Steve Balbi

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Steve Balbi
Live at the Vanguard
Background information
Birth nameStephen Vert Balbi
Also known asVern
Born (1964-10-03) 3 October 1964 (age 55)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation(s)Musician, producer
InstrumentsBass guitar, vocals, guitar
Years active1976–present
  • Foundry
  • Social Family
Associated acts

Stephen Vert "Steve" Balbi (born 3 October 1964) is an Australian musician and record producer. He was the founding bass guitarist in pub rockers, Noiseworks in 1986 and formed a psychedelic pop group and production duo, Electric Hippies in 1993 with fellow Noiseworks member, Justin Stanley. He joined Mi-Sex in 2011. Balbi issued his debut solo album, Black Rainbow, in October 2013.


Steve Balbi was born in the mid-1960s and grew up in a Maltese family in Newtown, Sydney.[1] He first performed publicly, with his uncle's band, at age 6, on a tambourine.[1] He performed in Rufus Red.[2] During the mid-to-late-1970s he was a bass guitarist for a blues, funk rock band, Rupert B.[2][3] Other members were Mick Buckley on drums, Rohan Cannon on guitar and vocals, Guillermo Mayer on saxophone and Mick Thornton on slide trombone and trumpet. In 1976, at the age of 12, he was in a band, the Apaches, with his cousins, which performed "Fox on the Run" on a TV talent quest, Pot of Gold.

In mid-1982 Balbi, on bass guitar, joined Kevin Borich Express alongside Borich on lead guitar and lead vocals, John Annas on drums and Andy Cowan on keyboards (ex-Madder Lake, Ayers Rock).[2][4] By 1984 the line-up of Balbi and Borich were joined by Adrian Cannon on drums (ex-Full Circle).[2][4] At the end of that year Balbi also joined hard rockers, Rose Tattoo, and left both groups in 1985.[2] While still a member of Kevin Borich Express, Balbi had guested on bass guitar for fellow Sydney-based band, the Change's single, "Forever Young", alongside that group's Stuart Fraser on lead guitar (ex-Feather, Smith), Kevin Nicol on drums (ex-Dial X) and Jon Stevens on lead vocals.[2][3]

Early in 1986 the pub rockers, Noiseworks, were formed in Sydney with the line-up of Balbi on bass guitar and backing vocals, Justin Stanley on keyboards with the Change's Fraser, Nicol and Stevens.[2][3] Stanley explained to Simon Moy of The Canberra Times how the group had formed "[Balbi and I] heard [Stevens], [Fraser] and [Nicol] were doing a little writing and playing around so we just got together one day down at the pub, got pissed and got on and that's how it went."[5]

Noiseworks' debut studio albumNoiseworks was released in July 1987.[6] Noiseworks released two more studio albums, Touch in November 1988 and Love Versus Money in July 1991. Balbi described their writing style, "it's a real band thing for us. It's really funny, like the other night, on the way from Mildura to Adelaide, there were three of us in the car and we just wrote these lyrics — we finished three songs in that four-hour drive."[7] The group had provided three multi-platinum albums, as certified by ARIA, before disbanding in March 1992.[2][3]

In 1993 Balbi and Stanley formed a psychedelic pop group and production duo, Electric Hippies, which issued their debut extended play, It's Cool, in October of that year.[8] It included the track, "Jonny Courageous"; according to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, it "was reputedly a swipe at former Noiseworks frontman Jon Stevens."[8] They followed with a top 30 single, "Greedy People" (June 1994), and their debut album, Electric Hippies in October.[2][8][9] For that album, Balbi provided lead guitar, bass guitar and lead vocals.[10] McFarlane opined that it "mixed Revolver-era Beatles melodies with a Ziggy Stardust-period David Bowie glam rock aesthetic. There was also a limited edition version of the album which featured three-dimensional artwork à la The Rolling Stones' 1967 psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request."[8]

As producers, Electric Hippies, worked on material by Pearls & Swine, Vincent Stone (singles: "Sunshine" and "Best of My Love"; album: Vincent Stone, all in 1993), Juice, Jenny Morris and Nikka Costa (who was married to Stanley).[8][11] Costa and Stanley returned to the United States in 1996 and Electric Hippies disbanded.[11]

Balbi, on lead vocals, formed a new group, Universe, in 1997 which consisted of Jim Denley on flute, Cathy Green on bass guitar (ex-X), Matt McCormack a.k.a. Big Bird on guitar (ex-Starworld) and Cath Synnerdahl on drums (ex-Wrecking Crew, Mother Hubbard).[2][8] The band released an EP, Above Water, in September 1997.[8] Balbi, Green and McCormack were joined by Angus Diggs on drums and Ilan Kidron on flute for their single, "Be My Gun" (October 1998), and the related album, Present.[8]

Balbi has also worked with David Bowie,[12] among others. He was a voice double in the film Moulin Rouge! as well as the voice of "Magic Carpet Ride" for Network Ten's 2003 station ID.[citation needed]

In 2006, Balbi began a new original project — Move Trees — with Scott Aplin, Pete Skelton and Doug Aplin. In 2007, Move Trees joined Noiseworks on the road during their tour.[citation needed]

October 2009 saw the latest Solo release from Balbi, "I Found You", out on UK label Foundry Records.

Since 2011 he is fronting a newly reformed Mi-Sex, reunited for a fundraising concert following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Mi Sex released Not from Here in 2016, with Balbi as lead vocalist.[citation needed]

Since 2003, Balbi has also been a founding lead vocalist with the CCEntertainment series of concerts that celebrates the music of Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles and Led Zeppelin.[citation needed]


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2017. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b "Steve Balbi". The Agency. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Steve Balbi at Australian Rock Database:
    • Kevin Borich Express (1982–85): Holmgren, Magnus. "Kevin Borich". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
    • Rose Tattoo (1984–85): Holmgren, Magnus; McGrath, Mark; Claesson, Per. "Rose Tattoo". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
    • Noiseworks (1986–92, 1999, 2004): Holmgren, Magnus. "Noiseworks". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
    • Electric Hippies (1993–97): Holmgren, Magnus. "Electric Hippies". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d McFarlane, 'Noiseworks' entry. Archived from the original on 6 August 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b McFarlane, 'Kevin Borich Express' entry. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  5. ^ Moy (26 January 1989). "Good Times: Touch Down". The Canberra Times. 63 (19, 469). p. 1. Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Lewis, Jonathan. "Noiseworks – Noiseworks | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  7. ^ Wong, Kean (7 September 1989). "Showtime Good Times: Striking Lyrics for Band on the Road". The Canberra Times. 64 (19, 692). p. 24. Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h McFarlane, 'Electric Hippies' entry. Archived from the original on 20 April 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  9. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discography Electric Hippies". Australian charts portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  10. ^ Electric Hippies; Stanley, Justin; Balbi, Steve (1994), Electric Hippies: It's Cool, rooArt, retrieved 14 April 2017
  11. ^ a b "Nikka.Costa". Pollstar. 20 August 2001. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Steve Balbi | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 April 2017.

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