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The History of
Australian Rock 'n' Roll

The End of the Beginning
The English Invasion and 2nd Wave

An overview from the forthcoming Starlite Records' CD Rom publication..
'The Roots of Australian Rock-n-Roll'

Why did it end ?

One thing is certain everything except a circle has an ending. The original Rock era was no exception. It camje on with a bang in 1956, was full on from 1959 to 1963 and started to wane in 1964 as radio started to play more and more of the new English 'band' sounds.

To help things along the Australian Liberal government under Robert Menzies decided to present us with our first 'credit squeeze' and this saw attendances at shows and dances drop dramatically. There was no 'Dole' then, no 'Social Security' as such and unless one had a job there was no money to spend on entertainment. The teenagers of the late 50's and early 60's had also got a little older, got boyfriends and looked for different forms of entertainment. and

This combination, coupled with the popularity that TV now had, started a rapid decline in teenagers going out and by 1964 things were beginning to be very quite on the old Rock 'n' Roll front. It needed something to kick it along!!

It came in the form of a new sound. The sound of a whole rock'n' roll band singing harmonies together. Yes the Beatles and many groups like them had arrived on the record and TV scene. The new teenagers who were even younger getting into music stars than their older sisters were, loved the young band members moving and all singing and a new scene had begun.

Australia bred new stars such as Normie Rowe, The Easybeats, Billy Thorpe, Tony Worsley and a whole team of others and started the 'rock hysteria' all over again. This time it was more organised as much of it was orchestrated by those who had been part of the original wave. They had invented the rules and now started using them to promote this new batch of 'stars'.

Whilst the bands and the sounds of this 2nd wave got their inspiration from the original era and its stars, they went at it more aggressively. On the downside it happened with the introduction of soft and hard drugs and the phrase 'Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll' was born. Unfortunately many of 'today' stars still aspire to this theme.

The early stars who are all in their mid 50's and older, are just now starting to pass away mostly of old age, however many of the 2nd wave's heroes died very young in depressing circumstances. They had achieved what they and many others had dreamed of, yet it was their downfall.

Today much of the aggressive sounds of Rock'n'Roll are borne out of that 2nd wave and consequently but sadly, today's leaders of the music industry see that time as the 'birth' of today's rock. The fact is, the original stars of Rock'n'Roll gave birth to it and passed on their information to the 2nd wave.

In USA they have several Halls of Fame which are full of the greats of the first Rock 'n' Roll era yet Australia still has yet to recognise the undisputed stars of Australia's FIRST Rock 'n' Roll era - 1959 to 1964!

Who were they?

The 3 major consistent recording stars of the time 1959 to 1965 were Johnny O'Keefe, Col Joye and Lonnie Lee although many others had great successes.

Other atists who should be acclaimed for their hits were Johnny Devlin, Johnny Rebb in the very early years,Dig Richards, The Delltones, Lucky Starr, Warren Williams, Barry Stanton, Noelene Batley, The Crescents, The Leemen, The Joyeboys and others.

A little later from around 1963 or so others such as Digger Revell, Jay Justin, Little Pattie and The Atlantics bridged the time from the first stars to the 2nd wave in 1964 when the English sound got louder

1959 to 1964 - The 'Boom Years'

The Starlite publication of 'The Roots of Australian Rock-n-Roll' will be released early 2000 to coincide with the Anniversary of Australia's music industry...If you are would like to be on the e-mailing list to be notified when it is due for release. Please email your name, address, phone and e-mail address.

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Last updated 1st June 2002 19:52:37