Australian 60s pop legend Normie Rowe chose the same room he recorded his very first song to launch his 50th anniversary record ‘Frenzy’ in Melbourne on Saturday night.
Normie recorded his debut single ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ at the Memo Music Hall in St Kilda, which 50 years ago was Telfil Studios, managed by a much younger Bill Armstrong, who went on to start his own studio AAV.
As Normie sang his hit song he pointed to the very spot where he stood and recorded the song, about a metre and to the left of the stage. The room was also used half a century ago to record now classics by The Easybeats and Johnny O’Keefe. Now as the newly renovated Memo Music Hall, the room is fast becoming one of Melbourne’s best music venues.
In the 60s Normie Rowe was “Australia’s Elvis”, so much so that unpopular Australian Prime Minister at the time Harold Holt used Normie’s fame for his own propaganda to sell an unpopular war to youth by conscripting the pop star and placing him in the army as a ‘celebrity soldier’. It effectively stalled Normie’s career and forced him to rebuild to a new audience in the 70s who had moved on musically.
Normie’s ‘new’ Playboys included his original and long-time drummer Graeme Trottman who featured through the various line-ups of Normie Rowe and the Playboys in the 70s. Gil Matthews who remastered the Rowe catalogue featured on the new compilation ‘Frenzy’ (and who was the drummer for Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs) played guitar (and the occasion whistle) with Anthony Bafunno and Steve Kelson rounding out the 2015 band.
The evening was a double historic event with 60s R&B band The Wild Cherries opening the show. The Wild Cherries was the band the late guitar legend Lobby Loyde played in before he joined Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and then formed The Coloured Balls.
Normie Rowe upcoming Frenzy launch dates
June 20, Sydney, The Basement
June 25, Brisbane, Kedron Wavell Services Club
Normie Rowe setlist, June 6, 2015
Everything’s Alright (b-side of I Confess, 1965)
The Stones That I Throw (no 8, 1966)
Tell Him I’m Not Home (no 3, 1965)
Que Sera Sera (no 1, 1965)
Ohh La La (no 1, 1966)
Pride & Joy (no 8, 1966)
I Just Don’t Understand (b-side of I Who Have Nothing, 1965)
Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (from So Much Love From Normie Rowe, 1966)
Elizabeth (no 57, 1975)
Going Home (no 11, 1967)
Unchain My Heart (from Normie Rowe A Go Go, 1965)
Penelope (no 30, 1968)
It Ain’t Necessarily So (no 5, 1965)
Its Not Easy (no 3, 1966)
Shaking All Over (no 1, 1965)
I Who Have Nothing (no 9, 1965)
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