Bang a Gong features a growing list of hits we listened to on Australian radio in the ’60s and ’70s.
From within those decades, many of our songs are from 1966 to 1974 – a period that marked a major turning point in music styles. Before it we had the early rock & roll sound and the crooners, and after it came disco and punk rock. But during ’66 to ’74, music began growing up and become more imaginative. Think of the Beatles before, during and after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We saw the emergence of psychedelic rock and music inspired by San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’.
Songs by Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones changed, and we heard some edgier sounds from new artists like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
It was when Australian music pioneers like Ron Tudor and Ted Albert were advancing the local recorded music scene in a big way.
Ron Tudor’s Fable Records launched the careers of many bands and singers, including The Mixtures, Hans Poulsen, Liv Maessen, Jigsaw and John Williamson.
Ted Albert signed Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and The Easybeats and his Albert Productions went on to work with the likes of Alison MacCallum, Ted Mulry, John Paul Young, Stevie Wright solo, AC/DC and William Shakespeare.
Sparmac Productions (Ken Sparkes and John McDonald) also propelled artists like Daddy Cool, RickSpringfield, Healing Force and Gerry & The Joy Band onto the charts.
Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Records also emerged with its first release being an ambitious triple live album of the 1973 Sunbury Pop Festival. Then followed Madder Lake, Ayers Rock and MacKenzie Theory. Even bigger acts came after 1973 like Skyhooks and Split Enz.
Major labels like Columbia, EMI, Festival, CBS and RCA also had a good list of Australian acts including Johnny Farnham, Russell Morris, Ross D Wylie and Ronnie Burns to add to their international rosters.
The charts of the period were replete with overseas smash hits by The Beatles, then John, Paul, George and Ringo solo or with their new bands. There was Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Petula Clark, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, The Doors, David Bowie, Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Carole King, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and so many more.
Some of the top album acts were Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Rick Wakeman, at a time when ‘concept albums’ began to emerge.
Radio lapped up all these Aussie and international hits, with stations like 2SM, 2NX, 3XY, 4IP, 5AD and 6PM finding ratings success with chart-driven radio and high rotation hits.
All this chart activity provided much fodder for the pop and rock magazines Go-Set, RAM and Juke. Aussie artists and those visiting from overseas were also given a boost on television shows like Bandstand, Countdown, The Go!! Show, GTK and Uptight.
It was a time like no other in music, which is why many of our songs are from this period. Enjoy!