Sad news came to hand late yesterday: original Skyhooks guitarist Peter Starkie, the man whose early departure from the band made way for his younger brother Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie to join, has died at the age of 72.
Peter was, in fact, one of two guitarists – two Peters in fact – who were both part of the original line-up that Greg Macainsh put together in ’73, and who both departed before the band made a record. The other was Peter Ingliss, whose place was taken by Red Symons. Of course, original singer Steve Hill also departed early on – he at least appears on the band’s 1974 Sunbury recordings and some early demos. The original Skyhooks line-up, featuring both Peters, Greg Macainsh, Freddie Strauks and Steve Hill, reformed for a show in 2005 at the behest of Hill, who was at the time terminally ill with cancer. Peter also took part in an informal Skyhooks Living in The ‘70s 40th Anniversary reunion in a pub in 2004.
Peter Starkie was an important figure in the Melbourne music underground in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. He was one of those guys who helped build things on an underground, grassroots level, setting the scene for others to have success. His first group, the Kingbees, was also notable for giving the world a young Joe Camilleri. The Kingbees, who sadly never recorded, shared occasional bills with another young outfit named the Pink Finks, featuring a teenaged Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford; Wilson, of course, went on to produce both Skyhooks and Camilleri’s lot, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. Peter, Joe, and Kingbees bass player Dave Flett went onto form legendary underground combo Lipp Arthur and The Double Decker Bros, who also went unrecorded. Sadly, Dave Flett, who later went onto the much-loved Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, also passed away recently, in July.
Peter Starkie’s passing was announced yesterday afternoon via Facebook by brother Bob, who has kindly allowed us to share his words here.
“Very sad to deliver the news that my brother Peter has tragically died in one of those stupid ladder accidents. Peter George Starkie was born in Sydney in 1948, he was only 72 when he took the dive and had plenty of life ahead of him.
We spent a fine family life together up until our early twenties. We lived in many different locations growing up and shared many formative experiences. My first memories of Peter was when we were living on the Woomera Rocket range in 1955. Our father was in the Airforce and his job took us too many different locations. After Woomera it was Melbourne. Then Canberra in 1959. Then London from 1961 to 1963. Then back to Melbourne where after attending Glen Waverly High and then Melbourne High Peter finished a Science degree at Melbourne University (along with Red Symons).
Living in England was a game changer for Peter. They were exciting times with the emergence of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Peter started guitar lessons and when we returned to Melbourne He was ahead of the game. At Glen Waverley he hooked up with the talented Dave Flett and started a band. “The Kingbees”. Not long after they met a talented singer from Altona, Joe Camilleri which rounded up a stunning line-up. Peter was still finishing school and starting Uni. That combination with Joe and Dave went on to become ‘Lipp Arthur and The Double Decker Bros.’ It was during this period of time Peter was instrumental in me starting to play guitar when he bought me one for Christmas one year. (only because he couldn’t stand me playing the drums).
When Greg Macainsh was formulating his idea for Skyhooks, It was Dave Flett who recommended Peter as guitarist. So along with Peter Inglis, Steve Hill, Freddie Strauks and Greg, thus was born The Skyhooks first line-up.
Peter has maintained his love of guitar. He has played semi regularly with Paul Madigan ( for which he should have received a medal) and has maintained a constant playing relationship with Peter Inglis juggling the Sydney Melbourne tyranny of distance.
Apart from being a fabulous guitarist he was a brother who I looked up to. He went on to father three wonderful daughters. A step daughter Alice and Ruby and Stella to Mother Carmel. Cousins to my daughters Indiana and Arabella. For the last twenty odd years he has lived happily inseparable with partner Dianna. (Probably because she was the only one who would laugh hysterically at his somewhat dry jokes.)
Quite honestly this is just a fucking tragedy especially for Dianna and the girls. (and in lockdown!)
So one and all, as my mother would say -“Count your Blessings”
Watch a Livin’ in the '70s 40th reunion rehearsal video below.
Listen to Skyhooks on Spotify:
Listen to Skyhooks on Apple Music: