Zoot will reform for Australian shows in November with Russell Morris taking over from the late Darryl Cotton on vocals with the members of the iconic line-up Beeb Birtles, Rick Springfield and Rick Brewer.
As the 60s turned into the 70s Zoot were one of Australia’s most popular Pop Rock bands. What started out Bubblegum with songs like ‘1x2x3x4’ and ‘Monty and Me’ in the late 60s developed into the acid rock sound of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Evil Child’ in the early 70s.
Every member of the band went onto more success in the 70s. Rick Springfield became an international star of music as well as acting, Beeb Birtles formed Mississippi then Little River Band, Rick Brewer joined The Ferrets and Darryl Cotton had a string of solo hits before hosting a kids TV show.
Meanwhile, Russell Morris was following an alternative path leaving the 60s with the now classic ‘The Real Thing’ and intersecting with Beeb on ‘Sweet Sweet Love’.
Zoot will play four shows in Australia in November. The band disbanded in 1971 and reunited with Darryl in 2011 for a cruise out of Miami. That went extremely well. It even generated a live album and DVD. The four members wanted to do more shows but tragedy struck. Darryl was diagnosed with liver cancer in May 2012 and passed two months later.
“The ideal to have reunited would have been shortly after the cruise with Rick Springfield. Darryl was alive and it would have been amazing to have done this with Darryl but it wasn’t to be”, Beeb Birtles tells Noise11.com. “Russell Morris was always a great friend of ours in the 60s and 70s. He is stepping in to take Darryl’s place. Russell was in Cotton, Keays and Morris with Darryl, I go back to Russell’s first album ‘Bloodstone’. I was in the background vocals on ‘Sweet Sweet Love’. Rick and Russell became good friends when Russell lived in the States for a little while. Rick played on Russell’s ‘Van Dieman’s Land’. I also sang backing vocals on ‘Billie’s Bikey Boys’ for Wickety Wak, the band Rick was in before Zoot”.
The show will include the music history the individual members made after leaving Zoot. “Rick will do ‘Jessie’s Girl’, we’ll some of Darryl’s solo songs,” Beeb says. “We are kicking around the idea of doing ‘Will I’ by Mississippi, because Darryl and I wrote that song. Also ‘Curiosity Killed The Cat’ because it was Little River Band’s first song and it was a song I wrote. Also, not to leave Rick Brewer out of this, he was with The Ferrets and had a no 1 hit with ‘Don’t Fall In Love’ so we’ll include that. We might do a lot of those songs in an acoustic setting”.
The show will fall into three parts. “The first part of the show will be Zoot bubblegum, ‘One Times Two Times’ and ‘Monty and Me’, the songs Rick wrote for the ‘Just Zoot’ album,” says Beeb. “Then the acoustic set. Then for the third part we’ll play the heavier stuff like ‘Hey Pinky’ and ‘Turn Your Head’, ‘Strange Things’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’. We’ll give the audience what they want to hear”.
Beeb had a six-year run with Zoot right at the start of his career in Adelaide. “I probably started playing in bands in the mid-60s,” he says. “I had five or six years in Zoot and I’m now the oldest, original member of the band. We didn’t really hit our stride until we left Adelaide for Melbourne. That’s when the whole Think Pink thing took off”.
After Zoot left Adelaide, they hooked up with Melbourne guitarist Rick Springfield. “When we started with Rick Springfield in the tail-end of the Think Pink era, things started to turn around with the release of ‘Just Zoot’, our first full-length album, to think that that was 50 years ago now is just amazing to me”.
One of Zoot more notorious photo shoots was the naked arse pic of around 1970. “We are not going to replicate that,” Beeb promises. “The arses are a little bit saggier now than they were in those days. I said to Bruce Hutchins, our manager, wouldn’t it be funny if we were able to get some fake naked bums for the encore before the lights came up so we could be facing the audience with our naked bums. It could have been funny or it could have (pardon the pun) … backfired.
Recently a newly recorded Zoot song appeared via the cover of ‘Life In A Northern Town’ on Zoot’s 2019 compilation ‘Archaeology’. “Unbeknownst to me Darryl had recorded that song and so had Rick Springfield. We were able to track down the recording engineer on Darryl’s version and he still had the audio files. So we lifted Darryl’s vocal off that version and slotted it into Rick’s version. Then Rick sent me the song in Nashville and I sang the third verse. Darryl sang a verse, Rick sang a verse and I sang a verse. Then we joined our voices on the chorus.”
Zoot Australian dates
Brisbane The Fortitude Thursday November 12
Adelaide Thebarton Theatre Friday November 13
Sydney Enmore Theatre Friday November 20
Melbourne Palais Theatre Saturday November 21
Tickets on sale 9am Friday February 21 http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/zoot/