Perry. They were a popular act in their hometown and frequently backed local and visiting solo artists such as Bev Harrell and Johnny O'Keefe.

In July 1966 they moved to Melbourne and signed with EMI's Columbia label, at which point Mick Hamilton (ex- The Moods) replaced Mike Wade on guitar. Their first single I've Got To Go (Sept. '66) did not chart, but the follow-up, a driving cover of the Four Topsí "Something About You, Baby" (Jan. '67) was a Top 20 local hit in Melbourne, reaching #17. It has since become the track for which they are best known and has been anthologised on several compilations of Australian Sixties pop. It was followed in September by "My Prayer" / "Don't Let Your Left Hand Know", which was a major double sided hit in Melbourne (#5) but failed to chart elsewhere.

Perry left the band in February, 1968 to form his own outfit, the John Rupert Group, who recorded one single, "Put a Bar in My Car" / "Tightrope" (August 1968). He was replaced by Marc Leon (ex-Impulse). Bill Pfeiffer left not long after, with Barry Rogers taking over on bass. Their next single, a cover of The Bee Gees' "Terrible Way to Treat Your Baby" was released in March '68 sold only moderately in Adelaide and Melbourne and did not chart.

In October a major split took place, with Marc, John and Barry leaving to form a new group called Graduate. Mick, Geoff and Rick formed a new Vibrants with Penny Parsons (vocals) and Bob Flynn (bass). The new line-up developed a more sophisticated, club-style image for the rest of the Sixties. They released two Singles on the Air label including "I Can't Let Go Of Your Love", their biggest hit, which climbed to #55 in 1970 and charted for thirteen week stay, and "Give Me Just A Little More Time". In 1971 Ken Leroy (ex-John Rupert Group) replaced Flynn on bass and Trevor Courtney (ex-Chants R&B, Cam-Pact) replaced the longserving Rick Kent on drums. This last version of the band broke up at the end of 1971.

After The Vibrants ...


In 1972, Skewes and Courtney joined with Bonnie Lever (vocals), Greg Cook (guitar, organ; ex-Cam-Pact, The Mixtures), Mike Clarke (bass, guitar) and Sunil De Silva (percussion) to form Skylight (1972-75). Geoff Skewes moved into management in the late 70s and for a time managed Stars. Parsons went on to work on the Sydney club circuit as a soloist. Mick Hamilton worked as a session player session and did club work and joined rockabilly band The Mighty Guys in 1980. Courtney later worked with Stylus.

Discography

Singles:

as Bobby James & The Vibrants:

1965 (?)
Furry Legs / Maybe Tomorrow
(W&G S 2367) (shared with Roger Dee)

1965
Jezabel / Tossin' and Turnin
(Columbia DO-4624)

as The Vibrants:

September 1966
I've Got To Go / Somebody Help Me
(Columbia DO-4716)

January 1967
"Something About You, Baby" / Danger Zone
(Columbia DO-4761) #17, Melbourne

June 1967
How Sweet It Is / The Letter Song
(Columbia DO-4789)

September 1967
My Prayer / Don't Let Your Left Hand Know
(Columbia DO-5028) #5, Melbourne

1968
Terrible Way To Treat Your Baby / I Don't Need Nobody
(Columbia DO-8422)

1970
I Can't Let Go Of Your Love / Looking For Someone
(Air AA 0002) #55

1971
Give Me Just A Little More/I'm Gonna Be A Man Someday
(Air AA 0006)

EPs:

1967
Something 'Bout The Vibrants
(Columbia SEGO 70140)

1967
My Prayer
(Columbia SEGO 70165)

Compilations

Raven's 5 x 4 (Vol. 2) (LP, 1982) included five Vibrants tracks: Danger Zone, I Don't Need Nobody, The Letter Song, Something About You Baby and What A Terrible Way To Treat Your Baby. Something About You Baby is also included on Raven's Sixties Down Under, Vol. 2 (CD).

EMI anthologised several Vibrants tracks on their Hit Wave series: Something About You Baby is on Hit Wave, Don't Let Your Left Hand Know and My Prayer are on Another Hit Wave, and What A Terrible Way To Treat Your Baby is on Hit Wave (Vol. 3). They also included Something About You Baby on the 1987 2LP collection Made In Australia.

References / Links

Ian McFarlane
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)

Noel McGrath
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock
(Outback Press, 1978)

Vernon Joyson
Dreams, Fantasises & Nightmares: Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)

The Garage Compilation Database
http://www.soybomb.com/garage-comps/