The Seekers in Conversation 2018

The Seekers in Conversation 2018
Special event

The Seekers on Westminster Bridge, London, ca. 1966 [picture]
Recording date: 
1 March 2018
Transcript

*Speakers: Kevin Bradley (K), Athol Guy (A), Keith Potger (Ke)
*Audience: (Au)
*Location: National Library of Australia
*Date: Thursday 1 March 2018  

K: Good evening, everybody, hello, hello, welcome. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the National Library of Australia. I’m Kevin Bradley, Assistant Director General for Collection Management at the Library and as we begin I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, I thank their elders past and present for caring for this land we are now privileged to call home.

1968 was a momentous year for many reasons. There were wars in Vietnam and Nigeria, student demonstrations around the globe and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Australia was facing its own challenges with the swearing in of John Gorton as Prime Minister following the presumed drowning of Harold Holt. I was surprised to see these notes had presumed drowning written on it. The conspiracy still is. If you go to the exhibition, the 1968 exhibition which I’m sure you will, you’ll see the complete police report in there any rate so - as part of it. And there was of course growing unrest about conscription for overseas military service. 

Amid this turbulence the opening of the National Library’s new building in Canberra in August 1968, a realisation of the vision of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, was a moment of national pride and achievement, something we are marking in 2018 with our 50th anniversary celebrations and the Library’s new exhibition, 1968, Changing Times which if you haven’t done already I encourage you to go and see.

1968 was also a very big year for the legendary quartet of musicians, The Seekers. Athol Guy, Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley and Judith Durham. In January they were appointed jointly Australian Of The Year. Their television special, The Seekers Down Under, was screened to a record audience of six million viewers in the United Kingdom. They toured New Zealand and returned to the United Kingdom where their final performance on the 9th of July was screened live by the BBC, attracting an audience of more than 10 million viewers. 

And tonight we are delighted to have Athol Guy and Keith Potger in the Library to reminiscences about their rollercoaster ride of success but before we welcome them to the stage I’d like you to just see this first. Adam. 

Video

Bob Dylan was to observe that year the times, they were a-changing. That year American President, Lyndon Johnson, signed the most controversial civil rights legislation in the history of the nation while in Britain Harold Wilson was elected Prime Minister and the country was preparing for sweeping changes. In Australia as Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, was about to reintroduce national service four young entertainers were preparing for a working holiday aboard a cruise ship bound for the United Kingdom. Little did they know at that time that they too would change the world. Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley who sang together as The Seekers were hopeful of a little work in Britain before reboarding the Fair Sky and heading home again. But fate stepped in and within 12 months The Seekers had become the newest sensation on the British music scene, sharing the spotlight with the biggest names of the day, among them The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Success followed success for this trailblazing Australian group. They reached number one in England with their very first record, I’ll Never Find Another You and also took it to the American top five. 

The Seekers followed that first chart success with many more, A World Of Our Own, The Carnival Is Over and their finest moment, Georgie Girl in the sell-out concert tours, gold record awards, television specials, an Academy Award nomination and a record-making appearance before 200,000 fans. But the ultimate accolade came when The Seekers were named by their country Australians Of The Year 1967.

The Seekers marked 1968 with a big budget television spectacular, a new album and a credit for opening the door to international opportunity for the many Australian performers who followed in their footsteps. But out of the blue came the announcement that shocked the music world. At the height of astonishing success The Seekers had decided to split up.

In the 25 years that followed that monumental decision the four Seekers roamed the world and enjoyed great success in their respective solo careers but not once in that time did the four ever perform together. As suddenly as their breakup was announced in 1968 came the announcement in 1993 that Judith Durham and The Seekers would mark their silver jubilee with a concert tour and a commemorative album. The concerts were expected to sell well but no-one had any idea of the stampede that was to greet the opening of ticket sales and within a matter of weeks the original itinerary had swelled tenfold and the album which was released to celebrate the reunion tour had passed platinum.

End of video

A: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, how do you do? Who are you? Let’s have a look. Did you find that interesting? Be a very short show if you didn’t. Welcome to myself and my colleagues, my lifelong colleague, Keith here, welcome to our little story. We’ve got some lovely clips to show you that I don’t think you’ve seen before. Of course it’s about the identity of The Seekers and the music, it’s not about fame, Keith and I have discussed this quite often but in life of course fame’s very nice but it’s the who we are, what we do and why we do it, the identity you know and I'm sure – I’m not asking anyone here to put their hand up although we will because we’ve had – we’ve both had an identity crisis in recent times, slightly different to what you might be imagining, not the one where you look in the mirror, going who am I? What am I doing? And why am I doing it? 

A little while ago friends of mine came up to see me – I live at Mt Macedon in Victoria and some friends of mine came up to see me and they were paying their bill at the local service station and the girls behind the counter were very busy fixing the cash register up and they were chatting away about an article in the local paper about very well-known people who lived in the Macedon Ranges. And Keith knows that ‘cause he’d been there for a while including the now Senator Derryn Hinch which is another story which we won’t go into tonight.

Anyway they were talking about this article in the local paper and one girl says to the other, not knowing two of my best friends are there, I saw these people and they named them and one of them then said to the other, oh yes and there’s that nice old bald bloke who used to sing with Peter, Paul and Mary. So if you reckon you’ve had an identity crisis – that’s why I love doing this show. But Keith, he’s got a better one, this happens to us all –

Ke: Oh well, it involves a service station as well, it’s funny about this occurrence and it’s – yeah, service station so there am I driving from Sydney to return my rental car to the airport and I need to fill up with petrol of course to leave the car full at the rental car station. And I drive into this local petrol station just near Sydney Airport and I’m in a tearing hurry so I fill the car up and I get the – my credit card, okay? Give him my credit card and he’s sort of looking at this credit card and he’s standing behind the counter and he’s talking to the credit card, he said didn’t this guy used to be in The Rolling Stones? So there you go, you can’t win them all.

A: No, you can’t. Now do you have a seat, my friend, have a seat. This – we have to use this next clip, it’s really a bit more about my life and I’ll deal with Keith in here and he knows when he’ll come in. Of course I was born in Victoria, Keith was born in a beautiful country not far from here which he’ll tell us about as we go. So Adam, hit the clip, we’ll have a little look as we go through and from the visuals you see and you go oh –

Au: Oh –

A: Thank you. Oh – that’s my dad, he was in the navy, in fact we were at the War Memorial today checking on his background. He was on the HMS Australia in some pretty torrid times, he and my mum and my mum said your dad, he’s a bass player, my mum said he had a great sense of rhythm and that’s until we had you. There’s me and my dear sister. Now Keith’ll relate to this because this is what he was doing as well. Now we hadn’t gotten together at that stage. Where were you when I was at that stage?

Ke:I was at St Kilda Park State School and I’d just come out from Solon as it was known then, now Sri Lanka and born in Colombo and our first address in Australia, in 1948, this was, 1948 was St Kilda and the local school was St Kilda Park State School. There I was.

A:Well done, mate. Well my first group, The Ramblers, 1958 with Peter Bally, Gary Butler. In fact 1958 – 60 years ago, I can’t believe that – we were singing on In Melbourne Tonight and the local TV. Now this is when Keith joined us up the back, The Escorts. You couldn’t call a group that these days, doesn’t quite work. But there we are in 1960, Keith up front and the boys.

Ke: Very good.

A: And we had a great time. Now I stopped playing footy ‘cause my eyes went sideways but it’s amazing how horn-rimmed glasses made you look very intelligent and you now know that’s not quite true. Anyway armed with a double bass and double vision myself and my – oh no, I was favourably compared with Buddy Holly, yeah, Peter Sellers and Superman. Michael Caine got in on the act – here we go. Keith on the right. Keith gets a solo here. I don’t know how you got the lead in that, how did you get the lead in that?

Ke: Thank goodness for brill cream.

A: There was one microphone hanging over our heads, one microphone. They don’t do it that way these days, believe me. The big voice was Ken Ray standing next to me, the big falsetto, 17 years of age. Always doing his best to make me laugh on national television. I still get the speaking parts. There you go.

Applause

A: Well Ken who was just 17 when we first auditioned him for The Escorts and went on to become the fourth member of the original Seekers, 1960 – correct me –

Ke: ’62.

A: Oh was ’62 –

Ke: Yeah, early ’62, yeah we joined – and then he was engaged to a lovely lady whom he decided to marry and then he decided to leave the group and that’s when Judith joined us, at the end of 1962. 

A: The interesting thing – and we always believed – you could never manufacture anything that ever happened to The Seekers right up to today, you simply can’t do that. We got our blessings from somewhere and thank goodness ‘cause we’re still together as great life friends however we needed as we decided between us when Ken dropped out, we’d like to have a girl in the group because we knew how our voices, myself and Keith and Bruce, how we meshed together. The sort of music we wanted to play and sing we felt needed that girl’s voice up there like the coat hanger for us to put our harmonics on and I think that’s the way we felt.

Ke: Yeah and we were very impressed by an American group called The Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert was the lady singer in that, Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays and we just loved that sound so that –

A: Was beautiful so we knew what we were looking for. What happened, I was meant to go and hear two singers in Melbourne, one – both jazz singers, one was Judy Jacques, I don’t know whether – you might remember Judy? And the other one was a young lady by the name of Judy Durham and I’d met Judy’s sister, Beverley, who was actually here with us last night, Judith couldn’t come up, can’t travel at the moment unfortunately but her sister, Beverley, was here with us last night and I’d met Beverley at Channel 9 where I was working and she said oh you should go and listen to my sister sing and I said oh, that’d be great, yeah, I want to do that.

Well before that could happen literally two days after that conversation and I was sitting at my office desk in an advertising agency by the name of Joe Bell Thompson and this little head poked itself around the corner of my office and said hello, I’m Judy Durham and I went oh. She said you’re Athol Guy, aren’t you? And I said yes. She said you were going to come and hear me sing. And I said well, I'm going to do that and she said when are you going to do that? And I said well I’ll tell you what, why don’t you come and sing with us tonight? And she said oh okay, I think that’ll be alright, can someone come and pick me up? I don’t mean in that way but someone come and collect me is probably a better way to put it. I said yes, Bruce lives – so cut to the chase Keith and myself were there, Bruce walked into the door with Judy, now Judith, and we introduced all ‘round, we said what would you like to sing? Don’t worry, no rehearsal, we sort of know the sort of things you do and we without rehearsal – I remember singing two songs that have never left us and they came from The Weavers?

Ke: From The Weavers, yes, When The Stars Begin To Fall –

A: When The Stars Begin To Fall and another one which we’ll tell you about in a few moments. Without rehearsal and we just sat there and we sang through I don’t know, a dozen different song and that bit of magic happened. Nothing has changed in essence except from some very fantastic vocal arrangements from Keith over here which we’ll come to when Tom Springfield met up with us and Tom was the man who took us over the Rubicon, wasn’t he?

Ke: Oh yeah. Yeah, he was pretty much the fifth Seeker and first of all wrote some great songs and second of all, produced them as well and so he was the man behind our initial recordings of I’ll Never Find Another – and so on and so on.

A: Well what happened, we met up with Tom. We’d been in England for six months and we’d done a lot of television. In fact we were on a national television show in England two days after we arrived because we’d had some help from friends in Australia, Horrie Dargan, anyone remember Horrie Dargan? Wonderful friend, Horrie Dargan and The Quintet. They’d been through Europe, of course in the ‘50s and Horrie introduced us to an agency called The Grade Organisation and just before our boat docked at Southampton we got a telegram and it said – from the organisation, The Grade Group, welcome to the UK, you will be on national television on Tuesday night on The Cliff Mitchell Moore Today Tonight program. Well do you think that fazed us? Of course it did. Well we stepped up – what did we sing?

Ke: We sang With My Swag On My Shoulder and This Train. This Train was our big single at that stage and –

A: Yeah and we had – 

Ke: - there we were having been in a country that was only short – a little bit over 11 million people in Australia at that time, we were then appearing on a TV show that was playing to 11 million people in England, it was amazing.

A: Well it was fantastic, it was a bit of a fairytale what happened after that. We worked very hard, we worked every day if not every second day on BBC radio programs, whatever. Anyway the bottom line was nobody would pick up our album from Australia and none of the big companies would sign us up. Same as what happened to The Beatles originally. Well it was history repeating itself with us. However Tom Springfield came into our lives and as much as we were still very busy, came in with a little scrap of paper which I think, Magpie, you’ve still got.

Ke: I do have it.

A: Should we auction it tonight?

Ke: Ah yes, yes. No, I think it’s been promised to Kevin Bradley here, actually so –

A: It has, Kevin’s going to get it.

Ke: It’ll end up at the National Library –

A: He said it in public, okay. Well we sat around, I remember we went into Abbey Road Studios with – famous Abbey Road with The Beatles and everybody so we passed like ships in the night but we went in one morning, one Saturday morning and Keith sat down before that, though and this is when the sound didn’t change but it morphed from a folky, bluesy group into that great song I’ll Never Find Another You. And as I keep saying to sound engineers and other people who sometimes get our blend wrong please go back and play I’ll Never Find Another You because this was the seminal moment, this was the song that took us to where you know in so many ways we’ve ended up today. That song went to number one, February 1965, and as a result of that we were named in The New Musical Express, the international poll winners’ awards, The Seekers were named the top best new group. And to put it in context – in the right context, the group that won it the year before was a little group called The Rolling Stones and the group that won it the year before that was another little start-up from Liverpool called The Beatles. So you had this little Aussie band third in that sense, in the third year and we want to play – Adam, if you wouldn’t mind, just put this up and let’s have a look.

That’s the award we won, it’s like an Academy Award in the music business. We’ve each got one of those and if you had to just isolate one moment, and we keep saying to each other doesn’t get any better than this, God knows how many times we've all said that together, didn’t get any better than that in a way, did it? It was a great –

Ke: Not at all, not at all.

A: Now the concert –

Ke: Yeah, here it goes. Thanks, Adam.

A: Here we go, we’ll play the concert. You’ll see some people you know here. In these days you’ve got to have pyrotechnics, million dollar videos, choreographers, dancers, you name it. Well this is the way – we were told to step up, step up, play up, sing up and shut up.

Video

Welcome to the annual New Musical Express Poll Winners’ concert here at the Empire Pool, Wembley. Well we’ve got a sensational line-up for you this afternoon.

Singing

Freddie and The Dreamers.

Singing

A: I love the choreography from Freddie. Bit of [ti tap] 24:51. Bit like early morning exercises for us. But don’t do this, do not do this. 

And let’s give a great big welcome to Herman’s Hermits.

Singing

A: Herman won the award for the most original choreography, the knee bend.

The Searchers, let’s hear it for The Searchers, Come On.

Singing

With The Animals, let’s hear it for The Animals.

Singing

A: That’s a very appropriately named group.

Dusty Springfield.

A: Great lady, Dusty.

Singing

The Rolling Stones.

Singing

The Beatles.

Singing

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to introduce you now to some new friends of ours that made a 12,000 mile trip all the way for – way they hang upside down in Australia and they’re doing very well for themselves and they’re very delighted to be here at this NME poll winners’ concert so how about a terrific hand for the one and only, The Seekers? Let’s hear it now for The Seekers.

Singing

“We’d like to sing for you now a song that we hope will be nearly as successful as I’ll Never Find Another You and it’s a song written for us again by Tom Springfield, was released last Friday and it’s called A World Of Our Own”.

Singing

End of video

A: Well if you want something to change your life there it is in a nutshell, what an amazing day and interesting little story about the day is we all passed like ships in the night, again like at rehearsals, we were stuck in our dressing room, our manager was standing outside and John Lennon walked past with a very cheeky grin on his face, walked up to our manager, looked up to him and said they’re not a bad little band, you know. But they’re all here to see us. Well interestingly enough three weeks later The World Of Our Own knocked Ticket To Ride off the top of the charts. But I have to say they’d been there for a little while, in fairness, so how do you follow up that? Well we did, we had The Carnival Is Over at the end of the year and I think we might still be the only group to have its first three singles at number one in the British charts?

Ke: Yeah, it certainly was our delightful event to have those three Tom Springfield songs that made our career – absolutely cemented our career in the UK and overseas as well. In fact I’ll Never Find Another You got to number three in America, not a lot of people know that it was in the top three there and World Of Our Own was in the top 20. Carnival Is Over didn’t make it in America but certainly we made up for it later on with another song which will remain nameless.

A: Yeah well we’d better name it, I think. No, we’ll save it ‘til the end. Well interestingly enough we had another two big hits in the next – ’66 and in fact The Seekers over a 12 to 18 month period topped the charts points in the UK above all so with three number ones that’s you know boy oh boy you know sort of hard to top that but for a Christmas single – you might remember how we picked this but we’ve got a song here that really is one of the songs that you put very early in your concerts for a very simple reason which we’re about to find out about in a moment. This song has just been given its greatest tribute, it’s been recently recorded by none other than The Wiggles. And it happens to be one of the first songs we sang on that original night. That was on The Weavers’ album, wasn’t it? This song?

Ke:No, it was on the – it came from a Limelighters’ album and yeah, it was a song that we were aware of before we actually left for England and it had a kind of a different tempo and I kind of Seekerised it as you would and made it our own.

A: He did, you did. You’re a cunning dog.

Ke: That’s right, we had the – it had the banjo and everything like that and I'm talking about Morning Town Ride you see and there was a funny story about this where - I love telling this story, is that I was at a kid’s birthday party and – not long ago and the kids were about this tall so I thought it would be terribly appropriate if I sat in the corner very quietly and starting singing Morning Town Ride which I did. And a little group of kids gathered around me and suddenly the birthday boy came across from the other side of the room and he stood right in front of me and he upset me – he unsettled me so much that I had to stop singing. And he looked me straight in the eyes and he said why are you singing a Wiggles song? So I stood myself up to my full 5’12 and three-quarter inches and I said to him excuse me, young man, do you know how I am? And the kid turned to his mum and said Mum, this bloke over here doesn’t know who he is. Anyway it was great because as Athol mentioned The Wiggles have sung it and – with Jimmy Little, RIP, and it’s a great tribute to us and to the song and just goes to show how music goes ‘round and ‘round in the most wonderful little concentric circles, yeah. But they’re great friends of ours, The Wiggles.

A: They are. And I like – just go back to the arrangement of the song ‘cause it is very different and this gentleman over here is just the genius in the group for working out how all our harmonics should work and sits up half the night, with a nice bottle of red sometimes, I dare say, just figuring out the little nuances and if you listen to a lot of our songs you know the opening lick on a 12 string guitar which now is about as pertinent to the sound of the group as the lyrics in the song, this is where at the time when Keith met up with Tom Springfield and heard those songs. As I said you know it was the moment when we went across the river <inaudible> 38:43.

One little story about Morning Town Ride which I do – I love telling this ‘cause you think you’ve got the kids ‘cause they all sing it in schools, right? So you reckon oh yeah, we’ve got this lovely audience of children who love our songs, this is a – friends of mine couldn’t wait to tell me this story. Wife of a good friend, she’s been in the washroom at interval, latest washroom at interval, one of our last 50th anniversary concerts and she said there were two girls there, obviously sisters. And the little one said to the older one, she said oh you knew all the lyrics to Morning Town Ride and the older one said yeah, I learnt it at school like you did. And the little one said oh it’s a nice song, isn’t it? And the older one said yeah, that’s a nice song. There was a bit of a pause then the little one said but they didn’t sing Georgie Girl. And the older one said no, no, no, that’ll be in the second half. Bit of a pause then the little one said oh god, does that mean we got to sit here and listen to Mum singing for another hour? Do not take children for granted, musically, believe me.

Anyway now this is your audition because we’re here for multipurpose tonight and I’ll tell you why at the end, depends on how well you sing. Here’s a clip, here is the song, it is irresistible, we place it very early in our concert act because the audiences invariably end up singing louder than we do so here’s your big test. Thanks, Adam, let’s go with the clip. Here we go.

Video

Singing

A:Singing.

End of video

Applause

A: Well congratulations. You are now formally inducted as the National Library Division here in Canberra of The Seekers Tribute Band.

Applause

A: Beautifully sung, thank you. Irresistible. Well Morning Town Ride was number one Christmas ’66 and stays with us for all those reasons, wouldn’t have been a concert if we hadn’t sung that. Now that was great and other hits came. ’68 of course which we’re celebrating here now with the Library changing times, boy, they were the ‘60s, changing times in so many ways and we were over there in the musical Olympics at the ‘60s you know winning our share of gold medals if you like in so many ways but July ’68, 50 years ago, we went our separate ways for a whole variety of reasons but we did have a wonderful final concert televised in the UK, I think there were 10 million viewers just in the UK. And we’re hoping actually maybe the ABC – is anybody here from the ABC? You can own up to that, I mean it’s not –

Ke: The ABC couldn’t afford to send any delegates today.

A: We’d like them to replay the Farewell The Seekers. We’ll make a few phone calls ourselves, maybe in the middle – yeah. Anyway the point is at that time we had to say goodbye. Now what happened after that, and Keith will remember this well ‘cause I used to ring him about every three months saying I’ve had another phone call with someone wanting to put the group back together again. And I don’t mean as a performing group but they wanted Seekers songs for special occasions, international expos you know Australia Day functions, you name it, bicentenary and three times – and we want to pay a little tribute here in these clips – three times Judith couldn’t make it, she was overseas touring with her husband, Ron, playing in jazz clubs I think around Europe, Keith was living in the UK at that time, Bruce was I think in Nashville writing. However Keith and Bruce and I did manage on three different occasions for some very special international functions to find the great voice, three wonderful female Australian singers who you’re going to see here in these clips. Louisa Wisseling in the ‘70s and we actually did two albums with Louisa, great songs.

Ke: Yeah, they were great and there was a very successful single that Bruce wrote called The Sparrow Song. Do you recall that one? Yeah, that was good.

A: Big hit. Oh it was wonderful, we had a great time but it was not a seamless performing Seekers as such but I just make the point that this is our tribute to the three girls who did step up to the plate and joined us at some fantastic occasions. Julie at Bicentenary in ’88 and then Karen Knowles came in and took over for Big Expo in Osaka and a couple of other – Carols by Candlelight, we did three or four huge Carols by Candlelight. Anyway the point is this is a clip now. Have a look here ‘cause you will see The Seekers in psychedelic mode and I’m blaming you for this. Keith dresses beautifully all the time, has a great colour schematic in his head and applied it to the group when we were doing a television show for Channel 10 with Louisa. What happened to this black outfit of mine? I’m going to ask you about this afterwards –anyway we were a little psychedelic, we were pre-Abba here, enjoy this. It’s a bit poignant, the statement from me but enjoy the three girls that stepped up to the plate in the 25 years before we actually did get back together again. Thanks, Adam.

Video

Singing

Applause

A: Thank you very much. As you know tonight is our last concert together and I’m afraid this next song is our last song together and I guess at a time like this there are a lot of things that you could probably say but I think that really there are only two things and that is from all of us very, very sincerely, thank you, thank you very, very much and goodbye because I’m afraid tonight the carnival really is over.

Singing

A: That’s <inaudible> 49:07 Melbourne, Carols by Candlelight. That’s the nearest I’ll ever get to a mullet.

Singing

End of video

A: Yeah so there you go.

Applause

A: Kept The Seekers brand out there in many, many ways and we’re very grateful that the three girls were able to step up to the plate. Now we got to swing across here to the year 2000 and the seminal event was the Sydney Olympic Games and do you remember a series on the ABC called The Games?

Au: Yes.

A: Yes. Well gosh – well John Clarke rang me one day and John said Athol, we know why The Seekers aren’t singing The Carnival Is Over to close the Olympic Games. And I said do you now, John? ‘Cause they knew everything else, they knew all the mistakes within the committee that had been made. And we’d had a call from the producer of the whole program and we don’t need to go into that, anyway, bottom line was we didn’t and there were reasons why we didn’t but John said to me we’re going to use that story as the final clip, final episode in The Games. And I said well – he told what was going to happen and I said well if that happens it’ll be the last clip on my reel, it’ll be terrific and we told the team about it. And I said to him now – knowing John Clarke, God bless him – and I said to him A, you are not to make me look any older than I really am, right? And remember this is 18 years ago so you can be the judge. And I said and the same applies to the boys otherwise they’ll be quite upset so guess who came off second best? You can work that out for yourself. Anyway here’s the real reason why The Seekers did not get to sing The Carnival Is Over to close the Olympic Games. Thank you, Adam.

Video

There’s a television crew downstairs.

Oh God, what they want?

They want to know if it’s true that there’s some sort of cockup with the closing ceremony and if it is true can you go on Real Life Bastards tonight and if it isn’t can you go on Celebrity Bathrooms tomorrow night?

No, it’s not true, Tim and thank them but no.

Right, thanks John.

John.

Oh God, here we go.

What’s the problem? 

Look, you two just stay out of this.

Well he doesn’t look very happy.

No, I don’t think Nicholas is a very happy person. Just sit down. Yes, Nicholas.

What have you done?

Haven’t done anything, Nicholas.

You people have really surpassed yourselves this time, haven’t you?

What is that supposed to mean?

John, is it true that you have blown the main act of the closing ceremony?

No, it is not true, Nicholas.

Then why is the Minister telling me it is true, John?

Because the Minister has lost the main act from the closing ceremony and as usual he’s got his it wasn’t me, sir defence running and he sent somebody over to shout at some people who didn’t do it.

You told me it was all set up.

It was, they were getting here on Thursday.

Well have you got a fall-back position?

It’s only Wednesday.

Well what about the first choice?

Well alright, let’s discuss the first choice.

Well who was it?

The Seekers.

Look, if they sang The Carnival Is Over it’d be fantastic, wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

Absolutely brilliant, it’s the ideal solution. They’re the biggest live act in Britain at the moment, they would then fly back to Australia where they came from in the first place and they would sing The Carnival Is Over at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.

It’d be fantastic.

A brilliant spectacle.

But it’s not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen, no but that’s not our fault, we didn’t talk to them.

Why didn’t you talk to them?

You know very well why we didn’t talk to them.

Why?

The Minister wouldn’t let us talk to them.

That’s not what the Minister says, John.

Well ring The Seekers, Nicholas, you ring The Seekers and ask them who they spoke to.

This problem, you caused it, you fix it.

We didn’t cause it, Nicholas, you know bloody well who caused this problem. Look, just get the Minister to acknowledge that we did not cause this problem and then the four of us can work out what we’re going to do about it. It’ll be us who has to solve it, Nicholas, as always.

John, what is this?

It’s a rehearsal schedule. That’s the timetable for rephrasing the closing ceremony.

Well why have I got it?

Well the good news is we might have solved this business with The Seekers?

Really? Good.

Nicholas.

What?

What size pants do you wear?

Singing

End of video

Applause

A: Why are you laughing at me? Oh the genius of John Clarke, [Gina] 56:38 and the boys up there, they did an amazing job of that. They nearly made it, they nearly got on, they could have used them. They could have gotten away with it. I – we often reflect, and I know Keith will have an opinion on this, 50 odd years, we’ve had our 50th. A, the highlight for you, did you ever think we’d be sitting here talking in the current tense because we do have something else to show you which we’ll let you know about our aspirations because we still have some?

Ke: Oh no idea. In 1968 when this wonderful establishment was opening its doors I was in London, the rest of the group had left to come back to Australia but I stayed on because my family was there and had absolutely no idea what was going to happen so 50 years on, my goodness gracious, who could tell? So there we are. Now –

A: It is, it’s about as simple as that, you know? Where there’s no complex answer. Music is in everybody’s lives and fortunately we had the fairy dust sprinkled on us and our music and as I say we still have ambitions for the group. Judith couldn’t come up this week unfortunately but we want to play you a clip now because this I think highlights in a way what we’d like to do next, I think. That be right?

Ke: Oh yes, I think this is absolutely our next step in The Seekers’ saga.

A: Thank you, Adam. No, it’s good for us to be able to tell you this.

Video

Singing

End of video

Applause

Ke: Oh there we are. 

A: That’s a little bit closer to the truth.

Ke: I'm so tired I had to sit down.

A: Well tickets for the 60th anniversary tour will be at the – well we’ve been overprivileged to that extent. Kevin, I know that we might have some questions and we’d love to answer them and we’ll stand up to do that?

Ke: Yes. Here we are. Yes.

K: I must say if the fairy dust was sprinkled on your musical career some of the glitter’s still here with us tonight, that was fantastic, thank you.

Applause

K:And of course as we knew they would they’ve gone over time by a little bit but we’ve got time for a couple of questions. Microphones on either side, raise your hand and that was the first person there.

Au: <inaudible> 1:25.

Ke: The Georgie Girl musical you’re talking about? Yeah, oh yes well my – certainly my impression was that it was a very well put together musical, it had a lot of talent involved. I think the actors and singers who actually portrayed our parts were top notch and as one would imagine, to fit a 50-year career into two-and-a-half hours is going to be a challenge anyway but I thought the show generally was terrific and it ran for 14 weeks in Melbourne and nine weeks in Sydney and also had a season in Perth.

A: Well I personally – if you pass this on I’ll have to kill you. No. Personally the cast were fantastic and we got very close to them and that’s the first thing you need for a musical, I thought the music was terrific. I thought they lost the plot a little bit from the day when they ran – what did they call it when they just run – that day we went to?

Ke: Oh the workshop.

A: Workshop. All musicals get a workshop and it’s very condensed, about an hour. Keith and I were there and Keith got up and said some terrific words right at the end of that workshop ‘cause they had all the people who might be the investors there on the day and they gave the workshop a standing ovation but it was song after song after song after song. In the musical as it got produced and certain segments got overproduced, for me, and I don’t mind saying this, I’ve been asked the question, I thought it turned into a bit of a soap opera. I thought rusted on fans were very interested in that as the story progressed, I just don’t think it projected the music ‘cause three or four of our best songs weren’t even in it. And I have another point which I won’t make here, Keith knows what that is but overall, terrific people and the producers were wonderful, they’re great friends of ours. And the cast were wonderful, couldn’t have been better and I think it’s coming back maybe with a few things added.

K: Bit of a nip and a tuck. And there was another question –

A: There you go.

Au: <inaudible> 4:03 and it’s a song that I believe should be our national anthem. Let’s get rid of girt by sea and get We Are Australian. Can you tell me the story behind that, please?

A: Well I understand that and we’ve sung it around the world. The verses of course are Australian, obviously, obvious thing to say. The choruses though are fairly universal and I understand where it sits however you think about it from The Seekers’ point of view, we can’t get up and sing our national anthem as part of a concert. It’s another way of looking at it.

K: Question here in the middle.

Au: In fact my question is about exactly that piece as well. We’re coming up to Harmony Day on the 21st of March. I have the privilege to work with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney and everyone from all around our office will bring their food from different cultures. We stand and we sing that song as if it is our national anthem. One thing I’d like to suggest because the song kind of finishes – it doesn’t recognise people who’ve arrived from Italy – Papa’s ricotta cheesecake is waiting for you backstage – it doesn’t recognise people who’ve come from Vietnam, from Afghanistan. There’s a couple of good rhyming words.

:Get Bruce in the hall.

Au: We’ve – around the office and we’ve come up with a verse that we’d like to pass by.

A: Well in that case you give Bruce a call.

Au: No but would you welcome that? Seriously.

A: No, it’s an interesting point you raise because – can I tell you this other story? Yes, why can’t I? Bruce, because of the ANZAC Day ramifications of a trip that he made recently, wrote the ANZAC Day of I Am Australia which he – beautiful piece of poetry. Judith still labours day and night wanting to rewrite totally Advance Australia Fair. Keith has a couple of Australian songs with no jingoism in them at all but you get to a point – I’m not a songwriter, I love lyrics and I can have a crack at it you know tell me you want something written about something, I’m happy to do that. How you fit everybody’s sensitivities, you could suggest you know for specific occasions to someone like Bruce could he or would he you know because it turns into – from Judith’s point of view, I said to her the other day, don’t try and put that to the music of Advance Australia Fair, what you’ve written is a very lovely piece of poetry you know with a very different slant on what we regard as the national anthem and Bruce’d be happy you know we can you know certainly channel it through to him to take your points on board.

Ke: Yeah, very much so.

K: Got a question –

Au: Can I also share perhaps with the audience quickly this is the birthday present that I gave to my mother on the 6th of July 1968.

A: Thank you.

K: A question over here. Thank you.

Au: I just have a quick question for – I think for many Australians and people overseas your 1993 reunion tour was a very cathartic experience and joyous for many fans. I’m just wondering the extent to which it had a cathartic effect on you, almost I guess – and these are my words – having seemingly unfinished business from 1968? I’m interested. Thank you.

K: Yeah well certainly ’93 – we started rehearsing in ’92 ‘cause we realised that it was coming up, the 25th anniversary of the year that we broke up and it was fantastic to think that we were so naïve at that stage that we thought we would do one concert as our reunion. And in 1993 it became 120 concerts around Australia and New Zealand. 

A: It really came home to me as we came off stage at the end of the opening concert at Hamer Hall. Where did you see it? Oh okay. Well we - the first one was at Hamer Hall, I think, wasn’t it? In Melbourne. Anyway my daughter at that stage of the game was 12, I think and we hadn’t told her much about The Seekers ‘cause you know we went on and she’d heard Georgie Girl at school. I thought one day she’ll ask us all the questions and we’ll get through all that. And then she was there in the audience you know the family and I came off stage and before I got ‘round to that corridor on the side where the dressing rooms are this 11-year-old with her eyes bugging out of her head, Dad, Dad, they really love you. But here’s the sting in the tail, sorry. At the reception afterwards – remember the reception afterwards? Well I was standing there, we’ve got a journalist friend and he’s standing there and my daughter’s there and he’s pumping my tyres up which was very nice of him you know the <inaudible> 9:39 oh and your dad’s done that and this and you must be very proud of him, da, da, da and again I’m looking at my daughter and she looks up at him with her hands outstretched and she says he’s just my dad.

K: Last question from the middle here.

Au: Thank you. Well firstly thank you for the music and the memories, sensational, thank you. Just curious, you had a couple of top five successes in the US charts, you had input from the Springfields and these people. Was there ever a time when you thought maybe we’re done with the UK, we should be in the US?

Ke: Yes, there was a moment in 1966, ’67, we were going into ’67 when we had – our manager arranged an American tour for us and we did – we covered many states of America and played into stadiums and that was an eye-opener for us. But unfortunately for us I think at that stage our manager was very English-centric and was working on the basis that if you had a job lined up in 18 months’ time that would be the way a career would develop properly and in fact to that end he lined us up with this pantomime in Bristol in late 1967 and that was the time that Georgie Girl was nominated for an Academy Award and Athol will take over –

A: Well at the time we couldn’t go to America ‘cause Keith was playing in Mother Goose. He was – were you Little Boy Blue?

Ke: No, I was Little Boy Brown –

A: Little Boy Brown, yes and I think I – no, Bruce was Little Jack Horner. I can’t remember who I was but it was something of that ilk so there we were, one of the most famous groups on the planet tucked away in Bristol, couldn’t go and even compete for the Academy – which we didn’t win anyway, Matt Monro did with Born Free which was a wonderful choice anyway but we just – we couldn’t get – we did go to America eventually and we did a fantastic story and a cook’s story there. We played at the University of New York in Albany in New York State and we’d play half the show, we had a comedian with us doing the first half, a very well-known one, the first half and we would sing the second half and those American college concerts were something else.

Anyway to cut to the chase we were doing a little bit of touring with about 10,000 people and we were at the – actually at the front of the house looking at their backs as the young man came on and did the first half. And we were all standing there going mm, he’s just had his first hit with this particular song that he sang in his set and we’re going mm, might be a bit hard to follow this. Anyway we did and they stood up row by row, the most fantastic audiences, as we walked down through them and as we stood on the stage, we got four or five minutes of standing applause. The young man who’d been on stage in the first half singing his first hit was a young man by the name of Neil Diamond.

K: Fantastic.

Applause

A: Thank you. Thank you very much.

K: Now just before we bring it to a close you had one more thing you wanted to show us?

A: Well there’s a clip coming up now that – we’ve finished and thank you so much, it’s been fantastic to be with you today. It’s a couple of songs which we finish our concert with, the last one is called Keep Your Dream In Your Pocket which is the message we’d love to give to people, follow your dream and follow it well, always keep your dream in your pocket. And thank you for being with us today. Again, we love these moments when we connect upfront with the people that have put us where we are in that sense in the musical world. That’s your doing and you should be ashamed of yourself. No. Thank you.

Ke: Thank you very much.

Applause

Singing

K: Thank you all very much. If you’d like to join us upstairs it hasn’t ended, there are drinks and refreshments upstairs and of course there are two Seekers books in the bookshop and just tonight a special 10% discount for all of you so please head on upstairs and we’ll meet you up there. Thank you.

End of recording

Download transcript 181.21 KB

Recent audio All recent audio