How many bands, duos & musical ensembles have I played in? The time when I could count them all is long past. I formed my first band at high school with school mates Michael Edwards (piano), Leo Botham (Bass) , and Roy - name eludes me now (drums). We played instrumentals made famous by the Shadows and some of my early intrumental compositions influenced by these surf guitar hits. Later I answered an ad in the local Manly Daily and, while still at school, landed a job as lead guitarist with a local rock band - I can't remember the name of the band now - and began playing at hotels while still underage, with my Vibratone guitar and a homemade guitar amp which once sent me flying across the room with electric shock. One vague memory from those teen years was supporting Masters Apprentices at Beacon Hill High School basket ball court.
I met Sydney songwriter and UK ex-pat Roderick Morgan during my first year at the University of Sydney, who was a big influence on my songwriting and we began jamming together. I still jam with Roderick 47 years later when I visit Sydney. I was about 19 when I bought a Burns Bison from Roderick's friend Keith Grey. I was asked by a guy in my psychology class at uni to play at a concert at Hyde Park - it turned out to be a very large Christian gathering - an audience of thousands in the park - and that's were I met my future wife, the extraordinarily talented vocalist Cammie Lindon, who was headlinging the show, and another singer, who also became a lifelong friend, Malcolm Smith. After that meeting Cammie and getting together with her and Roderick Morgan, she would drop around to my terrace house in Chippendale in her school uniform for rehearsals. Cammie and Roderick I began performing at coffee shops and restaurants around Glebe. We played original songs and pop covers in an unplugged acoustic style, much influenced by the harmonies of Crosby Stills & Nash, and developed a love of harmony singing. I was meanwhile studying Psychology at Sydney Uni, but fate intervened and I successfully auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar. This fork in the road changed my life forever.
After Superstar I joined the cast of Steve J. Spears' Africa: the Savage Musical. While touring with this show Cammie Lindon contacted me and sent me tickets to a Leo Kottke Concert at Sydney Town Hall, where she, at 16, had been chosen as support act - she sang two of my original songs in her set and I flew up from Melbourne to be in the audience, a memorable event to hear my songs performed in such illustrious company.
I had formed the art rock band "Passage" with Billy Miller, Richard Kaal & Martin Falls during my years with JCS, and this was to be a precursor to the Ferrets and we recorded a single for Jon English's new label, produced by Michael Carlos. I later toured with the Ferrets as bass player. After working on some theatre restaurant shows in Melbourne at the Flying Trapeze with members of "Africa" I successfully auditioned for Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. During this period I began working with Jeff St. John and also met Andrew Wilson the musical director of the Lindsay Kemp Company who became a close friend. Through this meeting I was engaged as co-composer for Kemp's upcoming production of "Salome". So I turned down a part in Mad Max when the company offered me a position working in Melbourne on "Flowers" at Her Majesties and later Comedy Theatres, and during this period I joined two of the cast members of Africa: the Savage Musical - Rod Freeman Smith & Glenda Lum to perform a madcap rock cabaret "Kabaratz" at the iconic Flying Trapeze Theatre Restaurant. It was there I met Colin Hay of later "Men at Work" fame. I performed with Colin at the 76 Sunbury Pop Festival and he sang the lead role on my first demo of my Howson/Ferrier opera "Squizzy".
I had met a talented unknown Chris Clark through Roderick Morgan and I began performing across Sydney in a duo with Chris, who coud do a perfect Paul McCartney impersonation, and we had a residency at Ali's Oasis in Birkenhead. Colin Hay came up to Sydney on my invitation and stayed at my parent's house in Dee Why and went to the audition for the musical "Ned Kelly" I had been offered by Faith Martin my theatrical agent in my place b ecause I felt already too committed to take up a role - and Colin won a role in that production. I remember one particular night during that period when he came to Ali's Oasis and I persuaded him to sing some songs - and his incredible voice drew people from who knows where - wthin a half an hourt the restaurant was full of people mesmerised by his talent.
A few years later, Chris, Cammie and I got together again with Roderick Morgan (Old Man Crow) to perform "the Milky Way Cabaret" at the Flying Trapeze in Melbourne. Out of this I formed "Skeleton Crew" with Cammie and the rhythm section from Sasha -Peter Leighton & . Skeleton Crew became very popular around Sydney venues and headlined at UNSW Roundhouse supported by the Iva Davies group confusingly known as "Flowers' who went on to great success as Icehouse. I had secured a contract at Alberts of record my Magical Frank musical in collaboration with librettist Frank Howson and Ted Albert began to mentor me and produced and engineered th album. Skeleton Crew later recorded a single at Alberts King St studios with Bruce Brown at the helm, which was never released and we then went on to tour north Queensland with a residency in Rockhampton, finally arriving in Billinudgel on the North Coast - (which region was later to become my home) where we played a residency in a truck stop for three months, till the '74 flood intervened. We were then offered the ooportunity by Rodney Bain to play the music for a revival of Africa at the Victorian College of the Arts theatre in Melbourne.
It's hard to recreate the faded chronology, but during my season with Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat I also formed a band with Malcolm Smith and a drummer named Alex (now living in Nimbin) - we began rehearsing with John Paul Young but then instead went on to back Phil Jones (of Phil Jones & the Unknown Blues and who later reaching massive European prominence with the psychedelic rock outfit Quintessence) as the Shiva's Fire, playing regularly at the legendary French's Winebar in Oxford Street, the legendary Bondi Lifesaver and a whole range of gigs in Sydney & Newcastle. There is a dim memory of us backing the wonderful vocalist Dobie Grey who was touring Australia in the 70s, at a Double J concert. I worked with Jeff St. John & Sasha for two years. I was playing the headline with Jeff at Cheqeurs the very first night Cold Chisel played (as our support) in Sydney. An astonishing vocalist, who was disabled by polio and sang from a wheelchair with a powerful voice and dramatic fair, Jeff was highly competitive and would beat me at every game - cards, chess, scrabble when we travelled to overnight gigs in Newcastle. He would pick me up in his modified EH Holden station wagon with hand controls.
I had had a brief stints backing Gordon Waller of "Peter & Gordon" fame, who was in Australia to play the Pharoah in "Joseph & the Åmazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" (I was a cast member).
Let's jump ahead (I'll fill in the gaps later) to 1980 when I travelled to Mullumbimby to visit friends and have a break from my hectic music life.
Barry Ferrier (aka Barry Ferrier) is a Byron Bay based Australian musician, songwriter /composer and multimedia designer.