Peter Combe

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Peter Combe
Peter combe.jpg
Combe performing in July 2008
Background information
Birth name Peter Charles Combe
Born (1948-10-20) 20 October 1948 (age 69)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Genres Children's
Occupation(s) Entertainer, musician
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele
Labels ABC
Associated acts Juicy Juicy Green Band

Peter Charles Combe (born 20 October 1948) is an Australian children's entertainer and musician. He has had 22 releases, including seven gold albums and two platinum. At the ARIA Music Awards he has won three trophies in the category, Best Children's Album, for Toffee Apple (1988), Newspaper Mama (1989) and The Absolutely Very Best of Peter Combe (So Far) Recorded in Concert (1992) and two additional nominations (Chopsticks (1990) and Little Groover (1996)). His best-known tracks are "Toffee Apple", "Spaghetti Bolognaise", "Mr Clicketty Cane", "Juicy Juicy Green Grass" and "Newspaper Mama". His Christmas Album (November 1990) reached the ARIA Albums Chart top 50.


Peter Charles Combe was born in Adelaide on 20 October 1948 as the third of four children. His early influences from the 1950s were the Springfields, he learned to harmonise from an early age. He was inspired by folk singers of the 1960s including Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. He formed a folk group and taught himself guitar. Later he became fascinated by the Beatles and Billy Joel.[1]

By 1969 Combe was a primary school teacher and in the early 1970s he was a specialist music teacher. He taught Junior school music at Prince Alfred College in the late 70's [2] He started writing songs for his students and in 1973 he wrote his first 'operettas' for them.[2] One of the early ones, Bows Against the Barons, is based on Geoffrey Trease's novel of the same name, relating the legend of Robin Hood. The song, "Robin Hood's Dream", appeared on his 1988 album, Newspaper Mama.

In 1975 Combe moved to Sydney and aspired to be the next Paul Simon. There he appeared in the rock musical, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club.[3] He taught at inner Sydney primary schools, performed in pubs and clubs as a singer-songwriter. He wrote a children's musical, Frederick WhatsHisName & his TwoLegged Six String Guitar, which provided the track, "Spangle Road". Another of his musicals is based on Norman Lindsey's book, The Magic Pudding.

In 1977 Combe migrated to England where became a presenter on, Music Time, a BBC TV educational program.[2] He explained that "Someone in Adelaide had given me the name of a BBC producer. I rang and said I had just arrived [in England] and do you have any shows I can audition for. They wanted someone for Music Time, I auditioned, made the short list, and got the job."[2] Combe and co-presenter, Kathryn Harries, introduced musical concepts in an entertaining format. The show was used by teachers as part of their music programs and was a resource for other music educators. Besides being played in Britain for six years, it was re-broadcast on ABC TV.

In late 1979 the Combe family moved back to Australia, where he presented, Let's Have Music, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio program,[2] which was used for primary school music education. In 1980 he recorded his first album, Vagabond, which was aimed at adults.[2] The title track had been recorded by ex-pat Australians, the Seekers, in 1977.[4] After two more years teaching, Combe issued his second album, Songs for Little Kids, in 1982 (later retitled Happy Singing and then Wash Your Face in Orange Juice).[4] It was recorded and produced by Combe at Axent Recording Studio in Sydney and appeared on ABC Records on cassette.[5]

At that time children's albums comprised nursery rhymes, which were sung and played in a simple traditional style. Combe recalled, "record companies used to think anyone could write songs for children, anything was good enough. You would get whole albums where the only accompaniment was acoustic guitar."[4] Combe introduced new concepts in children's songs, writing to appeal to children and their parents: they were funny and relevant. He arranged them with contemporary instrumentation, using his Music Time experience to introduce children to different musical concepts, genres and instruments. Combe started performing concerts in schools – about 200 school shows a year over three years. His next cassette, More Songs for Little Kids (1985), was soon renamed as Spaghetti Bolognaise after its lead track.[6]

In 1986 he returned to England for an eight-month stay – he wrote material for his next album, Toffee Apple (June 1987).[2] Back in Australia he met Diana Manson, then the head of ABC Music, and they worked on the first ever children's music video filmed in Australia – "Toffee Apple" – to promote the new album.[2] The music video was played during children's programming on ABC TV, and helped established Combe as Australia's first kids' pop star: he was referred to as King of the Kids.[7] At the ARIA Music Awards of 1988 Combe won the inaugural Best Children's Album category for Toffee Apple.[8]

In 1989 he won his second ARIA for Best Children's Album, for Newspaper Mama (1988).[8] The Canberra Times correspondent described him as "the master of loony tunes for kids"; with this album having "a selection of original songs with the title track accompanied by an imaginative video."[9] His next album, Chopsticks (September 1989), was also nominated in that category in the following year but it did not win.[8] Combe's Christmas Album (November 1990) reached the ARIA Albums Chart top 50.[10] His first live album, The Absolutely Very Best of Peter Combe Live (1991), won his third trophy for Best Children's Album, in 1992.[8]

Touring highlights were selling out the Sydney Opera House (twice) and the Melbourne Concert Hall, Carols in the Domain in Sydney, Carols nights in Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart, filming Christmas Under the Stars at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Family Concerts with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the Festival Theatre and Entertainment Centre – plus numerous television appearances and radio interviews. Combe's albums have received 7 gold and 3 platinum accreditations.

From 1989 to 1991 Peter presented another radio program, Ticklepot on ABC Radio National. His co-presenter Henry Salter played the part of Monkey, and the 10-minute program followed the adventures of Peter and Monkey through songs and stories. In all, 420 programs went to air over a period of 3 years. Ticklepot was voted best children's radio program in the world in New York in 1991.

In 1993 Peter's musical version of May Gibbs' classic book Snugglepot & Cuddlepie was performed in the Adelaide Festival of Arts. This was originally performed as a cantata with orchestra, choirs and soloists. It was reproduced the following year in the Adelaide Festival Theatre with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra – and this was recorded and is still available on CD. There have been many subsequent performances around Australia, some as a cantata and others with an accompanying script. May Gibbs wrote her books in the 1920s and her iconic illustrations have become part of Australian folklore.

Further CDs of new songs were to follow - Spook, Little Groover, Best Friends, Wake Up It's Christmas, Kiddywinks, Quirky Berserky (The Turkey from Turkey) and Live It Up. Plus some picture books with CD by Scholastic - Wash your Face in Orange Juice and Juicy Juicy Green Grass.

In 2006, he crossed over to the genre of political commentary with his song Free David Hicks.

Peter continues to write, record and perform music for children. In recent years he has performed at late night shows to his now grown up original fans – in pubs, clubs, universities, music festivals and the Adelaide Fringe. Peter's passion is writing, producing, recording and performing songs for children of the highest standard possible, which enrich their lives and help them to develop a love of music, poetry, humour and togetherness.

2007–present: revival[edit]

Recently Peter Combe has started playing overage pub gigs around Australia aimed at young adults who grew up listening to his music.[11] A clip of the live performance his song Mr. Clicketty Cane at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne is available on Combe's Myspace Page showing a crowd of young adults singing along to lyrics such as "Wash your face in orange Juice", and "Belly flop on a pizza? Ewww!". The live DVD/CD Live at Jive was recorded in 2008 at one of these shows. His latest studio album, Live It Up, was released on April 6 2017 and will take the album on a national tour of Australia throughout the year visiting all major cities. [12]


  • Vagabond (1980)
  • Songs for Little Kids (1982) Peter Combe (PC 106)
  • More Songs for Little Kids aka Spaghetti Bolognaise (1985) Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (L- 27124)
  • Toffee Apple (June 1987)
  • Newspaper Mama (1988) Australian Broadcasting Corporation, (L- 28021)
  • Chopsticks (September 1989) ABC for Kids. (838 416-1)
  • Christmas Album (November 1990) AUS: No. 49[10] (Music from this album is also featured on the 1992 released video Peter Combe's Christmas Under the Stars, which features a live performance in Adelaide in Christmas 1991)
  • The Absolutely Very Best of Peter Combe (So Far) Recorded in Concert (live album, 1991) (This album was re-released as 'Live and Rocking' in 2000)
  • Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1993)
  • Spook (1993)
  • Greatest Hits (1994)
  • Little Groover (1996)
  • Best Friends (1999)
  • Songs From a Telephone Box (2002)
  • TicklePot - Up and About (2002)
  • Wash Your Face in Orange Juice (2003)
  • Classic Fairy Tales (2003)
  • Re-invented (2004)
  • Peter Combe's Triple Pack
  • Classic Fairy Tales - Volume 2 (2004)
  • Live at Jive (With the Juicy Juicy Green Band) (2008)
  • Kiddywinks (2009)
  • Peter Combe The Complete DVD Collection (2010)
  • Quirky Berserky (The Turkey from Turkey) (2012)
  • Live It Up (2017)


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hobson, Karen (4 June 1987). "The Good Times Supplement: Peter Combe, Children's Songwriter: This Toffee Apple is not Tacky Candy". The Canberra Times. 61 (18,871). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. p. 9. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  3. ^ "Features: How to Win Friends and Influence Children". The Age. Fairfax Media. 20 April 1993. p. 12. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Winestock, Geoff (29 September 1989). "Life as the Bon Jovi of Kiddie Singers". The Age. Fairfax Media. p. 35. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Combe, Peter (1992), Songs for little kids: 22 songs by Peter Combe, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 13 April 2016 
  6. ^ Combe, Peter; Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1985), Spaghetti bolognaise and more songs for little kids, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 13 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia 
  7. ^ Bright, Chris (15 July 2011). "Peter Combe". Beat. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d ARIA Awards for Peter Combe:
  9. ^ "For the Record". The Canberra Times. 62 (19,183). 14 April 1988. p. 32. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ a b Hung, Steffen. "Discography Peter Combe". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  11. ^ "Combe Comeback", ABC Radio National Breakfast
  12. ^

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