Steve J. Spears, 1951-2007
After Barry finished the third season of Jesus Christ Superstar he auditioned for Africa : the Savage Musical written by Australian playwright Steve J. Spears. The cast included Steve J. Spears, Rodney Bain OBE (aka Felix b. Tonto), Rod Smith, Glenda Lum and Pam Miller (later a member of pop band the Ferrets) with Peter Inglis as musician and the show toured university campuses in 4 states. It was a savage look at the plight of indigenous Australians by drawing a parallel with South Africa's apartheid and featured some very catchy songs, slapstick and physical satire.
Barry Ferrier's first venture into music theatre came after a chance encounter of a queue of people with guitars outside the Capitol Theatre led to a successful audition for the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ, Superstar. He played the role of one of Jesus' twelve disciples and an understudy role as a Pharisee, performing 8 shows a week for nearly two years, at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney and the Palais Theatre in Melbourne.
Lindsay Kemp is an influential British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist and choreographer who had a major impact on the Australian Theatre scene when his Company performed in Sydney and Melbourne in the 70s. He passed away in 2018.
After meeting music director Andrew Thomas Wilson at a cast party for "Joseph & the Amazing technicolour Dreamcoat" and spending a weekend jamming with Andrew at my flat in Manly, I was invited to join his internationally celebrated Lindsay Kemp Company and worked with this ensemble in Kemp's adaption of Jean Genet's "Flowers" at the Comedy and Her Majesties Theatres in Melbourne. I had been offered a part in the original Mad Max film just about to be shot through my agent Faith Martin, but it was then just a low budget film project with unknown stars, such as a fledgling Mel Gibson, so I turned down my opportunity to become an international film star to take on what was, at the time, the biggest "break" a young composer could have in Australia.
I went on to spend some months composing the musical score (in collaboration with Andrew Wilson) for the Oscar Wilde play "Salome", which we performed at the New Arts Cinema, Glebe, and which later went on on to a sell out season at the Roundhouse in London. The London Times described the music for this production as "thrilling".
The score was partly prepared quadrophonic tape, mixed at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music quadrophic studio, with myself performing a range of pseudo middle eastern music on my collection of exotic instruments with Andrew contributing then futuristic spaciousness on his huge Modular Moog. In the show itself I played a range of percussion instruments, though I had a cameo role playing "La Paloma" on a mandolin, at Lindsay's feet, in the court of Herod. I recall in pre-production Lindsay asking for "the Wings of the Angel of Death" to fly from the back of the theatre to the stage - a challenging sound cue - and one of the climaxes of the show, the Dance of the Seven Veils, was a mesmerising orgasmic dance extravanganza with eerie smashing glass sounds spinning in dizzy quadrophic spaciality around the theatre, as I bashed away enthusiastically on drums and cymbals.
I was the only "straight" guy in an ensemble of eccentric and gay theatrical divas, chosen for their stunning physical beauty and artistic abilities as dance/mim performers, at the very dawn of the Gay Revolution. My partner at the time, documentary film maker Nikki Ma, was working on the opulent costuming and I recall a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of memories amidst a constant weird atmosphere from the cast's consumption of various mind altering substances. I was young and relatively innocent and it was an absolutely thrilling epsiode in my life. I spent much of my downtime time during rehearsals and later performances in a flat adjoing the theatre with the blind dancer Jack Birkett, or the Great Orlando. He was a charismatic performer with powerful singing voice. When working with Kemp in Italy in 1966, he began to lose his sight, attempting a variety of cures ranging from surgery to bee-stings. He nevertheless became entirely blind, but responded by growing more extreme in his performances and his persona. He passed in 2010. A huge personality, and a talented and delightfully funny man. Jack became a great friend at the time - and I remember how cast members would have to subtly point him towards the audience at times, as he groped around in his darkness, always stealing the show. I have some vivid memories of escorting Lindsay to theatre performances around Sydney in a tuxedo, including one celebrated night at the Sydney Opera House for a performance of a John Cage ballet, where I met my then experimental musical heroes John Cage & David Tudor.
Lindsay Kemp is also famous as a mentor to David Bowie, and first met David Bowie in the summer of 1967 and instructed him on the benefits of mime applied to any theatrical presentation. The Kemp - Bowie association together produced many new and exciting ideas and influences for the young David, who later remarked 'I owe it all to Lindsay' .
Barry Ferrier met outstanding vocalist and musician Cammie Lindon in the ealy 70s, when a fellow Sydney University student asked him if he would be a last minute stand-in for the lead guitarist at a Christian concert at which Cammie headlined in Hyde Park, Sydney, attended by some 5000 young Christians. They then began rehearsing together at Barry's rented Redfern terrace house, though Cammie was still at shcool. Cammie soon was recognised for her outstanding musical ability by comedian and Triple J host Bob Hudson, who arranged for her to appear as support to international guitar legend Leo Kottke at Sydney Town Hall. She performed several of Barry's original songs at this highly acclaimed performance.
For a period after this the two performed together in an acoustic vocal harmony trio with Sydney songwriter Roderick Morgan at restaurants and music venues around Glebe.
In the late 70s after the 'Jesus Christ Superstar' run had finished, Barry and Cammie Lindon reconnected and developed a successful music career together, as the duo Lindon Ferrier. They were joined by long time friend Roderick Morgan and the singer Chris Clark to perform Barry's self-penned comedy musical "the Milky Way Cabaret" at the iconic Flying Trapeze Cafe in Melbourne's Brunswick Street, and later performing around Sydney and Melbourne with their theatrical funk rock band Skeleton Crew with Peter Leighton on drums and Chris Doyle on bass (who Barry first met when he joined 'Jeff St John and Sacha'). They were joined for a period in this outfit by English keyboardist and syntheziser pioneer Andrew Thomas Wilson (who Barry met during his period as composer with the Lindsay Kemp Company). Skeleton Crew became very popular around the Sydney music scene in the mid-70s, and was supported by a fledgling Icehouse at a NSW Uni Roundhouse concert, and after touring Queensland, featured in a revival season of Steve J. Spears' politically charged but highly melodic piece "Africa the Savage Musical" at the VCA Theatre in Melbourne.
After introductions by Andrew Wilson, Lindon Ferrier recorded singles at United Sound Studios with eminent producer Spencer Lee , who's production secured a recording contract for the duo with international label RCA. They appeared on the ABC's legendary "Countdown", appeared live to air for a Double JJ performance, and supported Ry Cooder and David Lindley at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne. Cammie, who was NSW trombone champion as a teenager, brought the house down with her rendition of Randy Newman's "Guilty" featuring her trombone solo while lying on top of the grand piano played by Barry, and the standing ovation they received caused them to be sacked as support group for upstaging the headliners! They also toured as support act for the very weird Norman Gunston Christmas Show, and made further regional television appearances together. Their single of Ferrier's pop song "I'm Alive" received high rotation airlplay in Australia for some months but with virtually zero support from RCA, they were not able to gain great sales.
During this period they were managed (though not very successfully) by the Australian Music industry legend Harry Widmer (1926-2002), a man of extraordinary versatility - a painter, landscaper, house designer, builder, jewellery-maker, industrial designer, band manager, music promoter, car and boat designer and civic campaigner, as well as a swimming coach and prominent businessman, and he spoke four languages.
Harry had a large inpact on the evolution of the Australian live music scene and so we recount a history of his career in tribute:
Queensland-born, Harry was been taken to Zurich to be educated at age four and received a multilingual education, including a Swiss degree in industrial design. He completed compulsory service in the Swiss army (along the way becoming a national cross-country ski champion) and was later in the Australian army reserves, holding the rank of sergeant in the CMF Intelligence Corps.
He returned to Australia in 1946 but despite his great intelligence and his many talents, he now spoke almost no English and couldn't get a job, so he filled in time designing and making jewellery for Proud's while he learned English.
He took a position as a storeman for the General Motors distributor Stack's, but soon moved on to designing the showroom displays. An offer to work in the design department of the British Motor Corporation followed.
By 1961 he was director of industrial design at the electronics company Kriesler, a division of the massive Dutch Philips group. One of the many awards he won was the F.H. Edwards Laurel Award for 1966 for designing the Kreisler Mini 41-47 radio with polypropylene plastic case. The use of this material would later become commonplace, but the competition judges noted this was the first such application anywhere in the world.
In the late Sixties he moved into the music scene, managing bands and performers including The Executives, The La De Das, Kerrie Biddell and Doug Parkinson and setting up a music agency, Cordon Bleu. With the assistance of Melbourne poet Adrian Rawlins, Harry helped to finance the La De Das acclaimed 1969 LP The Happy Prince.
Barry had met adrian Rawlings through the Meher Baba movement, and a further connection was Celia, one of the Cordon Bleu booking agents who was also a member of Jeff St Jophn & Sasha (for whom Barry played lead guitar). During this period Barry performed extensively across Sydney as a solo act for Cordon Blue. Harry had Barry Ferrier and Cammie Lindon with band 'fill in' for the Executives for a concert at Sydney Town Hall when he doubled booked them.
Harry summed up his band management theory as making sure "all our selected management groups earn enough so they can stay together, live like human beings and improve musically".
Harry was also chairman of the PACT experimental theatre and arts organisation, working to lift the profile of actors, directors and producers (Peter Weir and Graham Bond among them).
Eventually Harry was offered the position of design director of the 212 British affiliates of the Philips electronics group and the family to move to England in 1971. They returned to Australia in 1974. At this time Harry moved into music full-time, managing more bands and artists and developing a new theatrical booking agency.
His new Windsun agency signed up 117 venues from Port Morseby to Perth, while Harry's new television packaging company - started soon after - became heavily involved on the production side, making documentaries and music shows.
Caron Mayda Lindon, affectionately known to family and friends as 'Cammie', was born 13th November 1955 in Sydney, Australia. She was the second child of five siblings, born to Richard and Jean Lindon, both professional vocalists. Barry and Cammie had a child together, Rachel Jean Ferrier. After giving birth to her daughter Rachel she took an extended break from performing and spent a period as a secondary school music teacher in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. In 1982, she was pipped at the post for the lead role in the Australian hit musical comedy movie, 'Starstruck' and was given the role as "the backup singer". Apart from her beautiful voice, and amusing trombone skills, Cammie was an accomplished guitarist and piano player, able to accompany herself with great polish. She had a earthy sense of humour and was a riveting cabaret performer.
Caron died on June 21st 1999 in Sydney at the age of 42, after a four-year long battle with cancer.
Here is a short film written and directed by Craig Kirshner starring Cammie Lindon & Barry Ferrier entitled "Second Time Straight" which is a testament to Cammie's versatility. She delivers a strong and believable portrayal of the naive Country singer Julie Madden, as she navigates the ups and downs of chasing success in Sydney's music scene.
The Australian Johnny Cash Tribute Show
Country Superstar Johnny Cash was a music industry legend for half a century with an instantly recognisable voice and style. The hit movie "I Walk the Line" introduced his dramatic life story and his unmistakeable, tough music to a younger generation of music lovers. Johnny Cash fans now cover three generations.
Even people who might secretly confess to hating Country Music are nevertheless fired up with enthusiasm about his legendary up-tempo hits such as Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Get Rhythm, I Walk the Line - there are just so many great and unique songs in the Johnny Cash repertoire.
Those familiar with the highly successful bio-pic will know of the enduring love story between Johnny Cash and June Carter. A member of the iconic country music group The Carter Family, June grew up in showbiz and became an accomplished comedienne. singer, and song writer - a true music professional and star in her own right. Together they were a towering force in American Music.
Vocalist & writer Barry Ferrier has brought together a team of talented performers to create an immersive music theatre show based on the Cash Story and interaction between these two gifted and unique music artists, told in the first person with insights into Johnny & the Tennessee Two's wild ride from obscurity to stardom.
Dr. Baz is a dazzling guitarist but in addition, through his desire to write songs at the piano, has gradually moulded himself into a very accomplished piano player, adding an extra string to his musical bow, and over the past ten years he also has begun to perform regularly as a pianoman entertainer in clubs, hotels and weddings across the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast. He has entertained at literally scores of weddings and corporate functions, delivering his smooth renditions of a wide range of ballads, pop classics, fun swing tunes and dynamic cover songs.
He has the versatility to cross over between genres and serve up the great jazz standards, swing blues, and the hits of the great piano songwriters such as Billy Joel and Elton John with a warm, sophisticated sound.
His extensive repertoire includes soulful interpretations of Leonard Cohen, upbeat country from Johnny Cash, and stirring versions of many of the great songwriters and singers, contemporary hits, but also travelling back in time to the fifties rock of Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, 60s classics by the greats such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and some great Aussie pop songs... it’s all great entertainment. His piano style really swings and his voice has a texture and deep authority.
It’s just a lot of fun! Requests can be written on a fifty dollar note!