As lead singer of 70s Aussie country-style rock band, Stars, Mick Pealing got to tour with some legends of the music industry, including the likes of Linda Ronstadt, The Beach Boys and countless others. During our recent interview, the singer reminisced about those times. “We went on an Australian tour with AC/DC just before they left to live in London, just before they brought out ‘Highway To Hell’ and I got to room with Bon Scott. That was a great experience but it’s a little bit of a blur! That was a fantastic tour. You could just tell that they were going to be something really, really big.”
Mick has worked with a few different bands since Stars went their separate ways in 1979. “I got a band together called The Ideals. There were quite a few different line ups of that band. Probably a good fifty musicians went through that band! And after that, I was with The Spaniards with Billy Miller from The Ferrets. We just recently did a charity thing in Melbourne which was quite successful and we put out a CD to coincide with that.”
His music these days, he says, is “Sort of a mixture of country, soul and rock. I’ve brought out two solo CDs over the past ten years. It’s kind of funny. I tried quite a few different styles over the years and I ended up coming back to Stars’ style of music, with a sort of country rock kind of edge to it. I’ve been in blues bands. I’ve been in soul/funk bands. I’ve just come full circle and ended up with the sound I started off with. I should have known all along that country rock was my first love. But you have to try different things.”
The singer still performs at various venues, mainly in Melbourne. “I’d like to get out a bit further. I’d love to get up to Queensland and even back to Adelaide. But the state of live venues these days makes it difficult. Even the festivals, most of those are sown up and it’s the same thing all the time. I did Tamworthfor a time. I did about four or five years straight for a while. I did some time there with The Flood. I supported them for about five years running at The Tamworth Hotel, which was a great experience. I’d love to do more of those kinds of festivals but, as I said, they’re very hard to get into. Everybody wants to do it. But I’m pretty happy with the amount of work I’m doing. These days I prefer quality to quantity! I’m working on songs for a new CD at the moment.”
Pealing works with a core group of musicians including Chris Wilson, who started off years ago with Buster Brown (Angry Anderson’s band prior to joining Rose Tattoo). Chris was also in Broderick Smith’s Big Combo “He’s been running his own studio for quite a long time. He plays keyboards. And I’ve got a guy by the name of Steve Wade, who was in the Little River Band for about five years. He basically took Glenn Shorrock’s position. He’s got a beautiful voice and we sing well together so he and I have been doing it for quite a few years now. That’s basically the core of the act and we add other musicians when we want to, when the time is right.”
Mick is currently keeping busy with a diverse range of projects. As well as performing at live gigs, song writing and putting together a new CD, you can hear him on air every Friday on 96.5 innerfm, and on the first Wednesday of the month on 3MDR 97.1fm.
“That’s around the Dandenong area (on the outskirts of Melbourne) but it stretches quite a long way. They just got a new tower recently and it’s reaching out a fair way. I do that on the first Wednesday of the month.” The other show, on innerfm, is an extension of Wrokdown, a music program shown on Community television station, Channel 31. “They’re hoping to go national with this.” Mick explains. “The channel is about to go digital. Wrokdown is catering for acts over 40, the same as your website. It’s hosted by Wendy Stapleton. She has guests on every week and they do a profile on one or two guests and they talk about the old days and they get them to perform a song on the show. The radio show is an extension of that. It’s called Wrokdown Radio and the same person who produces the TV show produces the radio shows. I’m doing one, of course, and Bob Valentine is doing the other one on another music station, Southern FM. It’s all connected and it’s catering to the ‘legends’ of Australian music. That’s all streamed through the internet. That’s every Friday morning, early. It’s 7 til 9. It’s kind of a breakfast/drive slot.”
Pealing is also involved in a couple of businesses in Melbourne “so I don’t have to rely on music as my only source of income.” It also gives him the flexibility to be more selective with his live gigs. “For a time there, before these businesses, I’d accept any kind of work – weddings, parties, anything. It wasn’t making me happy at all.”
Music has always been a part of the singer’s life. As a young boy, there was always music playing in the house. His father was a lover of jazz music. “He particularly liked Mel Tormei, Tony Bennett, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald so they were probably my earliest influences. My father was a guitar player. Pretty much everyone in the family is musical. I’ve got three sisters and a brother. They can all sing but my brother plays guitar and drums and sings. He dabbles a little bit in the music industry in Adelaide. There’s something my brother does on You Tube. It’s a bit of a laugh. Quite a distance from what I do.”
While his earliest musical influences might have been jazz musicians, Mick names former Free and Bad Company frontman, Paul Rodgers, as the singer who later influenced his vocal style. “The first song I sang live was ‘All Right Now’. You start to get into a person like that and you start to understand his influences, people like Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, all those kinds of singers. Paul Rodgers is basically a soul singer with a rock band. Don’t know so much about the ‘Queen’ thing though. Also, with the country thing, I guess I have Andy Durant to thank for that side. He turned me on to country.”
The late Andy Durant was, of course, Stars’ guitarist and song writer. Following his death from cancer in 1980, the Andrew Durant Memorial Concert was staged to raise funds for cancer research. The highly lauded concert featured some of Australia’s finest performers, showing their respect for one of this country’s greatest song writers and musicians. Mick says that the concert still stands as one of the highlights of his career. “It was a great tribute. Everybody pulled together on the night. Although, at the rehearsal sound check in the afternoon, Mal Eastick and I said ‘This is going to be awful!’ It just wasn’t coming together, but it was great on the night. For some reason, I guess the excitement of being there, it worked out fine on the night.”
Another personal highlight was singing Johnny O’Keefe’s ‘Shout’ at the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne, surrounded by 100,000 people. “That was probably about fifteen years ago now,” he recalls. “I remember Geelong were playing. I’ve got to tell you, that took my breath away! You’re just surrounded by all these people. It was quite thrilling.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2010 [Sharyn Hamey] All Rights Reserved.
You can listen to Mick Pealing on air every Friday morning, from 7am to 9am on 96.5 inner fm and the first Wednesday of the month from 11am to 2pm on 3MDR 97.1 fm.
Or stream via the internet on the following websites: