Beeb Birtles

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Beeb Birtles
Birth name Gerard Bertelkamp
Born (1948-11-28) 28 November 1948 (age 67)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Origin Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Genres Folk rock, pop rock, soft rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar
Years active 1964–present
Labels Columbia, RCA, EMI, Capitol, MCA, Universal, Sonic Sorbet
Associated acts Zoot, Mississippi, Little River Band, Birtles & Goble, Birtles Shorrock Goble

Beeb Birtles (born Gerard Bertelkamp, 28 November 1948), is a Dutch-Australian musician, both a singer-songwriter and guitarist (bass, electric or acoustic). He has been a member of various Australian groups including Zoot (1967–71), Mississippi (1972–74), Little River Band (1975–83), and Birtles Shorrock Goble (2002–07). He has also worked as a solo artist, including releasing an album, Driven by Dreams (2000). In 2004 Birtles and other members of the classic line-up of Little River Band were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Beeb Birtles was born on 28 November 1948 as Gerard Bertelkamp in Amsterdam, Netherlands to Gerard Bertelkamp senior (born 30 May 1923), a carpenter and building contractor, and Elisabeth Hendrika (née Deubel on 8 January 1924).[1] He has a younger sister, Elisabeth H (born 17 September 1952).[1] Birtles later recalled seeing his parents singing in an amateur operetta in Amsterdam "I was very young and I went with my grandparents. They took me to the theatre to see my parents, and, er, I was so young that I actually called out my mother's name from the audience!".[2]

The Bertelkamp family emigrated to Australia in September 1959 aboard MS Willem Ruys.[3] The family settled in Adelaide where Birtles attended Netley Primary School – he was held back a year due to his language problems.[4] He discovered a passion for music while attending Plympton High School.[2] His mother taught him to sing "after dinner at night, we would sing together. And she would take the melody and I would take the harmony".[2] While at high school he was nicknamed "B.B. Eyes", after a Dick Tracy character from the associated TV cartoon show, it soon became "BB".[2]


1966 Times Unlimited
Down The Line
1967 Zoot
1971 Frieze
1972 Mississippi
1975 Little River Band

(including Birtles & Goble 1978–1980)
1983 Beeb Birtles
2002 Birtles Shorrock Goble
2007 Beeb Birtles

(including reformed Zoot in 2011)

In 1966 after high school Beeb Birtles, initially on lead guitar and harmony vocals, formed his first group, Times Unlimited, with his school mate, John D'Arcy on guitars and vocals; they were joined by Ted Higgins on drums and a bass guitarist.[2][5][6] D'Arcy was from Manchester and introduced Birtles to the music of The Hollies.[2] When the bass guitarist left, Birtles took over that instrument and soon they asked Darryl Cotton to join on lead vocals.[5][7]

Times Unlimited changed their name to Down the Line in homage of The Hollies' cover version of Roy Orbison's "Go Go Go (Down the Line)".[5][7][8] During 1966 Down the Line played regular gigs in their home town, Adelaide, including a Friday night residency at Scot's Church, performing covers of English Mod groups: The Hollies, The Move, The Who and The Small Faces.[5][7] By May 1967 they backed English-born singer Johnny Farnham and as session musicians they were used on demos, which secured Farnham's contract with EMI Records.[5] One of the demos, "In My Room", became the B-side of Farnham's debut single, "Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)" (November 1967).[2][5]

By June 1967 the group had changed their name to Zoot.[5][7][9] They moved to Melbourne by mid-1968, where they recorded their debut single, "You'd Better Get Goin' Now".[7] At this time Birtles adopted his professional name: Cotton had shortened his nickname to "Beeb", and Birtles Anglicised the first two syllables of Bertelkamp.[2] Birtles and Cotton co-wrote "Little Roland Lost",[10] which was issued as the B-side of Zoot's June 1969 single, "Monty & Me".[5] As a member of Zoot, Birtles appeared on all their recorded material including both of their studio albums, Just Zoot (1970) and Zoot Out (1971), but they broke up in May 1971.[7][9]

After Zoot, Birtles and Cotton performed together as an eponymous pop, soft rock duo, Daryl and Beeb, which were renamed as Frieze for their sponsors – a clothing company.[7][9] Teenage-themed newspaper, Go-Set, published its annual reader pop poll in July where Birtles appeared second as Best Bass Guitarist behind The Masters Apprentices member, Glenn Wheatley.[11] The duo issued an album, 1972 B. C. in May 1972, which was produced by Brian Cadd, but the group disbanded in the next month.[7][9]

In July that year Birtles was asked to join a folk rock band, Mississippi, which like Zoot had moved from Adelaide to Melbourne.[7][9][12] The new line-up with Birtles on vocals and guitar, by October, were three of its founders, Graham Goble on vocals and guitar; Russ Johnson on vocals and guitar; John Mower on lead vocals (all ex-Allison Gros); and fellow new members Colin DeLuca on bass guitar (ex-Fugitives); and Derek Pellicci on drums (ex-Ash).[9][12]

During 1973 the group issued a single, "Early Morning", which had been co-written by Birtles with Goble and Johnson.[12] It peaked at No. 56 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart.[13] In January 1974 Mississippi appeared at the Sunbury Pop Festival and then released another single, "Will I?", which was co-written by Birtles and former band mate, Cotton.[12][14] It reached No. 26.[13] They toured the United Kingdom from May that year, where they "made little headway" and various members left the group.[12] In London they met with fellow Australian musicians Glenn Shorrock (ex-Twilights) and Wheatley – both expressed a desire to return to Australia and work on a new version of Mississippi.[12][15]

In early 1975 Mississippi band members Birtles, Goble, and Pellicci, had returned to Australia where they recruited Shorrock on lead vocals and Wheatley as their manager.[9][15] They soon changed their name to Little River Band (LRB) and by year's end included Ric Formosa on guitar and Roger McLachlan on bass guitar.[9][15] This line-up released their debut self-titled album in November, which was co-produced by Birtles, Goble, Shorrock and Wheatley.[9][15] It peaked at No. 12 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart.[13] Their lead single, "Curiosity (Killed the Cat)", which was written by Birtles,[16] appeared ahead of the album in September and reached No. 15 on the related singles chart.[13][15] Soon after LRB moved to the United States and became "the first Australian band of the 1970s to gain significant international success, paving the way for AC/DC, Air Supply, Men at Work and INXS".[15]

In July 2003 he told Debbie Kruger of Melbourne Weekly Magazine about writing the group's first hit single:

I wrote "Curiosity (Killed the Cat)" in London in 1974 when I was in the band Mississippi. [Goble’s] wife had been given a kitten, which I would see running around the house we shared, and the idea for "Curiosity (Killed the Cat)" came to me. The lyrics in the song pertain more to me being the crazy cat and my girlfriend at the time being the one to keep me on an even keel. It's a song about hope and hanging on to your dreams no matter what!

— Beeb Birtles, Melbourne Weekly Magazine, 6–12 July 2003.[17]

From 1978 to 1980 while still with LRB, Birtles & Goble also performed and recorded together as a duo, they issued three singles "Lonely Lives" (February 1978), "I'm Coming Home" (April 1979) and "How I Feel Tonight" (June 1980).[15] In 1979 he had married Donna Brucks, the US assistant to LRB's booking agent. In May of the next year Birtles & Goble released an album, Last Romance.[15] He told Kruger "I never felt 'pressured' to write hit songs because I've always written from my heart. In the early days quite a few of my songs were picked to be the singles and as we started to become more popular in the States, [Shorrock's] and [Goble's] songs were chosen to be the singles. We always left the choosing of the singles to the record label. As long as I had a few songs on each album, there were no complaints. We were selling millions of albums anyway, so people were still hearing my songs".[17]

After a run of major international chart and critical successes from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, Birtles left LRB in October 1983.[9][15] Birtles and Donna lived in Melbourne: they have two daughters, Hannah and Emmie. He gave his reasons for leaving the group: "I realised I was well and truly burned out from being on the road, travelling the world for eight years straight. It was the right decision at the time for me because my daughters were young and I got to spend their formative years at home with them".[17] During this period Birtles produced a variety of releases, including Steve Grace's album, Children of the Western World (1988),[9][18] the first Australian Christian artist album to be certified gold.[19][20]

In 1992, Birtles moved to the US with his family. They briefly settled in Donna's hometown of Jefferson, before moving to Nashville, where he and his wife still live – both daughters graduated from college in the US. In 1998 Birtles and Bill Cuomo established Sonic Sorbet, a music production company. Sonic Sorbet has produced albums for a number of recording artists, including Birtles' first solo album Driven by Dreams, released in 2000.[21]

From February 2002 to 2007, Birtles joined with Shorrock and Goble to form Birtles Shorrock Goble, initially they wanted to perform as The Original Little River Band.[22] However, they were not entitled to use the name Little River Band as it was legally owned by Stephen Housden, the group's guitarist from August 1981 to 2006, after previous members had been paid out upon leaving.[22] Kruger described the situation "due to clumsy paper work and general disinterest on the part of original band members as they each left the group in the 1990s".[17]

During this period, Birtles won music awards, including a gold award for the DVD Full Circle, Classic Rock Performers of the Year[23] and induction into the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame. In 2004 Birtles and other members of the classic line-up of Little River Band – Goble (1975–92), Pellicci (1975–84, 1987–98), Shorrock (1975–82, 1987–96), David Briggs (guitarist, 1976–81), and George McArdle (bass guitarist, 1976–79) – were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.[24]

In 2011 Birtles joined other key members of Zoot – Cotton, Rick Brewer and Rick Springfield – for a short performance cruise out from Miami.[25][26] Further reunions of Zoot were prevented by the death of Darryl Cotton in July 2012.[25][26] Birtles continued to write and produce music in Nashville.


Studio albums[edit]

Beeb Birtles is credited with: composer, guitar (bass, electric, acoustic, rhythm), vocals (lead, harmony), producer, mixing.[9][27] Studio albums with Beeb Birtles:

  • Just Zoot (1970)
  • Zoot Out (1971)
Little River Band
Year Album Peak chart positions
1975 Little River Band 17 80
1976 After Hours 5
1977 Diamantina Cocktail 2 49
1978 Sleeper Catcher 4 16
1979 First Under the Wire 2 10
1981 Time Exposure 9 21
1983 The Net 11 61
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
  • Driven by Dreams (25 April 2000)
Birtles Shorrock Goble
  • Full Circle (6 October 2003)


  1. ^ a b "Digital Copy of Item with Barcode 1200175". National Archives of Australia. p. 19. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Kilby, David (1999). "The Beeb Birtles Interview". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Digital Copy of item with Barcode 7520072". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Beeb Birtles (Little River Band)". Australia's Baby Boomer Generation. Baby Boomer Central (Stephen Yarrow). 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Kimball, Duncan. "Zoot". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Spencer et al, (2007) "'Times Unlimited' Entry"
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i McFarlane, 'Zoot' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived August 9, 2004). Archived from the original on 9 August 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  8. ^ Spencer et al, (2007) "'Down the Line' Entry"
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Beeb Birtles entries at Australian Rock Database:
    • Beeb Birtles: Holmgren, Magnus; McCarthy, Ken; Warnqvist, Stefan (23 September 2006). "Beeb Birtles". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
    • Zoot (1967–71): Holmgren, Magnus (23 September 2006). "Zoot". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
    • Frieze (1971–72): Holmgren, Magnus (23 September 2006). "Frieze". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 5 November 2003. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
    • Mississippi (1973–74): Holmgren, Magnus; Warnqvist, Stefan (23 September 2006). "Mississippi". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
    • Little River Band (1975–83): Holmgren, Magnus; Reboulet, Scott; Warnqvist, Stefan; Sciuto, Tony (18 February 2007). "Little River Band". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "'Little Roland Lost' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 20 August 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Little Roland Lost; or at 'Performer:' Zoot
  11. ^ Kent, David Martin (September 2002). "The place of Go-Set in rock and pop music culture in Australia, 1966 to 1974 (chapter 'Pop Poll Results 1971 Australian')" (PDF). Canberra, ACT: University of Canberra: 261. Retrieved 20 August 2014.  Note: This PDF is 282 pages.
  12. ^ a b c d e f McFarlane, 'Mississippi' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived October 1, 2004). Archived from the original on 1 October 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  14. ^ "'Will I' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 22 August 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Will I; or at 'Performer:' Mississippi
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i McFarlane, 'Little River Band' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived June 15, 2004). Archived from the original on 15 June 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  16. ^ "'Curiosity Killed the Cat' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 22 August 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Curiosity Killed the Cat; or at 'Performer:' Little River Band
  17. ^ a b c d Kruger, Debbie (6–12 July 2003). "Haaang on, BSG Is on Its Way". Melbourne Weekly Magazine. Debbie Kruger. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Grace, Steve (1988), Children of the western world, Heathmont, Vic: Triune Music: Manufactured and Distributed by Word Australia. National Library of Australia, retrieved 23 August 2014 
  19. ^ "Singer set to Grace stage". Western Advocate. Fairfax Media. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1999 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  21. ^ "Driven by Dreams". Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Eliezer, Christie (6 July 2002). "Oz Originals Lose out in Court Case: Guitarist Housden Gets to Keep Little River Band Name". Billboard: 50. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Cashmere, Paul (1 July 2004). "Birtles, Shorrock, Goble Score A Mo". Undercover (Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman). Archived from the original on 2004-07-01. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  24. ^ Sams, Christine (2004) ARIAs reunite Little River Band The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2004.
  25. ^ a b Cashmere, Paul (5 June 2012). "Darryl Cotton Diagnosed with Liver Cancer". Noise11. The Noise Network (Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman). Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Pals Buoy Cotton in Liver Cancer Battle". The Age. Fairfax Media. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  27. ^ "Beeb Birtles – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  28. ^ Ryan (bulion), Gary (23 August 2012). "Albums Pre 1989 Part 2 – Frieze, Daryl Cotton, Cotton Lloyd Christian". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 23 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Little River Band - Charts & Awards -Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 30 May 2010.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "AMGAlbs" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "AMGAlbs" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  30. ^ "Who's Who of Australian Rock / compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 

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