|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Obituaries|
WINSTON JOHN "TWEED" HARRIS
Musician, composer, arranger and producer
Born - 17 February 1941, Murray Bridge, South
Died - 13 October 2004, Melbourne, Victoria
Tweed Harris was one of the most prominent and accomplished Aussie musicians and producers of the '60s and '70s and he played a major part of the history of Australian popular music in that era. His stage name, Tweed Harris, was of course a wordplay on the famous Scottish cloth.
Born in South Australia in 1941, Tweed's first major musical venture was Adelaide band The Clefs, which later became Levi Smith's Clefs. One of his early recruits for the group was a young Irish-born singer and musician called Pat Aulton, who went on to become one of Australia's top record producers. During this period, Tweed also worked as an assistant musical director at Channel 7 in Adelaide and as an A&R manager and record producer for EMI.
With artist manager Gary Spry, Tweed is best known for forming one of Australia's first and best soul bands, The Groove in 1966. It was also one of Australia's first 'supergroups, bringing together Tweed with guitarist Rod Stone (The Librettos, The Playboys), singer-guitarist Peter Williams (Max Merritt & The Meteors), bassist Jamie Byrne (Running Jumping Standing Still) and drummer Geoff Bridgford (Steve & The Board).
The Groove were hugely popular in Melbourne and had a string of hits in 1967-68 including "Simon Says", their fine cover of Sam Cooke's "Soothe Me", which was a Top 10 hit in 1967, and their lesser known but equally superb version of Ben E. King's "What Is Soul?". Their career peaked in 1968 when they beat The Masters Apprentices to win that year's Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds. After the obligatory stint in England and a brief name change to Eureka Stockade, the band split in early 1970.
Tweed developed a distinguished post-band career as a sought-after arranger and producer. His list of clients reads as a veritable who's who of Australian popular music, including work for Sherbet -- he orchestrated their hit single "Cassandra" and its parent album -- and also worked on solo recordings by Daryl Braithwaite.
One of Tweed's best-known productions was Renee Geyer's hit 1973 album and single It's A Man's Man's World. His other credits include Bobby Bright, Kush and Lionel Long, to name only a few. Tweed also joined, as second keyboardist, fellow Melbourne soul-rock merchants The Groop for their 1988-89 reformation tour and then undertook lucrative TV soundtrack commissions. In more recent times he had a successful career writing music for TV and advertising both here and in Singapore.
Tweed had battled cancer for several years and had undergone surgery which was, for a time, successful in halting the progress of the disease. Sadly, it returned with a vengeance during 2004 and he passed away on 13 October.
"Tweed's powerful organ sound and playing style was the essence of The Groove's sound. In the early days, before he got a Hammond, he was the only person I ever heard who made a Farfisa Organ sound good! Before The Groove, he was the founder of Adelaide's Clefs who later became Levi Smith's Clefs after he left them."
"I was very sad when Rod contacted me with the news of Tweed's passing, but felt lucky with the fact I had caught up with him about a year ago (after 15 or so years) when Tweed, Rod, Geoff & I caught up in Melbourne; unfortunately we could not contact Jamie, otherwise a reunion gig could have been on the cards. We all felt very comfortable with the prospect as we are basically all still 'at the coalface' so to speak. Unfortunately it won't happen now as the Groove was a one-line-up band all the way, I think the Three Musketeers' catchphrase was also ours. Anyway as the other guys said he could really make that Hammond talk. Perhaps it was a good thing he got into production, commercials etc, because carrying that Hammond across the ice into some of the gigs in the French Alps was somewhat precarious! Anyway Tweed my friend, 'Bon Voyage' I hope you had your little bag packed with that bottle of brandy ready to get that band up there 'cooking'."
Barry 'Little Goose'
"I did many sessions with Big Goose (Barry Sullivan) and Tweed Harris at Channel Nine Studios in Melbourne. He was a fabulous arranger and keyboard player, especially on the real B3 Hammond Organ."