Marc Hunter is a name that music fans in this country won’t easily forget. He was the consummate entertainer; a singer whose style and charisma entranced the nation. He was larger than life and stories of the life he lived still intrigue us seventeen years after his passing. And the upcoming tribute show ‘Communication’ – The Marc Hunter Songbook, gives fans a glimpse into those stories while also enjoying an afternoon of memorable music from the Marc Hunter songbook.
The brainchild of Alex Formosa Baudo, ‘Communication’ includes some new renditions of Dragon songs as well as some of his solo material; songs that were written by Marc as well as some that he recorded which were written by other people. “He did a wonderful version of a Don Walker song called ‘Empty Beach’ which was from a Bryan Brown film,” Alex told me in our recent interview. “It’s a beautiful song and he did a great version of it so we’re going to do that and a lot of songs that he wrote.”
Alex was behind the Marc Hunter tribute show at the Gershwin Room in St. Kilda’s iconic Espy Hotel in 2013. That event commemorated the 15th anniversary of Marc’s death and featured a number of popular artists including Swanee, Dale Ryder, Brian Mannix and many more performing songs from Marc and Dragon. He says that ‘Communication’ will be a smaller, more intimate occasion than the last one. Alex will be part of the line-up that will also include Joe Creighton, Mick Pealing, Michael Oliphant, Mike Doyle, Tracy Kingman Cres Crisp. “We don’t have as many singers and musicians this time because we want to keep it very intimate. That’s why we chose a smaller venue. We wanted to get a new feel for the songs so we’re going to have different instruments and instead of the same old guitar and drums, we’re going to use different instrumentation so we can try a different rendition of the songs.”
Between songs, Alex will be relating the stories that Marc told him. “There were a lot of things that went on behind the Dragon wall, if you will, that nobody really knew about and they are quite funny stories, actually; funny and witty.”
The two met in 1978 and, over the years, became close friends. He got to know a side of the singer that the public perhaps didn’t see. “There was this darkness about him that people saw and they were almost afraid of him in some respects but he was really a very gentle soul.”
As Alex recalls, Marc was quite frustrated that he didn’t make it overseas. “Outside of Australia and New Zealand, he was not recognised for what he did unfortunately and he was very frustrated about that.” He relates the story of Dragon embarking on their tour of Europe, supporting Tina Turner, and how they went into Tower Records in London only to see that their album wasn’t even in the stores. “The record company didn’t even think the tour was on,” he explains. “And they forgot to release the record in Europe.”
He relates the story of Dragon’s first time in the U.S. “It was in the 70s when ‘O Zambezi’ came out and they were signed up to a label called Portrait. They went over there and did a tour with Johnny Winter which, again, was a terrible combination. You’ve got this Texan Blues Man with a pop band supporting him. It didn’t make any sense. They were like chalk and cheese. But I don’t think the band was ready anyway. It was a little too fresh and they didn’t really do anything and ended up making a name for themselves in a really bad way.”
“Marc was so eclectic. He had so many styles he really liked and different genres. I just always thought that he could have been another Rod Stewart where he could have done a jazz record and a soul record and a pop record. He had that type of persona. He was pretty frustrated because he was just doing pub after pub and in little country towns and doing these little runs that he was fed up with. I remember seeing him one night when he was promoting his ‘Night and Day’ record in Melbourne and I remember he was playing some bar in town and he was doing his jazz thing. And the last thing he wanted to hear was people in the audience yelling out for ‘Are You Old Enough’ and ‘April Sun in Cuba’. And that alone would put him in a really bad spot. He was singing all these Cole Porter songs and Burt Bacharach tunes and all of a sudden there’s this lout in the front going ‘April Sun’, ‘April Sun’. And that would really set him off and I can understand that.”
He says that his friend took chances with his career and experimented with different styles. “He did five records and I remember the first two records were really ‘poppy’ and they were fairly accurate for where he was at the time. The third record was ‘Communication’ which is actually the title of the show and it was a pop record but also he did a few renditions of other tunes. Then he came out with a fourth one which was the ‘Night and Day’record which was a great tribute jazz torch album which I thought was great. It showed you another side of Marc completely. But at the same time he was still with Dragon and they had pop hits with ‘Dreams of Ordinary Men’and ‘Rain’ and so on. He had a huge following but in the later years, his following might have diminished a bit. I think a lot of people kind of worked out that his heart wasn’t into it any more. He just didn’t want to do it anymore. He could get pretty ‘out there’ on stage. He could get pretty wasted just from being frustrated.”
Alex sees an opportunity to do more of these shows, perhaps touring in other states with local artists performing in each city and he says that there wouldn’t be a shortage of material. “There’s quite a bit of stuff to choose from and keep the light burning.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2015. All rights reserved
Don’t miss your chance to see ‘Communication’ – The Marc Hunter Songbook at The Flying Saucer Club in Elsternwick, Melbourne on Sunday afternoon 26th July.
TICKET PRICES:Reserved Seating: $37 + bf
General Admission: $25 + bf
Door (GA): $28
Doors Open: 3pm
For further details and to book tickets, click here.