Before They Were Famous - Oz Edition

Before They Were Famous - Oz Edition


Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Last year we published an interesting read on the jobs some of the biggest rock stars in the world had before they were household names! Read it here. 

The article proved to be very popular so we've decided to deliver you an Oz edition, similalry, but this time looking at the bands they were in before hitting the big time!

Dave Faulkner

Before he was Dave Faulkner of Le Hoodoo Gurus (as they were originally known), he was Dave Flick of Perth punks the Victims, whose 1978 single “Television Addict” is considered by many worldwide to be one of the all-time great punk rock records.

Check out this fabulous live footage from back in the day, and note that Dave and original drummer James Baker (who was also in the original Gurus line-up – he played on Stoneage Romeos), together with Hard-ons bass player Ray Ahn, have recorded a new Victims record due for release soon!

Brad Shepherd

Dave’s Guru's guitar mate was a punk too. Younger than Dave, Brad was only in his mid-teens when punk hit, and was still a teen when he made his first record with the Fun Things in 1980. Originally called the Aliens and known early on for their Stooges, Ramones and New York Dolls covers, the Fun Things featured Brad’s even younger brother Murray on drums, and their EP is an incredible blast of Stooge-influenced punk, original copies of which are worth literally thousands of dollars today.

After the Fun things, Brad joined some ex-Radio Birdman alumni in the mighty Hitmen, whose second album It Is What It is featured Brad’s jungle classic “Bwana Devil”.


Bon Scott

Yep, our greatest ever rock’n’roller once wore pink and sang bubblegum and then grew a beard and looked like a garden gnome. After which he became the Bon we know and love. Go figure...

In The Valentines... 

And, in Fraternity...

Renee Geyer

Before she was Australia’s Soul Queen, a very young Renee fronted highly regarded Sydney progressive jazz outfit Sun, with whom she made one album. (Richard Clapton also briefly sung with Sun after Renee had departed.) While we wait, probably in vain, for that album to be reissued, check out this fine track from it, here performed live for the ABC’s GTK program.

Nick Cave

Nick and the Boys Next Door were the Princes of the Melbourne punk scene in the late ‘70s, although they looked fairly tame compared to what was to come. The first single, the classic Rowland S Howard song “Shivers”, is an Australian classic, and Nick was already quite the camera magnet.

James Freud & Sean Kelly

Before James found his Modern Girl, before Sean got his Early Morning Brain, and before they reunited to Hear Motion, the future Models were together Teenage Radio Stars who led the Melbourne punk ‘charge’ alongside Nick Cave and the Boys Next Door.


Swanee & Stuart Fraser

Barnsey’s brother John Swan OAM was already a veteran of Bon Scott’s old band Fraternity when he turned up in Sydney to front Feather who were, by some convoluted means, a spin-off/extension of early ‘70s Melbourne outfit Blackfeather. Joining Swanee in Feather was a young guitarist Stuart Fraser – the very young brother of drummer Warwick Fraser – who would find considerable fame and fortune a decade or so later in Noiseworks. Get ready to boogie!

Steve Kilby

They never released a record at the time, but hardcore Church fans know that Baby Grande were a cool Steve Kilbey-fronted glam loving Canberra combo.  Baby Grande were kinda punky but really sounded of an earlier era. They recorded some demos in 1977 that are set to be released on a small US label later this year. Check out the cool Bowie/Mott quote in this cool tune… and check out those photos! Baby Steve!

Stephen Cummings & Joe Camilleri

The Pelaco Brothers were a seminal mid-70s Melbourne band with ties to the influential Carlton arts/theatre/literary scene which, at a different period, also spawned Skyhooks and a young Paul Kelly. Lynch pins in the Pelaco’s were influential figures Peter Lillie and Johnny Topper, but two other figures ending up coming to greater prominence. Stephen Cummings on vocals and Joe Camilleri on sax – both prominent on this oddly titled tune (inspired by a play written by Lillie and Topper) – would take the Pelacos’ love and feel for R&B and rockabilly and effectively commercialise it in two great bands, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons and Sports.

Mark Callaghan

Before he wrote and sung a perennial Australian anthem with GANGGajang, Mark Callaghan fronted the Riptides, an immensely popular guitar-pop band on the Sydney scene in the early ‘80s. the Riptides of course got their start in Brisbane in the wake of the Saints, starting out as the very punky Grudge, who became the fabulously garage pop-punk band the Numbers, who became the Riptides after the Sydney band of the same name were quicker on the draw with their lawyers. Initially released under the Numbers’ name and then reissued by the Riptides, “77 Sunset Strip” is a gem of a punk pop record.

 - Dave Laing


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