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It's Friday Jan 5th, 2001. The sun is unbearably hot, and I find myself sheltering under a large gum tree at the Maldon 
Cemetery, located deep inside central Victoria. A large group of mourners have gathered around a prepared grave. 
An amplified voice rings out, paying tribute to a musician, friend, and supporter of Good Time Rock 'n' Roll, Ted Harvey.
To the left among the mourners I can make out the profile of Rock Legend, Billy Owens.
In that moment I allow my mind to go back 17 years to where Ted had first met Billy, during a sell-out performance at 
Box Hill's Whitehorse Hotel. And then the realization struck home. It's 42 years since this writer first saw Billy Owens 
perform. A lifetime in Rock 'n' Roll, Come to think of it, Billy Owens was probably the first legitimate Rock 'n' Roll star on 
the Melbourne scene. Described by historians as an "awesome talent" and the real sound of the fifties.
Billy commenced his career with the Fabulous Autocrats in 1957 at the Arcadia Ballroom Thornbury, birthplace of 
Melbourne Rock 'n' Roll, and then at the invitation of Harold Frith, in 1958 Billy left the Autocrats and joined 
the Thunderbirds to sing at St Kilda's historic Earl's Court Ballroom. Great success was to follow as Bill built a large fan 
base across the suburbs of Melbourne. - Together with Judy Cannon, Billy O'Rourke and the Thunderbirds, 
a large chapter during this period was written in Rock 'n' Roll History.
Billy went on to record on the Rex Label, with the Thunderbirds, putting down such tracks as "Blue Blue Woman" 
(Self penned) and "That Lucky Ol' Sun." More vinyl was to follow, then the big break as Billy was invited to perform with 
the Thunderbirds on Lee Gordon's Festival Hall, " Fabian Show." ............... Billy Owens was now an established Rock 'n' 
Roll Star and endless engagements were to follow across the state, including television and radio.
On May 5th 1983 Billy Owens returned in triumph to the Arcadia Ballroom, Thornbury to appear in the video production 
"Thunderbirds Rockin' at the Arcadia." Sections of the show were broadcast live on Channel Nine's Don Lane Show. 
Many offers were to follow and a new band was formed "The Legendary All Stars" Bill's return was complete, 
the show was back on the road again, and the banner reads "Billy Owens and the All Stars".
In 1986 Billy wrote and recorded the song "Back In The Ol' Days." 
This was selected for inclusion on the soundtrack of the successful Hot Rod video production, 
"Thunder Down Under." (Not previously available on vinyl, "Back In The Ol' Days" has been re-arranged and 
re-recorded as the title track for this album.).
In 1996 Billy joined together with Malcolm Arthur, Colin Cook, Betty McQuade, Marcie Jones, 
and the original Earl's Court Thunderbirds, for sell-out Concerts at the Palais Hepburn Springs and the 
Moorabbin Town Hall.......Just one more time, Billy Owens and the Thunderbirds......
Greg Lynch.

 

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