28 October 2010
by Jason Treuen
The Music Network
“How do you squeeze 50 years into five minutes?” music/television icon Johnny Young wondered aloud upon accepting his ARIA Hall of Fame induction.
Of course, it’s an impossible task for an awards ceremony but last night’s event, overflowing with rich rock ‘n’ roll stories and candid anecdotes, got as close as it could. As fellow inductees, ‘60s icons The Loved Ones, observed in their speech: “The true beauty of the Hall of Fame is the history it brings with it.”
Moving from its traditional home of Melbourne to Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion, the ceremony combined a new Rockwiz format with a night of touching speeches, live tributes and standing ovations. Lots of standing ovations and deservedly so.
After a quick trivia game hosted by Rockwiz’s snappy duo of Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis, the night officially opened by ARIA Chairman Denis Handlin (AM) who welcomed the night’s inductees – Young, The Loved Ones, The Church, Models and John Williamson – as artists who “have truly taken their place in Australian music”.
Models kicked things off with a gritty version of their hit I Hear Motionbefore being inducted by former bandmate Wendy Matthews. She recounted meeting them for the first time playing indoor cricket in the studio, that they were “exquisite to look at” and deemed them her “merchants of happiness”.
The band (sans Jame Freud who’d had another “bicycle accident”) took the stage, acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and thanked pretty much everyone – former band members, former labels, media, roadies and the public – before playing their songEvolution.
Industry icon and promoter Michael Chugg spoke candidly about his love for The Loved Ones, confessing they were the reason he moved to the mainland from Tasmania aged 19. “They grabbed me by the balls!” he proclaimed.
The band accepted the accolade, thanked many and oddly argued for a better broadband network in Australia. Diesel saluted them with a rocking version of their seminal hit The Loved One.
Sara Storer performed John Williamson’s Mallee Boy while Greens senator Bob Brown seemed more nervous than his usual self as he inducted his mate. “His music makes us all feel good under the Southern Cross,” Brown declared.
Williamson was equally edgy on stage, stating: “I didn’t think I’d be shaking as much as I am” as he praised the music industry he’s spent 40 years in. He performed Raining On The Rock with the “best guitarist he’s ever played with”, Col Watson, and then did his classicTrue Blue solo, urging the audience to sing along.
Short Stack rocked out Johnny Young’s 1966 hit Caralyn. Amusingly, the Budgewoi pop-rockers were born more than twenty years after it was released.
Tina Arena flew in from Paris just to induct her Young Talent Time founder, mentor and “adopted father” Johnny Young. In a tender and teary tribute, she quoted ‘60s English icon Lulu, asking “How do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”
A visibly touched Young spoke of length of his long career, a recent interview with a young journo, his favourite film (As Good As It Gets) and Eckhart Tolle’s motivational book The Power of Now. Then ‘Tiny Tina’, as she used to be known on YTT, sang Here Comes The Star, the 1969 song written by Young for Ross D Wylie.
Last but not least came The Church. Megan Washington joined the Rockwiz Orchestra to perform their classic, Unguarded Moment, while SBS presenter George Negus spoke highly of the band who’s “supplied thirty years of memories.”
“Wow, thanks George,” said Church frontman Steve Kilbey. “Next time I appear in Waverly court can you be my character witness?” referencing his recent court appearance after a domestic dispute.
Kilbey spoke animatedly and passionately about the many Aussie bands that came before them and heaped praise on his fellow inductees. About The Loved Ones, he said “even though I was 12, I knew there was something rude going on.”
Enthralling the audience for over twenty minutes, he also recounted great rock ‘n’ roll stories about signing with Chuggi in 1981 “because they were too scared to say no”, black eyes and getting flashed with “Tassie tits”.
“And I’m still amazed by Richard Wilkins‘ hair,” he beamed. “From behind, he looks like a schoolboy!”
“Well, that’s really demystyified us,” said bandmate Marty Willson-Piper when he finally got to talk. “For thirty years, we’ve tried so hard to be aloof.”
And lastly we’d like to thank God,” said the show-stealing Kilbey, reclaiming the mic, “for giving this country so much unbearable talent”. The band then hit the stage to play Under The Milky Way andTantalise before Johnny Young closed the night with his traditional send-off “Good night Australia”.