Mike Furber was born in London in 1948, and his family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia in the late 1950s. During the fifties, over 400,000 immigrants arrived in Australia from the U.K. and Ireland, many of them settling in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane. They may have been attracted by the names of some of those areas, which would have reminded them of “The Old Country”, with suburbs such as Brighton, Scarborough, Sandgate, Margate and Shorncliffe.
Brisbane produced many of Australia’s leading musicians, all children of English migrants; such as Billy Thorpe, The Bee-Gees, Chain’s Matt Taylor, and Mick Hadley and Bob Dames of The Purple Hearts.
Most of them would have been inspired by the success of British bands in the early sixties, with The Who, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones leading the revolution in music at a time when rock ’n’ roll had been dominated by American performers.
During his teenage years, Mike met up with a garage band who called themselves the Bowery Boys, and they became known as Mike Furber and The Bowery Boys under the management of Ivan Dayman of Sunshine Records. Mike had a great stage presence, and was a good-looking guy who really knew how to drive the girls wild. The Bowery Boys split in 1966, and Mike would go on performing and recording with Brisbane band, The Escorts.
I believe Ivan Dayman saw Mike as a replacement for Normie Rowe, who was called up for military service in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. Mike suffered from depression, and disappeared from the scene until about 1969, when he signed with Columbia Records. None of his recordings ever quite hit the big-time.
I shot these pictures for Go-Set Magazine at Brisbane Festival Hall in 1967, during one of the heats of Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds; which was a major national music competition. They are, possibly, the only existing pictures of Mike in action. On 10 May, 1973, Mike was found dead in Sydney. There are various stories about his demise, some saying he hung himself, others saying he was murdered. He was only 25 years of age. A sad loss of a unique talent.