Peter Combe

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Peter Combe
Peter combe.jpg
Peter Combe performing in July 2008
Background information
Born (1948-10-20) 20 October 1948 (age 67)
Genres Children's music
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele
Associated acts Juicy Juicy Green Band
Website Official Site, Myspace Page
Notable instruments
Takamine Guitars
Guild Guitars

Peter Combe (born 20 October 1948) is an Australian children's entertainer and musician. Musical genre - Children's Music

He has had 22 releases, including seven gold albums, two platinum, three ARIA awards and one ARIA final nomination.

Some of his best-known songs are "Toffee Apple", "Spaghetti Bolognaise", "Mr Clicketty Cane", "Juicy Juicy Green Grass" and "Newspaper Mama".


Peter Combe was born in Adelaide on 20 October 1948, the third of four children. His early influences growing up in the '50s were The Springfields, from whom he discovered the joy of harmony, learning the ability to harmonise from an early age. He was inspired by the folk singers of the 1960s like Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. He formed his own folk group and taught himself to play guitar. Later on, he became fascinated by the music of The Beatles and Billy Joel.[1]

Peter studied to become a primary school teacher, and first started as a classroom teacher in 1969. Soon he became a specialist music teacher. During this time he started writing songs for his students to sing, and from this start he wrote several 'operettas' for his classes to perform to their parents. One of the early ones was Bows Against The Barons, based on the Geoffrey Trease novel set in the time of Robin Hood. Later the song Robin Hood's Dream was to appear on the album Newspaper Mama.

In 1975 Peter moved to Sydney and aspired to be the next Paul Simon. There he appeared in the rock musical Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, and taught at inner Sydney primary schools, as well as singing in the pubs and clubs as an aspiring singer songwriter. He wrote a children's musical – called Frederick WhatsHisName & his TwoLegged Six String Guitar. His song Spangle Road came from this musical. Another of his school musicals was based on Norman Lindsey's classic The Magic Pudding.

In 1977 Peter moved with his family to England where he won the role of presenter on a BBC TV educational program called Music Time. He and his co-presenter Kathryn Harries presented musical concepts in an entertaining format. The show was used by teachers in schools as part of their music teaching program and was a great resource for music educators. Besides being played in Britain for 6 years it also appeared on ABC TV in Australia. This was the beginning of raising a profile for Peter as a presenter and entertainer in the field of music education.

In late 1979 the family moved back to Australia, where Peter became the presenter of Let's Have Music, a radio program which formed part of the Australian primary school music education curriculum. In 1980 he wrote and recorded his first album – Vagabond. After two more years of teaching in schools, Peter wrote and recorded an album of new songs for children. This was unique in that up to that time all children's albums were composed of nursery rhymes, sung and played in a very simple traditional style. Peter introduced new concepts in children's songs, writing songs that appealed to children and their parents because they were funny and relevant. He arranged the songs with contemporary instrumentation, using his Music Time background to introduce children to different musical concepts, genres and instruments. The album, then called Songs For Little Kids (later Happy Singing and now Wash Your Face in Orange Juice) came out on cassette in 1982. His next cassette More Songs For Little Kids soon changed its name to the iconic album Spaghetti Bolognaise. At this time Peter started performing concerts in schools – about 200 school shows a year for 3 years.

In 1986 he returned with his family to England for an 8-month stay. During this time he wrote the album Toffee Apple.

On returning to Australia he met with Diana Manson, then the head of ABC Music, and there was born a relationship with the ABC which produced the first ever kids' video clip - Toffee Apple - to accompany the new album. The video clip was extensively played during children's programming on ABC TV, and established Peter as Australia's first kids' popstar. He was often referred to as 'King of the Kids'. After that came Newspaper Mama, Chopsticks, Peter Combe's Christmas Album and The Absolutely Very Best of Peter Combe Live. 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. Peter's CDs won 3 Aria awards for Best Children's Album, plus 7 gold and 3 platinum awards.

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, Wake Up It's Christmas, Kiddywinks and Quirky Berserky the Turkey from Turkey. 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.

Today 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.

Recent revival[edit]

Recently Peter Combe has started playing overage pub gigs around Australia aimed at young adults who grew up listening to his music.[2] 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.


  • Vagabond (1982)
  • Songs for Little Kids (1982)
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise (1985)
  • Toffee Apple (1987)
  • Newspaper Mama (1988)
  • Chopsticks (1989)
  • Peter Combe's Christmas Album (1990) (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 (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)


2. 3. 4.

External links[edit]