Tracks

1    It’s A Damn Shame
2    Wotcha Gonna Do
3    Midnight Sky
4    In My Life
5    The Hungry Years
6    I Know A Little
7    I Give You Give Blind
8    Know That I Want You
9    Waitin For The Wiz
10    Soon As Your Thing Is Done
11    You Aint Goin Nowhere
12    Weve Got To Try Harder
13    Yesterday
14    Ganster of Love
15    Ill Be Around
16    Same Feeling Different Song

The Crew:

Arthur “AJ” James (R.I.P)
sound engineer
Graeme “Rocky” Rothwell (R.I.P)

The Band:

Doug Parkinson
vocals
Tommy Emmanuel
guitar
Mark Kennedy
drums
Frank Esler-Smith (R.I.P)
keyboards
Keith Kerwin
bass/vocal

Doug Parkinson is the son of an artist. Doug matriculated from high school with honours in all subjects and was also a prefect at school. He excelled at school in every way including sport (Cricket , Rugby Union and Rugby League) and left school at 18 to become a cadet journalist at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, and had made it his creed right from the 1960s to always play with the best.

Doug Parkinson helped put together The Southern Star Band which was made up of some of the best musicians in Australia at the time, playing a fusion of rock, jazz and funk. Absolutely brilliant performance.

As the bands singer Doug Parkinson regarded them as being “a little ahead of their time. They were one of the best bands I’ve played with, and with a red-hot rhythm section.”

That included his various bands through the years, including In Focus, Fanny Adams, The Life Organisation and the Doug Parkinson Band, and solo albums as No Regrets.

“I started out in garage bands, and had a very casual approach to singing.”

“One day I had an epiphany that my voice was my everything, the sole purpose for my being on earth.”

“Early on I realised if you surround yourself with people that you consider are better than you are, then you’ll develop as well. That’s always been my creed.”

“That’s why I expanded to doing musical theatre as Jesus Christ Superstar, Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Buddy Holly Story and Ned Kelly as well, to stretch my voice and see what it was capable of.”

By the time of the Gobbles show, two of the members were poised for worldwide fame.

For Tommy Emmanuel, the Southern Star Band was the first time he’d step out of the country-rock of his band Goldrush, and his exuberant free-up creativity is evident on the live record.

Parkinson says of the guitarist’s contribution to the band: “He is a master of the instrument, and as we went along, his musical horizons expanded into jazz and rock, he had a very sophisticated and complicated technique.”

After stints with John Farnham and Dragon, Emmanuel moved to Nashville, USA, and became a multi-award winning global guitar hero and received the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2010.

Frank Esler-Smith, who loved classical music and studied architecture in Melbourne, went on to join Air Supply in America, where he made a name for himself as a master strings arranger for their hits. He died of pneumonia in 1991.

Mark Kennedy, who as a teenage prodigy on drums emerged with prog-rock Spectrum and jazz-fusion Ayers Rock, went on to greater heights as a player and as a record producer.

Keith “Stretch” Kerwin who started in the Brisbane Avengers, later joined Jon English’s Foster Bros.

Mark Kennedy and Duncan McGuire, a foremost bassist who’d also played in the Southern Star Band, together went on to form a production company and produced some fine songs.

Parkinson remembers the Gobbles show well. “It was a great night! All the hip people from Perth frequented the place and they liked our band.”

At that time the Southern Star Band were aligned with top promoter Kevin Jacobsen, and they were booked for many shows, including on tours by major international acts as Bob Marley, Genesis, the Four Tops and Randy Crawford.

Also at the same time, the band had just had a hit with ‘I’ll Be Around’, a cover of The Spinners’ 1972 one-million seller written by Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt.

Parkinson first heard the song when Ross Wilson played it at a show they did together at Sydney’s Manzil Room, and fell in love with it.

At the end of the show, Parkinson asked Wilson if he had any plans to record it himself, to which came the answer, “No, go for it!”

The song reached #22 on the charts and was the title track of Southern Star Band’s sole album, a steady seller. The album was produced and arranged by Doug Parkinson and the whole Southern Star Band.

The 16-song Live At Gobbles shows off some wonderful interplay between the musicians, especially on ‘Waiting For The Wiz’, ‘I Know A Little’ and ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’

It also showcases the astonishing array of songs the band played.

There were band compositions (‘Waiting For The Wiz’, ‘Same Feeling Different Song’) and from various band members like ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ (“it was written by Keith, I thought it had hit all over it and I was heartbroken when it wasn’t”) and ‘I Give You Give Blind’.

Others came from Al Jarreau (‘Midnight Sky’), Paul McCartney (‘Yesterday’), Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (‘Gangster of Love’), Lynyrd Skynyrd (‘I Know A Little’) and Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield’s lovely ballad ‘The Hungry Years’.

Patti Austin’s ‘In My Life’ was one which Parkinson comments, “I learned so much about lyric writing from that, the way it was a wonderful painting of a person’s emotions in musical terms. Frank did a great string arrangement for the prelude, it still holds up today.”

Dear Prudence has become an iconic song for Doug Parkinson and he still includes it in his shows today.

At the time, Parkinson’s band In Focus had become one of the biggest live acts in Melbourne.

A tour manager friend of his who was visiting London brought back a copy of White Album which had not yet been released in Australia.

“That album is still among my favourites of all time. It had great songs but ‘Dear Prudence’ leaped out of the page for me. We started to play it at our shows and the crowds went crazy.”

However the A&R exec at his record company didn’t see its hit potential and refused to release it.

An argument ensued and the singer called his bluff by threatening to cancel their contract.

To his horror, the exec agreed and Parkinson was left flabbergasted … and without a deal!

However he went around the corner to the offices of EMI, whose A&R executive Cliff Baxter loved it as soon as Parkinson played it to him.

“The next thing I knew I was driving around in my car and it came on the radio, and it was the biggest thrill.”

“It became a Top 5 hit. I was always grateful to that song because it kept me going through the ups and downs of my career.”