Saturday, November 21, 2009

Good Music - Good Times in the 60s.


Melbourne in the 60s had a great music scene. Being a teenager at the time I saw a change in the music scene from jazz and rock ‘n’ Roll to the British beat music.

My favourite Disco in the 60s was the Biting Eye - their posters were works of art.

As a 15 year old my mother allowed me to go to my first jazz dances. They were local and I had to be home by midnight. Mum loved dancing herself - she met my father at a dance in the 40s so I guess she didn’t see any threat during her time and therefore nothing had changed over the next 2 decades. She was fairly right in her assumption. Jazz dances were very friendly places in the mid-sixties. However things did change a little in the second half of the decade
. Two more Biting Eye posters.

When the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Small Faces and the Who started to filter through to Australia, the dance venues also took on a change. Most Jazz and Rock n Roll venues were suburban Town Halls. Later as the British wave of music took over, venues for this music were in the dark alley ways of Melbourne in old warehouses. A little like the Cavern in Liverpool. With weed and LSD and the whole love-in period these warehouses for music venues sprung up throughout the CBD of Melbourne with unusual names that my mother didn’t quite get. I must admit that I didn’t quite get it either but you didn’t admit that to your parents. All that mattered was that it was different to your parents era.

I remember my very first concert - I was 17 and six of us all piled into my mates Morrie to see The Who, Small Faces and Manfred Mann on the one show. Probably cost all of $10 at the time.


Many of these Discos also had Sunday afternoon sessions - the Melbourne music scene was where many of the interstate bands would come to be noticed. The Twilights were from Adelaide, Python Lee Jackson from Brisbane and Split Enz (later Crowded House), Max Merritt and Dinah Lee from New Zealand.

BELOW: The Thumping Tum also had creative posters, probably due to their creative owners that were from the window dressing and interior display staff of the Myer Store.

This is a shot of the interior of Berties Disco - It had three levels including the basement for the bands, and a lounge area and a games room.

Anyway, back to the venues and the weird names. The Biting Eye was my first real “Disco”. They were called Discos then because between live bands, they would have a DJ spin a few Discs. None of the venues had a liquor licence and just as well as most of the patrons were probably 14 to early 20s. Occasionally you would get a wiff of a funny cigarette but due to no alcohol, the venues were pretty friendly. Venues opened at 8.00 pm and closed in time to get the last train home.

Another popular venue was the Thumping Tum. I was working at Myer doing visual displays and windows at the big department store in the city and one of the employees actually ran the Tum. Another fellow employee started a venue called the “Love In” down the road a little in Carlton. It later burnt down. Somebody probably dropped a reefer down the back of a couch.
Our Saturday night choices also included Catcher, Sebastian’s and Berties. From memory I can still count about 12 venues in the city alone. The local bands would do the circuit of the venues during the night.

It was great time, a little naive maybe but to my mind, a lot more comfortable before Pub Rock started. As we rolled into the 70s, the Pubs started to employ bands to bring in the crowds, usually 18 plus due to this being the minimum drinking age. It left a lot of the younger kids with no place to go.

I’ll always look on those years as the start of my music (and life) education. It was great to be in that era when music drastically changed from Jazz to Rock n Roll and to the British Beat scene and then psychedelic music. Oh yes, and I survived, got married, had a family and currently enjoy being both a grumpy old man and old fart by my adult boys who now play gigs around Melbourne with their band “In Tongues”

Gosh they have strange names for bands these days!!!!!!!

!

46 comments:

  1. Where are the good old days? I love the music of the 60's and the 70's (my musical youth was the late 70's early 80's). Everything after the 70's isn't that great music wise in my opinion. I watch the O'Jays (I love music)on You Tube, Evelyn Champagne King (Shame), Kool and the gang, the Rollings Stones, Pink Floyd...

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  2. And in latter years add Vivaldi and Beethoven for those quieter moments.

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  3. That photo of the two of you at Rocamdour is very nice. Did you try the typical regional goat cheese when you were there?

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  4. Yes, and many other regional crusines. We stayed in a villa at Le Bugue owned by a Dutch couple. She had lived in Melbourne until her late teenage years before returning to Europe.
    The kitchen was perfect for Sue who loves cooking.
    We were fascinated by the Dordogne and its troglodyte caves. So different to the Loire.
    Its an area we would certainly return to.

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  5. I remember going to Lillies late after being at the clubs. You could run into lots of Pop Stars it was great. Can anyone help me with the name of a disco that was upstairs maybe in Bourke street up the top end. All I can remember is that it was upstairs and we used to go there on Sunday Afternoon. Would love it if somebody could help me.

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    1. Where you thinking 10th Ave ,l believe it was one of the first discos,lots of great bands played their

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    2. Yes, 10th Avenue was up Bourke St toward the Southern Cross. I remember seeing The Cherokees there, and also The Masters Apprentices. Great times!

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  6. To Dianne who wrote about Lillies, the name of the disco in Bourke St is probably Tenth Avenue, I read it was above a hairdressers over the road from Coles. I have been there myself and I remember going upstairs on a Sunday or Sat afternoon, it was also open of a night and during lunchtime...cheers

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    1. Bay City Union were regulars at 10th Ave lunch time. We had a great time playing there.

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  7. Weird reading a comment from a long lost post but nice.
    Leon

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  8. i remember 10th avenue well. my friends and i were mad about the cherokees.they played there at lunchtimes and at weekends. con was the name of the owner, it was our favourite place to be along with all the others around melb at the time biting eye, thumpin tum etc. great memories i am now 62, living in qld but remember it all like yesterday. trish.

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    1. Your Blogger is 63 - maybe we were at those places on the same night.
      Gret nights they were and amazing that we are stil on earth

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    2. Thanks for all the memories. I too live in Qld. Mackay and have for 30 odd years. Never forget the good old days in Melbourne my birth city.....

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    3. Trish you are so right Con was the owner and he use to if the guys wore wearing jeans and if they were they weren't allowed in. The Cherokees, Steve and The Board, Max Hamilton and The Impacts were some other bands that played there regularly

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    4. Trish you are so right Con was the owner and he use to if the guys wore wearing jeans and if they were they weren't allowed in. The Cherokees, Steve and The Board, Max Hamilton and The Impacts were some other bands that played there regularly

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  9. I played Thumping Tum with my band Compulsion around late 68 a great venue
    Evan Silva
    www.evan-silva.com

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    1. Nice to hear from you Evan. Good to here that you also survived the 60s.

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    2. Reno played there earlier in Big Brother's Influence.

      He was also in the Mau Maus who played at 10th Avenue.

      The first Sunday The Biting Eye opened,The Twilights played Rubber Soul.....twice.

      Saw Max Merritt and the Meteors at their first Tum show.
      Will never forget the look on our faces as they walked to the stage....Stewie,with his already greying hair and Hawaiian shirt....

      Great times.

      Dave.

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    3. When max first played the Tum Stewie wasn't in the band. Bruno Lawrence was the drummer, Billy Christian played bass & Peter Williams was the guitarist.

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  10. The Catcher & the Tum were top venues. First time I saw Chain was at the Tum. Those were great days full of great bands

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    1. First time I saw Chain and Spectum was ay Sebastians and today still Mike Rudd around town

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  11. I love hearing about the Tum. I went regularly when I was 15 until it closed. It was like a family. Carson was my favorite band and I was madly in love with a guy who was roadie for Co. caine. To be able to stand so closely and listen to some of Australia's best bands was an honor when I look back on it. Bertie's and Sebastian's were great but Tum was so friendly and special.

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    1. The kids today don't know what they missed.

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  12. anyone remember "the james taylor move", regular performers at the tum, the lead guitarist was kevin peek who later teamed up with john williams in the band sky. i remember him having an amazing technique, probably a bit to much virtuoso for the material presented. they used to drag an L100 series hammond organ ( about the size of an upright spinet piano) into the venue and blast it through a marshall stack. kevin peek died about 2 years in perth WA.

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    1. I remember James Taylor Move from the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in the 60s. Didn't realise Tony Peak was part of the band.

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  13. What was the name of the multi level venue at the corner of Exhibition St and Victoria St? Was that Berties?

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    1. Sebastions - went there often. Saw Chain and Spectrum on the same night 1968.

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  14. DId enyone go to The Bowl in Swanston St ,can remember seeing Normie ,Marcia & The Loved Ones here .I think this was the start of the city music venues it was before 10th Avenue ?

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    1. The original Bowl was in Flinders Lane near Swanston St. Later it moved to DeGraves St. Both venues were in basements, and like 10th Avenue, opened lunch times and on Sunday arvos. these two clubs were the first in Melb, closely followed by the Tum. The Bowl and 10th Ave were predominately Sharpie venues while the Tum was Mod.The period from memory was from 1963 to 1966. Sharps from that period were the original Sharpies, not to confuse them with the ones that followed from 67 on.

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    2. Reading all of the above brought memories flooding back. I'm 63 and " lived" at 10th Ave. it was a cheap tram ride from Albert park. A great place to meet girls and Con and his bouncers kept it safe. Outside the venue wasn't so safe as the gangs of Sharpies made life hell if you had " long hair". I recall so many stories about Victoria and Albert ( Bertie's ) catcher Etc. I'm sure there is a book in it but no one would believe the stories. I think the original saying was " whats goes on in 10 th Avenue stays at 10 th Ave" thanks for the memories I will enjoy them all afternoon. JJ

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    3. Me and my mates went to 10th avenue every sat night and would walk home to Williamstown after closing time about m/night, and the strongest drink you could get was Coka Cola. I met my first wife there.

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    4. Lionel Owen.. (Seymour)June 16, 2017 at 9:30 PM

      Knew the Bowl very well. I was known as Seymour. I spun the records there most days and nights. It was also open on friday nights. Used to often finish there then wander down to Catcher for the rest of the night. We were not all sharpies, even though many were. Most of us went on to become Stylists.. and the uproar when pierced the left ear. Amazing times.. amazing memories and we did not need to get drunk to enjoy it.

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  15. Rick Davies (Facebook Brisbane)June 2, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Berties was actually on the corner of Spring and Flinders.
    I loved Berties, Sebastians, Thumping Tum, The Catcher and a lesser known one called Ginza where I first saw James Taylor Move (pre Wendy Saddington). They were all great places and I could not say I prefer one over any other. Billy Thorpe at the Tum was very loud - ha ha. Wiley Reed at Berties and got to know him up here in Qld. Doug Parkinson, Max Merrit, Chain, Blues Rags and Hollers, Wild Cherries, Loved One's oh so many.

    Oh and the first time to a disco was at 10th Avenue and saw Bay City Union with Matt Taylor and Glen Wheatley on bass).

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    1. I was on bass. Glenn was on rythem.

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    2. Lionel Owen.. (Seymour)June 16, 2017 at 9:18 PM

      Hey Trev.. whatever happened to Phil?

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  16. Bay City Union also had a regular show at the Biting Eye, also played The Tum and Catcher, Sebastions and a regular every "Blue Thursday" at the Garrison on High St. Prahan. Worked with Billy Thorpe at the Prahan Town Hall. There was great music all over Melbourne. Ah, the good old days.

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  17. it seems all but yesterday. i started attending 10th avenue on Saturday afternoons and saw an early performance by the easybeats. then graduated to the biting eye and finally the sophistication of the thumping tum and sebastian's. what was the name of the photographer who had his studio on the top floor of the tum? he would have a fantastic pictorial record of the period ...

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  18. I saw The Easybeats at Tenth Ave. I think it was Queens Birthday and again on Cup Day 1966. If I close my eyes I can still see Harry Vanda singing "I put a spell on you". I saw The Bay City Union Chicago Blues Band there on a Sunday night when they did an audition set, and they were that good that the main band of the night, The Kinetics said they wouldn't go back on unless the Bay City could play a second set. Con & Eddie Floyd who ran 10th also were involved in the first Bowl I think and after 10th became I think it was called Union Jack , they opened Winston Charles in South Yarra. I met my wife at 10th Ave. in late 1966 we've been together since Feb 1967......Danny

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  19. I'm only just catching up on this post I wrote Nov 2009 - Glad to see we all enjoyed the era.

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    1. Well I certainly enjoyed all the posts on your site Leon, thanks for that.
      Danny

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  20. Went to Biting Eye loads of times and nearly every Sunday, Catcher the Tum were amongst my favourites, also Le Chateau in Little Lonsdale near Exhibition. Loved 10th Avenue my mate Gary met and went out with Lyne Randall there, but we were weary of there cos Sharps used to hang around out front, above Bachelor's mens wear. One in Degreaves St at lunchtime on Fridays near the Bowl. Saw some great bands in Melbourne massive memories, met lots of lovely people went out with lots of lovely girls, danced on stage at Catcher lots, still have lots of records from then. Biting Eye always brings back fond memories, even when I'm home from UK I walk down Little Bourke.

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  21. l am hoping someone could help me with the name of a nightclub that l think was in Wellington Parade, Melb, not far from the city. l remember it being across the road from a railway line, and was 2 or 3 stories high. l also think it was a corner building.
    One of my most vivid memories, was being there in about 1974, hanging over the rail on the 1st floor watching AC DC play, before they were well known. A mind blowing moment because l was an enormous Easybeat fan. l definitely remember Angus in his school uniform - but l am not sure if Bon was with them at that stage. l left Melb in '76, and haven't really been back since. l feel really frustrated not being able to remember the name of a place l loved going to.
    Perth will be alive tonight with the sound of AC DC. They played Friday night at Subiaco, and living nearby, l certainly didn't need tickets to feel like l was there. Quite nostalgic really.
    Looking forward to hearing from someone with a better memory than me.

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  22. l am hoping someone could help me with the name of a nightclub that l think was in Wellington Parade, Melb, not far from the city. l remember it being across the road from a railway line, and was 2 or 3 stories high. l also think it was a corner building.
    One of my most vivid memories, was being there in about 1974, hanging over the rail on the 1st floor watching AC DC play, before they were well known. A mind blowing moment because l was an enormous Easybeat fan. l definitely remember Angus in his school uniform - but l am not sure if Bon was with them at that stage. l left Melb in '76, and haven't really been back since. l feel really frustrated not being able to remember the name of a place l loved going to.
    Perth will be alive tonight with the sound of AC DC. They played Friday night at Subiaco, and living nearby, l certainly didn't need tickets to feel like l was there. Quite nostalgic really.
    Looking forward to hearing from someone with a better memory than me.

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    1. I think you're thinking of Berties on the corner of Spring and Flinders on the edge of the city.

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  23. Yes great days....and we must remember all the great entertainers that have left the stage far to early...

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  24. Anyone remember the name of the Music Dance venue in North Rd, Ormond.
    Possibility anMechanics Hall or RSL from about 1966-1972???????

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