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For the hockey team, see Riptides (hockey). For the punk rock band, see The Riptides (Canadian band).
The Riptides
Origin Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Genres Indie pop, power pop
Years active 1979–1983; 1987–1991; 2007
Associated acts The Go-Betweens
Flaming Hands
Last Chance Café
Mondo Rock
Website The Riptides website

The Riptides were a band from Brisbane Australia and worked largely as a vehicle for the song-writing talents of Mark "Cal" Callaghan. The band also featured a number of notable musicians.


The Riptides formed in 1977 as The Grudge, with their members comprising students from the Architecture Department of the University of Queensland.[1] In 1978, The Grudge changed names to, firstly, The Neon Steal and then The Numbers. In September 1978, The Numbers issued a limited edition (500 copies) EP, Sunset Strip on The Go-Betweens' Able label.

In early 1979, Robert Vickers left The Numbers, travelling to New York City where he joined The Colors; in 1983, he joined The Go-Betweens. Mark Callaghan switched to bass, and The Numbers became The Riptides (in order to avoid confusion with a Sydney band also called The Numbers). The band remixed the Sunset Strip EP and reissued it in July 1979 (in a pressing of 2000 copies). Andrew Leitch then replaced Alan Rielly on guitar and keyboards and the band recorded a new single, "Tomorrow's Tears"/"Some Other Guy", released on February 14, 1980 on the Flat label. The band appeared on Countdown to promote the single.[2] The Riptides moved to Sydney during the winter of 1980.[1]

In March 1981, Michael Hiron (ex-Leftovers, Flaming Hands) joined on bass, which allowed Callaghan to switch to guitar. Scott Matheson had also left the band by that stage. The new four-piece line-up entered the studio with producer Graham `Buzz' Bidstrup (ex-Angels) in mid-1981 to record the six-track mini-album Swept Away which was released in November. "Only Time" was released as a single, also in November 1981. With the release of Swept Away, Dennis Cantwell and Andrew Leitch both left the band. Callaghan and Hiron laid low for a time before re-emerging in early 1982 with a new line-up comprising Russell Parkhouse (keyboards), Howard Shawcross (bass; ex-Last Chance Café, Elks) and Graeme `Hutch' Hutchinson (drums; ex-Leftovers). Hiron moved to lead guitar.

The Riptides issued a new single, "Hearts and Flowers" / "Sandarama" in September 1982, and supported Simple Minds on their October Australian tour. By January 1983, The Riptides decided that they had performed on the Australian touring circuit long enough and that it was time to call it a day. In July 1983, Regular issued the Callaghan-assembled anthology album Riptides (aka The Last Wave). Callaghan and Leitch recording a new song, "The Wedding Song", for inclusion on the album.

Callaghan went on to find commercial success with GANGgajang but the surf inspired pop of The Riptides had a fun-loving naivety which could not be surpassed.

The Riptides developed a cult status in their home city of Brisbane, Australia. Even during the GANGgajang years, The Riptides would regularly reform for a tour of universities during Orientation Week. In early 1987, Callaghan revived The Riptides for a reunion tour to help celebrate ten years of Brisbane pop culture. The line-up comprised Mark Callaghan, Andrew Leitch, Michael Hiron and Buzz Bidstrup. The reunion tour produced the double live album, Riptides Resurface which came out in December 1987. The Riptides toured again in February 1988 with Callaghan, Leitch, Hiron and J.J. Harris (drums; ex-Divinyls).

Callaghan and Hiron revived The Riptides again for successful summer tours during 1989 and 1990, with Brisbane's John Willsteed (ex-Go Betweens) and J.J. Harris. In early 1991, Callaghan and Hiron entered the studio with new guitarist Tony Adams, J.J. Harris and South-African-born producer/ drummer Ricky Fataar (ex-Beach Boys) to record the first full-length Riptides studio album. Wave Rock appeared in August 1991 and produced the singles "Stop (Don't Start)" in May 1991 and "Here Comes the Sun" in August 1991. Neil Chadwick joined as a permanent drummer and The Riptides toured once again.

In March 2001 Michael Hiron died suddenly. In July 2001 Callaghan played a tribute gig to Michael, in Brisbane, with other artists who had worked with and loved Michael.

Without Hiron, Callaghan put together a new lineup of the Riptides for the "Pig City" Festival on July 14, 2007 (Mark Callaghan, Cal Callaghan on guitar, Mark O'Connor on keyboards, and Cal's fellow Gang bandmates Chris Bailey on bass and Buzz Bidstrup on drums. They performed a classic set that showed why they still remain one of Brisbane's great bands.[1][3]


Singles & EPs
  • Sunset Strip/Magic Castle; Rules Of Love (7" - Able AB-004 - 2000 copies - 1978)
  • Tomorrow's Tears/Some Other Guy (7" - Flat FLAT-1 - 1980)
  • Only Time/The Riptide; Shake It (7" - Regular K-8341 - July 1981)
  • Hearts And Flowers/Sandarama (7" - Regular RRSP-716 - 1982)
  • Stop/Hideous (7" & CD single - Bluedisc 868 146-7 - 1991)
  • Here Comes the Sun - CD single Bluedisc (1991)
  • Swept Away (mini-LP - Regular L-20004 - 1981)
  • The Riptides (LP - Beachtime Records - Recorded in 1980 - Released in 1983)
  • The Riptides (Regular Records - RRLP 1207 - 1983)
  • Wave Rock (CD Bluedisc 510224-2 - 1991)
Lives & compilations
  • Resurface - double-LP Mercury 832989-1 (1988)
  • Tombs of Gold - LP IS Music ISM210401 (2014)
  • Relics - Bonus Tracks from "Tombs of Gold" IS Music ISM201402 (2014)


  1. ^ a b c Bell, Steve. "Swim between the flags - The Riptides". Queensland Government. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  2. ^ "The Riptides - Tomorrow's Tears". YouTube. 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  3. ^ "Pig City". Rave Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 

External links[edit]

  • Who's Who of Australian Rock Compiled by Chris Spencer 2nd ed 1989 Five Mile Press
  • Waltzing the Plank : The Australian Illustrated Encyclopedia of Surf Music 1963-2003 by Stephen J. McPharland