THE BIG SHOW
Roy Orbison, The Yardbirds, The Walker Brothers and Johnny Young toured Australia in January 1967. Promoted by Aztec Stadiums and Pan-Pacific Promotions as “The Big Show”, they had played ten shows in five days, and arrived to play at Brisbane Festival Hall on 28 January, where they would have Brisbane’s Thursday’s Children as a support band.
Larry Zetlin and I attended the press conference for them earlier that day. We were there on behalf of Go-Set Magazine, for which Larry was the Brisbane correspondent, and I was the photographer. We both worked in our spare time for Go-Set while Larry was studying at Queensland University, and I was working full time with Brisbane’s leading advertising photographer, Geoff Dauth.
It was a thrill to be up close to the great Roy Orbison, who had given the world so many wonderful songs such as “Only The Lonely”, which was No. 1 in Australia during 1960. In those days, everybody listened to the Hit Parades, hearing each new song as it entered the charts. Roy’s songs just kept getting better and better, with hits such as “Running Scared”, “Dream Baby”, “Crying” and “Leah” all instant classics. If you would like a reminder of the beauty of Roy’s voice, I suggest looking any of them up on YouTube and playing them as you read this.
In the picture, above, he is chatting with Brisbane’s most influential radio DJ, 4BC’s Tony Macarthur. Tony did a fantastic job of introducing young listeners to great blues, rock and soul music, and was a very intelligent interviewer. He left Brisbane a couple of years later to join English pirate radio station Radio Caroline.
There was a great sadness about many of Roy’s songs, for good reason. His wife had died in a car accident only six months prior to this tour, and in September 1968 his two eldest sons would die in a house-fire.
I had always been intrigued about his dark glasses, and asked him whether he had a problem with his vision. He maintained that his eyesight was O.K., though he must have been very shortsighted, judging by the thickness of the lenses.
The Walker Brothers, who were not brothers at all, were an American band who had moved to the U.K. in 1965, where they had major hits with “Make It Easy On Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”. Their real names were Scott Engel, John Maus and Gary Leeds, but they had each adopted the surname Walker. In the pic (below), they are relaxing with Tony Macarthur.
Johnny Young (below) was his usual relaxed and friendly self. The Time magazine on his lap has a cover story about air pollution in L.A.. I’m not sure about the significance of the plastic flower.
I am sure Larry was most excited to be able to interview The Yardbirds. They had enormous hits with “I’m A Man” and “For Your Love”. Jimmy Page’s very distinctive guitar style would continue to develop over the following few years. The next time he played in Brisbane was in 1972 with Robert Plant, in Led Zeppelin, which was by far the loudest concert I had ever experienced.