Rose Tattoo's coming-out occurred in 1976, but before the Tatts there was Buster Brown. This Melbourne based boogie band boasted Angry Anderson on vocals, Geordie Leach on bass, and in their later years Dallas "Digger" Royal on drums. 3/5 of the classic Rose Tattoo lineup!! So...what's the scoop on Buster Brown? Founding member John Moon provides us with the insight in this "REMEDY" exclusive!

1) What are the origins of Buster Brown? Was the band formed in Melbourne? What year did you get together?
The band was actually put together by myself (John Moon)and Paul Grant, and this commenced late 1972 and we were Melbourne based. Paul was friends with Chris Wilson (keyboards), Phil Rudd (drums) and Ian Ryan (bass), and I recruited a singer called Andy Beucaut. After six weeks of rehearsal, it was decided that the singer should be replaced and I invited Gary "Angry" Anderson (they had originally been after him!) to come down and watch a rehearsal. Angry was just blown away by the aggression and "street" attitude of the musicians an immediately accepted the offer to join.....bye bye Andy!

The band rehearsed solidly in a Temperance hall where we were fueled by copious amounts of Jack Daniels, we had no respect for anyone who didn't drink or take drugs hahahaha.

Mid 1973 Ian Ryan, the bass player, was very much the haggler and because of his efforts the band started to get some gigs around the local clubs.

The band actually started performing under the name of "Smack", but we were advised by a couple of industry people that it would be to our detriment to use that name due to the drug connotations of the word smack. None of us were into hitting up either! The band then changed it's name to Buster Brown, and the idea of an "image" started to form. Contrary to what has been written, the character Buster Brown was based on the English cartoon character Andy Capp.

The bands first "big" club gig was at a place called Teasers where all the top Aussie bands would play. It was here where the band started to make a name for itself and of course more gigs. The band was earning quite a bit of respect from the "older" bands whom we used to go and see and I suppose idolize, it was a very happy, fun, and exhilarating time, because all of us except for Angry were young and very inexperienced musicians and it was our first taste of the "big time"....heh!

In January 1974 a change was made, it was decided to replace Ian Ryan with Gordon "Geordie" Leach. He was a mate of Chris and Phil's. This was bought about due to personality problems with Angry, Chris and Phil, I went along with it for the sake of the band staying together, it was ugly but I don't regret it.

A couple of weeks later Geordie did his first gig with us, it was at Sunbury '74.

The Sunbury Music Festival was Australia's Woodstock. It had first run in 1972 and every major band in Australia performed there over a three day period as well as some overseas act's such as Queen and Deep Purple.

We blew the place apart, and in daylight as well!!!! no lights nothin! We just went out there and kicked arse big time......but.....we were scared shitless, playing in front of 40,000 people was a long way from 200 people in a small club. As it turned out, we were called back for 2 encore's, quite unheard of for a band appearing during the day (all the bigun's played of a night time...). The general opinion was that apart from Daddy Cool, we were the hit of the festival.

Because of the reaction we received, the following week we were approached by Mushroom Records to sign a deal. The rest is history, some good some bad.

2) Were there many different lineups of the band?
From the inception in '72 till Sept '74 there were only a couple of changes as mentioned above, but, after that their were many people floating in and out, in fact I rejoined the band 2 more times after my initial departure. I ended up playing the very last gig, and coincidentally 3 of the guys in that lineup would become part of Rose Tattoo, Angry, Geordie and Dallas Royal.

3) So, was Angry "angry" in 1974? What's it like being in a band with Angry Anderson?
Angry was living the buster character, he identified with it due to what had happened to him in his life up to that point.

Angry always has an opinion, he's a very inspirational person at times, very positive and a loyal friend.

He's one of the best air guitar players I've ever seen ahahahahaha....!

4) How would you describe the musical style of the band? Rock 'n' Roll? Boogie?
It was a bit of both, but we tried to play it heavier than what the other blues/rock bands around at the time were doing. Unfortunately we never ever captured it on vinyl, it sounded wimpy compared to our live gigs.

5) What was the rhythm section of Geordie Leach/Phil Rudd like to play with? Sounds like the perfect bass/drum combo for a hard rock band.
Oh it rocked!

6) Did you as a band have a clear vision of the kind of sound you wanted to make? Who did the songwriting?
Well, we wanted to be loud and proud, but I think our lack of maturity was a problem. It wasn't until AC/DC and Rose Tattoo started playing that I finally heard what Buster Brown SHOULD HAVE BEEN. I think we lacked some "professional guidance". The songs were written by Angry (all lyrics) Chris, Paul and Myself. No one person wrote the songs but someone would have an idea and the others would throw their little piece in. Chris tended to be the best at arranging them.

7) What was gigging like during the early 1970's, did you travel much or stay mostly in the city? I suspect the Oz "pub circuit" was in its infancy then?
The pub circuit as such was only just starting, but there were many many clubs. was a wild time, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll to the max hahahaha! We made no money (we were ripped off heaps), but we didn't care, we were suddenly "stars", we could walk into a club without paying hahahahaa!

We used to travel a bit, we'd gig in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

8) Was there a favorite venue to play, and why?
Oh yeah, Teazers, The Station Hotel in Prahran were faves.

9) Was there a sense during the early 70's that the rock scene was on the verge of breaking out as it did a few years later?
No.....Australian bands used to head off overseas and come back with their tails between their legs. The bands had confidence, but I think the cultural cringe was still self evident.

10) Along with the smaller venues, you also played the Sunbury festival a couple of times. What do you remember most from those shows?
Sunbury was massive for the times, if you played there it meant you had arrived in my book.

11) Eventually, the band signed a record deal with Mushroom. What is the story behind that?
After the Sunbury '74 gig we were offered a deal, Geordie was only 16 years old! He had to get his dad's permission to sign the contract hahahaha!

12) How well did the album "Something To Say" capture Buster Brown? To my ear there is a mix of styles on there from the straight ahead approach of 'Roll Over Beethoven' to the more complex 'Buster Brown' and 'Rock 'n' Roll Lady'.
It was a poor reflection of the band. I blame this on our inexperience in a studio, and also on the engineer who refused to record distorted guitar! Fuckin' jerk! He engineered Skyhooks Living in the 70's album too!

13) So once the album came out there must have been more gigging to promote it? Did the nature of playing out change since you had a deal?
Yes there was, but I think the band was starting to come apart at the seams then. It was 9 months after we signed the deal that the album came out and if think we had gone stale then. We had management problems and we were not being given any guidance, also Skyhooks had taken off and so attention from the record company was being directed towards them. Just on this point, it was quite amusing, we would do shows with Skyhooks before they took off, and we would get cheered and they would get booed, oh how the worm turns hahahahaha...good luck to 'em they were smarter than us!

14) You eventually lost Phil Rudd to AC/DC. How did the band deal with that?
Well, lets say there was a "palace coup", I caught wind that Phil and I were about to be sacked and so I got in first and said I'm leaving, then the band had an official meeting and sacked Phil. It was ugly and unnecessary and the prick who was behind it (Paul) just wanted to try and run the band himself.

I had enough of being broke and "famous" and went and got a real job, Phil on the other hand joined Lobby Lloyde's Coloured Balls for a short while then he went and cleaned cars in his old man's used car yard until he got the gig in AC/DC, and his bank balance has never looked better heh!

15) What is Buster Brown's history following the release of the album?
The band stayed together "in name" until sometime in '75 when Angry, Dallas and Geordie headed off to Sydney to join the Tatts. I rejoined the band for the first time in Jan '75 for a couple of weeks and then left. I then rejoined the band for it's very last gig in a country town called Shepparton. In between, my first leaving and the final gig there were numerous members, I think it was Angry trying to keep it together more in hope than anything else.

16) Do you look back favorably on your years in Buster Brown?
Definitely. I learnt a lot. If I'd only known then what I know now, especially about life and how to handle different personalities/situations I think the band would have ended up like AC/DC or Rose Tattoo, but...maybe, if it hadn't have been for Buster and the experiences that we went through, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo may have had different stories.

17) What are you doing with yourself now?
I retired completely from music 2 years ago, at 43 I think it's a bit undignified to be a rock and roll rebel. I now work on the Internet full time.

You can still hear what I play like by going to my homepage . There is a sample there to have a listen to.

Copyright (c) 1998 by Peter Gormley

1997-2007 by Peter Gormley

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