Pip Proud

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Pip Proud
Birth namePhillip John Proud
Born(1947-09-11)September 11, 1947
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Austrlia
Died4 March 2010(2010-03-04) (aged 62)
GenresPop
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, poet, writer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
LabelsPhillips/Phonogram

Phillip John "Pip" Proud (1947 – 2010) was an Australian singer-songwriter, poet, novelist and dramatist whose idiosyncratic song-poems gained a cult following in Australia in the 1960s and around the world in the 1990s-2000s.

Biography[edit]

Pip Proud was born Phillip John Proud in Adelaide in September 1947 and is the younger brother of a portrait artist, Geoffrey Proud (born 1946).[1][2] He grew up in the inner city suburb of Hindmarsh,[3] where his parents were "middle class and so on, and so on."[1] The family moved to the Snowy Mountains.[2] He later recalled his childhood, "I was tremendously lonely as a child. I was slightly spastic, couldn't write properly, couldn't catch balls... I never understood why my peers rejected me. I had no close friends. I was a near-failure at English, and used to get someone else to do my poetry for me. But I matriculated, just to prove to my parents I could do it."[2]

Proud worked as a radio repairer, electrician's apprentice,[3] and started writing poetry, "it was mostly protest stuff, and I'm not proud of it."[2] Geoffrey had moved to Sydney and Proud joined him there in the mid-1960s.[2] Proud explained his style, "I tried to keep away from reading poetry so as not to be influenced. I have to write in my own way, with words you can taste. I didn't want to learn other people's tricks, but make my own tricks. I kept away from the moderns especially, yet I have come by myself to use a modern idiom."[2]

Proud's unusual musical style was likened to Tom Rapp and Syd Barrett,[4] though he was unfamiliar with the latter's work when he recorded his three albums in the late 1960s (pre-dating Barrett's solo releases). The first album, De Da De Dum (Grendel, 1967), appeared as a limited edition with about 50 copies pressed.[4] His then-girlfriend, Alison, assisted on cow bells.[2] According to Kay Keavney of The Australian Women's Weekly, "The result was passing strange. Pip chanted his poems in his soft, unmelodious voice, to his own guitar music."[2]

He was signed to the Phillips/Phonogram label and his first commercial album, Adreneline [sic] and Richard (1968), was released, which reprised most of the tracks from his earlier effort.[2][4] Some tracks had a full band backing added without his involvement. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, felt it, "contained such sparse, idiosyncratic and evocative songs as 'De Da De Dum', 'Purple Boy Gang', 'Into Elizabeth's Eyes', 'An Old Servant' and 'Adreneline [sic] and Richard'."[4]

The album "garnered positive reviews in Go-Set, and Proud made a few television appearances as well as doing a handful of live gigs."[4] Proud described how he was treated by the media, "Mostly they sent me up."[2] Keavney reported, "abruptly as the bubble blew up, it burst. The concerts were a disaster. 'I was nervous and the PA systems didn't work,' said Pip."[2]

Proud was the subject of a 15-minute experimental documentary, De Da De Dum (May 1968), directed by Sydney film maker, Garry Shead, a member of the Ubu Films collective.[5] Peter Mudie in his book, Ubu Films: Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970 (1997), opined, "This experimental documentary observes Pip and his constant companion Alison in a variety of settings which project Pip's attitudes to urban life. Slow, fast and single frame filming are used, and some images are drawn on and punctured. Pip sings his own songs on the sound track."[5] One of his supporters in the late 1960s was the poet, Michael Dransfield, who encouraged him to write novels.[1]

His second album, A Bird in the Engine, appeared in July 1969. Keavney felt "there was steel in young Pip... It was highly original and very much Pip Proud... And 'the literary people' began to take notice of Pip."[2] McFarlane declared, "Although the album contained several more captivating songs like 'Eagle-Wise', 'Hey Sue', 'Vida', 'A Bird in the Engine' and 'She Dwindles Her Fingers', Philips dropped Proud upon his return from the UK."[4]

Two poems were anthologised in a collection published by Sun Books and another firm, "Dransfield and Sladen decided to publish both his poetry and two of his novels, Miss Rose and The River, the Snake, the Tree, and the House."[2] McFarlane summarised Proud's impact, "This shy singer/songwriter/poet was a true anomaly on the Australian 1960s pop scene. Proud sang his gentle pop songs in a quaint, quavering voice while strumming or tapping the strings of his (unamplified) electric guitar."[4] He ceased working with the Philips label and did not release any further recordings until the mid-1990s.

Proud travelled to Britain in late 1969 to further his writing career, he told Keavney, that he intended to travel to the east, "Buddhism is a very gentle, unbinding religion. That's why I want to learn more about it. I might stay in a monastery for a year just to see."[2] He returned to Australia in 1971.[1] He "spent most of the 1970s writing poems, novels and plays. None of his novels was ever published, although Sydney radio station Double J aired two adaptations of his plays Vlort Phlitson, Intergalactic Trouble Shooter and Don Coyote."[4] In 1975 Proud co-authored, Upon the Dancing, with Iain Ramage and Michael Ney.[6] For a time he lived in Tasmania before relocating a rural area of New South Wales, eventually living in Tenterfield in the mid-1990s.[1]

In 1994 New Zealand singer-guitarist, Alastair Galbraith, released a track, "Pip Proud", on his four-track extended play, Cluster.[1][7] Proud was tracked down in 1995 by historian David Nichols leading to the re-release of his two Polydor LPs on CD via Nic Dalton's Half a Cow label as Eagle-Wise (1996). Nichols and Dalton also helped Pip record six new songs in 1996, two of which have been released to date.

Proud resumed recording new material to release more albums, primarily, for the Emperor Jones label. He described how, "I started recording again. I had to learn the guitar again. I recorded to a cassette player that was hooked up to the car to power it, then a petrol generator, then solar cells. I've released four or five albums on the Emperor Jones label and I'm looking forward to doing another, a call-and-response rap album."[1]

During the 2000s Proud's health declined.[7] In 2002 he had a stroke which left him blind and partially paralysed.[8] Proud died in March 2010, aged 62 from throat cancer.[7][8] He was survived by five children and their two mothers.[8]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • De Da De Dum (1967) – Grendel (limited edition)
  • Adreneline [sic] and Richard (1968) – Philips/Phonogram, International Polydor Production (LPHM-108)
  • A Bird in the Engine (1969) – Philips/Phonogram, International Polydor Production
  • Eagle-Wise (compilation, 1996) – Half a Cow (HAC45)
  • One of These Days (compilation, 1998) – Emperor Jones (EJ21CD)
  • Oncer (1999) – Emperor Jones (EJ27CD)
  • A Yellow Flower (2001) – Emperor Jones (EJ37CD)
  • Catch a Cherub (by Pip Proud and Tom Carter) (2002) – Emperor Jones (EJ50)
  • A Fraying Space (compilation, 22 July 2014) – EM Records (EM1121CD)

References[edit]

  • Mudie, Peter (1997), Ubu Films: Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970, University of New South Wales Press, ISBN 978-0-86840-512-4
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Proud, Pip; Nichols, David (2008). "Drugs, Dransfield, Women and Songs". Meanjin. 67 (2). Archived from the original on 17 May 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Keavney, Kay (31 December 1969). "He's running away from success". The Australian Women's Weekly. 37 (31). p. 9. Retrieved 20 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b Nickey, Jason. "Pip Proud | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Pip Proud'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004.
  5. ^ a b Kimball, Duncan (2002). "Pip Proud". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  6. ^ Ramage, Iain; Ney, Michael; Proud, Pip (1975), Upon the Dancing, Milsons Point, NSW: K&K, ISBN 978-0-9597057-0-6
  7. ^ a b c Coley, Byron. "Pip Proud on EM – Will the Real Syd Barrett Please Stand Up". Forced Exposure. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Nichols, David (18 March 2010). "Absurd and Beautiful: A Tribute to Pip Proud". Mess+Noise. Junkee Media. Retrieved 21 December 2017.

External links[edit]