Val Starr

Val Starr My parents, my sister and I came to Australia on 14 March 1951 I was then called Waldemar Staronowski.

We spent over four and a half years in the Cowra Migrant Camp where the only exposure to music was the radio or hearing some of the migrants with their accordions or violins.

We then moved to Queanbeyan at the start of 1956. In Queanbeyan I taught myself chords on an acoustic guitar.

We moved to Canberra in 1962 and in 1963 I commenced playing bass in my first band the ‘Ekos’.

At that stage most band were into playing Shadows instrumentals with pop and rock thrown in. It was sometime later that someone gave me the name Val Starr, a natural abbreviation of my name. And what a great stage name it was for a big ego.

I later officially changed names by deed poll. I continued to play in approximately 13 other bands (mainly cabaret or rock bands) until finally throwing in the towel in 1996.

From a young age I had a keen interest as to how bands were formed. It was also in Queanbeyan where I heard a number of ad hoc migrant bands playing at dances not far from where we lived.

When we got to Canberra the pop scene really caught on and I would jam a lot, mainly mucking around with friends. This was before I joined a band.

My interest in all genre Canberra bands was always in the back of my mind and in 2001 when I retired I decided to document everything I could find on our local bands.

I visited and had contact with hundreds of musos and collected hundreds of photos and press ads and articles. This was always a labour of love. Interestingly I always made sure I had photos taken of all the bands I was in, probably my ego but luckily I did.

My first book Rock’n'Roll Comes to Canberra came out as a result of my research.

My second book Canberra Bands Unplugged – 1970s followed, though I vowed never to do another book.