I successfully auditioned for a group known as Peter & The Wolves in April 1965, joining forces with bass player Peter Snerling, drummer Barry ‘Butch’ McClause, rhythm guitarist Bob Gunn and vocalist Rick Suey. My own musical experience at that point was limited to trawling through the pages of Nick Manaloff’s Spanish Guitar Method book and trying to work out the guitar solo from You Really Got Me, by slowing the record down to 33rpm! I would soon realise that my new band mates’ own experiences paled by comparison!
Freshly rebranded as THE LOOSE ENDS with three months of rehearsals under our belts, we deemed ourselves ready for world domination. Armed with a repertoire of Stones, Easybeats, Missing Links, Kinks, Who, Pretty Things and obligatory Beatles tunes, we successfully beat The Precious Few (later to gain fame as HEART & SOUL) in a play off for a residency at the TURRAMURRA TEEN TAVERN on Sydney’s upper North Shore. (2 quid a night).
Several months later we moved on to our second residency at THE FOLK NEST in Hornsby. These gigs were augmented by those at local Town, Church and Scout halls plus ventures into the wilds of the western suburbs, where we were regularly beaten up by local bands and their mates, intent on protecting their turf (and girlfriends) from foreigners. It soon became obvious we only got these gigs because no else would take them!
We were also part of the travelling BEATLE VILLAGE CAVCALCADE OF STARS touring NSW regional centres, which paled our western suburbs experiences into insignificance!
The cavalcade also comprised The Missing Links, The Creatures, The Cavaliers, The Midnighters and The Vedettes. Led by two German brothers, The Creatures became our own security force. The most outlandish of us all, with their long unkempt multi coloured red hair, the guys had no qualms about bashing the crap out of a of a horde of gun toting, drunken bikes on a memorable NYE in Bathurst after the gang decided to crash our gig and then proceeded to turn over The Midnighters van.
My set up was a Barclay Guitar (rebadged Guyatone) coupled with a locally made Challenge amp, soon replaced by a Fi Sonic, also a locally produced amp. Inspired by the equipment choice of guitarists in popular Sydney groups, The Missing Links, Ray Brown & The Whispers, The Sands and The Legends, I upgraded to a Harmony H76 Guitar.
Although the Fender Stratocaster was the Rolls Royce of available instruments at the time, its association with now out dated Surf and Shadows music made it a definite ‘no no’ for the new wave of beat groups. I should have held onto the ’62 Strat which I purchased for next to nothing, purely for trade in purposes!
I soon thereafter ditched the Fi Sonic amp in favour of a Fender Bandmaster.
We had a successful audition with BG’s manger/producer Nat Kipner who, much to our chagrin, insisted our name be changed to RICK & THE BAD BOYS, to tie in with our first record BAD BOY, released on the short lived Down Under label. This was a cover of a Beatles track that had never been released in Australia. (Our version was gazumped by THE TWILIGHTS) The original B side, LISTEN is an overt Mersey inspired ballad.
The recording took place at St. Clair Studios in Hurstville, a converted butcher shop, home of the Spin and Down Under record labels.
Apart from mention in the official records of the Hurstville Shire Council for giving the world Spicks and Specks by the BG’s, and a Googable history, which sadly is way too obsessed with the sexuality of studio owner Ossie Bryne, there is no memorabilia nor photographs in existence to provide a further tangible legacy of the St Clair Studio’s important chapter in Oz Rock history.
One could assume that St. Clair work experience engineer Bruce Brown (later to be part of Alberts’ King St Studios halcyon days of the late 70’s and 80’s) and now based in Mexico, inherited or bought much of the equipment and tape library when Ossie moved to England with the BG’s in ’67.
Records on the Down Under label now fetch a hefty price from collectors. On my first visit to the studio I recall tentatively replicating the Spicks & Specks one finger motif on the piano featured on the record!
With my primitive playing style by this time very much indebted to Vince Maloney, lead guitarist with the original line up of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, my main memory of our first recording session was being completely horrified when asked by engineer Ossie Byrne not to use my fuzz box, the device which to that point, had successfully masked my guitaring inadequacies. The resultant guitar sound on the record is very twee indeed! After our drummer Butch struggled on the recording (just a tad more than the more than the rest of us), Nat Kipner gave him his marching orders and finding a suitable replacement was much harder than first anticipated, reiterated by our DOWN UNDER publicity poster, which is drummerless.
We were then gazumped by THE TWILIGHTS who released a version of BAD BOY as our record languished in limbo for several months whilst record company politics were put in order. After losing out to The Twilights with Bad Boy, our enthusiasm was rekindled when newly recruited BG’s guitarist Vince Maloney gifted us with a tune he had planned to record.
Rowed Out was made for us! A Kinks meets early AC/DC power chord fuelled rocker with a very catchy, commercial vocal, the tune ticked all the boxes. We even managed to hang on to the same drummer (Peter Jaeggle) for several months, both for the recording and time leading up to the planned release.
The roof then came down with the closure of DOWN UNDER at the end of ’66, Rowed Out was deemed never to see the light of day (although thoughts of recording the tune still linger all these years later) ) and the curtain fell on an eventful, eye opening, eighteen month journey for RICK & THE BAD BOYS, more so remembered by me for my social awakening rather than any musical milestone.
Three years hence, singer Rick Suey would re join me in HOT COTTAGE, prior to becoming a successful theatrical agent, rhythm guitarist Bob Gunn formed the Woodstock inspired MELLISSA, recording an album for INFINITY. (Mellissa also featured bass player JOE CREIGHTON), Our bass player, Peter Snerling is now living the good life in Byron Bay, whilst in true Spinal Tap fashion, our many drummers have all vanished into the ether.