Category: Australian independent label
Location: Adelaide
Date: 1969-1972?
Owner/s: Jimmy Stewart, Doug Ashdown
Distributor/s: Phonogram ca. 1969-70; Astor ca. 1971-72


The Adelaide-based Sweet Peach label was established by producer Jimmy Stewart and musician Doug Ashdown. It had a short lifespan -- only about three years -- but it was quite a prolific label, with around forty singles, one EP, two "maxi-singles" and ten LPs identified so far.

Many of the artists who recorded for Sweet Peach came from Adelaide, such as rock bands Fraternity, Levi Smiths Clefs, Cannery Row and Paradise (which featured former Masters Apprentices guitarist Peter Tilbrook), singer-songwriters Doug Ashdown, Irene Petrie, Phil Sawyer and Kevin Johnson, and rising new country singer Lee Conway. One of the label's most sought-after LPs was the acclaimed album Hush by Sydney progressive-folk band Extradition (comprising several ex-members of Tully) which became a major collector's item on LP and was re-issued on CD some years ago by Vicious Sloth Collectibles. 

Ashdown and Stewart co-produced much of the catalogue and co-wrote several tracks for other artists Lee Conway, Holy Black and Fraternity. Adelaide musician Phil Cunneen was an important influence in the studio, as arranger and musical director for most of the labels early singles. The connecetions betqween Cunneen and Ashdown went back to their early days on the  Adelaide  

The second LP issued on Sweet Peach was Doug Ashdown's The Age of Mouse; this was Australia's first 'popular' double album, released a year before Spectrum's Milesago. The backing band on the LP was Levi Smith's Clefs, who had been based in Sydney for most of the late '60s. At the same time that they were working with Doug Ashdown in Adelaide, they recorded their only LP, Empty Monkey, one of the first Australian progressive rock albums. It was one of the first attempts by an Australian band to blend pop, R&B, soul and jazz influences, an approach epitomised by the album's highlight track, an ambitious 11-minute rendition of The Beatles' "You Can't Do That". Fraternity's keyboard player John Bissett has described the LP as " a pretty accurate representation of the Clefs at that time -- a blend of Motown and rock, largely inspired by Vanilla Fudge".

It was acclaimed by critics -- Go-Set's Ed Nimmervol gushed that it was "the best rock album ever produced in Australia". Regrettably this ground-breaking release was a commercial flop, although it too has become sought-after collector's item. According to Clefs vocalist Barrie McAskill, part of the reason the LP flopped lay was that their label Sweet Peach suddenly switched distributors halfway through the promotional tour (McAskill says from Polydor to Polygram, but the Doug Ashdown label shown above indicates that the original distributor was Phonogram), and McAskill also suggests that Sweet Peach (i.e. Stewart) had an "agenda" to take the group away from him. The album came out in March 1970, while the Clefs were working in Melbourne, and shortly after its release most of the band (Mick Jurd, John Bisset, Bruce Howe and Tony Buettel) left to form Fraternity.

Fraternity were based in Sydney for most of 1970, including a long residency at Jonathan's Disco which they shared with Sherbet. Their first single "Why Did It Have To Be Me?" (backed by a version of The Moody Blues' "Question") was issued in October 1970. The group then went into Sydney's United Sound Studios to record their debut album Livestock, which was co-produced (like most Sweet Peach releases) by Ashdown and Stewart. Two singles were lifted from the album: "Lisa" / "Roadrunner" (Jan. 1970) and a cover of Junior Walker's "Shotgun" b/w "Who Is It That Shall Come? (April 1970). After the LP came out Adelaide entrepreneur Hamish Henry took over management of Fraternity and the group moved to Adelaide. Their next release, "Livestock" b/w "Why Did It Have To Be Me?", "Cool Spot", was issued in January 1971; it was one of two 3-track, 7", 45rpm "maxi-singles" that Sweet Peach issued; this was still a relatively unusual format in Australia at the time although it became more widely used during the punk/New Wave period.

Fraternity's second single -- their only major hit, and Sweet Peach's most successful release -- reached #1 in Adelaide and made the Top Ten in other cities, although it unexpectedly had to compete with the original version by Blackfeather. Members of Fraternity and Blackfeather had become good friends during the residency at Jonathan's (where Blackfeather's John Robinson was a regular). Fraternity wanted to cover Blackfeather's "Seasons of Change" and with the blessing of Robinson and the approval of Infinity's David Sinclair, Fraternity cut their own version, which was released in March 1971. It would probably have been a national hit, because John Robinson had generously obtained an undertaking from Infinity not to release Blackfeather's version as a single. But, predictably, as soon as Fraternity's version became a hit in Adelaide Infinity reneged on its promise and rushed out the (arguably stronger) Blackfeather version as a single to cash in on the interest generated by Fraternity.

As noted above, several Sweet Peach releases have become sought-after collectors' items. By far the most valuable is the ultra-rare 1970 LP Childhood's End by Adelaide singer-songwriter Phil Swayer -- this obscure recording was listed for sale on Ebay in 2007 for a staggering US$700. Largely because of Bon Scott's involvement, Fraternity's original recordings are now also becoming valuable, and copies of their Sweet Peach singles recently offered for sale on the Oz Music Online site were valued at AU$55 each. Original copies of Doug Ashdown's The Age of Mouse LP are also prized, and they have been changing hands on Ebay for around US$80 -- Doug jokes on his website that this is more than he was paid to record it! Another valuable item is the debut single by Adelaide band Cannery Row, which was listed for sale at AU$33 in Sep. 2007 on internet music store Oz Music Online.

Another major rarity is Sweet Peach's only known EP, a jazz recording by a group called The Gas Company. Thanks to Bill Stevens, we've learned that the compositions, musical direction and arrangements were by Eddie Comer (trumpet), with Dave Owens (tenor sax), Neville Blanchette (trumpet) and Bryce Rhodes (piano). Collectors are now seeking out vintage Aussie jazz and this is clearly a sought-after EP -- a copy recently sold on eBay for UK£67 (AU$145). Another Sweet Peach curiosity, also brought to our attention by Bill, is Festival '70. Although this 'various artists' compilation LP consists entirely of Sweet Peach acts, it evidently wasn't released by Sweet Peach and came out instead on/through Philips' pop subsidiary Fontana.

Also of interest are the two releases by Sydney-based cabaret band Multiple Balloon, who worked the Sydney hotel and cruise circuit in 1969-70. These singles are of note because they are the first commercial recordings to feature renowned New Zealand-born singer and bassist Charlie Tumahai, whose stellar career included Aesop's Fables, Nova Express, Friends, Healing Force, Alta Mira, Mississippi, Bill Nelson's Be Bop Deluxe and Herbs.

The last known Sweet Peach LP was Lee Conway's Applewood Memoirs (People); according to a description on ebay, all but one of the tracks are Ashdown-Stewart compostitions. A copy of this LP was listed for sale in early 2008 for US$50.


The original Sweet Peach label design (top, left) was yellow with a red line illustration and lettering in the Art Nouveau style. The later label design (above, right) appears to coincide with the release of Doug Ashdown's single "The Saddest Song of All"; it was a more modernist design featuring a geometric circular logo in red, black and white on a square yellow background, with the label name in small white lettering beneath, and the main part of the label printed in black lettering on a tan background. The change in design evidently coincided with a change in the catalogue numbers of the singles -- it seems likely that the original '000' series indicates singles released in 1969-70 and the '100' series indicates singles released in 1971.


SP-001 1969 Doug Ashdown "I've Come To Save Your World" (Hill-Ashdown)
"The Day They Freed The Noise" (Hill-Ashdown)
Musical direction by Phil Cunneen
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
SP-002 1969 Lee Conway "The White Stallion"
SP-003 1969 Inkase "Rene" (Marriott-Lane)
"I Love My Dog" (Cat Stevens)
Musical direction by Phil Curneen. Produced by K. Roger
SP-004 1969 Cannery Row "Listen To The Music" (Mann-Weil)
"Thirty ninth dream" (Kevin Glancy)
Produced by K. Roper
Musical director: Phil Cunneen
SP-005 1969 Gerry Temple "Everyday" (Hadin-Petty)
"Jam Jar" (Page-Jones-Cattini)
SP-006 1969 Gary Keseker "Columbine" (Bryant - Davidson)
"Felicity Grey" (Stewart -Langley)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart.
Musical director & arranger : Phil Cunneen.
SP-007 1969 Paradise "Just Call Me Smoky" (Hay-Tilbrook)
"Jessie" (Hay)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
Musical director and arranger: Phil Cunneen
SP-008 1969 Kevin Johnson "It was good while it lasted" (K. Johnson)
"Sometime bigtime" (K. Johnson)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
Musical direction by Phil Cunneen.
SP-009 1969 Irene Petrie "Does Your Mother Know?" (Gordon Lightfoot)
"The Other Side of Silence" (Phil Sawyer-Phil Cunneen)
SP-010 1969 Multiple Balloon "Fool On The Hill" (Lennon-McCartney)
"Multiple Balloon" (Barry Woods)
SP-011 Jan. 1970 Levi Smith's Clefs "Roadrunner" (Holland - Dozier -Holland)
"Lisa" (M. Jurd - J. Bisset)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart.
SP-011a 1970 Woody Carr "Mama Said Yeah" (Red Lane-Penni Lane)
"Don't wake me till morning" (Johnny Slate-Don Phillips)
Produced by Johnny Slate for Wind-Chimer Productions
SP-012 1969 Gery Gibson "High And Dry" (Greenaway-Cook)
"The Rainbow Tree" (Stewart-Langley)
SP-013 1970 Paradise "Sin" (Tilbrook-Hay)
"Lay Me Down In The Valley" (Tilbrook-Hay)
SP_014 1969? Lee Conway "Wanted Man" 
SP-015 1970   -   - -
SP-016 1970? Kevin Johnson "In The Quiet Corners Of My Mind" (K. Johnson)
"Melody Brown" (K. Johnson)
Musical direction: Phil Cunneen.
Produced by Jimmy Stewart, engineered by Stan Lewandowski
SP-017 1970 Inkase "Choo-Choo" (R. Gardiner)
"Have You Ever Seen Me" (Marriott-Lane)
SP-018 1970 Irene Petrie "Really And Sincerely" (B.Gibb-R.Gibb-M.Gibb)
"Bye Bye Love" (Bryant)
Produced by Stan Lewandowski
SP-019 1970 Multiple Balloon "Girl's Song" (Jimmy Webb)
"Good News" (Dick Addrisi-Don Addrisi)
SP-020 1970 Lee Conway "Jody and The Kid" (Kristofferson)
"The other man" (Ashdown-Stewart)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
SP-021 Apr. 1970 Levi Smith's Clefs "Shotgun"
"Who Is It That Shall Come"
SP-101 1971 Doug Ashdown "The Saddest song Of All" (Ashdown-Stewart)
"Georgetown" (Ashdown-Stewart)
Prod: Jimmy Stewart. Eng: Spencer Lee
SP-102 1971 The Going Thing "Hey wait for me" (Estelle Levitt -Steve Schwartz)
"I'm feeling fine" (Litchfield - Cairns)
Produced by Athol Guy
SP-103 1971 Inkase "Rene" (Marriott-Lane)
"I Love My Dog" (Cat Stevens) 
SP-103 1970 Holy Black "Goin' the same way" (Ashdown-Stewart)
"Send down the morning" (Ashdown -Stewart)
Arranged and directed by Laurie Lewis. Engineered by Spencer Lee.
Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown
SP-104 1971 Inkase "I'm in a dream" (R. Gardiner)
"When she's gone, she's gone" (R. Gardiner)
Produced by Stan Lewandowski
SP-105 1971 Fraternity "Why Did It Have To Be Me?" (Ashdown-Stewart)
"Question" (Hayward-Lodge)
Arranged and directed by Laurie Lewis.
Engineered by Spencer Lee
Produced by Doug Ashdown and Jimmy Stewart
SP-106 1971 Don Lane "We Were Lovers Then"
SP-107 1971 Lee Conway "Something New"
SP-108 1971 Kevin Johnson "Bonnie, Please Don't Go" (Johnson)
"I Came To Somerset" (Johnson)
National #15
#2 Sydney
SP-109 1971 Doug Ashdown "Susan Of The Storm"
"And The Lion Roared"
SP-110 1971 Extradition "A Love Song" (Campbell-Lockwood)
"Minuet" (Campbell)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown with Gus McNeil
SP-111 1971   ?   ? -
SP-112 1971 The Going Thing "Butterflies Are Free" (Steven Schwartz)
"We can all work it out" (Litchfield)
SP-113 Mar. 1971 Fraternity "Seasons Of Change" (Robinson-Johns)
"Sommerville" (Howe-See)
Produced by Fraternity
SP-114 1971 Lee Conway "I Just Didn't Hear" (Conway)
"Mothers and sons" (Ashdown-Stewart)
SP-115 1971 Kevin Johnson "All Our Favourite Songs" (Johnson)
"Younger Days" (Johnson)
SP-116 1971 Fraternity "The Race Part 1" (Ashdown-Stewart)
"The Race Part 2" (Ashdown-Stewart)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown
SP-117 1971 Lee Conway "Sunday Morning Roses"
SP-118  -   -   - -
SP-119  -  -   - -
SP-120 1971 Lee Conway "North Country Easter Show"
"House that love built" (Ashdown -Stewart)
SPM-500 1971 Gerry Temple A: "Everyday" (Hardin-Petty)
B1: "Think it over" (Holly-Petty)
B2:"Down the line" (Temple)
SPM-501 Jan. 1971 Fraternity A:"Livestock"
B1: "Why Did It Have To Be Me?"
B2: "Cool Spot"


SPE-1 1970 The Gas Company The Gas Company "Groovie Guru" / "Ming Spring" // "Rainbow Body" / "Drop Out"


L 25204 1969 Kevin Johnson In The Quiet Corners Of My Mind -
SP 12001
1969 Doug Ashdown The Age of Mouse
Also released by Coral Records USA (CRL757514)
Reissued in Australia by Festival in 1975 with different cover
SPL-100 1969 Gerry Temple Jam Jar -
SPL-102 1970 Levi Smiths Clefs Empty Monkey original issue
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
SPL-103 1970 Lee Conway Adultery -
SPB-504 1970 Levi Smiths Clefs Empty Monkey reissue w/ different cover
Produced by Jimmy Stewart
SPB-505 1970 Phil Sawyer Childhood's End -
851 250 WGY
1970 Various Artists Festival '70 -
SP-12003 1971 Extradition Hush Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown with Gus McNeil
SP-12005 1971
Fraternity Livestock
Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown
Recorded at United Sound Studios, Sydney
SPB-501 1971 Doug Ashdown Doug Ashdown Live -
? 1971 Lee Conway Applewood Memoirs (People)
Produced by Jimmy Stewart and Doug Ashdown
Also released on Ember Records UK (CW-140)

References / Links

Thanks to Bill Stevens and Paul McHenry for additional discographical information.

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

Barrie & Jan Mcaskill Website

Scrensound / Ross Laird
The Sixties: Australian Rock & Pop Recordings 1964-69

Kevin Johnson official website

The Australian Folk Revival: Adelaide

Music Australia