BAND MEMBERS AT THE ‘ESPY” 1986
Marty Atchison (vocals) (1978-1983, 1984-)
Richard O’Keefe (drums) (1978-)
John Berto (guitar) (1979-)
Rodger Delfos (guitar) (1980-)
Craig Reeves (piano) (1984-1988)
Les Gough (bass guitar) (1984-19
Craig Reeves John Berto Les Gough
Marty Atchison Richard O’Keefe Rodger Delfos
Brendan Mitchell (guitar and steel guitar) (1978-1980, 1984-)
Michael Schack (bass guitar) (1978-1984, 1985-)
Edward Mitchell (guitar)(1978-1978)
Tony Pizzi (drums) (1978-1978)
Warren Keats (guitar) (1979-1979)
Peter Thorne (guitar),(1979-1979)
Andrew Charles (drums) (1980-1980)
Randy Broughten (pedal steel guitar)(1979)
Bob Suffern (pedal steel guitar) (1980-1984)
Ross Nicholson (guitar and vocals) (1983-1984)
Chris Shanley (keyboards) (1995-2001)
Ron Mahony (drums), (2002-2012)
Don Farrell (guitar) (2002-)
Jack McKinnon (keyboards) 1979-)
Mark Meallin (guitar) (2014-2014)
- Call Me The Breeze
- The End Is Not In Sight
- The Blue Ribbon Blues
- One More Shot
- Voila An American Dream
- The Bottle Let Me Down
- Take Me To The River
- One More For The Road
- Mediterranean Moonlight
- All In A Days Work
- Lonely Nights
- Waymore’s Blues
- Some Of Shelley’s Blues
- We Cant Send Them Out To Play
- Hard Doin’ Ken
- A Stud Like Me
- Knockin’ On Heavens Door
- Battle Of New Orleans
It’s totally appropriate that The Dead Livers LIVE at “The Espy” 1986 should be recorded at the Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne’s St. Kilda.
They had a Friday night residency there. It was a wild room, with crazy people singing and dancing and where the sight of bikies and drag queens dancing together was not uncommon.
Recalls Glozier, “I lived around the corner from the Espy, and myself and a Samoan friend ‘Tex Nobody’, the Bing Crosby of country who was pitch perfect, helped start music there.
“It was a great venue, very desperate people all wanting to have a good time.
“But I felt safe there. If anyone started a kerfuffle, the audience would throw them out!”
Bassist Michael Schack added: “We played mainly inner-city hotels. So it was people of our age, late 20s to 30s, looking for a good time.”
He recalls doing the Prince of Wales in St. Kilda for a live PBS broadcast, and the publican approaching them after, inviting them back.
“Our jazz nights have three times as many people as you had tonight but your crowd drank three times as much.”
The “outlaw” image drew bikies. At a show for the Motorcycle Riders Association, a couple got married with a chapter chief officiating.
The foundations for the Dead Livers were laid in country Victoria, when Schack and singer Marty Atchison were at school together.
They did shows together and in 1978 officially formed the band.
Simon Glozier knew them through good friend Craig Reeves, of Spot The Aussie, another Espy regular act whose line-up intertwined socially and musically with the Dead Livers.
He did sound for them at their larger shows and occasionally played with them at parties.
The Dead Livers’ inspiration came from the U.S. West Coast and Austin, Texas “redneck rock” sounds, sourcing recordings in import stores and exchanging cassettes with American friends.
Members dug original country rock Melbourne bands, catching Saltbush and Hit And Run at their residencies at the Polaris Inn in Carlton, and the Dingoes at the Station Hotel in Prahran.
The Station Hotel’s weekly flyer advertising the next week’s acts would have a caption inviting patrons to come and drink heartily,” Come to the Station where dead livers live!” Hence the name.
Glozier: “They developed a following because they wrote a lot of their own songs. Some of them like ‘Grandpa’ got played on radio and people would sing along to them.”
LIVE at “The Espy” 1986 features hard boogies such as “One More Shot”, “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “We Can’t Send Them Out To Play” to singles like “Grandpa” and “A Stud Like Me”, and originals like Atchison’s ambitious “Rosemary” and Russell Smith’s “The End Is Not In Sight”.
Covers included Al Green (a high riffing rendition of “Take Me To The River”, Bob Dylan (“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” underlined by swirling Hammond organ).
One of the Dead Livers’ most ardent fans was prominent journalist David Dawson, a champion of outlaw country music, and promoted the Melbourne band through his Nu-Country platform and the High In The Saddle country column in Juke magazine.
Dawson was also responsible for one of the band’s most mainstream moments.
He convinced the band to record a spoof of Slim Dusty’s “I’d Love To Have A Beer With Duncan” and called it “I’d Love To Have A Joint With Willie” just before a Willie Nelson tour in 1981.
Michael Schack relates how it came about. “Marty and I went to Tamworth as spectators, and we ran into David and Willie’s merchandising manager who’d come out ahead of the tour.
“David wrote the lyrics on the way back to Sydney and we recorded it for free.”
There was suitable outrage with “drug” headlines in newspapers and a DJ reportedly suspended for playing it.
Nelson loved it, adopting it as the tour’s unofficial anthem, and playing it on the PA system before each show.
The band were invited to meet him backstage, and Nelson fans scooped on it when it was sold in the car park from the back of a station wagon.
Dead Livers aroused the attention of music executives, including Keith Urban’s future manager and an early AC/DC manager, who offered to record but the planets never aligned.
They made it to the finals of band competitions, opened for Leon Russell and the Amazing Rhythm Aces, played to 20,000 at country music festivals, and were nominated for best group at the Tamworth Country Music Festival awards.
But, Michael says, “We were the band that never quite made it (to the big time). Maybe we weren’t ambitious or confident enough.
“Looking back maybe we should have tried a bit harder. But we were having too much fun!”