- Lord Randall
- Easy Rider Blues
- Larry’s Black Goat
- Frankie and Johnny (Prelude)
- Frankie and Johnny
- Poor Kid Has Lost Her Key (Prelude)
- Poor Kid Has Lost Her Key
- Unaccompanied Blues
- What Jealous Love Can Do
- Nobody Knows You When Your Down And Out
- If I Had Wings
- To Do Me On A Day
- The Friar And The Well
- Green Brooms
- Sammy Hall (Prelude)
- Sammy Hall
- The Bonny Boy
- Make Me A Pallet On The Floor
- I Will Give My Love An Apple
- Wade In The Water Children
- The Poor Young Man
- Row Bullies Row
- Little Sally Racket
- Botany Bay
- Goin’ Where Them Chilly Winds Don’t Blow
Paul Marks, who turns 90 in 2022, was a major name in Australia’s growing acoustic scene.
He arrived in Australia at the age of 23, and gave the locals the first live taste of the blues, skiffle and New Orleans spirituals he picked up while serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force.
“There were two guys who used to play at the station’s café. They were good.
“I asked the guitar player, ‘Can you teach me how to play the guitar’.
“He replied, ‘Yes I can start you off’, so I went over to his place. He banged out some chords, and then he said, ‘What’s the highest note?’
“I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, ‘You’ll never be able to play the guitar!’
“He wasn’t a very good teacher (laughs). So I went back to watching them play at night in the cafe.”
With great satisfaction he saw that guitarist again years later, when Paul had become a success.
“When The Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band toured through Europe, we played in London, and who should I meet, but the guy who told me I’d never be able to play guitar!”
After he finished with the air force, his mother suggested Australia was a place to go, and a relative in Perth was happy to put him up.
On the boat, Paul shared a cabin with a Maori guitarist with a New Zealand string quartet who taught him during the 60-day voyage in 1956.
He also learned to develop his singing voice.
“That’s another story. To earn my keep I worked as a labourer for the local council, digging holes.
“I was usually on my own, so I used to sing at the top of my voice because I loved spirituals.”
Paul soon moved east to Melbourne.
“It was a great time to be a young man. I loved Melbourne, especially in those days. There were some great jazz bands there.”
Paul Marks LIVE at the Christchurch Folk Club 1968 explains the appeal he had lay in the diversity of his music, the passion with which he performed, the lengthy explanations behind the lyrics and how he came across the songs, and the easy rapport with the audience which often led to sing-alongs.
The styles ranged from the slinky blues of ‘Easy Rider Blues’ and ‘What Jealous Love Can Do’ to the gorgeous gospel ballads ‘If I Had Wings’ and ‘I Will Give My Love An Apple’, to ye olde British folk of ‘Lord Randall’, ‘The Bonnie Boy’ and ‘The Friar And A Well’ and sea shanties ‘Rueben Ranzo’, ‘Goin’ Where Them Chilly Winds Don’t Blow’ and ‘Row Bullies Row’.
Paul Marks was credited with influencing a new wave of folk artists as Judith Durham and Keith Potger of The Seekers, Margaret Roadknight and Dutch Tilders, and he struck up close friendships with jazz luminaries such as trombonist Frank Traynor and drummer/ pianist Len Barnard.
“On reflection, I reckon Paul certainly had been a role model to me, and Bruce Woodley, during our formative folk singing years and that reflected itself in some of The Seekers repertoire that the group carried right through their long career”- Keith Potger
Work was plentiful, with Paul playing a couple of shows each evening, moving between clubs and restaurants like the Esquire Club, Little Reata, the Arab Cafe /Wild Colonial, Jazz Centre 44, Hernando’s and the Melbourne Jazz Cellar
He’d also be playing in the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band as well as his skiffle group The Paul Marks Folk Singing Group.
On the weekends he headed off to Sydney to do a relentless round of clubs and appear regularly on former Kingston Trio member Dave Guards Sunday night ABC-TV show Dave’s Place.
From 1960 he released recordings like Sings Blues and Spirituals (1963) through the Swaggie and Score labels.
Around this time, he met his future wife and cosmic soul mate Eleanor in Melbourne.
She was over from New Zealand visiting friends.
She was in a pub with them. He was in another bar with his friends when he spotted her through a glass partition, and quickly made his move.
He invited her to a concert at Melbourne Town Hall.
Totally unaware of his celebrity, she was impressed he’d got seats near the front row.
Midway through the sold-out show Marks leaned over, “I’ll see you later, I won’t be long” and left.
“The next minute he was walking on the stage,” Eleanor recalls.
“I’m thinking, ‘What’s he up there for, I thought he got lost on the way to the loo!
“The band started, Paul started singing, and the audience went crazy and waving.
“He was never arrogant in any shape or form, he just loved to play for people.
“He never had any hobbies, it was just music for him.”
The hectic work schedule though started to burn him out.
Things came to a head in 1961, when Paul Marks and his new family travelled through Europe and the United Kingdom with the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band for a seven-and-a-half-month tour.
Paul met Muddy Waters, and they did stunning shows at air bases where they’d play until 2 am.
A low point was when stepson Simon Glozier, then aged four, got lost in Paris, and Paul ran out of money and left the tour early to be replaced by Long John Baldry.
By this stage Paul Marks was “totally exhausted”, says Eleanor, and he had a nervous breakdown, which deeply affected his career.
By 1967 he and Eleanor moved to Christchurch, New Zealand where Marks played local clubs and festivals, and opened for Tom Paxton, John Renbourne and Fairport Convention.
The Christchurch Folk Club opened in 1968, and that year NZ folk singer and archivist Phil Garland recorded one of Paul’s shows there.
But Paul’s fragile mental state was still an issue, keeping his career low key.
He tried electrotherapy and drugs but they failed.
In desperation, Eleanor tried acupuncture, frowned on by western medicine at the time.
“It had an immediate and profound effect,” Simon Glozier says.
Eleanor became an acupuncturist, doing a four-year course in Australia and then five years in England.
It revived his health, and Marks would, and still busks every day in Christchurch for a few hours to put a smile on people’s faces.
Movie company Frank Films, run by Gerard Smyth, filmed the 88 year-old as he entertained in the streets, for a post-earthquake Christchurch documentary that screened on TV.
Simon in the meantime followed his stepfather into the music business, currently a guitarist and singer in regional Victoria.
A long time interest in electronics saw him work with Nova co-founder and Australia pro audio legend Gary Nessel for eight years before setting up digital electronics Glozier Audio.
“He could have gone a lot further,” Simon believes of his stepfather’s potential before his illness.
“No two ways about it, he could have been up there with The Seekers.
“He helped them with the vocal harmonies in the early days, before they went to England.