From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Years active1978–1980
LabelsMissing Link
Associated actsEqual Local, Hugo Klang, Orchestra of Skin and Bone, NO, Max Q
Past memberssee Members section below

Whirlywirld was an Australian post-punk band led by Ollie Olsen in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the first of his musical collaborations with drummer John Murphy. They played in Melbourne and Sydney and were supporters of the Melbourne little band scene.


In 1976, as a guitarist, Ollie Olsen formed one of the first punk crews in Melbourne, The Reals, who on occasion shared the bill at suburban dance halls with The Boys Next Door.[1] The Reals would eventually evolve into The Negatives, but before that Olsen had become dissatisfied with their exclusively savage, guitar-based attack and left. Olsen went on to form The Young Charlatans. The Young Charlatans could be described as a seminal supergroup, consisting of Olsen, guitarist Rowland Howard (later of The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party), drummer Jeffrey Wegener (Laughing Clowns) and bassist Janine Hall (later of The Saints).[1] But if the volatile Charlatans were an extraordinary outfit - closer, earlier, to art-punk than almost anybody - their greater potential went unfulfilled. After a very brief, stormy existence, the band inevitably imploded. By then Ollie had met John Murphy. Murphy at the time was the drummer for another early Melbourne punk band, NEWS.

The pair formed Whirlywirld in 1978[1] with their stated priority, from the outset, to go electronic, determined as they were to take flight from the sonic limitations of the conventional, guitar-based rock format. Whirlywirld was completed by two keyboardists, who got credited with 'electronics', Andrew Duffield and Simon Smith (Olsen, by this point, had abandoned guitar in favour of 'electronics') together with guitarist Dean Richards. Whirlywirld refused to play live but they did rehearse religiously.

In June 1979, the band released a self-titled debut EP. Whirlywirld made their live debut at The Crystal Ballroom later that year, by which time Duffield left to join The Models and had been replaced by Philip Jackson.

Whirlywirld would go on to play only fourteen performances in their entire career. Gradually, the personnel within the band changed, in accordance with a change in direction, Richards, Jackson and Smith departed. Richards went on to front a couple of cult combos, Equal Local and Hot Half Hour. Arnie Hanna came in on guitar and Greg Sun on bass. During this period Murphy played an array of percussion devices, natural, electronic or otherwise and Olsen even played saxophone as well as keyboards. This incarnation of the band recorded a number of tracks at York St. Studios in December, 1979. Four of these tracks came out on a 12" EP, again titled Whirlywirld in February 1980.

After the band split, Olsen and Murphy went on to form firstly The Beast Apparel, and then Hugo Klang,[1] which performed a handful of gigs in England, and recorded a single, "Beat Up On The Old Shack", released in Australia on Prince Melon Records. Olsen and Murphy then went on to form Orchestra of Skin and Bone, before their musical partnership ended with Olsen going to form NO in the late 1980s.

Hanna and Murphy later played with Olsen and Michael Hutchence in the band Max Q. A version of one of Whirlywirld's songs, "Win/Lose", was re-recorded by Olsen in 1986 for inclusion in the film Dogs in Space. Hutchence sang the early Whirlywirld song, "Rooms for the Memory" on the soundtrack, being a hit on the mainstream Australian charts as a single in 1987. The remixed version of "Win/Lose" was also released as a single by Olsen.




  • Whirlywirld - Missing Link (MLS-3) (June, 1979)
  • Whirlywirld - Missing Link (MLEP-4) (February 1980)
  • Whirlywirld - The Complete Studio Works - Missing Link (Missing Link 10) (1986) (Re-Issue) (2002)


  • "Sextronics"/"Eyebrows Still Shaved" - Missing Link (MLS-10) - (February 1980)


  • 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 5 February 2010. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  • Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2002) [1987]. The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.[2] Note: [on-line] version established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition.
  1. ^ a b c d McFarlane 'Ian 'Ollie' Olsen' entry. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Who's who of Australian rock / compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 5 February 2010.