Ross Wilson – circa 1971
“Now listen / Oh, we’re steppin’ out / I’m gonna turn around / I’m gonna turn around once / I’m gonna do The Eagle Rock” – ‘Eagle Rock’ (Ross Wilson)
Some people have a fox-tail attached to the aerial of their car. The lead singer of the Australian band Daddy Cool has a fox-tail attached to the seat of his baggy pants. His rather ill-fitting suit is draped over a loud shirt. His face is framed by a halo of frizzy hair and an impressively bushy beard. The guitar player is a lanky figure in a baseball shirt and a propeller-beanie. Behind thick glasses, he pulls faces, his tongue sticking out to one side. They’re called what? Daddy who? Daddy Cool!
Ross Andrew Wilson is born on 18 November 1947 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Ross’ father is an amateur jazz musician; his mother plays classical piano. Ross has a brother named Bruce. Ross Wilson grows up in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton.
Ross Wilson learns to sing vocal harmonies when he is part of the choir at the local Anglican Church. Ross acquits himself so well that he is selected as a boy soprano wedding singer. His musical education takes a different turn when the boy is 10 ½. Ross’ father takes him along to his first rock ‘n’ roll concert in 1958. The performers are Australian rock star Johnny O’Keefe and visiting American rockers Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly And The Crickets. “I already had a knowledge of where jazz and blues converged because I’d worked my way through my father’s record collection,” Ross recalls. A car accident in 1963 leaves Ross Wilson with serious injuries. “I’d taken up playing the harmonica because I was laid up in hospital with a broken leg,” says Ross, adding, “[I] quickly learned how to improvise around the songs.”
In 1964, when he is 16 years old, Ross Wilson forms his first band. This act includes a 13 year old guitarist named Ross Hannaford.
Ross Andrew Hannaford (1 December 1950-5 March 2016) is born in Mayfield Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He is the son of Alan ‘Al’ Hannaford and Winifred ‘Win’ Hannaford (nee Johnson). Ross is their second child; they have another son, Ian (born in 1946). Al and Win Hannaford both grew up in Melbourne but the family moved north to New South Wales because Al had a three-year posting as an engineer with Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in Newcastle. Unfortunately, Al Hannaford suffers a nervous breakdown, so the family return to Melbourne when baby Ross is 18 months old. Al and Win Hannaford become the managers of a motel and a caravan park.
Ross Hannaford offers this explanation of how he came to play guitar: “When I was 8, I could hold one so I got one and had some lessons.” Neither of Ross’ parents is musical, but they encourage their son’s creativity. The youngster gives up on formal musical instruction when theory classes are introduced. From this point on, Ross Hannaford is a self-taught guitarist, picking out songs by Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Ricky Nelson while listening to the radio.
When the Hannaford family moved back to Victoria in 1952, they lived around the Melbourne suburbs of Bentleigh East and Moorabbin. Ross Hannaford attends Cheltenham Primary School. He then follows his brother Ian to Brighton High School because of its strong drama program. Although he may be interested in both music and drama, Ross Hannaford’s biggest passion at the time is art. He loves drawing and intends to become an art school teacher. Although Ross may be creatively gifted, he is ‘undistinguished academically.’
Quite when Ross Wilson meets Ross Hannaford seems a bit blurry. One account has it that Hannaford was 11 or 12 at the time, so Wilson would have been 14 or 15. When Ross Hannaford is 12 years old he plays banjo in a kid jazz band. More significantly, at the same time he plays guitar with school friend Rick Dalton in The Fauves (a name inspired by an art movement noted for bold colours and savage brushstrokes). Although The Fauves is described as a ‘rhythm and blues’ band, it seems their repertoire consists mainly of songs by The Shadows and The Ventures, a twangy brand of purely instrumental rock popular in the early 1960s. For those accustomed to Ross Hannaford as the lanky guitarist of Daddy Cool, it may come as a surprise to learn that, at this time, he was a ‘short fat [kid who] wore thick glasses.’ Obviously, he changed quite a bit during his teens – even if the thick spectacles remained. According to Ross Wilson, when he and Ross Hannaford met, “I think it was 1963. He wasn’t quite 13.” Wilson says, “We could bounce off each other [musically].” Ross Hannaford is nicknamed ‘Hanna’ – perhaps to avoid confusion with both boys sharing the first name of Ross.
The Pink Finks (1964-1967) is the band that first brings together Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford. Ross Wilson had been playing blues harmonica with Keith Glass’ band The Group, later renamed The Rising Sons. (Glass becomes a fixture on the Melbourne music scene and is perhaps best known for his stint managing Nick Cave’s post punk band The Birthday Party.) Ross Hannaford and Rick Dalton had been working together in The Fauves. They are all still schoolboys during The Pink Finks era; Ross Wilson is at Haileybury College while Ross Hannaford is at Brighton High. The Pink Finks consist of: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Rick Dalton (guitar, vocals), Geoff Ratz (bass) and Richard Franklin (drums). Because Ross Hannaford is only 14, his mother drives him to gigs and the under-aged youngster has to sneak in and out of venues licensed to sell alcohol. In early 1965 Rick Dalton is replaced by David Cameron (guitar). In 1965 The Pink Finks release three singles: a cover version of The Tams’ 1962 song ‘Untie Me’, a cover version of Howlin’ Wolf’s 1960 blues song ‘Back Door Man’ and a cover version of Richard Berry’s 1957 song ‘Louie Louie’ – though the 1963 version by The Kingsmen is probably better known than Berry’s original. The Pink Finks’ take on ‘Louie Louie’ comes out on their own Mojo label and is a local hit, reaching no. 16 on the Melbourne singles chart in June 1965. The Pink Finks also issue an EP in 1965, ‘In Group’. In early 1966 David Cameron, Geoff Ratz and Richard Franklin all leave to go to university. This necessitates a shake-up in the group’s membership. The 1966 Pink Finks line-up is: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Jimmy Niven (keyboards), Chris Kinman (bass) and Leigh Lansdown (drums). Michael Edwards (saxophone, trumpet) is added in August 1966. The Pink Finks release only one single in 1966, ‘You’re Good For Me’. The Pink Finks break-up in 1967. Former Pink Finks guitarist David Cameron becomes an actor appearing in Australian television series such as ‘Bellbird’ (1969), ‘Against the Wind’ (1978) and the movie ‘Mad Max’ (1979). Former Pink Finks drummer Richard Franklin becomes a movie director whose films include ‘Patrick’ (1978) and ‘Roadgames’ (1981). Former Pink Finks keyboardist Jimmy Niven goes on to play in Australian bands Captain Matchbox’s Whoopee Band (1973-1973) and The Sports (1976-1980). Raven Records issues a Pink Finks compilation EP ‘Louie Louie’ in 1980. Another Pink Finks single, a cover version of the 1965 Spence Davis Group song ‘It Hurts Me So’, comes out on the From the Vault label in 1987.
During The Pink Finks era, Ross Wilson moves on from Haileybury College to the senior campus of Sandringham College. Ross then takes a job at the Department of Supply. While he is there, Ross meets Patricia Mary Higgins (born on 11 June 1948). Ross and Pat fall in love and become a couple.
From Brighton High, guitarist Ross Hannaford moves on to Mentone Grammar and Prahran Tech and then goes on to RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) art school.
Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford join forces again in The Party Machine (1967-1969). This ‘promising and innovative’ act is ‘more progressively oriented’ than The Pink Finks. Partly, that’s just a sign of the times. The Pink Finks was a mid-1960s white rhythm and blues band; The Party Machine is a bunch of late 1960s hippies. The founding members of The Party Machine are: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Mike Edwards (saxophone, flute), Joe Gorski (bass) and Peter Curtin (drums). Joe Gorski leaves shortly after the band starts and is replaced by Chris Kinman (bass). Mike Edwards leaves in June 1967 and Chris Kinman exits just after that. Edwards is not replaced, but Mike Rudd (bass) joins the group. The Party Machine releases only one (very rare) single, 1969’s ‘You’ve All Gotta Go’ backed with ‘Gentle Art’. Their self-published songbook earns them some notoriety when copies of it are confiscated and burned by the Victorian Police Vice Squad because the songbooks are deemed ‘obscene and seditious.’ The songs concerned appear to be ‘I Don’t Believe Your Kids Should Be Virgins’ (for sexual references), ‘Make Your Stash’ (for drug references) and ‘Keep Your Cool’ (for sado-masochistic sex references and images such as a “leather whip”). The Party Machine splits up in March 1969. Mike Edwards and Chris Kinman had been members of The Pink Finks as well as The Party Machine. Mike Rudd goes on to form Australian band Spectrum in 1969. Four Party Machine recordings are included on Ross Wilson’s career-spanning compilation set ‘Now Listen’ (2001): ‘You’ve All Gotta Go’, ‘Gentle Art’ and the previously unreleased ‘I Don’t Believe Your Kids Should Be Virgins’ and ‘Woman Of The World’.
The Party Machine is unplugged because frontman Ross Wilson is invited to join another act, an Australian band called Procession. This group has already released two albums and is now working in the U.K. “I received a phone call from Brian Peacock [the singer-songwriter for Procession] in the U.K.,” explains Ross Wilson. “They were having a line-up change and felt a frontman might be a good idea. I had to pay my own way there but had just scored an insurance payoff from a traffic injury [back in 1963] and was eager to escape Melbourne and see the world.” Procession (1967-September 1969) has the following line-up when Ross Wilson joins them on 2 April 1969: Ross Wilson (lead vocals), Mick Rogers (guitar), Trevor Griffen (keyboards, vocals), Brian Peacock (bass) and Chris Hunt (drums). Procession is a ‘jazz-tinged progressive band,’ but Ross Wilson brings a ‘more theatrical’ side to them. The new version of Procession records some tracks in London but they go unreleased as the band dissolves amidst in-fighting, some of it sparked by jealousy of their new frontman.
Ross Wilson’s compensation payout covers not only his travel to the U.K. but also pays for a ticket for Ross’ girlfriend Pat Higgins to accompany him. While in Britain, Ross Wilson and Pat Higgins marry in 1969. Ross and Pat go on to have a son, Daniel (born in 1971).
By late 1969, Ross Wilson is back in Melbourne. He has a new plan. Ross Wilson intends to create an ‘esoteric special occasion progressive band’ with ‘a floating line-up of semi-regular members and guest players.’ This free-form supergroup is Sons Of The Vegetal Mother (1969-1971). Ross Wilson is inspired by U.S. recording artist Frank Zappa who mixes a theatrical sensibility, a love of rock’s early days, a sense of satire and cutting-edge musical expertise into a heady brew – even if it isn’t always terribly commercial. Zappa’s backing band is The Mothers Of Invention. If that fact is coupled with Ross Wilson having become a vegetarian, the band’s name – Sons Of The Vegetal Mother – becomes more understandable. The members of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother are: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Trevor Griffen (keyboards), Jeremy Killock a.k.a. Jeremy Noone (tenor saxophone), Bruce Woodcock (tenor saxophone), Ian Wallace (alto saxophone), Simon Wettenhall (trumpet), Mike Rudd (bass), Tim Partridge (bass), Wayne Duncan (bass, vocals) and Gary Young (drums). Bear in mind that, due to the nature of the project, not all of these people were playing at the same time. Sons Of The Vegetal Mother make only one recording, the EP ‘Garden Party’ in November 1970. It is never commercially released; the EP is given away at an event/exhibition called ‘The Garden Party.’ A number of the personnel in Sons Of The Vegetal Mother had previously worked with Ross Wilson: (1) guitarist Ross Hannaford was in The Pink Finks and The Party Machine; (2) bassist Mike Rudd was in The Party Machine; and (3) keyboardist Trevor Griffen was in Procession. Ross Hannaford and three other Sons Of The Vegetal Mother will go on to join Ross Wilson in Daddy Cool. Sax player Jeremy Noone will join Daddy Cool but is not part of the original line-up. However, the rhythm section of bassist Wayne Duncan and drummer Gary Young will be part of Daddy Cool from the start.
Wayne Ian Duncan (1944-4 December 2016) first comes to attention as the bass player of The Rondells in 1965. This is where he first works with drummer Gary Young. The Rondells are hired to act as the backing group for Australian duo Bobby & Laurie i.e. Bobby Bright (vocals, guitar) and Laurie Allen (vocals, guitar, keyboards). Bobby & Laurie top the charts in 1966 with their single ‘Hitch-Hiker’ (AUS no. 1). When Bobby & Laurie split, Laurie Allen puts together Dice, a Motown-style revue. The other members of Dice are: Phil Manning (guitar), Wayne Duncan (bass), Gary Young (drums) and sisters Glenys and Colleen Hewett (backing vocals). (In 1968 Phil Manning goes on to be part of Australian blues band Chain. In 1971, Colleen Hewett starts a successful solo career.) Bobby & Laurie reunite for a while in 1969 and, naturally, reassemble their backing group, including bassist Wayne Duncan. At the start of 1970 Wayne Duncan joins Sons Of The Vegetal Mother.
Gary Young is born in 1947 in New York, U.S.A. Gary’s first high school band is The Benders in the early 1960s. His next band is The Silhouettes, an outfit that metamorphoses into The Lincolns. Gary Young leaves The Lincolns in 1965 to form Double Trouble with Issi Dye (the latter going on to be a familiar figure in the Australian entertainment scene). Double Trouble ‘quickly folds’ and Young joins The Rondells. At the time, Gary Young is still only 17 years old and is a student at Carey Baptist Grammar School. Alongside bassist Wayne Duncan and the rest of The Rondells, Young backs Australian duo Bobby & Laurie. After the duo part ways, Gary Young is part of Laurie Allen’s musical revue band, Dice. Bobbie & Laurie (and their backing band) reunite for a while in 1969. Gary Young goes on to join Melbourne rhythm and blues/jazz outfit The Ram Jam Big Band. He appears on their final single, ‘Lost And Found’, released in May 1969. At the end of 1969 Gary Young is part of the ‘short-lived’ band Turnstile. The life of a young musician can be financially precarious. Gary Young, having left school, works in a book warehouse. One of his fellow employees is Ross Wilson, who also needs to bolster his income. Ross invites Gary to join Sons Of The Vegetal Mother early in 1970. It appears likely that it is Gary Young who recommends his long-time colleague bassist Wayne Duncan for the same band.
Sons Of The Vegetal Mother carry on through 1970. One night in November 1970 they play a gig at the Glenelg Town Hall in the State of South Australia. However the support act booked for the show fails to show up. In this emergency, an impromptu performance is put on by four of the members of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Wayne Duncan (bass, vocals) and Gary Young (drums, vocals). The quartet calls itself Daddy Cool. “Daddy Cool happened by accident, it was just luck,” asserts Ross Wilson. They play a bunch of their favourite 1950s rock ‘n’ roll songs. The name of the band is taken from a 1957 song ‘Daddy Cool’ by U.S. doo-wop act The Rays. Keith Glass (with whom Ross Wilson played in The Group/The Rising Sons) suggested they cover the song ‘Daddy Cool’. The crowd at Glenelg receives Daddy Cool warmly. The band makes its official debut a few weeks later at the T.F. Much Ballroom in Melbourne.
For a while, Daddy Cool exists as a subset of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother, a bit of ‘light relief’. The turning point is a set the group plays at the Myponga South Australia Rock Festival in January 1971. It is clear that Daddy Cool is much more popular with the audience than Sons Of The Vegetal Mother. In light of this, a decision is made to abandon the parent band and concentrate on Daddy Cool.
In the audience at a Daddy Cool gig on 7 May 1971 is Robie Porter. Under the name Rob EG, Porter had been a child guitar prodigy. He has recently returned to Australia from overseas. Intending to set himself up as a record producer, Porter has bought a share of the record label Sparmac. Impressed by Daddy Cool’s show, Robie Porter signs up the quartet to a recording contract. (Aside from Daddy Cool, Robie Porter’s most famous work as a record producer is Rick Springfield’s hit single ‘Speak To The Sky’ – but that is not until October 1971, after Daddy Cool’s first single and album.)
Daddy Cool plays rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form. They all ‘share a love of 1950s music.’ Vocalist Ross Wilson says, “We were revelling in the joy of that early doo-wop music, and revisiting some of the things we’d heard when we were kids.” (In the 1950s, ‘doo-wop’ was a kind of early rock reliant on multi-part harmonies – mainly because they couldn’t afford a large backing group. Accordingly, it was common for a deep-voiced ‘Mr Bass Man’ to repeat nonsense syllables – like ‘doo-wop’ – in place of a bass player while his compatriots’ vocals substituted for guitars or other instrumental colours.) Daddy Cool ‘combine great musical strength, honed by years of experience playing around the traps, with an irreverent and ebullient stage presence.’ Daddy Cool is not the only 1950s revivalists. Nostalgia for the early days of rock ‘n’ roll seems to be in the air. At the same time in the United States there is the comical Sha-Na-Na and the more serious Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Vocalist and guitarist Ross Wilson becomes the leader of Daddy Cool. He is nicknamed Ross ‘the Boss’ Wilson. “It’s Ross’ baby,” acknowledges guitarist Ross Hannaford, bowing to Wilson’s leadership. Ross Wilson states, “I see myself as sort of like the flagship, my voice is out front. I’m powering it, you know.”
Guitarist Ross Hannaford’s ‘distinctive baritone voice’ provides contrast to Ross Wilson’s higher vocals. Hannaford is also an accomplished guitarist turning in consistently engaging work. There is a ‘Zen quality’ in his guitar playing. Bassist Wayne Duncan says of Hannaford, “He was the Salvador Dali of Australian rock. [Salvador Dali is a notable surrealist artist.] Everything he did, he did his way. Every guitar he had, he would adapt and change – he’d paint over it and make it a Ross Hannaford, an art object.” Daddy Cool comes along in Hannaford’s last year of teacher’s training at RMIT art school. For all his skills, Ross Hannaford says, “I enjoy myself most as the second man, giving support to the main guy.” Hanna is ‘gangly and rather goofy looking.’
The rhythm section is the true foundation of Daddy Cool’s sound. The pre-existing partnership between bassist Wayne Duncan and drummer Gary Young gives them an almost telepathic rapport. Young’s dexterous and flexible drum patterns find easy sympathy and support from Duncan’s bass.
“We’re all unique individuals, that’s for sure,” concludes group leader Ross Wilson.
Daddy Cool starts out playing golden oldies. ‘Initially they play covers of songs from their record collections.’ So far as is possible, when any such cover versions are mentioned here, a reference will be made to the first artist to record the song and the year from which it originates. Being a kind of 1950s jukebox may have been okay when Daddy Cool was just a lark – a ‘fun’ group acting as a respite from the ‘serious’ ambitions of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother – but now that Daddy Cool is a full-time concern, there is a need for the group to have new material to supplement their repertoire. Most of the original songwriting is handled by group leader Ross Wilson with a significantly smaller number of originals being added by guitarist Ross Hannaford. Daddy Cool’s original songs of course strive to retain the spirit and general style of classic rock ‘n’ roll. Ross Wilson says, “We came along in a scene where it was all a bit indulgent at that time and we just stripped it back to short, sharp songs, jumpin’ around, so the audience picked up on that and started doin’ it too.”
Daddy Cool strikes gold on their first attempt. Their debut single is also their all-time best song. ‘Eagle Rock’ (AUS no. 1), a Ross Wilson original, is released in May 1971. “I started writing ‘Eagle Rock’ [while I was with Procession] in England [in 1969],” advises Wilson. “I’d developed this finger-pickin’ style like a rural blues style, and I came up with this riff…That riff came because I listened to a lot of old blues guys. It’s my riff, but it’s the kind of finger-picking style from the Mississippi blues era of the pre-Second World War…Today when you hear ‘Eagle Rock’, you can’t say that sounds like a 1970s record or that’s a 1950s record…I think that’s why it’s stood the test of time.” As for the song’s lyrical inspiration, Wilson explains, “There was this article in [U.K. newspaper] ‘The Sunday Times’ and it had a picture of people dancing in a juke joint and the caption said they were ‘doing the eagle rock and the pigeon wing’.” The ‘eagle rock’ was a 1920s dance performed by American Negroes. It is done with arms outstretched and the body rocking from side to side. In blues songs, ‘doing the eagle rock’ is also a metaphor for sexual intercourse. ‘Ballin’ The Jack’, a popular ragtime, pop, trad. Jazz standard from 1913 written by Jim Burris (lyrics) and Chris Smith (music), has the line, “Stretch your lovin’ arms / Straight out in space / Then do the eagle rock with style and grace.” In Daddy Cool’s ‘Eagle Rock’, there are catchy guitar notes and a lazily entrancing rhythm. The chorus assures that, “Hey hey hey / Good old eagle rock’s here to stay / I’m just crazy ‘bout the way we move / Doin’ the eagle rock.” Chris Lofven’s promotional film clip for ‘Eagle Rock’ emphasises the cartoon-like public persona of the band with their silly costumes and mucking around in an Australian attempt to recreate an American hamburger shop. The concert footage interspersed in the film clip comes from Daddy Cool’s set at the Myponga South Australia Rock Festival in January 1971.
‘Eagle Rock’ changes everything for Daddy Cool. “I was working in a book warehouse with [drummer] Gary Young,” recalls group leader Ross Wilson, “and all of a sudden ‘Eagle Rock’ came on the radio…and [due to its success] two weeks later we resigned [from the warehouse jobs].” ‘Eagle Rock’ is no. 1 nationally in Australia for eight weeks; it is no. 1 in Melbourne for a record-breaking seventeen weeks (twenty-five weeks on the singles chart at any level); and it is the best-selling Australian single of 1971. ‘Eagle Rock’ is ‘one of the keystones…of Australian rock in the early 1970s.’ Daddy Cool wins the title of Best Australian Group in the ‘King of Pop’ awards sponsored by ‘TV Week’ magazine. Daddy Cool is also named Best Group of 1971 in the poll conducted by Australian rock newspaper ‘Go Set’. Ross Wilson’s wife, Pat Wilson, writes an advice column (1971-1972) for ‘Go Set’ under the pen-name of ‘Mummy Cool’. Ross and Pat’s son, Daniel, is born just as ‘Eagle Rock’ tops the charts.
Daddy Cool’s debut album, ‘Daddy Who? Daddy Cool’ (1971) (AUS no. 1), is released in July. The disc is produced by Robie Porter and issued on the Sparmac label. The album’s cover is designed by Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford, but the cartoon of the band on the cover is by Ian McCausland (of Australian rock newspaper ‘Go Set’). Daddy Cool’s blockbusting debut single, ‘Eagle Rock’, is included on this album. Also present is the B side of that single, ‘Bom Bom’, a track co-written by vocalist Ross Wilson and guitarist Ross Hanna ford. Of all the originals here, ‘Bom Bom’ is the one that could most easily pass for a vintage 1950s number. It features doo-wop vocals over a piano (played by producer Robie Porter): “Oh baby, don’t you know / That I love you so / Bom Bom.” Another track from the album, ‘Come Back Again’ (AUS no. 3), is chosen to be Daddy Cool’s second single. In this Ross Wilson composition that has an easy-going swing in contrast to its lovelorn theme, Daddy Cool’s frontman sings, “Mopin’ around the streets late at night / I’m worried because you ain’t treatin’ me right / Come back again / I’m just crazy ‘bout you, babe / I spoke to your mum and I spoke to your dad / Said I was crazy and made me feel sad.” The B side of the single, ‘Just As Long As We’re Together’ (a peppier Wilson original), is not included on this album. A saxophone (played by guest musician Jeremy Killock/Jeremy Noone) introduces Wilson’s ‘At The Rockhouse’: “Big old house / With a neon sign / Where the people go rocking on a Saturday night / You can rock and you can roll / While the band rocks off the people have a ball / Daddy rocks off on a Saturday night / You can hear the guitars play.” Chief among the cover versions is ‘Daddy Cool’, the song that inspired the name of this Australian band. ‘Daddy Cool’ was first recorded in 1957 as the B side to ‘Silhouettes’, a hit single by U.S. doo-wop act The Rays. In the hands of Ross Wilson and company, their adopted theme song is a humour-filled rave-up as big and broad as the smile it leaves on your face. An almost unaccountably more anguished reading is given to Daddy Cool’s version of ‘Cherry Pie’. What seems to be an ode to a dessert was originally recorded in 1954 by U.S. doo-wop duo Marvin & Johnny (Marvin Phillips and Johnny Perry a.k.a. Emory Perry), though Skip & Flip’s 1960 version of ‘Cherry Pie’ (U.S. no. 79) may be better known. Cumulatively, all these songs amount to Daddy Cool’s debut being their best album. It is the first Australian rock album to sell over one hundred thousand copies. “We tried to encapsulate that simplicity [of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll], and a certain kind of innocence – which soon got knocked out of us. But we did manage it on that first album, that joy,” says Ross Wilson. Ross Hannaford comments, “We were just so confident. We were just on a roll. You couldn’t do nothing wrong [sic] for two years.”
In August 1971 Daddy Cool undertake their first tour of the United States, ‘but have little chart or radio success.’
Restless, Daddy Cool’s leader Ross Wilson ‘tones down the costumes, expands the line-up and broadens the band’s musical scope.’
In September 1971 Jeremy Noone joins the touring line-up of Daddy Cool, making them a five-piece band.
Jeremy Noone is born Jeremy Killock in 1951. When he is 15 years old, he wins a scholarship to study at Melbourne Grammar School. He plays saxophone in The Lipp Arthur Group immediately before he becomes part of the floating line-up of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother (1969-1971). This brings Jeremy Noone into contact with the future members of Daddy Cool. During this time, Jeremy Noone also plays sax with Company Caine (1970-1971) and King Harvest (1971). Noone guests on saxophone on ‘Daddy Who? Daddy Cool’ (1971). When he joins the band in September 1971 he contributes tenor saxophone or keyboards as the song requires.
In October 1971 Daddy Cool tours the U.S.A. for the second time.
In November 1971 ‘The Daddy Cool EP’ (AUS no. 12) is issued. The disc contains five songs, one sung by each of the five members of Daddy Cool. The EP is divided into a ‘jump’ side and a ‘school’ side. The ‘jump’ side of the disc consists of ‘Flip’, ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Jerry’s Jump’. On the ‘school’ side of the disc, one finds ‘Long After School Days Are Through’ and ‘Three O’Clock Thrill’. The best known track from the EP is ‘Lollypop’. Although this is a complex multi-part doo-wop arrangement, ‘Lollypop’ is also the song from the EP on which Daddy Cool’s leader Ross Wilson is the lead vocalist. ‘Lollypop’ was first recorded in 1958 by the duo of Ronald & Ruby (‘Ruby’ was actually Beverly Ross, who co-wrote the song with Julius Dixon), though The Chordettes’ version – also from 1958 – is probably better remembered.
The U.S. edition of the debut album ‘Daddy Who? Daddy Cool’ (1971) includes ‘Flip’, ‘Lollypop’ and ‘Just As Long As We’re Together’ (the B side of the ‘Come Back Again’ single) but omits ‘Good Rockin’ Daddy’ and ‘Cherry Pie’.
Daddy Cool’s second album, ‘Sex, Dope, Rock ‘N’ Roll: Teenage Heaven’ (1972) (AUS no. 15), is released in January. Once again, this disc is produced by Robie Porter. The album’s title draws gasps from some more conservative sections of the media and from some retail outlets. Side one of this disc tries to please audiences looking for another serve of 1950s-influenced, good time rock ‘n’ roll. The single lifted from this album (and side one) is ‘Hi Honey Ho’ (AUS no. 16). It is ‘built around a variation of the “Eagle Rock” riff.’ The simple refrain is “Honey hi / Honey ho / How are you?” ‘Daddy Rocks Off’ is underpinned by an electric piano. The lyrics of this track state, “You can call it gospel, soul / You can call it rock ‘n’ roll / You can even call it jazz / Don’t care what you do / It’s all the same to me / Just beautiful music woo-ooh-eee / As you’ll find out when daddy rocks off with you.” Both ‘Hi Honey Ho’ and ‘Daddy Rocks Off’ are written by Daddy Cool’s leader, Ross Wilson. However, Wilson co-writes ‘Please Please America’ with guitarist Ross Hannaford. This is the song that most points toward the band’s future. Sounding like it is recorded half in jest and wholly in earnest, the lyrics say, “Flew across to the U.S.A. / And played to the kids in L.A. [i.e Los Angeles] / Please, please America / Hear my plea / A million bucks will do for me.” After the falsetto “Aah-ya-ya” refrain, Ross Wilson yelps, “It’s not for me / It’s for my country!” Rounding out side one are two cover versions of songs from rock’s early days. Both of them raise some eyebrows for their sexual innuendo – though, of course, the Daddy Cool boys only selected and recorded these songs; they didn’t compose them. ‘Sixty Minute Man’ is a vocal showcase for guitarist Ross Hannaford’s deep-brown tones. ‘Sixty Minute Man’ was first recorded in 1951 by Billy Ward’s rhythm and blues act, The Dominoes. ‘Baby Let Me Bang Your Box’ [i.e. let me play your piano] dates back to 1954 and a vocal group called The Toppers. Side two of ‘Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N’ Roll: Teenage Heaven’ is virtually a single concept piece linking together the songs ‘Teen Love’, ‘Drive-In Movie’, ‘Love In An F.J.’, ‘Donna Forgive Me’ and ‘Make Your Stash’. The F.J. Holden is a popular locally made automobile manufactured in Australia between 1953 and 1957. The ‘dope anthem’ ‘Make Your Stash’ dates back to Ross Wilson’s earlier band, The Party Machine. Daddy Cool’s second album has the abbreviated title ‘Teenage Heaven’ for U.S. release. The overseas version has a cut-down (3:24) version of ‘Hi Honey Ho’, as opposed to the full-length (6:45) Australian version. Also ‘Sixty Minute Man’ and ‘Make Your Stash’ are excluded from the U.S. edition in favour of two Daddy Cool singles released later in the year, ‘Teenage Blues’ and ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’. Even in Australia, Daddy Cool’s second full-length album fares comparatively worse in the marketplace than their debut. It may be due to the controversial nature of some of the songs, the more ambitious musical style of side two or just the virtual impossibility of equalling the band’s debut album.
In February 1972, saxophone player Jeremy Noone leaves Daddy Cool ‘feeling that he is not fully involved in the spirit of the group.’
Daddy Cool’s former saxophonist Jeremy Noone (a.k.a. Jeremy Killock) goes on to work with NIAGGRA (New Improvisation Action Group for Gnostic and Rhythmic Awareness) (1972-1973). This is a jazz and experimental music collective. In 1975 Jeremy Noone leaves Australia to go to the U.S. and play ‘hard bop’ jazz.
Daddy Cool does not remain a quartet for long. However, rather than hire a new saxophone player, in March 1972 they add guitarist Willie Winter ‘to enable Ross Wilson to concentrate on singing.’
Ian ‘Willie’ Winter (6 November 1949-14 July 2004) also plays guitar with Australian rock band Carson. He joins Carson before Daddy Cool but leaves Daddy Cool before leaving Carson, so it appears that Winter takes time out from Carson to play with Daddy Cool. More information about Willie Winter’s work with Carson will be provided a bit later on here.
Daddy Cool’s third tour of the United States takes place from March to June 1972. While the band is in America, they record three new songs at the Warner Brothers recording studio in Los Angeles. This trio consists of ‘Teenage Blues’, ‘At The Rockhouse’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady’. ‘At The Rockhouse’ was previously recorded for ‘Daddy Who? Daddy Cool’; the other two are new songs.
‘Teenage Blues’ (AUS no. 83) is released by Daddy Cool as a stand-alone single in 1972. Written by Daddy Cool’s leader Ross Wilson, this is perhaps a bit harder and heavier than previous Daddy Cool fare – though the theme of adolescent malaise is a perennial from the 1950s onwards in rock ‘n’ roll.
Another one-off single, ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ (AUS no. 16), is released by Daddy Cool in July 1972. This sudsy confection is a plaintive cover version. ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ was written by Ruth Lowe in 1940 and first performed by Tommy Dorsey And His Orchestra (featuring vocalist Frank Sinatra) in 1940. Rock audiences may be more familiar with the 1961 version of the song by vocal group The Platters.
All is not well within Daddy Cool. ‘By this time tensions are growing within the band and [group leader Ross] Wilson in particular is tiring of the difficulty of presenting the more progressive material he wants to perform within the confines of the group’s “goodtime” image.’ Soon after Daddy Cool’s return from their final U.S. tour, the decision is made to break-up the group. “It was my doing,” admits Wilson. “We went over to the States three times, and even though people loved us, I felt like it was taking coals to Newcastle, you know, singing doo-wop. So I’m working around America going, ‘Gee, if I brought a contemporary band over here, maybe we could really kill’ [i.e. do well commercially].”
Daddy Cool plays their final show (for now) at the Much More Ballroom in Melbourne on 13 August 1972.
‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady’ (AUS no. 30), the last new Daddy Cool song recorded during their third U.S. tour, is released posthumously as a one-off single in September 1972. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady’ is written and sung by Daddy Cool’s drummer Gary Young and exudes an easy-going – if somewhat lascivious – charm. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Lady’ turns out to be the last Daddy Cool song to make the singles chart for many years.
A string of compilation albums preserve the heritage of Daddy Cool: ‘Best Of Daddy Cool’ (1972), ‘Daddy Cool’s Golden Hits’ (1973) (AUS no. 9) in January and ‘The Daddy Cool Story’ (1973). Released in September, ‘Daddy Cool Live! The Last Drive-In Movie Show’ (1973) (AUS no. 34) is a concert recording of the final Daddy Cool gig at Melbourne’s Too Much Ballroom on 13 August 1972. This is a double album of two twelve-inch records plus a seven-inch single marked ‘Side 4 1/2’. The live album comes out on the Wizard label, the new home for Daddy Cool’s record producer Robie Porter. Wizard also releases a series of Daddy Cool singles in 1973, all songs that – one way or another – are also on the live album. July 1973’s ‘One Night’ is a cover version of a song first recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1956, but more associated with Elvis Presley, who recorded it in 1959. Daddy Cool’s version of ‘One Night’ is sung by the group’s drummer, Gary Young. Released the same month is the group’s original song ‘Boy You’re Paranoid (Live)’. An August 1973 single puts this together with ‘Flash In My Head’ (written by Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford in conjunction with Russell Smith) and a cover version of ‘Little Darlin’’, a 1957 song by Maurice Williams’ rhythm and blues group, The Gladiolas. Finally, in September 1973 a single pairs two cover versions (both of which Daddy Cool performed on their live album), Gene Chandler’s 1962 rhythm and blues song ‘Duke Of Earl’ and Hank Williams’ 1952 country song ‘Jambalaya’.
‘Daddy Cool’ (1973) is a thirty-seven minute documentary film by Bob Weis. The project went before the cameras in 1972 while the group was making ‘Sex, Dope, Rock ‘N’ Roll: Teenage Heaven’.
Although Daddy Cool will reform, the group’s latter-day guitarist Ian ‘Willie’ Winter will not be involved. As previously mentioned, Winter’s time with Carson (1971-1973) appears to bracket his stint with Daddy Cool (1972). Carson consists of: Broderick Smith (vocals), Ian ‘Willie’ Winter (guitar), Greg Lawrie (slide guitar), Mal Logan (keyboards), Gary Clarke (bass) and Tony Lunt (drums). This line-up records the album ‘Blown’ (1972) (AUS no. 14) and the 1972 single ‘Boogie’ (AUS no. 30). After Carson, Ian ‘Willie’ Winter plays with John Paul Young And The All-Stars (1975-1977); reunites with former Daddy Cool vocalist Ross Wilson in Mondo Rock (1977-1978); and in the late 1970s works with Kevin McLaughlin & The Murrumbidgee Orchestra. Ian ‘Willie’ Winter passes away on 14 July 2004. He was 54 years old. Winter is survived by his female partner, Win.
In September 1972, former Daddy Cool drummer Gary Young and bassist Wayne Duncan reunite in Gary Young’s Hot Dog. This ‘boogie band’ sees Young acting as both vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Gary Young’s Hot Dog puts out two singles, ‘Rock-A-Billy Beating Boogie Band’ and ‘The Saga Of The Three Little Pigs’.
The other half of Daddy Cool, vocalist Ross Wilson and guitarist Ross Hannaford, join forces in a new project. They start rehearsals with Tim Gaze (guitar) and Nigel Macara (drums) but that doesn’t work out. After that false start, the ‘short-lived’ Mighty Kong starts in May 1973. Mighty Kong consists of: Ross Wilson (vocals), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Russell Smith (guitar), Tim Partridge (bass) and Ray Arnott (drums). Mighty Kong releases the single ‘Calling All Cats’ and one album, ‘All I Wanna Do Is Rock’ (1973), both of which appear in December. While he is with Mighty Kong, Ross Wilson first encounters a new Australian band called Skyhooks. Wilson signs their songwriter, Greg Macainsh, to Wilson’s own publishing company.
Daddy Cool – Ross Wilson (vocals), Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar), Wayne Duncan (bass) and Gary Young (drums) – reunites for the third Sunbury Pop Festival on 25-28 January 1974. Inspired by America’s Woodstock Festival in 1969, the Sunbury Pop Festival is an annual summer concert in rural Victoria featuring many of Australia’s top bands and the occasional visiting act from overseas. Daddy Cool’s reunion at Sunbury is meant to be an isolated show that the band consents to in order to pay off some debts – instead, Daddy Cool becomes an ongoing concern once again. (Note: Ross Wilson’s new acquaintances Skyhooks are booed off the stage at Sunbury. This is ironic given the huge success they will enjoy in the near future. Despite their poor reception at Sunbury, Ross Wilson recommends Skyhooks to Michael Gudinski, the boss of Mushroom Records.)
Daddy Cool begins work on a new album but most of the material ends up being shelved until years later. Three singles are released in 1974 by Daddy Cool, giving an outlet for some of the tracks they have recorded. The singles are: ‘All I Wanna Do Is Rock’; ‘The Boogie Man’ (a vehicle for guitarist Ross Hannaford’s deep voice, but written by Daddy Cool frontman Ross Wilson) b/w ‘I Was A Teenage Creature’ (a cover version of a 1958 oddity by Lord Luther And The King’s Men); and ‘You Never Can Tell’ (a remake of Chuck Berry’s 1964 song). None of these Daddy Cool singles make a mark on the charts.
Daddy Cool’s leader, Ross Wilson, produces ‘Living In The 70s’ (1974), the debut album by Skyhooks, which is released in June.
Daddy Cool performs at the final Sunbury Pop Festival (25-27 January 1975). After this show, the group again becomes a five-piece band with the addition of guitarist Gunther Gorman.
Ian Gunther Gorman starts his career in music in the 1960s when, as a 12 year old, he plays a wedding gig at the Parramatta Bowling Club in New South Wales. Gorman attends the National School of Art in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Following this, he returns to Sydney, New South Wales. Gunther Gorman becomes a member of Home (1973-1975). This band consists of: Glyn Mason (vocals, guitar), Gunther Gorman (guitar), Trevor Wilson (bass)/Phil Lawson (bass) and Loddy Morris (drums). Home releases two albums, ‘Home At Last’ (1974) and ‘Long Way To Nowhere’ (1975).
Daddy Cool bassist Wayne Duncan is injured in a car accident and is consequently out of action for some time. Rather than recruit a new bassist, guitarist Ross Hannaford switches to bass and guitarist Wayne Burt joins Daddy Cool in 1975.
Ross Wilson produces the second Skyhooks album, ‘Ego Is Not A Dirty Word’ (1975), released in July.
In 1975 Daddy Cool break-up for the second time. Their final show is at Prahran’s Reefer Cabaret in Melbourne’s suburbs in September 1975. Guitarist turned bassist Ross Hannaford comments, “If we hadn’t broken up and kept going in that world, I was such an idiot I’d be dead now. Drugs and sh*t. I never hit the needle but whatever anyone stuck in front of me it was, ‘Let’s try some of that.’” Hannaford also acknowledges a problem with alcohol.
Daddy Cool will reunite again, but not for many years. Guitarists Gunther Gorman and Wayne Burt will not be involved in that reunion.
Former Daddy Cool guitarist Gunther Gorman is briefly a member of Sherbet (1976), filling in after the departure of Clive Shakespeare and before the arrival of Harvey James. Gorman then joins The Richard Clapton Band (1977) and Mondo Rock (1977) (with Daddy Cool’s former leader, Ross Wilson) before forming his own group, Gunther Gorman’s G-Force (1978-1979). The guitarist issues his only solo album, ‘Infectious Rhythm’ (1981). Gunther Gorman goes on to join The Fives (1982-1992), a reformed version of Ol’ 55, a 1970s Australian band that played 1950s-inspired rock ‘n’ roll. Barstars (2010) brings Gunther Gorman together with Mike Waddle, Roger McCulloch and Dave Twohill.
Former Daddy Cool guitarist Wayne Burt joins Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons (1975-1977). He then forms Wayne Burt’s Sneakers and The Fabulaires before joining The Black Sorrows (1984-1985). A stint with The Living Legends is next for Wayne Burt. The guitarist is also part of The Hornets (1999-2014). Since fellow Daddy Cool alumni Gary Young (Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons, The Black Sorrows) and Wayne Duncan (The Hornets) are involved in some of those acts, more details about them can be found later here in sections dealing with Young and Duncan.
Former Daddy Cool leader Ross Wilson forms his own label, Oz Records. As a producer, Wilson oversees the first three Skyhooks albums – ‘Living In The 70s’ (1974), ‘Ego Is Not A Dirty Word’ (1975) and ‘Straight In A Gay, Gay World’ (1976) – and the first two albums by Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons – ‘Don’t Waste It’ (1977) and ‘Whip It Out’ (1977). Ross Wilson puts together the soundtrack for Chris Lofven’s film ‘Oz’ (1976), a venture inspired by L. Frank Baum’s book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1900) but set in Australia. Baum’s Oz was an imaginary fantasy land but Lofven and Wilson make use of ‘Oz’ as a modern abbreviation for ‘Australia.’ From the movie soundtrack comes Ross Wilson’s first solo single, ‘Livin’ In The Land Of Oz’, in August 1976.
Ross Wilson explains, “My longest-lasting project, Mondo Rock (1976-1991) started as an occasional thing to help promote my first single ‘Living In The Land Of Oz’ and it wasn’t until 1978 that we issued our debut single.” Mondo Rock roughly translates from Italian as World of Rock. Initially, ‘Ross resolves that each line-up [of Mondo Rock] will only be together for a given period, when he will reassemble a new line-up for another set of performances.’ Almost inevitably, a less fluid approach later prevails. Probably the most famous incarnation of Mondo Rock (1981-1982) consists of: Ross Wilson (vocals), Eric McCusker (guitar), James Black (keyboards), Paul Christie (bass) and John James Hackett (drums). Although Wilson is the frontman of Mondo Rock, the prime architect of the group’s adult pop style is songwriter and guitarist Eric McCusker. “My songwriting kinda dried up there for a while,” admits Wilson. “I lost the plot a bit in the 1980s so it was great to have Eric on board. I needed someone else to help carry the burden.”
The full membership roster of Mondo Rock is: lead vocals – Ross Wilson (1976-1991); guitars – Peter Laffy (1976-1978), Ian ‘Willie’ Winter [ex-Daddy Cool] (1977-1978), Gunther Gorman [ex-Daddy Cool] (1977), Randy Bulpin (1978-1979), Andrew Bell (1980), Eric McCusker (1981-1991), Waddy Wachtel [studio recordings only] (1990); keyboards – Greg Cook (1976), Tony Slavich (1978-1979), James Black (1980-1984), Duncan Veall (1984-1990), Colin Newham (1988), Sean Timms (1990), Bernie Worrell (1990-1991); bass – Mike Clarke (1976), Barry Sullivan (1977-1978), Chris Jones (1978), Simon Gyllies (1978-1979), Simon Philips (1979), Paul Christie (1980-1982), James Gillard (1982-1990), Ian Belton (1990-1991); drums – Bob Bickerton (1976), Trevor Courtney (1977-1978), Iain McLennan (1978-1979), Eddie Van Roosendael (1979), Gil Matthews (1979-1981), Kerry Jacobsen (1980), Andy Buchanan (1981), John James Hackett (1981-1990), Mitch Farmer (1990), Ricky Fataar [studio recording only] (1990); saxophone – Andrew Ross (1986-1990); and backing vocals – Mary Azzopardi (1991), Mark Williams (1991).
A list of Mondo Rock’s recordings follows. The hit singles are listed [in brackets] after the parent albums: ‘The Fugitive Kind’ (AUS no. 49) (a 1978 stand-alone single); ‘Primal Park’ (1979) (AUS no. 40); ‘Chemistry’ (1981) (AUS no. 2) [‘State Of The Heart’ (AUS no. 6), ‘Cool World’ (AUS no. 8), ‘Chemistry’ (AUS no. 20), ‘Summer Of ‘81’ (AUS no. 31)]; ‘Nuovo Mondo’ (1982) (AUS no. 7) [‘No Time’ (AUS no. 11), ‘The Queen And Me’ (AUS no. 40), ‘In Another Love’ (AUS no. 86)]; ‘The Modern Bop’ (1984) (AUS no. 2) [‘Come Said The Boy’ (AUS no. 2), ‘Baby Wants To Rock’ (AUS no. 18), ‘The Modern Bop’ (AUS no. 85)]; ‘Good Advice’ (AUS no. 56) (a new 1985 single added to the compilation ‘Up To The Moment’ (1985) (AUS no. 5)); ‘Boom Baby Boom’ (1986) (AUS no. 27) [‘Rule Of Threes’ (AUS no. 58), ‘Primitive Love Rites’ (AUS no. 34, US no. 31), ‘Boom Baby Boom’ (AUS no. 86)]; the 1987 EP ‘Aliens’; and ‘Why Fight It?’ (1990) [‘Why Fight It?’ (AUS no. 96), ‘I Had You In Mind’ (AUS no. 94)]. Ross Wilson acts as producer for ‘The Fugitive Kind’ and the album ‘Primal Park’. The hit singles by Mondo Rock which Ross Wilson has a hand in writing are: ‘The Fugitive Kind’ (with Tony Slavich), ‘Cool World’, ‘Baby Wants To Rock’ (with James Black), ‘The Modern Bop’, ‘Primitive Love Rites’ (with John James Hackett) and ‘Boom Baby Boom’ (with Eric McCusker and John James Hackett). An honourable mention goes to ‘A Touch Of Paradise’ (co-written by Gulliver Smith and Ross Wilson) from ‘Nuovo Mondo’. Although not released as a single by Mondo Rock, a cover version of the song becomes a hit for John Farnham in 1986.
During this era, Ross Wilson also helps his wife, Pat Wilson, with a solo career as a singer. Ross pens Pat’s 1983 hit single ‘Bop Girl’ (AUS no. 2). Appearing in the video for ‘Bop Girl’ is 15 year old Nicole Kidman – who goes on to a career as an actress in both Australia and Hollywood. Pat Wilson also issues an EP title ‘Strong Love’ in 1984.
While Mondo Rock is still in business, Ross Wilson releases his first solo album, ‘Dark Side Of The Man’ (1984) (AUS no. 25). This includes the single ‘Bed Of Nails’ (AUS no. 25) which Wilson co-writes with Eris O’Brien and John Pullicino. This is used as the title music for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation television drama ‘Bed of Roses’ (2008) starring Kerry Armstrong.
Ross Wilson’s marriage to Pat Wilson ends in divorce in 1990.
After Mondo Rock folds in 1991, Ross Wilson forms a new band, RAW (1991-1993). His confederates in this band are Barry Deenik (guitar), Michael Sheridan (guitar) and Craig Waugh (drums). The band’s name is probably derived from the initials of their frontman, Ross Andrew Wilson. No recordings are issued by RAW.
Former Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford plays with ‘mainly reggae-based acts’ after Daddy Cool’s 1975 split. “I fell in love with reggae,” says Hannaford of the loping style of music that originated on the island of Jamaica. Hannaford works with bassist Joe Creighton in Billy T (1975-1978), an outfit that puts out the album ‘No Definitions’ (1977). Following Billy T is Ross Hannaford’s Lucky Dog. “I’ve tried leading bands, but I’m just not good at that stuff,” Hannaford says ruefully. Ross Hannaford puts his talents to use as a session guitarist contributing to recordings by such artists as Mark Gillespie, Renee Geyer, Steve Hoy, Paul Madigan & The Humans, Goanna, The Black Sorrows and Ian Moss. In the late 1980s Hannaford works with Relax With Max, a star-studded outfit backing singer Max Vella. Others who are involved in Relax With Max include Gary Young (ex-Daddy Cool), James Black (ex-Mondo Rock), Greg Ham (ex-Men At Work), David Adam and Toots ‘Linda’. In the 1990s Hannaford’s band Dianna Kiss plays a residency at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, Victoria – though this is described as a ‘low point.’
Former Daddy Cool bassist Wayne Duncan mainly works as a session musician after Daddy Cool’s 1975 split. Duncan appears on recordings by Gulliver’s Travels, Jane Clifton and Phil Manning. Wayne Duncan is also a member of The Black Sorrows, playing bass on their first two albums, ‘Sonola’ (1984) (AUS no. 50) and ‘Rockin’ Zydeco’ (1985).
Former Daddy Cool drummer Gary Young joins Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons (1975-1982). This group is fronted by Joe Camilleri, whose band The King Bees were peers of The Pink Finks (Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford’s mid-1960s band). Two other former Daddy Cool members aside from Gary Young also have a connection with Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons. Former Daddy Cool leader Ross Wilson produces the first two albums by Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons and former Daddy Cool guitarist Wayne Burt is a member of Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons from 1975 to 1977. The full line-up of Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons during Gary Young’s tenure with the group is: Joe Camilleri (vocals, saxophone, guitar), Wayne Burt (guitar) (1975-1977), Jeff Burstin (guitar), Tony Faehse (guitar) (1977-1982), Wilbur Wilde (saxophone) (1977-1982), John Power (bass) and Gary Young (drums). A list of recordings by Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons made while drummer Gary Young is in the group follows. The hit singles from each album are listed [in brackets] after the parent discs. The 1976 single ‘Beating Around The Bush’ (AUS no. 73) comes from the soundtrack to the film ‘Oz’; ‘Don’t Waste It’ (1977) [‘Security’ (AUS no. 98)]; ‘Whip It Out’ (1977) [‘(I’m In A) Dancing Mood’ (AUS no. 90); the live EP ‘Loud And Clear’ (AUS no. 53) released in February 1978 [‘The Honeydripper’ (AUS no. 53)]; the 1978 ‘mini-album’ ‘So Young’ [‘So Young’ (AUS no. 48)]; ‘Let’s Drip Awhile’ (1979), a live album released in July – the same month as the group’s next studio album…; ‘Screaming Targets’ (1979) [‘Hit And Run’ (AUS no. 12), ‘Shape I’m In’ (AUS no. 22)]; and ‘Hats Off, Step Lively’ (1980) [‘All I Wanna Do’ (AUS no. 34), ‘Puppet On A String (Let Her Go)’ (AUS no. 53), ‘I Will Return’ (AUS no. 91)].
After leaving Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons, Gary Young forms his own band, The Rocking Emus (named after Australia’s large flightless bird) in June 1981. This act releases the album ‘Gary Young And The Rocking Emus’ (1982). Gary Young tours with The Rock Doctors and plays on their live album ‘Now Hear This’ (1982). In 1983 Young plays with The Phil Manning Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio and fills in with Cold Chisel briefly in 1983 after the departure of their drummer, Steve Prestwich. Gary Young tours with Renee Geyer and then appears on ‘Broke’ (1983?) by The Phil Manning Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio. The drummer reunites with Joe Camilleri (of Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons) in the singer’s new band The Black Sorrows (1984-1985) – though Camilleri bills himself as Joey Vincent in the early days of The Black Sorrows. Gary Young plays alongside his old Daddy Cool comrades bassist Wayne Duncan and guitarist Wayne Burt on The Black Sorrows’ albums ‘Sonola’ (1984) (AUS no. 50) and ‘Rockin’ Zydeco’ (1985). The full line-up of The Black Sorrows in this period is: Joey Vincent/Joe Camilleri (vocals, saxophone, guitar), Wayne Burt (guitar), Jeff Burstin (guitar), George Butrumlis (piano accordion), Steve McTaggart (violin), Paul Williamson (clarinet, saxophone), Wayne Duncan (bass) and Gary Young (drums). Overlapping with The Black Sorrows is Gary Young’s stint with The Dancehall Racketeers (1984-1986). He also appears on their album ‘Dancehall Racketeers’ (1984). Gary Young then moves into radio work for a while ‘though he regularly plays one-off gigs and continues session work.’ He joins ‘blues boogie band’ Southern Lightning (1986-1987), appearing on their albums ‘Down The Road’ (1986) and ‘Southern Lightning’ (1987). Gary Young performs with The Beat Boys (1988), Midnight Trio (1989) and Leslie Avril’s backing band The Cool Healers. With Andy Baylor’s Cajun Combo (1992-1993), Young records the album ‘Andy Baylor’s Cajun Combo’ (1992). Finally, Gary Young plays with The Mick Hamilton Trio (1992-1997).
Over the years 1975 to 1993, the musical legacy of Daddy Cool is kept alive by compilation albums and rereleases. The first of these is the 1975 EP ‘The D.C. Hits EP’ put out by Wizard. (All recordings mentioned in this paragraph are on Wizard unless otherwise indicated.) This is followed by ‘Greatest Hits’ (1976) (AUS no. 52). ‘The Missing Masters’ (1980) assembles the three tracks recorded in 1974 – ‘All I Wanna Do Is Rock’, ‘The Boogie Man’ and ‘You Never Can Tell’ – for Daddy Cool’s aborted third studio album, adds some previously unreleased studio material, rare B sides for singles (e.g. ‘Don’t Ever Leave Me’, the flipside of ‘Hi Honey Ho’) and rounds out the package with a selection of live recordings. In January 1981 ‘Eagle Rock’ (AUS no. 7) is released again as a single – and charts for the second time. This probably helps the compilation disc ‘Daddy’s Coolest’ (1982) (AUS no. 5) on its journey up the album chart. A twelve-inch single edition of ‘Eagle Rock’ in June 1982, a rereleased single of ‘Come Back Again’ in September 1982 and a twelve-inch edition of ‘Hi Honey Ho’ in November 1982 all follow – but none of them make it to the singles chart. ‘Daddy’s Coolest Vol. 2’ (1984) and ‘The Daddy Cool Collection’ (1984) – the latter on the Axis label – continue to revisit the band’s past. ‘Eagle Rock’ is reissued for the fourth time as a single in 1989. ‘Totally Cool’ (1992) (AUS no. 67) is a three CD box set from Mega Records.
In 1994 Daddy Cool – Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford, Wayne Duncan and Gary Young – reform for a tour with Skyhooks. Like Daddy Cool, by this time Skyhooks has been inactive for many years and – again like Daddy Cool – their most celebrated line-up comes together again for this tour. The two acts unite for a CD single containing four songs, two songs by Daddy Cool and two songs by Skyhooks. Daddy Cool is represented by ‘Ballad Of Oz’ (AUS no. 36) and ‘$64,000 Question’ while Skyhooks offer ‘Happy Hippy Hut’ and revisit their 1974 song ‘You Just Like Me Cos I’m Good In Bed’. This is the final Daddy Cool single to show up on the Australian popular singles chart. The ‘reformation collapses when the single does not chart well and the tour is downgraded to the pub circuit.’ Daddy Cool disbands again.
Former Daddy Cool members guitarist Ross Hannaford and bassist Wayne Duncan reunite in The Ross Hannaford Trio. This outfit releases the self-titled album ‘The Ross Hannaford Trio’ (1996).
Former Daddy Cool bassist Wayne Duncan joins rhythm and blues group The Hornets. This act also includes another Daddy Cool veteran, guitarist Wayne Burt. The Hornets’ line-up is: Craig Horne (singer-songwriter, vocals, acoustic guitar), Jeff Burstin (guitar), Wayne Burt (guitar), Bruce Haymes (keyboards), Wayne Duncan (bass) and Chris Tabone (drums). The Hornets release six albums: ‘Everybody’s Guilty’ (1999), ‘Can’t Live With You (Can’t Live Without You)’ (2000), ‘The Suburban Beast’ (2003), ‘Loaded And Live At The Vault’ (2005), ‘Good Stuff’ (2008) and ‘Dangerous Dancing’ (2014).
In 1999 former Daddy Cool leader Ross Wilson marries his second wife, Tania Gogos-Wilson. She is 18 years younger than Ross and is a Greek-Australian. This marriage means that Ross Wilson becomes the step-father of Tania’s daughter, Olympia Valance (born on 7 January 1993). In 2014 Olympia Valance begins a long-running role as an actress on the Ten Network television soap opera ‘Neighbours’. Olympia’s older half-sister Holly Valance is a notable pop singer and actress. Olympia and Holly share a father – Rajko Vukadinovic – but have different mothers. Holly’s mother is Rachel Stephens. Therefore, only Olympia Valance – and not Holly Valance – is Ross Wilson’s step-daughter. Ross Wilson and his second wife Tania have two children of their own, a daughter named Athina (born in 1998) and a son named Dimitri (born in 2000).
Former Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford is part of Hey Gringo, an act that releases the album ‘I Was There’ (2000). Also released that year is a Daddy Cool compilation album called ‘That’s Cool’ (2000).
‘Go Bongo, Go Wild’ (2001) is a collection of the best work in the 1990s by former Daddy Cool leader Ross Wilson. More exhaustive is Wilson’s ‘Now Listen’ (2001), a two CD set that spans the singer’s whole career. This set has two songs by The Pink Finks, four tracks from The Party Machine, two examples of Sons Of The Vegetal Mother’s repertoire, six Daddy Cool numbers, one song by Mighty Kong, ten works by Mondo Rock and five Ross Wilson solo outings.
In 2003 Mondo Rock – Ross Wilson, Eric McCusker, James Black and Paul Christie – reform to promote the compilation album ‘The Essential Mondo Rock’ (2003). In the same year, Ross Wilson issues his own album, ‘Country And Wilson’ (2003) which, as the name suggests, is a foray into country music.
On 26 December 2004 – Boxing Day – an earthquake in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra causes a tsunami that wreaks devastation in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the surrounding area. On 27 February 2005 Daddy Cool – Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford, Wayne Duncan and Gary Young – reunites for a benefit concert at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami. Daddy Cool does not officially disband again, but the band is only semi-active. The group seems to exist only when it suits the group’s leader, Ross Wilson. “It’s always going to be when he wants to do it,” shrugs guitarist Ross Hannaford. “In late 2005 we put up our hands for charity once again and recorded ‘The Christmas Bug’ for the annual Myers Salvation Army CD ‘The Spirit Of Christmas’,” says Ross Wilson. [Myers is a large Australian department store.] ‘The Christmas Bug’, the final Daddy Cool single, is co-written by Ross Wilson and Eris O’Brien.
Mondo Rock reunites in 2006-2007.
Daddy Cool is inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame in 2006. Aztec Music issues the two CD set ‘The Complete Daddy Cool’ (2006).
Daddy Cool is the headline act at Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival in March 2007. ‘The New Cool’ (2007), released in October, is a new Daddy Cool album. This disc is actually only their third full-length studio album – and their final new album. The album includes the most recent Daddy Cool singles, ‘The Ballad Of Oz’ from 1994 and ‘The Christmas Bug’ from 2005. ‘The New Cool’ is issued by Liberation Music (Australia) and produced by Ross Wilson. Daddy Cool plays a one-off show in Geelong, Victoria, on 31 October 2007 in which they share the bill with Spectrum (the long-running band formed by Mike Rudd after he left The Party Machine and Sons Of The Vegetal Mother). Sony/BMG releases the two CD compilation ‘The Essential Daddy Cool’ (2007). The first disc of this set is devoted to the band’s 1971 output; disc two covers 1972, 1975 and 1994. In November 2007 Daddy Cool goes on an Australian concert tour with visiting U.S. acts The Beach Boys and Christopher Cross.
‘Tributary’ (2008) by Ross Wilson contains semi-acoustic reworkings of Wilson’s past songs. Ross Wilson follows this with a new solo album, ‘I Come In Peace’ (2010).
Around this time, Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford can be found busking in the streets of Melbourne. He is sometimes accompanied by his friend, Bart Willoughby, on drums.
Daddy Cool plays some shows in 2014. The classic quartet is augmented by James Black (of Mondo Rock fame) on keyboards and Peter Luscombe on drums. The presence of the latter is necessary because, as group leader Ross Wilson explains, “Gary Young has got bad arthritis. He can’t do a whole gig.” The original band’s last get-together is on 19 November 2014 for their induction to the Music Victoria Hall of Fame, an event sponsored by Melbourne newspaper ‘The Age’. On the occasion, Ross Wilson tells those assembled, “Daddy Cool first met, played and recorded and worked together in Melbourne and since those early days we’ve been inducted into the industry Hall of Fame in Australia [i.e. the 2006 ARIA Hall of Fame honour]. As ‘hometown heroes’, The Age Music Victoria Hall of Fame means that little bit more because it’s a cultural award, not a commercial one.”
In 2015 Daddy Cool’s guitarist Ross Hannaford is diagnosed with liver cancer. He uses cannabis as an element of palliative care. Knowing his days are numbered, the guitarist records a final album, ‘Hanna’ (2015). Ross Hannaford passes away on 8 March 2016. He was 65 years old. Ross Hannaford is survived by his daughter, Billi – the product of his marriage to his first wife Toni – and by his second wife, Lorraine Austin. “It was very emotional when he passed away and we all knew it was coming. We’d been playing benefits,” reports Daddy Cool leader Ross Wilson. “On the day it actually happened, all the members of Daddy Cool went into blubbering wrecks talking to each other on the phone.”
In 2016 Daddy Cool’s leader Ross Wilson tours with his own band, The Peaceniks.
Daddy Cool’s bassist Wayne Duncan dies on 4 December 2016 following a stroke. He was 72 years old. Wayne Duncan is survived by his son, Dean (evidently the product of an earlier marriage or relationship), his partner Anne and their daughters, Catherine and Justine.
Daddy Cool may have been a colourful bunch of characters but that cartoon-like façade belied their collective musical experience and acumen. It was the combination of the group’s feel good vibe and their songwriting and musicianship that really made them click. Although group leader Ross Wilson may have sometimes chafed at Daddy Cool’s sillier aspects, more ‘serious’ projects like Sons Of The Vegetal Mother fared comparatively worse – despite having a similar or better group of musicians – because they lacked a lighter touch. Daddy Cool rediscovered the joy and innocence of the earliest days of rock ‘n’ roll and imparted those qualities to their best recordings. Daddy Cool ‘were highly theatrical and animated [and] shook up the Australian concert scene.’ ‘On stage they provided a danceable sound that was accessible and fun.’
- wikipedia.org as at 21 May 2017
- ‘Now Listen’ – Sleeve notes by Ian McFarlane (Shock Records, 2001) via 31 (below)
- ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (Sydney, Australia, newspaper) – ‘Ross Hannaford, the Salvador Dali of Australian Rock’ by Jen Jewel Brown (13 March 2016) (reproduced on smh.com.au)
- ‘Hanna in a Nutshell’ (2015) documentary via 3 (above)
- National Film and Sound Archives (nfsa.gov.au) – ‘Remembering Daddy Cool’ by Karen Hewitt – as at 23 May 2017
- ‘The Age’ (Melbourne, Australia, newspaper) – ‘Death Sentence Fanned Daddy Cool Guitarist Ross Hannaford’s Creative Flame’ by Martin Curtis (14 March 2016) (reproduced on theage.com.au)
- youtube.com as at 22 May 2017
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 90, 131
- milesago.com – ‘Party Machine’ by ‘DK’ – as at 23 May 2017
- milesago.com – ‘Procession’ by Nick Warburton – as at 1 June 2017
- ‘The Age’ (Melbourne, Australia, newspaper) – Notices – Obituary: Wayne Duncan (7 December 2016) (reproduced on theage.com.au)
- allmusic.com – ‘Gary Young’ by Brendon Swift – as at 25 May 2017
- milesago.com – ‘Daddy Cool’ – no author credited – as at 28 May 2017
- ‘The Age’ (Melbourne, Australia, newspaper) – ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ – Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford interview conducted by Guy Blackman (27 February 2005) (reproduced on theage.com.au)
- themusic.com.au – ‘Melbourne Cool’ – Ross Wilson interview conducted by Michael Smith (29 October 2014)
- .rockclub40.ning.com – ‘Interview: Ross Wilson’ – conducted by Sharyn Hamey (28 September 2009)
- ‘Blues Terms – The Sutton Blues Collective’ (30 June 2008) via 1 (above) [‘Eagle Rock’ song]
- jarrodzlatic.blogspot.com.au – Jeremy Killock a.k.a. Jeremy Noone – reproduces article from ‘Lot’s Wife’ (28 February 1972) p. 6-7, (6 March 1972) p. 14-15
- australianmusicdatabase.com as at 24 May 2017
- secondhandsongs.com as at 21 May 2017 for ‘Baby Let Me Bang Your Box’
- milesago.com – ‘Obituaries – Ian “Willie” Winter, Australian Singer/Guitarist/Composer’ by Paul Culnane (2004)
- ‘Daddy’s Coolest’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Castle Communications (Australasia) Limited, 1994) p. 2
- 45cat.com as at 21 May 2017 [for information on ‘(I Was A) Teenage Creature’]
- ozziemusicman.blogspot.com.au – ‘Post 364 – Gunther Gorman – Infectious Rhythm LP’ by ‘Ozzie Music Man’ (22 May 2011)
- ‘The Weekly Review’ Edition 66 – Ross Hannaford interview conducted by Peter Wilmoth (1994) (reproduced on issuu.com)? via 6 (above)
- thehornets.com.au as at 21 May 2017
- google translate as at 4 June 2017
- wyza.com.au – A Little Older, a Lot Wyza – ‘Where Are They Now? Ross Wilson’ – interview conducted by Robin Hill (21 October 2016)
- discogs.com as at 22 May 2017 [for the label for ‘The D.C. Hits’ EP and the contents of ‘Now Listen’]
- ‘The New Cool’ – Sleeve notes by Ross Wilson (Liberation Music Australia, 2007) via 1 (above) [‘The New Cool’ LP]
- rosswilson.com as at 25 May 2017
- rockclub40.ning.com – ‘ Ross Wilson Chats with Rock Club 40’ – interview conducted by Sharyn Hamey (29 October 2014)
- ‘Newcastle Herald’ (Newcastle, Australia, newspaper) – ‘Ross Wilson Ready to Rock Newcastle Foreshore’ – interview conducted by Josh Leeson (28 October 2016) (reproduced on theherald.com.au)
- ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (Sydney, Australia, newspaper) – ‘Daddy Cool Bass Player Wayne Duncan Dead, Aged 72’ by Martin Boulton (5 December 2016) (reproduced on smh.com.au)
- allmusic.com – ‘Daddy Cool’ by Bruce Eder – as at 22 August 2001
- lyricsfreak.com as at 8 September 2014
Song lyrics copyright unavailable with the exceptions of ‘Ballin’ The Jack’ (Carlin America Inc.), ‘Eagle Rock’ (Chrysalis Music Group obo Mushroom Music Pty Ltd) and ‘Come Back Again’ (Chrysalis Music)
Last revised 12 June 2017