Canberra Bands Unplugged 1970s

Tribute to Canberra’s musical hey day

Canberra Bands Unplugged 1970sCanberra Bands Unplugged 1970s is the second in a series produced by Canberra musician, Val Starr.

Val’s first book – Rock ‘n’ Roll Comes to Canberra – was the first contemporary history of rock and roll in the national capital covering a period from 1956 until the end of 1969.  This was a time when Canberra’s population hovered between 50,000 and 75,000 and was widely seen as a dead city as far as nightlife was concerned.

It also provides insights into all of the band scene in Canberra from the late 1940s on.

However, Canberra Bands Unplugged 1970s adds another fascinating layer to this printed record of Canberra’s vibrant musical past.

Featured pages from Canberra Bands Unplugged 1970s

Both books provide what must be the only record of its type to give an overview of the various bands and the numerous locals who filled the places in the bands. This reflected the creative and fluid way that bands came and went, often forming often at short notice and vying with other bands for regular work before disbanding and forming a band with someone else.

Without the generation eager participants, bands would have been minimal and Canberra’s nightlife non existent: see Tribute to days of paisley and bell-bottoms.

The bands and the talented band members, even though they came and went, still left a legacy of the waves of music that were sweeping the globe, from Elvis to the Beatles to Deep Purple. But the era it captured most effectively was the sixties, where music and disco came together. In Canberra, there were venues like the Methodist Youth Centre, Queanbeyan RSL, O’Donnell Youth Centre. Earlier on, people would go to the Showground, where The Kinsmen made their entrance before a crowd of teenage stompers, opening he first bracket with Little Red Rooster, just released by The Rolling Stones.

Many many other bands drifted in and out of the scene, the lucky ones getting gigs at Chapter One in Skid Row (actually now called East Row).

Most of the characters included in Val’s anthologies were larger than life in their band days, wearing the paisleys and the teenybopper gear and followed by troupes of young female admirers, but went on to find other more sedate careers and lifestyles.

Val StarrA few, like lead guitarist Dave Kain, migrated to the underground scene in Sydney, where he played on with bands like the Square Circle.

Val Starr in the thick of the music scene

Val himself was in the thick of all of this creative sea of musical energy – see VAL’S BIO PAGE

He teamed up with lots of different musos and the magic kept him going for many years to come.

But more than anything, these two books are a tribute to Val’s persistence and his energy in gathering old photos and newspaper clippings and matching them up with the sea of faces from the hey day of music in Canberra. This was an almost impossible task since so many different people joined bands for a short time and then vanished into their own lives and took up careers and families.

The fact that Val kept going means that all of those otherwise anonymous musicians and singers would go unremembered like old junk. But now at least they all have some small acknowledgement of their vibrant individual contributions to life in Canberra in the sixties and seventies.

Having a copy of Rock ‘n’ Roll Comes to Canberra on your coffee table is a great conversation piece and a snapshot of a side of Canberra that has largely evaporated away and been forgotten.

But having both editions would give you your own library collection, for you and your family to pore over and find out who you were back in those days. It also means old musos and people from the era can recall dancing away the nights in the underground half light of Chapter One.

Val and I played together in two or three groups and have known each other for more than 50 years. We first met at Treasury working at West Block, where a few of us got together to belt out a few songs at lunch time on our battered acoustic guitars.  It was Traveling Man days. Later, we would rehearse at the ABC studios in Dickson.

To obtain a copy of the book (s)

Both of these books were self published and Rock ‘n’ Roll Comes to Canberra is out of print.

But you can still get a copy of Canberra Bands Unplugged 1970s, but only while copies last. So don’t wait too long.

Send a message to Val Starr and ask him: valstarr@iinet.net.au