Despite having a distinct perversion for band names beginning with ‘the’, Australian bands from the ’60s are surprisingly drenched in obscurity.
Every time Aussie music history is discussed the discourse never seems to stretch beyond the ’70s. Despite the obvious triumvirate: The Easybeats, Bee Gees and AC/DC, there is a surprising black smudge marking the Australian rock waves of the ’60s.
Nonetheless, we have dusted off the annals and pillaged the Australian bands archives to uncover our favourite forgotten songs of the 60s.
Despite the second wave of rock sweeping Aus, there is a shadow of obscurity blanketing the ’60s. These are the top 10 forgotten Australian bands.
The Missing Links
The Missing Links were a garage rock band from Sydney that was surprisingly ahead of their time. Active only between 1964-66 they were one of the first Australian groups to experiment with backwards tapes and inspired later rock groups such as The Saints.
Australian rock historian Glenn A. Baker wrote, “Sydney’s Missing Links were the first to play guitars like The Rolling Stones used; they were the first guys to sport very long unruly hair; they were the first group to implement destruction into a stage act… bless their pioneering souls.”
Dave Miller Set
The Dave Miller Set have been criminally overlooked as one of the important groups in Australian music history.
Dave Miller Set were one of the most popular and hardworking live bands on the east coast scene in the late 1960s and earned a significant following. Their classic psychedelic single Mr Guy Fawkes – named Go-Set’s Single Of The Year – and The Real Thing feature obligatory explosions.
The Loved Ones
The Loved Ones’ biggest hit and inherent theme song, The Loved One is a White R&B style swinger that the band became known for. However, they were also one of the most exciting and erratic, Animals style, rock bands around who rose to prominence in the local club scene.
Their roots in 1940s jazz led to their eclectic conglomeration of sounds and styles while The Loved One reached #2 on the Australian Top 40 singles charts.
Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs
Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs laid the blueprint for raucous Australian rock n’ roll. They formed in Sydney and saw mild success throughout the mid-60s but split in 1967.
The Aztecs later reformed in the early 70s to become one of the most popular Australian hard rock bands of all time.
The Twilights were an Aussie rock band from Adelaide that formed in 1946. The group mainly performed covers of British and American rock hits and were highly regarded for their on-stage humour.
Though they began as a cover band, like most of their contemporaries, eventually the lead guitarist Terry Britten started to write original music. Sadly, the band broke up shortly after.
The Seekers were a pop quartet with 12-string guitar, double bass and a female singer who formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian pop band to achieve major chart success in the UK and the States.
I’ll Never Find Another You reached #1 in the UK in February 1965. The song was also popular in the US, reaching peaks of #4 pop and #2 easy listening on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Axiom were a rock band that formed in Melbourne in 1969. After signing with EMI’s Parlophone label, Axiom buried themselves in the recording studio and in December 1969 the group released their first single, Arkansas Grass.
While it’s odd to hear an Australian group singing about America the song later revealed itself to be a hidden protest against the Vietnam War.
The Black Diamonds
The Black Diamonds were a garage rock band from Lithgow. Originally released as a B-Side, I Want, Need, Love You is an excellent Australian rock song all around. Featuring desperate vocals over a pounding rhythm section, along with Alan Oloman’s fast guitar breaks, it quickly became a hit.
The Black Diamonds even toured with several top-name acts such as the Easybeats.
The Delltones were a famous Australian band that originated as a vocal harmony group and then formed in 1958. They have had many successful recording years and have performed to Australian audiences for over five decades – far longer than many of their contemporaries.
In 1962 the group’s single, Get A Little Dirt On Your Hands, reached the top five on the Australian music charts. However, tragedy was close behind with lead vocalist Noel Widerberg being killed in by a motor vehicle in Brighton-le-Sands, Sydney just three weeks later.
In July 1963 The Atlantics had made a significant splash in the Australian surf rock scene. Their single Bombora is unquestionably the greatest Aussie contribution to the surf rock genre. The frenetic, driving rhythm and wailing tremolo guitars were written by Peter hood and Jim Skaithitis and create an iconic sound of surf music.
Named after an Aboriginal term for large wave breaking over submerged rock shelves, Bombora was The Atlantics only #1 Australian hit.
The Masters Apprentices
Some forgotten songs of the 60s need to be remembered. When The Masters Apprentices dropped War Or Hands Of Time in 1966 they proved themselves to be the most forward-thinking Australian psychedelic bands of the time. Not only does it contain grungy garage sounds but it features prescient anti-war lyrics which are undeniably ahead of the curve in regards to ’60s youth culture.
In fact, their entire debut album is a melting pot of progressive musical discourse that was genius enough to make proto-punk fans drool and surely continue to inspire Australian musicians and pave the way for Australian metal bands to follow suit.
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