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
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
A couple of weeks later Geordie did his first gig with us, it was at
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
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
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?
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
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
The pub circuit as such was only just starting, but there were many many
clubs. Man...it 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
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
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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