Friday, 30 May 2014
It's Too Late/I'm So Glad/If You Need Me/Take This Hammer
Mike Furber was born on 28 September 1948 in London, England. His father was Ed Furber and Furber was raised with a sister Marian. When he was 10, his family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia. In mid-1965 Furber as lead vocalist joined local pop band The Bowery Boys which consisted of Robbie van Delft on lead guitar and vocals, Neville Peard on drums, Paul Wade on bass guitar and vocals, and Greg Walker on rhythm guitar. The group signed with Sunshine Records and were managed by label boss Ivan Dayman. Dayman promoted the group as Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys.
In late 1965 their debut single, "Just a Poor Boy", was released and in early 1966 it became a top 5 hit in Adelaide and top 30 in both Melbourne and Sydney. The song was written by Wade, van Delft and Peard. In February 1966, their second single, "You Stole My Love", was released – it is a cover version of The Mockingbird's 1965 song and was written by Graham Gouldman. Furber's version was a top 10 hit in Melbourne and peaked at No. 12 in Adelaide. The Kommotion label released the group's debut album, Just a Poor Boy. In July, a third single, "That's When Happiness Began" was issued but the group disbanded in August.
Dayman was keen to promote Furber as a solo artist and organised appearances on local television shows: The Go!! Show and Kommotion. Furber released three solo singles in 1967, "Where Were You?" (January), "I'm So Glad" (August) and "Bring Your Love Back Home" (October) but none of them charted. National teen pop music newspaper, Go-Set, praised "Bring Your Love Back Home" as "the best disc he has ever had. It could be the break he has been waiting for to put him right back on top". Furber was one of a number of popular artists who wrote in Go-Set against Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, "you can't find an excuse for forcing a man to give up his chosen career to go into the army and fight a war in what would be one of the most dubious conflicts of all times". In Go-Set's Pop Poll, Furber was voted in the top 5 as most popular Male Vocalist in both 1966 and 1967. Furber's label, Sunshine collapsed in 1967 and Furber had a nervous breakdown at about that time.In 1969, Furber signed with Columbia Records and released "There's No Love Left" in June. This was followed in November by "I'm on Fire" / "Watch Me Burn", which were both written by Vanda & Young (ex-The Easybeats) as a two-part pop suite. According to Iain McIntyre's Tommorrow Is Today (2006) "'I'm on Fire' is scintillating pop track underscored by a ripping lead fuzz guitar line and a solid rhythm section" however "'Watch Me Burn' is even wilder, with TWIN lead guitars (one fuzz and one wah-wah) wailing away beneath Furber's excellent vocal performance". Nevertheless neither of the singles charted and Furber was dropped by Columbia.
In June 1970 Furber toured Australia with The Sect, and Doug Parkinson in Focus as support acts to United States group The Four Tops. In the early 1970s he was conscripted for National Service in the Australian Army during the Vietnam War. At the time of his service Furber had been involved in stage musicals: Godspell and Nuclear (1973). He was fired from Nuclear.
According to music historian Ian McFarlane, he was "never a strong-willed person to begin with, Furber continued to suffer bouts of depression". Furber committed suicide on 10 May 1973; he was found hanged in the garage of his Sydney home. According to McFarlane, "reputedly in the depths of depression, he hanged himself ... It has been suggested, however, that Furber was actually murdered because he had befriended a King's Cross prostitute".
In 1999, Festival Records issued a compilation album, Diddy Wah Diddy featuring his work with The Bowery Boys and solo.
Thursday, 15 May 2014
Dollars & Dimes/Honey Don't/Put The Blame On Me/It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)
Merv Benton is an Australian singer famous during the sixties.
In the Melbourne dance circuit, Merv Benton gained national attention and quickly became one of the most popular male singers in the country appearing on all national television programes.
In early 1964 he signed with Melbourne's W&G Records and became one of their most prolific artists, releasing several singles and EPs, and three LPs between 1964 and 1967. In 1967, at the height of his popularity, Merv was struck down by throat problems that ended his singing career.
His career began, like many others taking to rock'n'roll listening to Melbourne radio and was captivated by the music of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Merv saw his first Lee Gordon 'Big Show' in 1957, which featured Bill Haley & The Comets, The Platters and Freddie Bell and it was Bell especially who fired Merv's desire to become a singer.
These were very good times for one growing up and a teenager.
He toured around Australia with his backing group, The Tamlas.
The original lineup included.
Charlie Gauld - guitar
Ian B. Allen - bass
Eddie Chappell - drums
The line-up during most of Benton's career with "The Tamlas" included.
Eddie Chappell - drums
Les Stacpool - guitar
Noel Watson - guitar
Dennis Tucker - bass
The lineup that backed Merv on most of his recordings was Les Stacpool and Noel Watson (guitars), Murray Robertson (keyboards), Dennis Tucker (bass) and Eddie Chappell (drums), with backing vocals on most of the singles by the trio of Pat Carroll, Anne Hawker and Julie McKenna.
In the early 1980s Merv returned to the recording studio after he was approached by his old fried Ian B. Allen to perform again in Melbourne.
He found a backing band, The Allstars, which included Les Stacpool on guitar, the legendary Henri Bource on sax, Murray Robertson on keyboard, Ron Chapman on drums and Ian on bass.
The group recorded a 5-track EP with Merv at the helm.
In 1991, Merv migrated to the USA.
However he has made occasional live musical appearances and in the early 2000s he has returned to Melbourne from his new home near Phoenix, Arizona for Australian annual Sixties concerts.
All information may be obtained at the web address above for an in-depth look at the times of Merv Benton.
Monday, 12 May 2014
California My Way/Mary Go Round/Imagine This/Dreaming Away To Myself
"California My Way" was a cover of the original recording by the Committee (or it may have been The 5th Dimension version) it was released on Festival in 1968 by Melbourne band The Iguana that had formed from the Sands of Time and the Contours in 1967. The band menbers were Vocals Gary Sweetman Gary Littlewood (lead guitar) Cleve Littlewood (rhythm guitar), Graham Jones (bass) and Peter Saunders (drums). "California My Way" charted #10 Melbourne #5 Brisbane .
They had four singles, plus an EP that combined two of their 45's. Imagine This / Dreaming Away to Myself 1967, California My Way / Mary Go Round 1968, Ticket to Ride / Sunshine People 1968, Good News / Requiem 820 Latham 1969.