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Interview with ATHOL GUY

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Most Australian Music history books and references will mention Australian pop band, The Seekers. They were the first Australian band to have a number one hit in the UK (Never Find Another You) and in the USA (Georgy girl) and are the only band from the 60’s that is still performing 50 years later will all of its founding members. Now founding member Athol Guy is touring regional Australia reliving the history of this famous Australian Pop group with The Seekers Story.

 

In a recent chat with Athol he told me the show came about from notes he was writing for his memoir and an agent friend encouraging him to take The Seekers story out to the regional areas of Australia as The Seekers didn’t tour there with their two year 50th anniversary tour of 2012-2014.

 

“I had set the whole year aside anyway to go trekking around Australia and I thought that would be great, let’s book into the regional theatres and clubs and we will take out our little show. My mate said “that’s a great idea”. So we’re (his band Athol Guy and Friends) going out, there is five of us. It’s not a tribute band or a covers band but the whole show is a tribute, obviously, to The Seekers. We play all the biggies live and I take the audience through the whole story right from my early days as a choir boy.” Athol explained that by calling his band Athol Guy and Friends he can ask anybody at any time to join him. On this tour Jenny Blake, who Athol describes as having a beautiful voice, and Buddy England, who Athol explained is one of the biggest pop stars of the 60’s, are amongst his band members.

 

Athol’s career includes two bee-bop bands of the early 60’s; The Ramblers and The Escorts. “You couldn’t call a group that these days but we were The Escorts,” said Athol with a cheeky laugh. This developed into the original Seekers in the early 60’s, which was a band of four men singing gospel style songs. Ken, who was the lead singer, got married and decided that it wasn’t right to go out at night so The Seekers needed a new lead singer. They decided they wanted a female singer and “as luck would have it Judy came into my office where I was working at the advertising agency at the time and introduced herself. I said “oh wow I was meaning to come hear you sing cause we want a girl to come sing with the three of us,” and she said, “that’s great what would you like me to do?” and I said “well come and sing with us tonight. That was way back in 1962 and she did and the rest is, as they say history.”

 

History is what this tour is all about. “We open after a couple of videos with a medley of four or five songs from the late 50’s and early 60’s and in each of the songs you will hear an element of the harmonies or lead that we picked on to help create what we wanted as The Seekers sound.”

 

The Seekers started their recording career, like many bands of the time, as a backing group. “The four of us literally sang the Do Wa Diddies and other lyrics behind some of Australia’s top hits in those days and that’s how we cut our teeth in the recording studio. Then of course we did our own album before we went overseas with Ron Tudor, Ron was the godfather of the Australian recording industry and that taught us so much that by the time we got to London we could step up and do anything. We had a repertoire of about 120 songs,”

 

I couldn’t let the moment pass without mentioning to Athol that the first concert I went to was as a toddler to see The Seekers at the Myer Music Bowl in 1967. For those unaware there were over 200,000 there at that concert and to this day is still the biggest crowd for one concert at the Myer Music Bowl. “It was a defining moment obviously for us for a whole heap of reasons.”

 

Athol was proud to tell me that The Seekers still sell out theatres 50 years after starting their career. “It’s the music, it’s the strength of those fabulous songs and the great memories for everybody of 60’s music.”

 

This tour has the blessing of all members of The Seekers. The band told Athol that it’s a great idea, tell the story from A-Z because we can’t do it in a Seekers concert. Athol reminded me that this is more than just the story of The Seekers “it is personal and as I say, it’s my story from my early days.”

 

It was an absolute pleasure talking to Athol, not only is he proud of his career and The Seekers but of his family. He told me about family sing-a-longs around the piano with his uncles and that his father was the bass player and arranger in the Royal Australian Naval band.  He also told me about his beautiful three year old grand-daughter who he believes is destined for the stage and who proudly saw her grand-dad perform in London. “She was in England when we finished our tour [the 50th anniversary tour] and she came to one of our sell outs at the Royal Albert Hall so she saw her Papa up on stage with his pals at The Royal Albert Hall. She was up on the seat bopping along. Her favorite song is Georgy Girl.”

 

The tour starts on Friday May 1st in Mt Gambier. “This story encapsulates it all in a normal mini musical format and it’s a lot of fun, we look forward to seeing as many people out there in the regions so keep your eye out.”

 

More dates will be added so keep an eye out in the press and on their website.

 

by Suzanne Bunker

Copyright © Suzanne Bunker 2015. All rights reserved

MAY 2015

Friday 1st May 2015

Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, MT GAMBIER SA

www.countryarts.org.au

Sunday 3rd May 2015

Hopgood Theatre, NOARLUNGA SA

www.countryarts.org.au

Monday 4th May 2015

Her Majesty’s Theatre, ADELAIDE SA

www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au

Tuesday 5th May 2015

Nautilus Theatre, PORT LINCOLN SA

www.nautilusartcentre.com.au

Wednesday 6th May 2015 Middleback Theatre, WHYALLA SA www.countryarts.org.au

Thursday 7th May 2015

Northern Festival Centre, PORT PIRIE SA

www.countryarts.org.au

Friday 8th May 2015

Chaffey Theatre, RENMARK SA

www.countryarts.org.au

JUNE 2015

 

Saturday 20th June 2015

Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club, COFFS HARBOUR NSW

www.cex.com.au

Thursday 25th June 2015

Penrith Panthers, Evan Theatre, PENRITH NSW

http://penrith.panthers.com.au

JULY 2015

Thursday 23rd July 2015

Nambour Civic Centre, NAMBOUR QLD

(07) 5475 7777

Friday 24th July 2015

Ipswich Civic Centre, IPSWICH QLD

www.ipswichciviccentre.com.au

Sunday 26th July 2015

City Golf Club, TOOWOOMBA QLD

www.citygolf.com.au

AUGUST 2015

Saturday 29th August 2015

Wyndham Cultural Centre, WERRIBEE VIC

www.wyncc.com.au

SEPTEMBER 2015

Thursday 3rd September 2015

El Caballo Resort, WOOROLOO WA

www.elcaballo.com.au

OCTOBER 2015

Wednesday 7th October 2015

Rex Theatre, CHARLTON VIC

www.rextheatre.org.au

Saturday 10th October 2015

Mildura Arts Centre, MILDURA VIC

www.milduraartscentre.com.au

*** more dates to be announced in the coming weeks

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