Band of Light

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Band of Light
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active1972 (1972)–1974 (1974)
Past members
  • Tony Buettel
  • Phil Key
  • Peter Roberts
  • Norm Roue
  • Ian Rilen
  • Dannie Davidson
  • Billy Williams
  • Eddie Hansen
  • Ray Vanderby

Band of Light were an Australian blues rock quartet formed in October 1972 by Tony Buettel on drums, Phil Key on lead vocals and guitar, Peter Roberts on bass guitar and Norm Roue on slide guitar. Roberts was soon replaced by Ian Rilen on bass guitar. They had a top 20 hit single, "The Destiny Song" (July 1973) on the Go-Set National Charts. The group released two albums, Total Union (August 1973) – which peaked at No. 13 – and The Archer (1974) before disbanding in late 1974. Phil Key died in May 1984 of a congenital heart condition; Ian Rilen died of bladder cancer in October 2006.


Band of Light were an Australian blues-rock band formed in Sydney in October 1972 by New Zealand-born Phil Key (ex-the Mergers) on lead vocals and lead guitar from New Zealand-formed band, the La De Das, which had relocated to Sydney, in 1968.[1][2][3] He recruited latter day band mate, Peter Roberts (ex-Freshwater, the La De Das) on bass guitar.[1][2][3] Norm Roue (ex-Gutbucket, Lotus, Wolfe) on slide guitar and Tony Buettel (ex-Bay City Union, Levi Smith's Clefs, Fraternity, Band of Talabene) on drums joined to complete the line-up.[1][3] Soon after Ian Rilen (ex-Space, Lotus) replaced Roberts on bass guitar.[1][3] They appeared at the 1973 Sunbury Music Festival in January and their track, "Messin' with the Kid", was included on a live triple LP, Sunbury 1973 – The Great Australian Rock Festival.[1][4]

The band was a vehicle for Key to develop his own songs, mostly co-written with his wife Pam Key, under the pseudonym of Wheel, using a quasi-religious philosophy which explored themes of racial equality, social justice, spiritual harmony and cosmic enlightenment.[1][4] The music was energetic and funky with a heavy blues and boogie style interlaced with intense slide guitar work.[1][4] In early 1973 they signed with WEA, which issued their debut single, "The Destiny Song", in July.[1] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described it as, "[an] infectious boogie rocker."[1] It peaked at No. 18 on the Go-Set Singles Chart.[5]

They worked consistently touring from Sydney to Melbourne doing pub gigs and concerts whilst playing alongside Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, Carson, Coloured Balls (Lobby Loyde's band), Chain, Madder Lake and Buffalo.[1][4] They released their debut studio album, Total Union (August 1973), which peaked at No. 13 on the Go-Set Albums Chart.[1] Garry Raffaele of The Canberra Times observed, "[they] have the sort of deep, rumbling sound which turns on the disco-goers. It's thumpy and bumpy and makes you want to get up and dance your fool head off."[6] McFarlane felt, "Mostly [it] was standard hard rock, slow 12-bar blues and boogie, but the best tracks revealed [the group] to be an energetic and funky rock band."[1] Another single, "Free Them from Hunger", also appeared in August but it did not chart.[1] It was followed by a non-album single, "Moonstruck", in November and then a four-track self-titled, compilation extended play; but neither charted.[1][3]

In mid-1974 Buettel, Rilen and Rouen all left and Key formed a new line-up with Dannie Davidson (ex-Tamam Shud, Kahvas Jute) on drums and Billy Williams (ex-Classic Affair) on bass guitar to record the group's second album, The Archer, was issued in that year.[1][3] McFarlane noticed it has, "a much drier sound than the debut and failed to chart."[1] The band were expanded by Eddie Hansen (ex-Ticket) on lead guitar and Ray Vanderby on keyboards joining for live performances.[1][3] Key disbanded the group in late 1974.


Buettel became a record producer and worked with Uncanny X-Men and Strange Tenants in the 1980s.[4] Key left the music industry and became a taxi driver in Sydney.[1] Phillip Andrew Key died in May 1984 of a congenital heart condition.[1] Peters worked with Chariot, Flake and Rockwell T. James, the Romantics and Audio Smash.[3][4] Rilen was a member of various groups, Blackfeather (1975), Rose Tattoo (1976–77), Sardine v (1980–83), and X (1977-79, 1983-90).[1][3] Ian William Rilen died from bladder cancer, at the age of 59, on 30 October 2006.[4]

Band of Light's releases have been sought after as rarities with vinyl versions of Total Union fetching up to A$300, The Archer USD$100 and the EP, Band of Light USD$250. Total Union was re-released in May 2006 as a remastered CD with five bonus tracks.[4]

Band members[edit]

  • Tony Buettel – drums (1972–74)
  • Phil Key – lead vocals, guitar (1972–74)
  • Peter Roberts – bass guitar (1972)
  • Norm Roue – slide guitar (1972–74)
  • Ian Rilen – bass guitar (1972–74)
  • Dannie Davidson – drums (1974)
  • Bill Williams – bass guitar (1974)
  • Eddie Hansen – lead guitar (1974)
  • Ray Vanderby – keyboards (1974)



  • Total Union (August 1973) Warner Music Group/WEA (WS 20011) AUS: No. 13
    • Remastered CD (15 May 2006) Aztec Music (AVSCD012)
  1. "My First Home"
  2. "Free Them from Hunger"
  3. "Spaces of Time"
  4. "If"
  5. "Earthbound Blues"
  6. "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"
  • Bonus tracks
  1. "The Destiny Song"
  2. "Over 'B'"
  3. "Moonstruck"
  4. "Messin’ with the Kid" (live)
  5. "The Cat"
  • The Archer (1974) – Warner (WEA) (600011)
  1. "The Archer"
  2. "Bread & Wine"
  3. "Indigo Heaven"
  4. "Invitation"
  5. "My Black Swan"
  6. "Our Reason for Being"
  7. "Seeker"
  8. "Silis the Sun"

Extended plays[edit]

  1. "The Destiny Song"
  2. "If"
  3. "Moonstruck"
  4. " Free Them from Hunger" (short version)


  • "The Destiny Song" (April 1973) (WS 20011) AUS: No. 18 Warner Music Group/WEA (WBA 4035)
  • "Free Them from Hunger" (short version) (1973) Warner Bros (WBA 4043)
  • "Moonstruck" (November 1973) Warner Bros (WBA 4055)
  • "The Archer, A Sagittarian Rhapsody" (November 74) Warner Bros (WB100006)


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2013. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t McFarlane, 'Band of Light' entry. Archived from the original on 6 April 2004. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b McFarlane, 'La De Das' entry. Archived from the original on 29 November 2002. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Entries at the Australian Rock Database
    • Band of Light: – Holmgren, Magnus. "Band of Light". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
    • Ian Rilen (1972–74): – Holmgren, Magnus. "Ian Rilen". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kimball, Duncan (2002). "Band of Light". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Archived from the original on 15 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  5. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (21 July 1973). "Singles and Albums Charts". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  6. ^ Raffaele, Garry (31 December 1973). "Rock Music The Singer not the Song". The Canberra Times. 48 (13, 631). p. 9. Retrieved 26 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia.

External links[edit]