Like all kids growing up in the 50s and 60s I loved pop music. It spoke to us like nothing else, and the remarkable thing is just how vibrant the WA music scene was – we even had our own live pop TV show, Club Seventeen hosted by Johnny Young. The highlight was always when Johnny and The Strangers played a song. Russ Kennedy was another regular; who can forget ‘Got My Eyes On You’?
The first band I ever saw live was The Valiants who played at my primary school fancy-dress party. They were mainly a guitar instrumental band and I recall them playing the theme song from the TV show Jamie McPheeters. Another memory is going to see relatives off at the airport when Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs were arriving. There was a huge crowd there, and one of the radio stations had actually set up a stage for bands to entertain the waiting audience – outside the buildings just off the tarmac! I was too small to see much but I caught glimpses of Ray Hoff and the Offbeats. Another close encounter with fame was when my sister and her ballet friends walked into The Rolling Stones taking a stroll through the city! My sister’s friends’ favourite local band was Love Needs Care.
Of course Perth was pretty provincial and I think The Easybeats were once banned from their hotel dining room for not wearing ties. How embarrassing! Hoadley’s Battle of the Bands was a highlight of the time and I made the trek to the Ambassador to see one of the finals. I can’t remember who won but I do remember being knocked out by Phil Manning’s guitar playing. Denis James was another great guitar player of that time.
Coming from Bicton I used to follow Johnny Johnstone and his mates through their various bands like Big Time Fred and the Chickens, Mud, and The Crabs. Other favourites were Pete Walker and Steve Tallis with The Jellyroll Bakers, Stafford D, The Bakery (of course), and Al Cash with The Great Pumpkin Mutiny and Dave Hole. I think I recall that Robbie Snowdon used to work at the barber at Melville and everybody wanted him to cut their hair.
My enthusiasm for music got me spoken to by the police for being at The Firecracker while underage. Perth had a great scene then and the bands and musicians inspired me to want to play music myself.
Dave Warner is a musician, author and screenwriter who originally hails from Perth. He played in punk and rock bands in the 1970s such as Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs and, later, The Suburbs. He is the author of City of Light and Footy's Hall of Shame and was the co-writer of feature film Garage Days. Dave also writes for television programs including the hit show Packed to the Rafters. He has recently been commissioned to write a series of children's novels.