Ross Wilson (musician)

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Ross Wilson
Ross Wilson (musician) at Royal Theatre, Canberra.jpg
Ross Wilson in December 2011
Background information
Birth name Ross Andrew Wilson
Born (1947-11-18) 18 November 1947 (age 67)
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Rock and roll, progressive rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active 1964–present
Labels Sparmac
Wizard
Sony/BMG
Liberation
Associated acts The Pink Finks
The Party Machine
Sons of the Vegetal Mother
Daddy Cool
Mondo Rock
Mighty Kong
Urban Legends
Website Official website

Ross Andrew Wilson[1] (born 18 November 1947, Melbourne, Victoria) is an Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer who fronted the groups Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock, and produced albums by Australian band Skyhooks.[2] He has also performed solo, and as a judge on celebrity singing TV series It Takes Two from 2005.[3] Wilson was individually inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1989 and again as a member of Daddy Cool in 2006.[4][5]

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Wilson's father was an amateur jazz musician and his mother would play classical music on the piano at their home in Hampton, Victoria a suburb of Melbourne.[2] Wilson learnt to sing harmonies with the local Anglican church choir and was selected as a wedding singer.[2] In 1958, at ten and a half years old, he and his brother Bruce Wilson attended their first Rock & Roll show featuring Johnny O'Keefe, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly and the Crickets.[2] A car accident in 1963 caused severe injuries. During recovery over subsequent months, Wilson took up harmonica playing and would copy from records to develop his playing style.[2]

Wilson began his musical career in 1964 and formed his first band The Pink Finks with thirteen-year-old Ross Hannaford (guitar and vocals), who would become his long-time musical partner, whilst both were still at school.[6][7] They released a cover version of "Louie Louie" as a single in 1965[7] and followed with three more singles.[8] At about this time he met Patricia Higgins (future Pat Wilson) whilst working at the Department of Supply.[2] The Pink Finks was followed by the more progressively oriented The Party Machine (1967–69) still with Hannaford, but included Mike Rudd on bass (later in Spectrum).[7] Compensation for his earlier car accident was received by 1969, which enabled Wilson to travel to England with Pat. He had been invited by friend Brian Peacock (bass guitar) to join his band Procession.[6] Whilst there, Wilson married Pat, recorded an album Procession with the band and wrote the song "Eagle Rock".[2] Wilson returned to Australia later that year and formed Sons of the Vegetal Mother (1969–70), again including Hannaford and Rudd.[6][7]

1970–1976: Daddy Cool and producing Skyhooks[edit]

In 1970 Sons of the Vegetal Mother formed a side-project called Daddy Cool.[6][7] The original members were Wilson, Hannaford (vocals and guitars), Gary Young (drums, vocals) and Wayne Duncan (bass, vocals), other members that joined, included saxophonist Jeremy Noone and guitarist Ian Winter.[7]

Known for their "good time" image, Daddy Cool's repertoire mixed covers of 1950s R&B and doo-wop classics with original compositions mostly written by Wilson and influenced by the work of Frank Zappa.[6] The band signed to the independent Sparmac label, co-owned by producer and former child prodigy guitarist Robie Porter.[6] Daddy Cool became very popular in Australia and their records also gained a following in the USA and Canada in the early 1970s. They scored a nationwide No. 1 hit in Australia in mid-1970 with the single "Eagle Rock" and their debut LP, Daddy Who? Daddy Cool, also reached No. 1 to set a record as the biggest selling Australian album to that time.[6][9] The "Eagle Rock" promo was directed by Chris Löfvén who had earlier that year directed the video for Spectrum's single "I'll Be Gone".[6]

Around this time Ross and wife Pat both appeared naked in a short film directed by Chris Löfvén titled "The Beginning" which is an extra on the DVD release of Oz.

After Daddy Cool broke up late in 1972, Wilson and Hannaford formed the short-lived Mighty Kong which included former Spectrum drummer Ray Arnott and Company Caine guitarist Russell Smith.[7] They recorded only one LP, All I Wanna Do Is Rock released on Porter's new label Wizard Records, but the band broke up soon after.[6] Whilst performing with Mighty Kong, Wilson was impressed by a fledgling Melbourne band called Skyhooks and signed their main songwriter Greg Macainsh to his publishing company.[2]

Daddy Cool made a surprise reformation for the January 1974 Sunbury Pop Festival and remained together until late 1975.[6] Also performing at Sunbury in 1974 were Skyhooks and, despite being booed off stage, Wilson recommended the band to Mushroom Records boss Michael Gudinski. In June / July 1974 Wilson took time off from Daddy Cool and produced Skyhook's breakthrough debut album Living in the Seventies, which overtook Daddy Cool's first album to become the biggest-selling Australian LP.[6] He went on to produce their next two albums, Ego is not a Dirty Word (1975) and Straight in a Gay Gay World (1976), both of which were also successes in Australia.[6][9]

1976–1991: Mondo Rock and solo[edit]

Main articles: Oz (1976 film) and Mondo Rock

Contractual problems with Porter's Wizard label, to whom Wilson was signed at the time, forced him to wait out the end of his recording contract. He turned to producing records for Skyhooks on Mushroom Records and Company Caine on his own label Oz Records. When his contractual obligations ended, Wilson also scored Chris Löfvén's 1976 film, Oz, inspired by The Wizard of Oz but set in Australia.[10] Wilson performed "Livin' in the Land of Oz" (also released as a single), "The Mood", "Greaseball", "Who's Gonna Love You Tonight" and "Atmospherics", with fellow ex-Daddy Cool members Gary Young and Wayne Burt; he produced the soundtrack which also featured the film's stars Joy Dunstan and Graham Matters singing a track each and two tracks by Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons.[11] Jo Jo Zep, containing Young and Burt, were also signed to Oz Records and released the single "Beating Around the Bush" from the soundtrack.[11]

To promote his single, Wilson formed Mondo Rock:

My longest lasting project, Mondo Rock (76–90) started as an occasional thing to help promote my 1st solo single "Living in the Land of Oz" & it wasn't until 1978 that we issued our debut single[12]

—Ross Wilson, 2001

Mondo Rock went through several incarnations but the best known line-up included bassist Paul Christie (ex-Kevin Borich Express, later in The Party Boys), guitarist and songwriter Eric McCusker, (ex-The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band), drummer John Hackett (ex-Stars) and James Black on keyboards and guitar. Wilson also produced the band's first single in 1978 "Fugitive Kind" and first album, 1979's Primal Park for his own Oz Records label. Greatest singles success was with 1980's "State of the Heart", 1981's "Chemistry" and "Cool World" all from their award-winning second album Chemistry released in 1981 on Avenue Records. 1980s teen-idol Rick Springfield recorded "State of the Heart" in 1985, making the U.S Top 40. McCusker had written "State of the Heart",[13] co-written "Chemistry" with Christie,[14] and Wilson had written "Cool World".[15] Mondo Rock released Nuovo Mondo in 1982 which included their track "Touch of Paradise" written by Wilson and Gulliver Smith[16] (aka Kevin Smith, ex-Company Caine) this became a 1986 hit when covered by Australian pop singer John Farnham (ex-Little River Band).

In 1983, Wilson wrote a song, "Bop Girl"[17] for his then wife Pat Wilson aka "Mummy Cool" when writing for Go-Set magazine back in 1971–1972. As a single, it featured Ross on backing vocals, and became an Australian No. 2 hit[9] and even gained recognition internationally. It also had a video directed by Gillian Armstrong, which featured not only Ross, but the actual screen debut of Nicole Kidman.

Mondo Rock released further albums including The Modern Bop in 1984, which had their best charting single "Come Said the Boy" (#2 on National singles chart)[9] and "The Modern Bop"; and Boom Baby Boom in 1986, Aliens (EP) in 1987 and Why Fight it? in 1990. The later albums and singles had little chart success. Wilson's most successful solo release was 1989's "Bed of Nails" which reached No. 25 on the National singles charts.[18] It was released from his July 1989 solo album Dark Side of the Man on WEA.

1990s and beyond[edit]

Wilson returned to performing in the late 1990s and he has released two albums of new material plus a two-CD retrospective covering his entire career, including many rare tracks.) He has also collaborated with children's group The Wiggles, singing on their re-recording of "Eagle Rock" and playing the part of "King Mondo" in the video "Space Dancing". Wilson also appeared as "King Mondo" on the 2004 video "Santa's Rockin'!" singing This Little Baby Is Born Again.[19]

In 1996 Wilson was part of the pre-game entertainment at the ARL Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium, with other famous Australian music acts, The Del Tones, Glenn Shorrock, Christine Anu and Kate Ceberano. Wilson sang "Eagle Rock", which would ironically later be adopted by the winners of the Grand Final, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, as their team anthem.

Wilson was approached in early 2006 by St Kilda Football Club president Rod Butterss to re-write the St Kilda theme song When The Saints Go Marching In

Ross Wilson has appeared as a judge on the Seven Network celebrity reality singing competition It Takes Two in both 2006 and 2007 series, and was featured in the ABC interview series Talking Heads with Peter Thompson on 9 July 2007.[2]

In 2008, Wilson was invited to Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California to perform the song "Eagle Rock" at the Eagle Rock Music Festival.[20]

In August 2009 Wilson celebrated 45 years in music with the commemorative "5 Decades of Cool" concert at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda, Melbourne.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson has a brother, Bruce Wilson, who designed the logo for the Mojo Label under which The Pink Finks released "Louie Louie",[22] Bruce also design the logo for The Party Machine, and printed their "obscene and seditious" songbook.[23] Ross Wilson's first wife, Pat Wilson, was a journalist and, briefly, a pop star with "Bop Girl" (written by Wilson)[24] in 1983 and reached No. 2.[9] On the promo video for "Eagle Rock" a pregnant Pat Wilson is in the front row of the concert footage.[2] They were married for twenty years, from 1969 to about 1989.[2][not in citation given] His second wife, Tania has been married to Wilson from 1999 and they have three children Athina, Dimitri and step daughter Olympia Valance[2][not in citation given]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums with Ross Wilson:

The Pink Finks[edit]

Main article: The Pink Finks
  • In Group (EP) (1965) [In E2558]
  • Louie Louie (EP) (December 1980) [Raven RV06] – "Louie Louie" / "Back Door Man", "Comin' Home" / "You're Good For Me" / "Rub My Root" / "Something Else" / "Untie Me"

The Party Machine[edit]

  • "You've All Gotta Go"/"Gentle Art" (7") (1969) EMI/Columbia

Procession[edit]

Main article: Procession (band)
  • Procession (1969)

Sons of the Vegetal Mother[edit]

  • Garden Party (EP) (November 1970) – Only 250 copies were produced

Daddy Cool[edit]

Main article: Daddy Cool (band)

Mighty Kong[edit]

Main article: Mighty Kong (band)
  • All I Wanna Do (1973) Wizard
  • "Calling All Cats" / "Hard Drugs (Are Bad For You)" (December 1973) Wizard

Skyhooks[edit]

Main article: Skyhooks (band)

as Producer, session musician

Oz Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Oz (1976 film)

as Producer, main performer on 7 tracks, session musician on others

  • Oz (1976)

Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons[edit]

as Producer, session musician

  • Don't Waste It! (1976)
  • Whip It Out (1977)

Mondo Rock[edit]

Main article: Mondo Rock
  • Primal Park (1979) also produced
  • Chemistry (1981)
  • Nuovo Mondo (1982)
  • The Modern Bop (1984) also co-produced
  • Boom Baby Boom (1986)
  • Aliens (EP, 1987)
  • Why Fight It? (1991)

Solo[edit]

  • Dark Side of the Man (1989)
  • Go Bongo Go Wild! (2001) also co-produced
  • Country and Wilson (2003) also co-produced
  • Tributary (2008) Liberation Blue

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Eagle Rock" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Ross Wilson interview on Talking Heads with Peter Thompson". ABC. 9 July 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  3. ^ "Ross Wilson entry". IMDb. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  4. ^ "ARIA presents the 2006 ARIA Hall of Fame". ARIA. 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  5. ^ "ARIA Awards 2007: About Hall of Fame". ARIA Awards. Retrieved 8 May 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Daddy Cool". Milesago. Retrieved 8 May 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Daddy Cool". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  8. ^ "Ross Wilson on Saturday Night Country". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 May 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  10. ^ Oz (1976) at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ a b "Oz (1976) soundtrack". IMDb. Retrieved 16 May 2008. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Ross (October 2001). "Ross Wilson Bio". Ross Wilson. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  13. ^ ""State of the Heart" at Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA)". APRA. Retrieved 20 May 2008. [dead link]
  14. ^ ""Chemistry" at APRA". APRA. Retrieved 20 May 2008. [dead link]
  15. ^ ""Cool World" at APRA". APRA. Retrieved 20 May 2008. [dead link]
  16. ^ ""Touch of Paradise" APRA". APRA. Retrieved 18 May 2008. [dead link]
  17. ^ ""Bop Girl" at APRA". APRA. Retrieved 20 May 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Ross Wilson – "Bed of Nails"". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  19. ^ "This Little Baby is Born Again". Ross Wilson. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  20. ^ Cashmere, Paul (9 May 2008). "Ross Wilson To Perform Eagle Rock For Eagle Rock". undercover.com.au. Retrieved 14 May 2008. 
  21. ^ Ross Wilson official website
  22. ^ "The Pink Finks". Milesago. Retrieved 16 May 2008. 
  23. ^ "The Party Machine". Milesago. Retrieved 16 May 2008. 
  24. ^ ""Bop Girl" entry at Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)". APRA. Retrieved 7 May 2008. [dead link]