Little River Band
|Little River Band|
The classic lineup of Little River Band (rear, left to right): Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles, George McArdle, Glenn Shorrock and David Briggs; (front): Derek Pellicci
|Genres||Folk rock, pop rock, soft rock|
|Labels||Harvest, Capitol, EMI|
|Associated acts||Axiom, Mississippi, The Twilights, Zoot, Birtles & Goble, Birtles Shorrock Goble, Masters Apprentices|
|Past members||See Band personnel|
The band chose its name after passing a road sign leading to the Victorian township of Little River, near Geelong, on the way to a performance. The band enjoyed sustained commercial success, not only in Australia but also in the United States. They have sold more than 25 million records, achieved 13 US Top 40 hits and received many music awards in Australia.
The band's original members were Glenn Shorrock (born in England, 1944), Graeham Goble (born in Australia, 1947), Beeb Birtles (born in The Netherlands, 1948), Ric Formosa (born in Italy, 1953), Roger McLachlan (born in New Zealand, 1954) and Derek Pellicci (born in England, 1953). The music and lyrics for most of the group's songs were mainly written by Goble and Shorrock, with contributions from Birtles, David Briggs (who replaced Formosa) and Pellicci.
In May 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations, named "Cool Change", written by Shorrock, as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time. The classic line-up of Birtles, Goble, Pellicci, Shorrock, Briggs and bass guitarist George McArdle (who replaced McLachlan) were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual ARIA Music Awards of 2004.
The Little River Band has undergone numerous personnel changes since its formation in 1975, with over 30 members performing with the band. None of the musicians now performing as the Little River Band are original members.
Early years : 1970s
In Australian terms, the original lineup of the Little River Band can be considered a supergroup. Glenn Shorrock had been the lead singer of leading Australian 1960s pop band The Twilights and highly regarded early 1970s country rock band Axiom, alongside Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd. Beeb Birtles had been the bassist in the popular 1960s band Zoot (which launched the career of singer-guitarist Rick Springfield), and Goble had led Adelaide folk rock group Allison Gros before forming the harmony-country-rock band Mississippi (joined by Birtles and Pellici), which had enjoyed some chart success in Australia and built up a strong following on the concert and festival circuit; during 1971-72 the original members also recorded under the studio band pseudonym Drummond, scoring a national No. 1 hit with a novelty cover of the song "Daddy Cool".
LRB found immediate success in Australia, but individual members had greater ambitions. Like other Australian groups of the period, both Axiom and Mississippi had tried to break into the UK record market without success. Axiom disbanded after moving to the UK, and Shorrock sang for a short period with the more progressive rock outfit Esperanto before meeting and joining forces with Birtles, Goble and Pellicci in 1974. They agreed to meet back in their homeland by early 1975. Remembering the indifferent reaction they had received in the UK, they decided their new band would focus on establishing themselves in the United States.
A key factor in their eventual success was a fellow Australian they had met while in England who became their manager, Glenn Wheatley. Wheatley had been the bassist in the highly regarded Australian rock band The Masters Apprentices and his first-hand experiences of the rip-offs in the 1960s music scene, combined with his subsequent experience working in music management in Britain and the United States in the early 1970s, allowed him to help the Little River Band become the first Australian group to enjoy consistent commercial and chart success in the United States.
After their return to Australia, the members began rehearsing in February 1975, still going under the name of Mississippi. In his 1999 autobiography, Paper Paradise, Glenn Wheatley describes the group's first warmup gig: "Ït was now time to get out of the rehearsal room and play to a live audience - somewhere without any fanfare, somewhere out of the way. I booked the Golfview Hotel in Geelong for the Saturday night of 1 March 1975. While travelling to the venue down the Geelong Road from Melbourne, we passed the turn-off for Little River. From the back of the truck Glenn Shorrock shouted, 'What about the Little River Band'? And so, that night the Golfview Hotel witnessed the first performance of the Little River Band, albeit advertised on the marquee as Mississippi."
Not long afterwards, the group recorded their first song, a version of the Everly Brothers hit "When Will I Be Loved" at Armstrong Studios with session guitarist Graham Davidge, but they were trumped by Linda Ronstadt's version, which appeared around the same time and they decided not to release their version.
On 27 May 1975, the group signed with EMI Records and their first album, Little River Band, was recorded at Armstrong Studios in June and released in Australia that October. The album spawned the very successful Australian hit single, "Curiosity Killed the Cat" and two more hits, "Emma" and "Everyday of My Life", quickly followed.
Wheatley travelled back to Los Angeles in December 1975 determined not to return until he had a US deal for LRB. But record company after record company passed on the group until Rupert Perry of Capital Records agreed to sign the band on Christmas Eve 1975.
Encouraged by their Australian success, the band flew to the UK on 17 September 1976 to play a show in London's Hyde Park with Queen, then opened shows in Europe for The Hollies during September and October.
November 1976 found them in Harrisonburg, Virginia performing their first US concert as the opening act for Average White Band. Thanks to their American appearances and crucial support from key US FM stations, like WAVE FM in Jacksonville, Florida, the band scored their first US hit single, "It's a Long Way There" (edited down from the album track, which went for over eight minutes). The song broke into the US Top 30 and galvanised the commitment of the band members.
Success and changes of personnel
Just before they began touring abroad, lead guitarist Ric Formosa, apparently not enthusiastic about touring outside of Australia, left the group in August 1976 to pursue other musical interests and was replaced by David Briggs. At the same time, the group decided to replace bassist Roger McLachlan, who left to join Stars and was replaced by George McArdle. However, Formosa remained in touch with his former bandmates and conducted and wrote string parts for several songs after he officially left the band.
More concert performances in the US followed and the group's second album, After Hours, which had been released in Australia in April 1976, was passed over in the US by Capital, who chose to take the best songs from this record and their third Australian release, Diamantina Cocktail (produced by John Boylan, who would stay on to produce their next two albums as well), and create their second US album, also titled Diamantina Cocktail (June 1977). From Diamantina, "Help Is on Its Way" (an Australian No. 1 single) and "Happy Anniversary" were both mid-top 20 Hot 100 singles.
In 1977 and 1978, Little River Band concentrated on touring mostly in the US, headlining in smaller venues, while appearing in stadiums on larger multi-billed shows with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Santana, Doobie Brothers, Supertramp, The Eagles, Boz Scaggs, Jimmy Buffett and others.
From 1978 until 1981, the Little River Band achieved one gold album (Diamantina Cocktail) and two platinum albums, Sleeper Catcher (May 1978) and First Under the Wire (July 1979) plus six US Top 10 singles with "Reminiscing" (No. 3, their biggest hit), "Lady" (No. 10), "Lonesome Loser" (No. 6), "Cool Change" (No. 10), "The Night Owls" (No. 6) and "Take It Easy on Me" (No. 10). During their career they have sold more than 25 million records and scored 13 American Top 40 hits.
From 1976 through 1985, the group maintained a constant touring schedule which kept it in the US for long periods of time and may have contributed to much of the constant shuffling of personnel. For example: The band's schedule was so busy that when drummer Derek Pellicci was severely injured in a gas grill fire in May 1978, the band brought in a substitute drummer (Geoff Cox) rather than cancel shows. Drummer Cox remained with the group through the summer of 1978 and even played alongside Pellicci after he came back until he was healed enough to continue on his own. A keyboardist, Mal Logan, was added in time for another US tour in late 1978.
Bassist McArdle left the band in 1979. He went on to take up Bible study, eventually pursuing a path as a minister. Barry Sullivan took over on bass until American Wayne Nelson, currently the group's lead singer, joined in April 1980. In 1981, he provided lead vocals for their Top 10 US hit "Night Owls", the debut single from their Time Exposure album; and shared vocal duties with Shorrock on the next single "Take It Easy on Me". Time Exposure had been recorded in Montserrat with famed Beatles producer George Martin.
After his group, The Imports, disbanded, guitarist Stephen Housden was invited to join LRB in August 1981, replacing David Briggs as Time Exposure was being released. Housden currently owns the legal rights to the name "Little River Band". He co-wrote the band's last hit in Australia, "Love Is a Bridge", in 1988.
John Farnham years: 1982–1986
In early 1982 Shorrock went on to pursue a solo career but failed to make much of an impression in the US He did, however, have a substantial hit in Australia with a revival of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover".
The first single with Farnham as lead vocalist, "The Other Guy" (one of two new offerings on their Greatest Hits album, released in November 1982), reached No. 11 in the US, while the next single, "We Two", from their album The Net (May 1983), reached No. 22 in the US. That same year, "You're Driving Me Out of My Mind" became the group's last single to reach the US Top 40. Subsequent singles were only minor charters. In Australia, the band continued to be popular and songs such as "Down on the Border" and "Playing to Win" were major hits. At this point the band sought to move towards a more "'80s style" sound and added keyboardist David Hirschfelder in September 1983.
The pressures of success and constant touring took their toll on the band as the lineup continued to turnover. Birtles left in October 1983 because he did not like the harder, more progressive musical path the band was taking and because he was not a fan of Farnham's vocal and performance style. He was not replaced. Pellicci left in February 1984 for similar reasons. Steve Prestwich (formerly of Cold Chisel) was brought in as new drummer.
The band's next release, Playing to Win, was released in January 1985 and showed them pursuing a harder sound via producer Spencer Proffer. The drastic change in sound, along with the unofficial shortening of their name to LRB, confused fans and radio programmers and the album failed to sell as well as their previous releases, reaching only No. 75 on Billboard's albums chart. The title track only made No.59 on the Australian singles chart, No. 15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and No. 60 on The Billboard Hot 100. The second single, "Blind Eyes", failed to enter the charts.
The Little River Band performed four songs for the 1985 Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program)—"Don't Blame Me", "Full Circle", "Night Owls", and "Playing to Win". It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US. "Don't Blame Me" and "Night Owls" were also broadcast by American Broadcasting Company during their Live Aid telecast ("Night Owls" was only partially transmitted).
Farnham left in May 1986 following the completion of the group's short Australian tour (which featured drummer Malcolm Wakeford in Prestwich's place) in support of their album No Reins (May 1986). He continued to be managed by Glenn Wheatley and his solo career took off almost immediately with the release of the successful Whispering Jack.
Shorrock's return: 1987–1996
After Farnham's 1986 departure, LRB was essentially in limbo until the following year when Shorrock and Pellicci returned at the suggestion of Irving Azoff, who was now the head of MCA Records and brought the band over to the label. With Shorrock and Pellicci back in the fold, along with remaining members Goble, Housden, and Nelson, the group released two LPs on MCA, Monsoon in June 1988 (from which the single "Love Is a Bridge" was a moderate Adult Contemporary radio hit in the US) and Get Lucky (February 1990). (MCA released a compilation of tracks from those two LPs on their Curb Records imprint in 1991 entitled Worldwide Love).
The revamped Little River Band were also chosen to perform at the opening of World Expo 88 in Brisbane on 30 April 1988, where they were joined by Eagles member Glenn Frey, who accompanied them that year on tour.
Goble ceased touring with the group in 1989 and left altogether by 1992. Peter Beckett (formerly of Player) joined in 1989 to take Goble's place and the group went through a series of keyboard players: James Roche (1988–1989), Tony Sciuto (1990–1992, 1993–1997), Richard Bryant (ex-Doobie Brothers) (1992–1993), Adrian Scott (ex-Air Supply) (1998–1999) and Glenn Reither (1999–2004), before Chris Marion arrived at the end of 2004.
Shorrock left again in 1996. He was offered the option to buy out the remaining members. He decided to take his one-third share of the monetary value of the company as he did not want to commit to the band's American touring schedule. He was replaced by Melbourne singer Steve Wade. Wayne Nelson also left in 1996. New Zealander Hal Tupea then came in as bassist. This lineup lasted until late 1997. At that point everyone, except Wade, departed and Derek Pellicci left again in early 1998, leaving Housden as sole owner of the band's trademark.
Recent years: 1998 to present
In 1998 Housden brought in new players Kevin Murphy (vocals, drums, percussion), Paul Gildea (vocals, guitars) and Adrian Scott (vocals, keyboards, ex-Air Supply), and brought back Roger McLachlan, the group's original bass player, who made a surprise return after 22 years. But McLachlan's second tenure was short lived. Both he and Scott departed after a year, not accustomed to the band's heavy touring schedule abroad. Wayne Nelson then returned (in early 1999) and Glenn Reither joined as keyboardist. But the revolving door of personnel continued as Wade and Gildea were next to leave in early 2000. Australian Greg Hind (vocals, guitars) then joined as Nelson took over most of the lead singing. The lineup of Housden, Nelson, Hind, Murphy and Reither was stable for almost five years and appeared on three releases, Where We Started From (November 2000), One Night in Mississippi (July 2002) and Test of Time (June 2004).
At the end of 2004, Glenn Reither and Kevin Murphy left the band after more than six years. Chris Marion took over on keyboards, while Kip Raines took on drumming duties temporarily until Billy Thomas joined in early 2005. Stephen Housden left the touring band in 2006, although he still participates in the band's recordings and management and still legally owns the "Little River Band" name and trademark. Rich Herring took over lead guitar on tour and Mel Watts replaced Thomas on drums in 2007 after Thomas suffered a shoulder injury. Ryan Ricks subsequently replaced Watts in 2012. The current band play songs written by Birtles, Shorrock and Goble along with new material.
Three founding members, Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock and Graeham Goble, went on to perform reunion concerts (from 2002 to 2007) but because they did not have the legal rights to the name "Little River Band" they appeared under the name "Birtles Shorrock Goble". Goble and Birtles shared their frustration through song, with Goble recording "Someone's Taken Our History" and Birtles recording "Revolving Door".
An appearance by the current band scheduled for 12 January 2015 on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was cancelled after complaints from original members concerning the present lineup's promotion of a 40th anniversary when no current member of the band was involved in its formation. Permission for any songs written by Goble, Shorrock, Birtles or Briggs was refused for the performance.
In March 2015 an appearance by the current band at the Reynolds Auditorium (Winston-Salem) was cancelled after the venue received a cease and desist order from the founding members regarding the use of their recordings in advertising by the current band and the subsequent demands of the present LRB to be paid in full before performing. The venue described this demand as "not only unreasonable, but uncustomary."
The current band continues to tour in the United States, performing more than 120 concerts in 2015.
The Little River Band is considered to be among Australia's most significant bands. In May 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, named "Cool Change" as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time. The "classic lineup" of the band (Birtles, Shorrock, Goble, Pellicci, Briggs, and McArdle) were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual ARIA Music Awards of 2004. They performed "Help Is On Its Way" at the induction ceremony in Australia on 17 October 2004. Shorrock, who wrote "Cool Change", had previously been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1991.
"Reminiscing", written by Goble, was recognised by BMI as one of the most frequently played songs in the history of American radio, with more than five million plays. "Lady" has also accumulated more than three million plays. Goble is the only Australian songwriter ever to win a Five Million Air award from BMI. According to Albert Goldman's biography, John Lennon named "Reminiscing" as one of his favourite songs. May Pang, erstwhile girlfriend of Lennon, said they considered "Reminiscing" as "our song".
LRB were mentioned in the 2010 film The Other Guys when the character played by Will Ferrell played "Reminiscing" while driving in his Toyota Prius. The character played by Mark Wahlberg threw the CD out the window, but Will Ferrell played it again later on and said that he always had six identical LRB CDs in his car.
- Wayne Nelson – bass (1980-1996, 1999–present), lead vocals (2000–present)
- Greg Hind – guitar, vocals (2000–present)
- Chris Marion – keyboards, vocals (2004–present)
- Rich Herring – guitar, vocals (2006–present)
- Ryan Ricks – drums, vocals (2012–present)
- Deceased members
- Kruger, Debbie (2 May 2001). "The songs that resonate through the years" (PDF). Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- "Little River Band (LRB)". nostalgiacentral.com.
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- "Welcome to the Friars Aylesbury website". aylesburyfriars.co.uk.
- "Graeham Goble - Little River Band (LRB) founding member & main songwriter". graehamgoble.com.
- "The Chuck Miller Creative Writing Service: Little River Band". chuckthewriter.com.
- "One Track Mind: Little River Band "It's A Long Way There" (1975)". Something Else!.
- "Roger McLachlan Interview with Riveting Riffs Magazine and Joe Montague". rivetingriffs.com.
- "Ric Formosa - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.
- "Little River Band". onlymelbourne.com.au.
- "01 Jun 1978 - Pellicci to miss much of tour". nla.gov.au.
- "Star-News - Google News Archive Search". google.com.
- "The Man from Little River - The Story of George McArdle - Biography". arkhousepress.com.
- "Little River Band faces stormy waters ahead". theage.com.au.
- "www.lrb.net - Stephen Housden". lrb.net.
- "iTunes - Music - Glenn Shorrock". apple.com.
- "22 Sep 1982 - Moore on pop". nla.gov.au.
- "Little River Band - Chart History ("Playing to Win")". Billboard magazine. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
- "Playing to Win - Billboard albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "Oz for Africa". liveaid.free.fr. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "21 Jul 1988 - LRB back on the road". nla.gov.au.
- "LRB/Frey review". debbiekruger.com.
- "Little River Band says Help Is On Its Way". ABC Perth.
- "Someone's Taken Our History". graehamgoble.com. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Cashmere, Paul. "Beeb Birtles Says Screw You To Current Little River Band". noise11.com. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show request reignites bitter Little River Band feud". ABC News.
- Cashmere, Paul. "Little River Band Show Cancelled Over Upfront Payment Dispute". noise11.com. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Sams, Christine (12 September 2004). "ARIAs reunite Little River Band". smh.com.au. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "ARIA 2008 Hall of Fame inductees listing". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- ""Cool Change" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- O'Connor, Mike. "Graeham Goble". aylesburyfriars.co.uk. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "Marvelous May...". ncf.ca. 23 September 2003. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Steve Prestwich obituary
- "MILESAGO - Obituaries - Barry "Big Goose" Sullivan". milesago.com.
- Information on band controversy
- Little River Band official website
- Little River Band official Myspace
- Stephen Housden's official website
- Birtles Shorrock Goble website
- Beeb Birtles' website
- Graeham Goble's website
- Graeham Goble's official Myspace
- Glenn Shorrock's official Myspace[dead link]
- Roger McLachlan official website
- Little River Band: Born In The Sign of Water, originally published in Goldmine magazine, written by Chuck Miller
- David Briggs website
- George McArdle's biography
- Interview with Wayne Nelson on Yuzu Melodies