Thursday, 22 December 2016
Christmas In The Air/Merry Christmas Polka/ Christmas/Mary's Boy Child
James Oswald "Jimmy" Little, AO (1 March 1937 – 2 April 2012) was an Australian Aboriginal musician, actor and teacher from the Yorta Yorta people and was raised on the Cummeragunja Mission, New South Wales.
From 1951 he had a career as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, which spanned six decades. For many years he was the main Aboriginal star on the Australian music scene. His music was influenced by Nat King Cole and American country music artist Jim Reeves. His gospel song "Royal Telephone" (1963) sold over 75,000 copies and his most popular album, Messenger, peaked at No. 26 in 1999 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
At the ARIA Music Awards of 1999 Little was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and won an ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album. On Australia Day (26 January) 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia with the citation, "For service to the entertainment industry as a singer, recording artist and songwriter and to the community through reconciliation and as an ambassador for Indigenous culture". As an actor he appeared in the films Shadow of the Boomerang (1960) and Until the end of the World (1991), in the theatre production Black Cockatoos and in the opera Black River. As a teacher, from 1985, he worked at the Eora Centre in Redfern and from 2000 was a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney's Koori Centre.
In 1958 Little married Marjorie Rose Peters and they had a daughter, Frances Claire Peters-Little. Little was a diabetic with a heart condition and, in 2004, had a kidney transplant. After his transplant he established the Jimmy Little Foundation to promote indigenous health and diet. Marjorie died in July 2011. On 2 April 2012 Little died at his home in Dubbo, aged 75 years.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
I Believe/Mary's Boy Child/Silent Night/Deck The Halls
Larry's Rebels were a garage rock band, formed in Ponsonby, New Zealand, in 1964. Staying with a relatively preserved lineup, the band had in New Zealand and Australia several nationally charting singles. The group incorporated a diversity of musical genres ranging from blues rock to psychedelic pop, in large part due to the versatility of lead vocalist, Larry Morris. As Larry's Rebels progressed, they were able to merge both British Invasion, and American musical influences into their own repertoire.
In late 1965, the group shared top billing with Ray Columbus and the Invaders at the Miss Auckland Personality Contest. Impressed by the performance, Russell Clark, the manager of Ray Columbus and the Invaders, agreed to oversee Larry's Rebels, and he soon finalized a deal with Philips Records. With Russell, the band recorded demos for their debut single, many of which were rejected by the record company. Finally the group released their first single in December 1965 after settling with a cover version of Dionne Warwick's "This Empty Place". Though they did not manage to chart, the single sold well enough to encourage a second recording, with the folk piece, "Long Ago, Far Away", being distributed in early 1966 to local success.
After a string of concerts in Australia in April 1967, promoter Ron Blackmore, head of the largest booking agency in Melbourne, closed a deal with the group to take part in The Easybeats high-profile homecoming tour. A follow-up to the band's successful single, a rendition of The Creation's "Painter Man", was released in April 1967, and raced up the charts before unexpectedly stalling at number six. The single's sales were impeded when a disgruntled listener complained about the inclusion of the term, "shit-cans". The phrase was miscued after Morris overdubbed "tin can" twice to emphasize the wording. Consequently, radio host Pete Sinclair banned the song from further airplay. It appeared the setback had little impact on the group's popularity when, in May 1967, their debut album A Study in Black was released, and a single, "Let's Think of Something", earned Larry's Rebels their first number one hit in Auckland and reached number four nationally.
On the band's return to Auckland, Clark arranged a publicity stunt in which Morris rescued a Miss New Zealand contestant from a fall overboard from a cruise. The act was later admitted to be fake, but attention was drawn to the group's psychedelic light show - the first of its kind in New Zealand. The band revealed the show when they went back on tour in August 1967, playing in the Golden Disc Spectacular. Afterwards, Larry's Rebels spent the rest of 1967 and most of 1968 in Australia, performing in larger venues as the featured attraction. The band was exposed to the drug scene while touring, particularly Morris, who would be late for concerts as a result. An original composition by Morris and Williams, "Dreamtime", was released in November 1967, and garnered another hit when it charted at number four. The group continued to incorporate psychedelic influences into their music, which ended with an ill-fated single, "Fantasy". Despite the setback, the group restored their position in the charts with the song, "Halloween", placing at number six in July 1968. However, the stress of another tour caused Rouse to suffer a nervous breakdown and leave Larry's Rebels. Their next recording, the Top Ten hit "Do What You Gotta Do", featured Mal Logan as his replacement, and included Brian Henderson on organ.
Friday, 9 December 2016
Slippin Around/Straight Skirts/I'm Grateful/How Would Ya Be
Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's first true superstar of the rock & roll era, a teen idol whose national fame and revolutionary impact made him a Kiwi counterpart to Elvis Presley. Born May 11, 1938 in the small town of Raetihi, Devlin was raised in nearby Wanganui, where in 1951 he made his solo performing debut yodeling at the local opera house. After graduating high school, he spent two years as a bank clerk, occasionally playing country & western music with his brothers in a band called the River City Ramblers. Then, in mid-1956, Devlin heard Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel"; overnight he became obsessed with rock & roll, snatching up Presley singles and performing Elvis songs on the amateur talent quest circuit. Complete with ducktail, loud suits, and hepcat lingo, he assimilated himself completely in the culture portrayed in American teen movies of the era, earning something of a reputation as the town eccentric.
Although Devlin regularly appeared in talent contests, he at first enjoyed little success, but in early 1957, he was spotted by Johnny Cooper, who had cut the first-ever New Zealand rock record, a cover of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," two years prior. Cooper became Devlin's mentor, and his career surged, he regularly won top honors at talent shows and played to increasingly enthusiastic crowds. After settling into a regular gig at Auckland's Jive Centre, Devlin's fame grew, and his nightly sets of dead-on Presley imitations were the stuff of massive teen hysteria; finally, in mid-1958, he recorded his debut single, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy." It was a massive hit, selling over 2000 copies in Auckland alone during its first month of release on its way to passing the unprecedented five-figure mark; trumpeted in the press as "New Zealand's Elvis Presley," Devlin was a true phenomenon, mobbed by fans wherever he went.