Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Daddy Cool

Daddy Cool were a Melbourne band consisting of Ross “the Boss” Wilson (vocals and guitar), Ross Hunnaford, and Gary Young (drummer) and bassist Wayne Duncan (both veterans of the Rondells). Later Ian Winter (guitar) and Jerry Noone (sax and piano) joined the group. The lads were all accomplished musicians and well known to the Melbourne pop scene. They were much influenced by the Mothers of Invention and gave their audiences both a visual as well as audible spectacle which totally shook up the Australian concert scene of the time. This coincided perfectly with the late sixties revival of Doo wop and when Sha-Na-Na were wooing the masses at Woodstock.

At first Daddy Cool did cover versions of rock 'n roll and do-wop standards then Ross Wilson started to write his own material. On their first album out popped “Eagle Rock" which was to become an Australian standard. The distinguished saxophone was played by Jerry Noone. When Elton John heard the song on his first Australian tour he nad Bennie Taupin immediately penned their own riposte, "Crocodile Rock". Daddy Cool's influence did not stop there and on the cover of Elton's Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player album among the group photos on the cover is lyrist, Bernie Taupin is wearing a "Daddy Who?" badge.

Daddy Cool’s combined musical strength, perfected by years of experience and ebullient stage presence and the Goon style antics made them a star attraction at concerts. Robbie Porter (aka Rob EG) signed them and produced their first album which was recorded over two-nights, (an estimated 22-hour session). Most of the tracks were first takes and that is no mean task. Daddy Who? ... Daddy Cool was released in 1971 and went to #1 smashing all previous sales records.

Apart from Eagle Rock the album included another Ross Wilson original "Come Back Again" when it was released it was another huge hit for Daddy Cool.

Daddy Cool toured the US several times in 1971 to establish a fan base. They returned to Oz to release their 5-track D.C.E.P. The EP featured a collection of tracts featuring the individual members in vocal mode. It was another big success. "Hi Honey Ho" was written by Ross and the flip side "Don't Ever Leave Me (Don't Ever Go), a Ross Hunnaford composition this was their third single and sold well in Australia and in North America.

Daddy Cool became the first Australian band to broadcast live from a recording studio when they performed in front of 80 people at Armstrong's Studio in Melbourne, and the concert was broadcast nationally around Australia and also to New Zealand. Daddy Cool had arrived. The band always worked hard to raise a smile on stage and put great importance on being visually interesting as well as sounding good with the songs they sang. Ross sported Mickey Mouse ears and attached foxtails to the back of his pants whilst the goofy looking Hannaford wore a trademark helicopter cap. A second more raunchy album followed, entitled Sex, Dope, Rock'n'Roll - teenage heaven. The title alone made the record an instant commercial success. However when it was released in the US the album was called Teenage Heaven, which had much less impact.

Despite their hard work, overseas Daddy Cool failed to crack the US market despite a loyal following in California where they appeared in support to Captain Beefheart among others. By the time their second album was released and gained the band valuable airplay, Stateside, Daddy Cool was beginning to fall apart. The artwork on the band’s album covers had not gone unnoticed and met critical acclaim. Designer Ian McCausland was a Melbourne based artist and his novel cover designs have now become collector’s items. So if you have any old Daddy Cool covers in your record collection, don’t throw them out. McCausland was also responsible for an irreverent comic strip which appeared on the band’s second album entitled Sex Dope, Rock 'n' Roll - teenage heaven.

Daddy Cool represented the whole art experience rather similar to Split Endz, who would follow a decade later with the Finn Brothers. Daddy Cool’s record company owned a considerable bank of recordings and released the best of these in 1973. This kept the public’s attention in a band which no longer existed. When a live recording of their farewell gig (Much More Ballroom in Melbourne) was issued the product appealed to old fans as well as introduced new kids to the band's work, and they loved it.

Daddy Cool was reformed in 1974 for a one off event at the third Sunbury Festival. Ironically, like Split Endz, their overwhelming popularity meant Daddy Cool was back together again, at least on a semi permanent basis. However artistic differences continued and the band finally called it a day in 1975. Ross Wilson meantime had become pre-occupied (as a producer) with a new Melbourne band recording their first album. Despite the checkered career of the new outfit, Ross’s efforts paid off handsomely and Living in the Seventies by Skyhooks, were released in October 1974. Twelve months later Ross Wilson announced Daddy Cool’s final split.

Worth a listen:
Daddy Cool (1971)
Eagle Rock (1971)
Come back again (1971)
Schooldays (1971)
Hi Honey Ho (1971)
I'll never smile again (1972)
Teenage blues (1972)
All I want to do is rock (1974)

Elton John
Eagle Rock (1971)
Living in the Seventies Skyhooks (1974)

Reviewed 10/03/2016

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