of the so-called rock historians give a rather mythical
report on Melbourne's rock 'n' roll scene in the 50's. If
you were reliant on the likes of Glen A Baker, you would
have formed the opinion that there wasn't a rock scene in
They thought it was a "Myth".
Being there at the beginnning, I'm sure the likes of Ernie Sigley, Bert Newton, Stan Rolfe, Greg Lynch and others will verify our existence. Ernie Sigley had probably the only rock 'n' roll show on TV, and that was more a 50/50 variety show than a genuine "six o'clock" type rock show.
Billy Owens and the Autocrats, way back in 1957.
I'm not going to change history with these pages. That's not my intent. Rather I would like you all to know the names of some of those rock 'n' roll pioneers who travelled with me through the 50's and did it the hard way. Certainly not for the money I assure you, but for our love and dedication to good ol' time rock 'n' roll. The following names make me go misty as I type. I love them one and all for being part of the glorious history of Melbourne's 50's scene.
The following names were there at the start or very close to it ......
Fabulous Autocrats ... The Planets ... The All Stars ...
The Thunderbirds ... Bev Dick ... Margi Mills ... Betty
McQuade ... Malcolm Arthur ... Wayne Lincoln aka Phil
Gollotta ... Noel Watson ... Colin Cook ... Bobby Cookson
and The Premiers ... Judy Cannon ... Billy O'Rourke ... A
special mention to my old friend, Tony Lee.
The Arcadia, the Federal Hall, and later, Earl's Court were the places to go back in the 50's. They were by far the biggest venues. I was lucky in that I appeared at all of these, either as Billy Owens and the Autocrats, or (at Earl's Court) as Billy Owens and the Thunderbirds. Glen Iris RSL was also a well-supported dance.
But those were the good ol' days and I wouldn't have missed it for quids.
My first band were limited in their talents. Our manager was a canny old Scot named Bob Hargreaves, a very clever man who, if he had pursued a career in the music industy, would have been a great success, but like the rest of us, he came along too early. The fame and riches came in the 60's. Mr Hargreave's only blemish in my eyes was having his sons, Bruce and Kenny in the band. Bruce played slap bass. He got the slap part right, but the strings just got in the way. Kenny played rhythm guitar, problem was, he only had three fingers on his chord hand. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. The one thing about the Hargreaves boys that stood out, was when a fight started, they'd down instruments and literally dive off the stage into the fray. I always believed that was the only time the Autocrats sounded half decent. Let me make it clear, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Autocrats. It was a super learning curve under the wily guidance of Bob Hargreaves, and they were paying me 4 pound a night.
I've taken up enough of your valuable time. I must let you get back to your chat channel, or downloading freebies, or whatever you were doing. Thank you for taking time to listen to some old guy reminiscing. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.