The Ferrets (band)
|Associated acts||Buster Brown, Zoot|
|Past members||see Members list below|
The Ferrets were an Australian pop / rock band from Melbourne and Sydney, which formed in 1975 and disbanded in 1979. Their second single, "Don’t Fall in Love", was released in 1977 and peaked at No. 2 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart. Philip Eizenberg (guitar), Kenneth Firth (bass guitar, backing vocals), William "Billy" Miller (vocals, guitar) and David Springfield (guitar, backing vocals) formed The Ferrets and were soon joined by drummer Rick Brewer.
Ken Firth, Phil Eizenberg and William "Billy" Miller had been involved with the Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar (1972–1974) which also included singer-actors Jon English and John Paul Young.
Firth (bass guitar, backing vocals), Miller (vocals, guitar) and Dave Springfield (guitar, backing vocals) were all members of hard rockers Buster Brown (which also featured vocalist Angry Anderson later of Rose Tattoo). In November 1975 the trio left Buster Brown to join guitarist Eizenberg and formed The Ferrets. Drummer Rick Brewer (ex-Zoot) joined in April 1976 followed by Miller’s sisters Jane Miller (backing vocals, keyboard) and Pam Miller (backing vocals) in July—they were now a seven-piece band.
"Don't Fall in Love"
After favourable reactions from audiences in Melbourne and Sydney, The Ferrets produced a demo tape that caught the attention of Ian "Molly" Meldrum talent coordinator for Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV series Countdown. Meldrum had them signed to Mushroom Records and started producing their debut album, Dreams of a Love, in July 1976. In April 1977 they released their debut single, "Robin Hood", which did not chart. After nearly a year, production of the album was still incomplete, so The Ferrets took over—assisted by recording engineers Tony Cohen and Ian MacKenzie—Meldrum was attributed as "Willie Everfinish". Album production was finalised in August and it was released in October.
Meldrum had carefully crafted their first single's A side "Lies" taking weeks but the B side "Don’t Fall in Love" (written by Ian Davis and Firth) was rushed in three hours. The Ferrets premiered on Countdown in an episode compered by Jon English however, they used their B side. "Don’t Fall in Love" quickly sold out its initial pressing and many customers wanted a copy of The Ferrets' debut album – there was concern at Mushroom Records as Meldrum had not organised an album cover: a white hand stamped cardboard sleeve was issued with a promise of the album artwork to follow. The Ferrets released a promo as the single peaked at No. 1 on Melbourne’s charts and No. 2 Nationally. They were awarded with 'Best Australian TV Performer' at the 1977 King of Pop Awards for their Countdown appearances.
Although generally remembered for their biggest hit, their follow-up single "Janie May" reached No. 25 nationally and was televised on Countdown on 13 November 1977, which also featured the infamous Prince Charles interview. Their debut album Dreams of a Love achieved Gold record status and the long awaited album cover depicted a model (Wendy Bannister) holding a snarling ferret on her shoulder (front), a photo of the seven member band (back), lyrics and recording details including a photo of "Willie Everfinish" (inside).
Fame at Any Price
By the end of 1977, guitarist Eizenberg and backing vocalist Pam Miller had left. After another single, "Are You Looking at Me?" was released in April 1978, Jane Miller also left. The Ferrets continued to tour and then recorded their second album Fame At Any Price (October 1978) produced by Cohen. There were disappointing sales for the related singles "This Night" (written by Frank Howson, Firth, Miller) and "Tripsville" and for the album itself. Firth also left to be replaced successively by George Cross (previously in Jim Keays Southern Cross with Brewer) and Ric Petropolis. The Ferrets had no further chart success and disbanded in March 1979.
- Philip Eizenberg:
Played bass guitar in Mighty Guys (1980s) with Mick Hamilton and Leon Isackson. He studied martial arts from 1984 (at age 34) and was registered with the Australian Hapkido Association as a 4th Degree instructor. He played bass on Night of the Gale with Phill Raymond in 2006.
- Kenneth "Ken" David Firth:
Rejoined Miller in Billy Miller and the Great Blokes (1979–1982), then temporarily with Divinyls (1982) while they replaced out-going bassist Jeremy Paul with Rick Grossman. Firth was in Interchange Bench (1993–1998) with Miller again. He was a session musician on Miller’s CDs Victoria (1998) and Elsternwick ‘69 (2000).
- William "Billy/Bill" Harris Miller:
Produced Frank Howson’s cover version of The Ferrets' song "Killing Ourselves" (co-written by Howson and Springfield). Session musician on Howson’s The Boy Who Dared To Dream LP, member of various bands including: Billy Miller and The Great Blokes (1979–1982), The Spaniards (1983–1986), Interchange Bench (1993–1998), The Dave Graney Show (1998–2004) and Dave Graney ‘n’ The Lurid Yellow Mist (2004-?). Some of these have included Firth or Springfield.
- Dave Springfield (aka David John Schofield):
- Rick Brewer:
Later joined The Motivators (1980–1982) and Greg Baker's Blues Party.
- George Cross:
Performed in Jim Keays Band during 1999.
- Rick Petropolis:
Also in the Motivators (with Brewer) and later in Rattlesnake (1991).
Billy Miller performed "Don’t Fall in Love" for the first Countdown Spectacular Tour of Australia from June to August 2006 and can be seen on the associated DVD (disc 1 track 16). Also on this tour were Jon English and John Paul Young from his Jesus Christ Superstar days.
- Philip Eizenberg – guitar (1975–1977)
- Kenneth Firth – bass guitar (1975–1978)
- William Miller – vocals, guitar (1975–1979)
- David Springfield – guitar (1975–1979)
- Rick Brewer – drums (1976–1979)
- Jane Miller – backing vocals, keyboards (1976–1978)
- Pam Miller – backing vocals (1976–1977)
- George Cross – bass guitar (1978)
- Ric Petropolis – bass guitar (1978–1979)
- Dreams of a Love (October 1977, Mushroom Records/Charisma Records) AUS No. 20
- Fame at Any Price (October 1978, Mushroom Records)
- "Robin Hood" (April 1977, Mushroom Records)
- "Don’t Fall in Love" (July 1977, Mushroom Records/Charisma Records) AUS No. 2
- "Janie May" (November 1977, Mushroom Records) AUS No. 25
- "Are You Looking at Me" (April 1978, Mushroom Records)
- "This Night" (September 1978, Mushroom Records)
- “Tripsville” (January 1979, Mushroom Records)
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