Mondo Rock

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Mondo Rock
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Rock, progressive rock
Years active 1976 (1976)–1991 (1991), 2006 (2006)–2007 (2007)
Labels Oz, Avenue, EMI, Atlantic, RCA, WEA, Polygram, Polydor, Columbia, J&B, BMG, Sony
Past members See "Members"

Mondo Rock was an Australian rock band formed in November 1976 by mainstay singer-songwriter, Ross Wilson (ex-Daddy Cool). Their second album, Chemistry was issued in July 1981, which peaked at No. 2 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart. It was followed by Nuovo Mondo in July 1982 which reached No. 7, The Modern Bop in April 1984 which appeared at No. 2 and a compilation album, Up to the Moment in June 1985, which peaked at No. 5. Mondo Rock reached the top 10 on the related Kent Music Report Singles Chart with "State of the Heart" (October 1980), "Cool World" (April 1981) and "Come Said the Boy" (December 1983). The group disbanded in 1991, although they have periodically undertaken reunion concerts. According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, "[b]y way of ceaseless touring and the release of a series of sophisticated pop rock albums, [the band was] one of the most popular acts in Australia during the early 1980s".


Early years: 1976–79[edit]

Mondo Rock were formed in November 1976 in Melbourne by Bob Bickerton on drums (ex-Rock Granite and the Profiles); Mike Clarke on bass guitar (ex-Mick Rogers and Eclipse); Greg Cook on keyboards and guitar (ex-Cam-Pact, Skylight, Phil Manning Band); Peter Laffy on guitar (ex-Fox, Freeway); and Ross Wilson (ex-Daddy Cool) on lead vocals and harmonica.[1][2]

Wilson had been a prominent figure on the Melbourne music scene since he was a teenager in the mid-1960s and had success nationally in the early 1970s as the lead singer and principal writer of the popular, rock revivalist group, Daddy Cool.[1][2][3] Following the first breakup of Daddy Cool in August 1972, Wilson and long-time collaborator Ross Hannaford formed the short-lived rock band, Mighty Kong in 1973, which recorded one album before disbanding.[1][4] He followed with a reunion of Daddy Cool in 1974, but the group split again at the end of the next year.[1][3] Wilson's career was temporarily stalled by a dispute with his former label, Wizard Records, which prevented him from recording for several months.[1] He returned to the music scene in mid-1976 by working on the soundtrack to Chris Löfven's cult road movie, Oz. In August that year Wilson issued his debut solo single, "Livin' in the Land of Oz", from the soundtrack on his own Oz Records label.[1]

To promote the single Wilson formed Mondo Rock with the above line-up in November. The name is translated as "World of Rock", Wilson's aim was to use temporary line-ups, without the restriction of a permanent group.[5] By February 1977 the line-up were Wilson and Laffy joined by Trevor Courtney on drums (ex-Chants R&B, Cam-Pact, Vibrants, Skylight, Stylus); Barry Sullivan on bass guitar (ex-Chain, Renée Geyer Band, Silver Sun); and Ian Winter on guitar (ex-Carson, Daddy Cool, John Paul Young and the All Stars).[1][2] This line-up broke up by mid-year.[1] In November the next version was formed by Wilson with Gunther Gorman on guitar and backing vocals (ex-Home, Daddy Cool, Richard Clapton Band); Simon Gyllies on bass guitar; Iain McClennan on drums; and Tony Slavich on keyboards (both ex-Richard Clapton Band, Ariel).[1][2] Gorman left before the group started performing again and was replaced by jazz guitarist, Chris Jones (ex-Zoo).[1][2]

By mid-1978 Laffy returned and guitarist Randy Bulpin (ex-Toads, Ready Rubbed, One Nite Stand) was added.[1][2] Slavich left but was not replaced shortly before Mondo Rock released its debut single, "The Fugitive Kind", on Oz Records in August that year.[1] It reached the top 50 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart,[6] it was followed by "Love Shock" in May 1979. In October that year the line-up of Wilson, Gyllies, Bulpin, Laffy and McLennan recorded their debut album, Primal Park, which was issued on the Avenue label via EMI Records with Wilson producing.[1] Five of its nine tracks had been recorded live at Bombay Rock on 18 May. It yielded two singles, "Searching for My Baby" (September) and "Primal Park" (November).[1] McLennan contracted hepatitis as the band was due to tour to promote the album, so he was replaced, first by Eddie Van Roosendael (ex-Stiletto), and then by Gil Matthews (ex-Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs) on drums, for the tour.[1][2] Wilson again disbanded the group at the end of the year.[1]

Breakthrough: 1980–84[edit]

In February 1980 Wilson launched a new version of Mondo Rock with Matthews, and James Black (ex-Rum Jungle, Russell Morris Band) on keyboards and guitar; Paul Christie (ex-Kevin Borich Express) on bass guitar; and Eric McCusker (ex-The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band) on guitar.[1][2] This line-up recorded, with Ern Rose producing, their first major hit single, "State of the Heart" (October 1980). It peaked at No. 6 on the Kent Music Report.[6] The track was written by McCusker,[7] who contributed many songs to the band's repertoire, taking some of the pressure off Wilson, who was experiencing temporary writer's block.[1][6] Matthews left after the single appeared and was replaced by Andy Buchanan (ex-Darryl Cotton Band) and then by John James "J. J." Hackett (ex-Stars, the Fabulaires) in March 1981.[1][2] Their next single, "Cool World", which was written by Wilson,[8] appeared in April and was also successful on the chart, reaching No. 8.[1][6]

In July 1981 the line-up of Wilson, Black, Christie, Hackett, and McCusker, released their second album, Chemistry, which reached No. 2 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart the following month.[1][6] Other than "State of the Heart", all the tracks were produced by Mark Moffatt. The title track, released as the next single, reached No. 20 and it was followed by "Summer of '81", which peaked at No. 31.[6] The royalties for that single were donated to Amnesty International.[9] "State of the Heart" was also released in the United States and United Kingdom although their US label, Atlantic Records, felt it was too long for radio and edited it for release there, much to the band's chagrin.[5] In 1985 expatriate Australian, Rick Springfield covered "State of the Heart", which reached No. 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100,[10] his version was similar to Mondo Rock's original full-length recording.[1]

In July 1982 they issued their third album, Nuovo Mondo, on RCA / WEA with Peter McIan producing,[2] which reached No. 7.[1][6] According to McCusker the lead single, "No Time", which he wrote,[11] was inspired by The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down", as a tribute to John Lennon.[9] Also released in June, it peaked at No. 11.[6] Christie left the group in September and subsequently formed an all-star band, The Party Boys; he was replaced on bass guitar by James Gillard.[1][2] A second single, "The Queen and Me", from the album appeared in November which reached the top 40.[1][6] Another single, "In Another Love", appeared in February 1983 which reached the top 100.[1][6] An album track, "Touch of Paradise", co-written by Wilson and Gulliver Smith (aka Kevin Smith, ex-Company Caine).[1][12] In February 1987 it was covered by Australian pop singer John Farnham (ex-Little River Band), as his third single from his album, Whispering Jack (20 October 1986), which reached the top 30.[1][6][13]

Concurrent with Mondo Rock's success Wilson scored another hit in August 1983 with the novelty song "Bop Girl", written for his then-wife Pat Wilson as a solo singer, who was backed by Wilson and his former band mate, Hannaford.[14] The single reached No. 2,[6] and its music video featured Nicole Kidman as an extra.[15] Also in August the Mondo Rock line-up of Wilson, Black, Gillard, Hackett, and McCusker started recording their fourth studio album, The Modern Bop.[1] Initially McCusker thought they would have a bunch of "gently grooving" songs, only to find the first tracks "turned out to be quite tough and I think we'll end up with a rock 'n' roll disc".[9] By October 1983 McCusker told Juke Magazine that it was the longest he had ever remained in a group – usually for a year or so "before I got bored or the band broke up".[9] The album appeared in April 1984 and peaked at No. 2.[1][6]

Back in December 1983, the album's lead single, McCusker's "Come Said the Boy", a provocative tale about the loss of virginity, was issued.[1][6] It was banned by many radio stations including Sydney's then top-rated 2SM – which was affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.[16] Despite this "Come Said the Boy" became their most successful single, peaking at No. 2.[1][6] The music video was filmed at the beach stairs on Maroubra Beach. The album featured two more singles, "Baby Wants to Rock" (April 1984), which peaked at No. 18 and the title track, "The Modern Bop" (July), which charted in Top 100.[1][6]

Later years: 1985–91[edit]

In June 1985 Polydor Records released Mondo Rock's compilation album, Up to the Moment, which peaked at No. 5.[1][6] It provided two new singles, "Good Advice" (November 1984) and "The Moment" (May 1985).[1][6] On 13 July 1985 Mondo Rock performed four tracks for the Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program) – "Cool World", "The Moment", "Modern Bop", "Come Said the Boy". It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.[17]

The group's sixth studio album, Boom Baby Boom, appeared in September 1986 with the line-up of Wilson, Gillard, Hackett, and McCusker, joined by Andrew Ross on saxophone and Duncan Veall on keyboards.[1][2] Their chart popularity was beginning to wane, although "Rule of Three's" (September) reached the top 100 and "Primitive Love Rites" (November) made the top 40.[1][6] In 1987 "Primitive Love Rites" became a minor hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 40 on its Mainstream Rock chart.[18] In late 1987 they issued a five track extended play, Aliens.[1] Wilson disbanded the group early the following year and recorded a solo album, The Dark Side of the Man, which included a top 40 single, "Bed of Nails", in June 1989.[1][14][19]

In 1990 Mondo Rock reconvened with Wilson and McCusker joined by a studio super group, with Ian Belton on bass guitar (ex-QED, Ian Moss Band); Ricky Fataar (ex-The Beach Boys) on drums; Waddy Wachtel (ex-Linda Ronstadt) on guitar; and Bernie Worrell (ex-James Brown, Funkadelic) on keyboards.[1][2] They recorded the group's sixth studio album, Why Fight It?, with Wachtel also producing, which was issued in May 1991.[1][2] Three CD singles were released from the album, "Why Fight It?" (November 1990), "I Had You in Mind" (February 1991) and "Soul Reason" (May).[1] During 1991 Wilson dissolved the group again.[1]

After disbandment[edit]

After disbanding Mondo Rock, Wilson initially formed RAW with Barry Deenik on bass guitar; Michael Sheridan on guitar (ex-No); and Craig Waugh on drums (ex-Uncanny X-Men).[14] They performed on the pub rock circuit until 1993 and then Wilson continued his solo career.[1][5] Black had left in 1984 and worked in a variety of groups including GANGgajang (1984), Men at Work (1985), and The Black Sorrows (1985, 1994, 2004).[2][20] By the mid-1990s McCusker was a director for the Australasian Performing Right Association.[21] Mondo Rock have occasionally reformed, in 2003 the line-up of Wilson, Black, Christie and McCusker promoted a 2× CD compilation album, The Essential Mondo Rock.[2] They appeared in the 2006 Countdown Spectacular concert series, performing a medley of "Cool World" and "Summer of '81", and a full version of "Come Said the Boy".[5] From 2005 Black features on the Australian TV quiz show, RocKwiz, on SBS as a member of the house band, RocKwiz Orkestra. Christie was the founding partner of Almost Famous, a corporate team-building and events company. In 2013 McCusker delivered lectures in song writing at Monash University.[21]



  • Bob Bickerton – drums (1976)
  • Mike Clarke – bass guitar (1976)
  • Greg Cook – keyboards, guitar (1976)
  • Peter Laffy – guitar (1976–1978)
  • Ross Wilson – vocals, guitar, harmonica (1976–1991)
  • Trevor Courtney – drums (1977–1978)
  • Barry Sullivan – bass guitar (1977–1978)
  • Ian Winter – guitar (1977–1978)
  • Gunther Gorman – guitar (1977)
  • Chris Jones – bass guitar (1978)
  • Simon Gyllies – bass guitar (1978–1979)
  • Iain McClennan – drums (1978–1979)
  • Tony Slavich – keyboards (1978–1979)
  • Randy Bulpin – guitar (1978–1979)
  • Eddie Van Roosendael – drums (1979)
  • Gil Matthews – drums (1979–1981)
  • Simon Philips – bass guitar (1979)
  • Andrew Bell – guitar (1980)
  • James Black – keyboards (1980–1984)
  • Paul Christie – bass guitar (1980–1982)
  • Kerry Jacobsen – drums (1980)
  • Eric McCusker – guitar, keyboards (1980–1991)
  • Andy Buchanan – drums (1981)
  • John James Hackett – drums, percussion, guitar (1981–1990)
  • James Gillard – bass guitar (1982–1990)
  • Andrew Ross – saxophone, keyboards (1986–1990)
  • Duncan Veall – keyboards (1984–1990)
  • Colin Newham – keyboards (1988)
  • Ian Belton – bass guitar (1990–1991)
  • Mitch Farmer – drums (1990)
  • Sean Timms – keyboards (1990)
  • Mary Azzopardi – backing vocals (1991)
  • Mark Williams – backing vocals (1991)
  • Bernie Worrell – keyboards (1991)


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions.
Title Album details Peak chart positions
Primal Park 40
Chemistry 2
Nuovo Mondo 7
The Modern Bop
  • Released: April 1984[1][2]
  • Label: RCA, WEA (250391-1, 250391-4)
  • Formats: LP, MC
Boom Baby Boom
  • Released: September 1986[1][2]
  • Label: Polydor Records, Columbia Records (TWAD404, BFC 40470)
  • Formats: LP, CD
Why Fight It?
  • Released: November 1990[1][2]
  • Label: BMG (VPCD0831)
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

List of compilation albums, with selected chart positions.
Title Album details Peak chart positions
Up to the Moment 5
Mondo Rock
  • Released: Late 1985[1][2]
  • Label: Polydor Records (825 822-1, 825 822-2, 825 822-4)
  • Formats: LP, MC, CD
Best of Dragon and Mondo Rock
  • Released: Early 1990[2]
  • Label: J&B Records (JB 418, JB418CD)
  • Formats: LP, CD
  • Notes: Split album with 9 of 18 tracks by Mondo Rock, rest are by Dragon
Aussie Four Pack
  • Released: Late 1990[2]
  • Label: J&B Records (JB 589, JB589CD)
  • Formats: 2× LP, 2× CD
  • Notes: Split album with 8 of 32 tracks by Mondo Rock, rest are by The Angels, Dragon, and Mental as Anything
The Essential Mondo Rock
  • Released: 31 October 2003[2]
  • Label: Sony Records (5139 86 2000)
  • Formats: 2× CD
The Greatest
  • Released: 30 November 2004[2]
  • Label: Sony Records (688252)
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: 1 August 2015
  • Label: Aztec Records (AVSCD080)
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays.
Title Album details


List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name.
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
Hot 100
"The Fugitive Kind" 1978 49 Non-album single
"Love Shock" 1979
"Searching for My Baby" Primal Park
"Primal Park"
"State of the Heart" 1980 6 Chemistry
"Cool World" 1981 8
"Chemistry" 20
"Summer of '81" 31
"No Time" 1982 11 Nuovo Mondo
"The Queen and Me" 1983 40
"A Touch of Paradise"
"In Another Love" 86
"Come Said the Boy" 2 The Modern Bop
"Baby Wants to Rock" 1984 18
"The Modern Bop" 85
"The Moment" 1985 Up to the Moment
"Good Advice" 56
"Rule of Threes" 1986 58 Boom Baby Boom
"Primitive Love Rites" 34 71 31
"Boom Baby Boom" 86
"Aliens Walk Among Us" 1987 Aliens (EP)
"Why Fight It?" 1990 96 Why Fight It?
"I Had You in Mind" 1991 94
"Soul Reason"
"The First Time" 2004 79 The Greatest
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb McFarlane, 'Mondo Rock' entry. Archived from the original on 14 June 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Holmgren, Magnus; Warnqvist, Stefan. "Mondo Rock". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b McFarlane, 'Daddy Cool' entry. Archived from the original on 13 June 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  4. ^ McFarlane, 'Mighty Kong' entry. Archived from the original on 13 June 2004. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Nimmervoll, Ed. "Mondo Rock". Howlspace. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 January 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  7. ^ "'State of the Heart' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "'Cool World' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d Juke Magazine. 22 October 1983. p. 11.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Rick Springfield – Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "'No Time' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "'A Touch of Paradise' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Adams, Cameron (14 June 2013). "20 Songs that Were Covers from Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Kylie, Beyonce and More Artists". News Limited (News Corp Australia). Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c McFarlane, 'Ross Wilson' entry. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  15. ^ Thompson, Peter (9 July 2007). "Ross Wilson interview". Talking Heads. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Clarke, Melisande (19 June 2003). "You Don't Sing Me Love Songs any More". The Sun-Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Oz for Africa". Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  18. ^ a b c "Mondo Rock – Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Ross Wilson – 'Bed of Nails'". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Mondo Rock". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "Eric McCusker to Lecture New Songwriting Unit in 2013 – Enrol Now". Director, Student Services Division. Monash University. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Primal Park (Media notes). Mondo Rock. Avenue. Oz Records / EMI Records. 1979. OZS.1014. 
  23. ^ Chemistry (Media notes). Mondo Rock. Avenue. Atlantic Records. 1981. L37592. 
  24. ^ Nuovo Mondo (Media notes). Mondo Rock. Warner Music Group. 1982. 600124. 
  25. ^ Ryan (bulion), Gary (10 July 2011). "Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 4 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 23 August 2013. 

External links[edit]