Absent Friends (band)

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Absent Friends
Also known asSean Kelly and His Absent Friends
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active1989–1990
Associated actsModels, Rockmelons, INXS, Machinations, GANGgajang, Eurogliders, The Dukes, Peter Blakeley
Past membersSean Kelly
James Valentine
Garry Gary Beers
Geoffrey Stapleton
Wendy Matthews
Michael King
John Mackay
Ron Francois

Absent Friends were an Australian band from Sydney. The band was relatively short lived, forming in 1989 and disbanding in 1990. It featured a number of notable Australian musicians including Sean Kelly (Models, The Dukes), Andrew Duffield, James Valentine (both also ex-Models), Garry Gary Beers (INXS), Geoffrey Stapleton (GANGgajang) and Wendy Matthews.


Following the break-up of Models in 1988,[1] Sean Kelly attempted to launch a solo career with the single "Thank You, Goodnight" (March 1988)[2] (which happened to be the name of Models' last tour), but the single was not a commercial success and in early 1989 Kelly found himself at a loose end. Kelly contacted a number of friends, with a view of putting together an informal band to play a few gigs. The impromptu cooperative was initially dubbed Sean Kelly and His Absent Friends. The initial line-up varied, usually dependent upon the availability of individual members at any given time. Sean Kelly and His Absent Friends kicked off life as a touring act in May 1989, with Kelly (vocals/guitar) joined on occasion by his partner Wendy Matthews (vocals)[3](who performed backing vocals for Models and was a guest vocalist on the Rockmelons debut and ARIA award winning album, Tales of the City), Garry Gary Beers (the bassist for INXS),[4] Nicole Ainslie (keyboards/vocals), Andrew Duffield (keyboards) ex-Models, James Valentine (saxophone) ex-Models, Danglin' Brothers guitarist Michael King ex-Jimmy Barnes, and drummer John Mackay ex-Machinations.[5] Within a couple of months the high-profile group were supporting Crowded House at their July 1989 'Rock For Land Rights' concert.[2]

In late 1989 the band entered the recording studio to record a few original tracks that they had been playing live. The first single released by the newly named Absent Friends was "Hallelujah" in November 1989. The single peaked at number 100 on the ARIA Charts in January 1990. In March 1990, a second single titled "Hullabaloo" was released and peaked at number 46 on the Australian charts.[6]

The album, Here's Looking Up Your Address was released on rooArt in April 1990 and peaked at number 7 on the ARIA Charts.[6]

The album's third single, "I Don't Want to Be with Nobody but You" was a significant commercial success. It was a cover of the Eddie Floyd song. "I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You", peaked at number 4 on the Australian charts in July 1990 and was certified gold.[6] At the ARIA Music Awards of 1991, the song won the ARIA Award for Best Single.[7] The album yielded one more minor hit with "Harmony" reaching number 92 on the Australian singles charts.[6] The band toured Australian throughout 1990, out of which a promotion live EP, Networking Live was reordered.[2][5]

Later in 1990 Absent Friends supported INXS on an eight-week European tour, with ex-Eurogliders bassist Ron Francois taking Beers' place and GANGgajang keyboardist Geoff Stapleton filling the void on keyboards left by the departure of Duffield.[8] Ainslie and Valentine also left the band at this time.[2][5] The band played 10,000 seat stadiums through Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and England (including five performances at Wembley Arena).

Soon after Kelly decided that Absent Friends had run its course, and the band members went their separate ways.

Matthews soon after recorded her debut album, Émigré,[9] whilst Kelly and Stapleton pieced together another band during 1991 called The Dukes.


  • Wendy Matthews – lead/vocal (1989–1990)
  • Sean Kelly – lead vocal/guitar (1989–1990)
  • Michael "Mick" King – lead guitar/vocal (1989–1990)
  • Garry Gary Beers – bass/vocal (1989–1990)
  • Ron Francois – bass/vocal (1990)
  • John Mackay – drums/percussion/keyboards/vocal (1989–1990)
  • Geoffrey Stapleton – keyboards (1990)
  • James Valentine – saxophone (1989)
  • Andrew Duffield – keyboards (1989)
  • Nicole Ainslie – keyboards/vocal (1989)


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1990 Here's Looking Up Your Address 7

Extended plays[edit]

Year Album details
1990 Networking Live
  • Released: December 1990
  • Label: rooArt (878671-1)
  • Formats: 12" LP


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"Hallelujah" 1989 100 Here's Looking Up Your Address
"Hullabaloo" 1990 46
"I Don't Want to Be with Nobody but You"
(as Absent Friends featuring Wendy Matthews)
"Harmony" 92

Awards and nominations[edit]

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. Lewis has won three awards from 14 nominations.[10][11]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1991 "I Don't Want to Be with Nobody but You" ARIA Award for Single of the Year Won
ARIA Award for Breakthrough Artist – Single Nominated
Here's Looking Up Your Address ARIA Award for Breakthrough Artist – Album Nominated


  1. ^ "Long Way to the Top: The Models". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Absent Friends'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  3. ^ "Talking Heads:Wendy Matthews". ABC TV. 30 May 2005. Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  4. ^ "INX Band Bios: Garry Beers". INXS.com. Archived from the original on 2 June 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  5. ^ a b c Holmgren, Magnus; Francois, Ron. "Absent Friends". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  7. ^ "1991 Aria Awards". ARIA. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  8. ^ "Absent Friends". GANGgajang.com. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  9. ^ "Wendy Matthews". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  10. ^ "ARIA Awards Search Results – Dean Lewis". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 5 April 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  11. ^ "ARIA Awards 2019: Tones and I wins big & Human Nature Hall of Fame". MediaWeek. 27 November 2019. Archived from the original on 27 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.