|ABOUT THIS SITE|
What is MILESAGO?
MILESAGO is a work in progress. Our mission is to compile a comprehensive web-based resource about Australasian (i.e. Australian and New Zealand) popular music, popular culture and social history in the twelve-year period from 1 January 1964 to 31 December 1975.
We want to celebrate and to explore this period of history in our region, by increasing the available information, raising awareness and encouraging research and discussion about this period. We aim to achieve this by original research and writing, and by compiling, editing and publishing all the available information from both internet and non-Internet sources in a form that can be accessed via the World Wide Web. We hope that MILESAGO will (in the words of the old ABC charter) “inform, educate and entertain”, and that it will stimulate and encourage further discussion, research and publication in this field, as well as linking to the ever-growing network of information about Australian culture on the World Wide Web.
When we established the site in late 1999, we started out by focussing on some of the groups from the 'progressive' scene of the late 60s and early 70s; since then we have constantly added more information on a wide variety of subjects. As the site develops we hope to cover the fullest possible range of popular music of that period -- pop, "bubblegum", blues, soul, R&B, psychedelia, country rock, jazz and folk -- as well as many other aspects of the popular culture and social history of that era, including the “behind the scenes” story of the local music, film, television, radio and the print media and industry.
The name of our site -- MILESAGO -- is taken from one of the landmark albums of that era, Milesago by Spectrum. Released early in 1972, it was Australia's first rock double-album, one of the finest 'progressive' rock LPs ever -- and one of our favourite records! We chose the name for several reasons -- because it is is rooted in that era, because it's short, it's distinctive and it sounds cool, and it's because we felt it expressed something of the character of our site, including the historical and the musical aspects. We also felt it was appropriate for our purposes because the history of Spectrum encapsulates some of the key elements of the rock scene of that period. Spectrum's lineup included members from both sides of the Tasman, all of whom were veterans of earlier bands that began in the mid-Sixties, and Spectrum was of course one of the key acts of the so-called 'Third Wave' of Australian rock, which began around 1970.
On of our major aims is to provide an accurate, comprehensive resource about the groups and solo artists from both sides of the Tasman who produced this music, and also to provide some background about the environment in which they worked. So if you are looking for information about groups like Party Machine, The Easybeats, The Twilights, Spectrum, Tamam Shud, Ariel, Blackfeather or Mighty Kong, you've come to the right place!
A central aspect of our effort is to involve musicians and fans and to provide them with the opportunity to have their say, and to share their thoughts and recollections. We have dedicated a section of MILESAGO specifically to interviews with the people who were there. Many of the musicians who lived and worked in this exciting era have never recorded their memories, and we believe that an Internet site like MILESAGO provides a unique opportunity to document these oral histories and make them available more widely than has ever been possible before.
The Internet also provides us with unrivalled flexibility –- we can publish to an international audience at virtually no cost, and we can change and update any part of our site within minutes to accommodate corrections and new information. Our pages can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world who has Internet access, and anyone with that access can email us to provide feedback or add their own contributions.
But MILESAGO is not just about records and bands. Music did not exist in a vacuum and there were close links between many musicians and their colleagues in film, television and the arts. We are gradually building a database of information on the media -- radio stations and DJs, newspapers and magazines, TV shows, films and documentaries. We are also developing comprehensive sections with information about promoters, managers and agents, the lightshows and sound systems, roadies and technicians, record labels, producers and engineers, and studios.
We also desperately want to document the vanishing history of our live music scene and music venues -- the clubs and discotheques, and the booming city and suburban dance circuit of the late 50s, '60s and early 70s. Many legendary venues, like Sydney's Trocadero, Surf City, the Sydney Stadium and Brisbane's fabled Cloudland Ballroom, now exist only in memories, films and photographs. Others, like Brisbane's Festival Hall, are under threat or facing demolition to make way for new development. We are also collecting and compiling information about other important facets of the live music scene, such as tours by overseas bands and artists, band competitions such as the famous Hoadley's " Battle of the Sounds", and the Australian rock festivals of the early '70s.
Above all, we want to encourage visitors to the site to contribute their memories and experiences of this exciting era! An entire generation of Australians was an integral part of that exciting era –- they were the audiences who went to the concerts, the clubs, the discotheques, the dances and rock festivals, watched the TV shows, listened to their favourite radio DJs, and bought the records, magazines and pinups. A perfect example of the kind of contribution you can make is Harley Parker’s exemplary feature on the Thumpin’ Tum disco – a unique, first-hand account of one of Melbourne’s leading discotheques, illustrated by Harley’s own, never-before-seen photographs. We want to encourage all our readers to make contributions, and share their memories with us all. Contributions might range from something as comprehensive as Harley's article, to smaller items like a few lines of text, an old photo or a scan of ticket which can be added to an article -- but every contribution is important to us and all are welcomed.
Another way you can contribute to the site -- and communicate with other people interested in this period and this music -- is to join our mailing list, "Rock'n'Roll Scars".
As we noted earlier, MILESAGO is a work in progress. The information we provide on the site is necessarily only as good as the sources available to us, so if you have more information about a particular topic, or come across something on the site which you think is incorrect or requires clarification, please don't hesitate to contact us here at MILESAGO.
What MILESAGO isn't:
We are NOT a commercial site. We have no connection to, nor do we endorse, any commercial interest or business organisation. Furthermore, MILESAGO does not provide:
Why this period?
We have tried to make MILESAGO more (we hope) than just a baby-boomers music nostalgia site. Our main focus is on the music of the Sixties and Seventies, but we believe that a fuller understanding of the music scene of the period must be located within the broader context of the history of the period and must also be correlated with other aspects of social history. There were tremendous changes during this time which cannot be overlooked and which had direct and major effects on the local music scene and popular culture -- epoch making events like the Vietnam War, the draft and the anti-war movement, and social changes like the Pill and the "censorship wars" of the late '60s, the huge wave of post-war immigration, changes in government and legislation, and the rapid development of new technology and the tremendous change and expansion of the media that continues to the present day.
Although there is a growing amount of material that refers to (pr at least name-checks) this period –- books, CDs, TV shows and radio programming -- many of these references are cursory at best and often merely trivial. Indeed, this ‘period’ connection is frequently only used as means of attracting the attention of consumers in the 35-60 age group. Many aspects about the music and culture of this period are only just beginning to be recorded and analysed in depth.
Nevertheless, a great deal of pioneering and absolutely invaluable work has been done over the years and we at MILESAGO must acknowledge the fact that we are, as it were “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Whatever we have or will achieve with this site would have been impossible without the outstanding work of the historians, collectors, experts and fans who have worked long and tirelessly, and often simply for the love of the task, collecting the records and other items and preserving the information about this era.
Many people should be acknowledged, but first and foremost we must pay tribute to Chris Spencer and his collaborators Zbig Nowara and Paul McHenry. The huge and unique database of information they have collected and collated to compile the Who’s Who of Australian Rock is a great achievement. To our knowledge, nothing like it exists in any other country and their extraordinary work must be recognized as the foundation stone of the history of Australian popular music from the 1950s to the present. We must also acknowledge and thank our rock historians, to whom we owe so much: Noel McGrath, who published the first ever encyclopedia of Australian popular music in 1978; Glenn A. Baker, whose books, articles and liner notes taken together comprise a cornerstone achievement in Australian rock history; Ian McFarlane, author of the best and most comprehensive reference work to date, the Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop; Ed Nimmervol, whose Howlspace site continues the great work he began all those years ago on Go-Set; the late, great Dean Mittelhauser, perhaps the greatest fan of Australian 60s/70s music and a pioneering fanzine writer editor and rock historian. Looking to New Zealand' scene, we take our hats off to John Dix, whose brilliant Stranded in Paradise remains the definitive account of Kiwi music from the ‘50s to the ‘80s. Another name too rarely mentioned and one who deserves great credit for his pioneering work is label historian Hank B. Facer, who is the acknowledged expert on Australian indigenous labels and whose discographies are, like the Who’s Who, a unique and priceless resource.
We chose our period, 1964-1975, for several reasons. It was a crucial and formative era for Australian music and popular culture, and one that we believe has not received nearly enough attention. When we began searching the Internet a few years ago, we soon found that there was almost no information about this subject on the WWW. Australian music of the ‘60s and ‘70s were (and still are) the best-kept secret on the international music scene, and many great antipodean bands of the era are still totally unknown overseas. While many English and American acts of that period are now enjoying a new wave of popularity, their Australian contemporaries remain virtually unknown. Major English groups like The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Move are (deservedly) feted in the press, have their own websites and mailing lists and are given lavish CD reissues -- yet equally deserving Aussie bands like Spectrum, Company Caine, Tamam Shud and Cam-Pact are constantly overlooked, and virtually forgotten. We hope this site will go some way to restoring a balance, and we are glad to see that other sites are now springing up to fill the gap.
in the last few years has this era has begun to be properly documented. The
Radio and TV have compounded the problem. With the exception of a handful of perennial "golden oldies" -- Friday On My Mind, The Real Thing, Eagle Rock, Evie -- Australian radio has comprehensively ignored this exciting era of Aussie music -- a situation that repeats their shameful negligence of so much Australian music at the time it was made. TV is an equally sad case -- although there was comparatively little in the way of archival footage to begin with since most Aussie pop shows in the 60s were live, and sadly it's been discovered that much of what did survive has since been carelessly destroyed by TV stations. Most of the material that has survived consists of the audio recordings, the photographs and above all the memories of those who were there. The Internet provides an ideal venue for making this material more widely available, and an ideal venue for people who are interested to contribute to this resource directly.
So why did we choose this period? We chose it in part because the Sixties and early Seventies are a special and uniquely rich and fascinating period in cultural history. For the first time in history, vast and unprecedented social, economic, political, scientific and cultural changes coincided with an equally unprecedented “spike” in the proportion of young people in the population, creating, for a few decades, an entirely new social phenomenon – the so-called ”Youth Culture”.
These unique historical circumstances combined with the dazzling new technologies that enabled us to record and manipulate sound and vision in ways never before imagined to create a completely new form of mass culture. Formerly localised musical cultures and genres, local styles, fads and forms could now be carried almost instantly all over the world, recorded and transmitted by entirely new means of communication like multitrack recording and satellite television. And, significantly, they could for the first time be advertised and promoted simultaneously in any or all of these modes at once. The cultural artefacts that were produced to feed this new market -- such as pop music recordings -- were being produced on an unprecedented scale and in a range of entirely new formats – film, telelvision and radio broadcasts, LPs and singles, cassettes, posters, newspapers, magazines and books, badges and more.
With high standards of living and a growing freedom of action and thought, young Australians and New Zealanders in the postwar period were uniquely positioned to take full advantage of these new cultural changes. And although remote in some respects, our histories had made both countries Australasia into cultural crossroads, where musicians, artists, actors and others absorbed all the latest international influences and styles from America and the UK , and reinterpreted them for their peers in a unique local context.
Against this background of massive and global cultural change, 1964 and 1975 were landmarks that defined a special era of Australasian culture, a period in which popular music evolved from an imported craze into a new and authentic Australian musical expression.
1964 is an obvious choice, the year that the changes of The Sixties really began to be felt in Australia. It was the watershed year of the Beatles' Australasian tour and the explosive start of the beat boom in Australia and New Zealand which saw the emergence of the first wave of local 'beat bands', including Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Ray Brown & The Whispers, The Twilights, The Masters Apprentices and The Easybeats. That year, Australian music also began to make an international impression with the first UK hits by The Seekers. 1964 was also marked by important social and political events such as the Voyager disaster, the Oz obscenity trials, the publication of the first edition of The Australian, the premiere of the groundbreaking Australian TV series Homicide and The Mavis Bramston Show and the introduction of conscription.
1975 was, in many ways, the end of one era and the beginning of another. It was defined by several important events that were all connected to some extent:
There were of course many other momentous social and political events that year -- the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government, the fall of Saigon, the retirement of notorious NSW Premier Robert Askin, the Tasman Bridge disaster in Hobart, the disappearance of activist Juanita Nielsen, the murder of five Australian journalists by Indonesian forces in East Timor,
We hope that MILESAGO and the "Rock'n'Roll Scars" mailing list will help to foster a wider interest in the music of this era. At present, only a small proportion of this music is available on CD, although it's growing all the time. Much credit for what is available must go to reissue labels like Raven for their efforts in keeping this music alive and before the public, and to those who have worked tirelessly to record the history and promote awareness of this unique period of our recent past.
We also sincerely hope that the site will stimulate interest in the preservation of the fullest possible range of archival sources -- audio recordings, videotapes, films, still photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, badges, posters, tickets and the like. Many fans and musicians have unique photographs, tapes, records, posters and other materials that have not yet been seen. It is vital that this material be assessed and if possible copied and preserved for posterity.
A perfect illustration of this situation came to light a few years ago when Festival Records were preparing their definitive Ray Brown & The Whispers CD compilation. During the project, one of the members of the Whispers brought in an acetate he found in a cupboard at home. It turned out to be a previously unknown song, Look At Me Now, a rejected song from the same session as their first hit, 20 Miles. It was the only copy in existence! More recently, singer Marty Rhone did some spring cleaning at his home and found an old box which contained some old tapes. One of them turned out to be a unique tape, recorded at Ozzy Byrne's St Clair studio at Hurstville in 1966, featuring Marty and his friend Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, performing some off-the-cuff cover versions of Beatles songs.
We exhort all our readers to think seriously about this issue. If you, or your friends, have any material like this we urge you to contact your state library or one of the institutions like Screensound in Canberra, the Powerhouse Museum in NSW or the Victorian Performing Arts Museum.
Sadly, it's not only private collections that require urgent attention. In recent years it's come to light that major portions of our recent TV and radio history has been carelessly destroyed by commercial TV stations and the ABC. Record companies too are being exposed -- it is already known that the original multitracks and master tapes of many important Australian recordings, from as recently as the 1980s, have been lost or destroyed. It is also vital to remember that recording media such as magnetic tape colour photogtraphs and colour film have a finite life, and that time is running short to save and restore them before they deteriorate beyond retrieval.
Although long thought to be ephemeral and of little or no value, it is now becoming more widely accepted that the history and the artefacts of Australian and New Zealand popular culture of the Sixties and Seventies are vitally important facets of the broader history of our social and cultural development in the 20th century.
During this period both countries were beginning to define new national identities for themselves in a rapidly changing world. Musicians, artists, film-makers, actors, writers and others, on both sides of the Tasman, played a vital role in creating and defining this new identity, as they first learned and imitated new cultural forms flooding in from from overseas -- like American and British TV drama and comedy, as well as jazz, rock'n'roll and 'beat' music -- and then began building on this foundation to create new and highly distinctive forms of expression. Popular music, TV and film also provided a new way for a generation of young immigrants to express themselves, and a totally new means by which they could find a place in what could be a strange and sometimes hostile culture. Many of these "New Australians" and their counterparts in New Zealand went on to be figures of great significance.
Just like compiling a family history, it is crucially important that as much as possible of this history is recorded before it is too late. As any genealogist or family historian can tell you, it only takes one generation before virtually all the information about a person’s life is lost forever, leaving us with little more than an empty list of dates and places. It is of course vital to record those dates and places, but it's equally vital to record the human stories behind them, without which much of the meaning and relevance of these events will be lost forever.
We hope that, in our own small way, MILESAGO will contribute to this process by recording and celebrating the stories of this vibrant, never-to-be-repeated period in our history.
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