Bobby & Laurie

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Bobby & Laurie were a popular Australian singing duo of the 1960s, featuring Laurie Allen (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Bobby Bright (vocals, guitar). Their regular backing band were The Rondells. The pair formed one of the leading acts in the first wave of the Australian 'beat pop' era between 1964 and 1967, alongside contemporaries such as Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Ray Brown & The Whispers, The Easybeats and Normie Rowe. They became one of the most popular and successful acts of their day.

Allen's first amateur group was in Melbourne in the late 1950s and called The Three Jays. This was followed by The Lories (c.1958) and The Roulettes (1958–59), a long-running Melbourne revue band. From 1959 to 1961, he was lead guitarist for Malcolm Arthur & The Knights and in 1962 was lead singer/organist of a previously instrumental group The Blue Jays. At about the end of 1963, The Blue Jays became The Fabulous Blue Jays, the backing band for singer Tony Worsley. Laurie then rejoined The Roulettes.

Bright had previously worked mainly as a solo artist, starting his singing in Adelaide. He later moved to Melbourne and released two solo singles on the W&G Records label in 1963.

Formation[edit]

One of The Roulettes was Ron Blackmore who decided to leave the performance side of the industry and move into band management. In about 1963, Allen also left the band and he and Bright performed separately as soloists under Blackmore's management in the dance club circuit around Melbourne. On 11 March 1964, Allen made his first solo television appearance, on Graham Kennedy's In Melbourne Tonight. Later in 1964, the two appeared on The Go!! Show and soon teamed up to create a highly successful duo through their good looks, a clean cut image and sharp performances. Originally billed as Laurie Allen and Bobby Bright, the duo became regulars on the show alongside The Strangers and were paid 50 pounds per appearance.

They had the first record on the new Go Records label with I Belong With You which was released with its 45 B-side song Trouble in Mind in August 1964. The record was produced by English producer Roger Savage, who had just arrived in Australia from London where he had worked with the Rolling Stones. I Belong With You was a hit staying at number-one on the Melbourne charts for two weeks and won Laurie an Australian Record Award for 'Best Composition' in 1965.

Peak success[edit]

At this time, Bobby & Laurie started working with a Blackmore-managed backing band The Rondells (previously called The Lincolns and The Silhouettes). The duo reached their peak in late 1964, busily touring the country and appearing in numerous concert and television performances. They had dozens of engagements and personal appearances every week, with as many as six shows on a Saturday night. One unusual performance was playing 'Tweedledum' and 'Tweedledee' in a Christmas pantomime production of Alice In Wonderland at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne in December 1964.

In early 1965 the pair appeared on the Teen Scene music television show on the ABC, where they were famously dragged off the stage by screaming female fans. They appeared in the premiere episode of Channel 0's new children's program the Magic Circle Club on 23 January, playing characters 'Twoddle' and 'Boddle'.

They released three more successful singles on the Go label during 1965: Someone (which reached #3 in Melbourne), Judy Green and Crazy Country Hop which reached #25.

In May 1965 they supported a national tour by The Dave Clark Five, The Seekers and Tommy Quickly. Later in the year they supported American P. J. Proby on his national tour.

In 1966 they switched to the Albert Productions label, releasing Sweet And Tender Romance and Hitch Hiker, which gave them a national number-one hit for five weeks in May and June. At about this time they also changed management from Blackmore to Mal Fisher. On the strength of Hitch Hiker, the ABC gave them their own television show, It's A Gas, which was later rebadged as Dig We Must. The name change was designed to attract a more sophisticated 'adult' market, but lost the duo much of their 'teen' appeal which led to friction between the two singers.

After recording their last album Exposaic, the pair officially split in early 1967 after just three years as Australia's chart-topping stars.

Solo careers[edit]

After the breakup, Allen continued performing as a soul revue act initially called 'Dice', which he later renamed The 'Laurie Allen Revue'.

Bright worked in cabaret as well as some acting parts, including an appearance on television cop-show Homicide. In 1968, he became a disc-jockey at Melbourne radio station 3XY. The pair reunited on the radio program in February 1968 and shortly after made a return to the charts with a country music styled song Carroll County Accident. This was followed by Looking Through The Eyes Of Love, but they had split again by late 1971. In 1973, Bright performed as the Doctor in the Melbourne stage production of Tommy.

In the intervening years, the pair performed occasionally as Bobby & Laurie until their final "Don't Let The Music Die" concert on 1 June 2002 at the Kingston City Hall.

On 13 June 2002, Allen died suddenly from a heart attack.

Partial discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions
AUS
1965 "I Belong With You" 9
"Someone" 20
"Judy Green" 28
"Crazy Country Hop" 54
1966 "Sweet And Tender Romance" 49
"Hitch Hiker" 1
"High Noon" 14
"First Street Blues" (with The Rondells) 46
1969 "Carroll County Accident" 30
1970 "Through The Eyes Of Love" 13

Albums[edit]

  • Bobby And Laurie - 1965
  • Hitch Hiker - 1966
  • Exposaic - 1966

See also[edit]

References[edit]