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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Strangers..1961-1973...A Band With A History That Connects With the Who's Who of Australian Music

The Strangers were a Melbourne based Australian band that existed from 1961 to 1975. The band started out playing instrumental songs in a style similar to The Shadows with influences from Cliff Richard. The original lineup included Peter Robinson (bass), Graeme ('Garth') Thompson (drums), Laurie Arthur (lead guitar) and Fred Weiland (rhythm guitar). Robinson had previously played with The Thunderbirds, and went on to replace Athol Guy in The Seekers from the late 70s.

In 1966 The Strangers became the resident backing band on the Melbourne based teenage television pop show The Go!! Show in which they appeared each week from 1964 to 1967. After The Go!! Show ended, they became the resident vocal group on HSV-7's Sunnyside Up program. In all, the band appeared on television at least once a week for nine years straight.

At the end of 1962 they signed with Ron Tudor's W&G Records after working as studio band for artists including The Seekers, Frankie Davidson, and Johnny Chester. In 1964 they supported Colin Cook and released an LP called Colin Cook and the Strangers. Charting songs in the Stranger's own name included their first single Cry of the Wild Goose (an instrumental by Terry Gilkyson) / Leavin' Town which was released in January 1963 and reached number 12 on the Melbourne charts. This was followed by three original instrumentals in Torlido / The Outcast and Undertow, which were released in 1963, and two of which reached the Top 40. Other singles included Happy Without You (Kenny Laguna, Shelley Pinz. 1968), Melanie Makes Me Smile (Tony Macaulay, Barry Mason. 1970), Looking Through the Eyes of a Beautiful Girl (1970), If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody (Rudy Clark, 1965) and Western Union (Mike Rabon, Norman Ezell, John Durrill. 1967).

During the mid-1960s, the band changed labels from W&G Records to Go Records and then to Philips and finally in 1970 onto Fable.Arthur left the band in early 1964, and was replaced on lead guitar by John Farrar who later married Pat Carroll. Carroll and Olivia Newton-John appeared on The Go!! Show as singers. Farrar later joined British post-Shadows group Marvin, Welch & Farrar and then the re-formed Shadows.

Also in 1964, the band supported Roy Orbison and Paul and Paula on an Australian tour which featured The Surfaris and The Beach Boys. These support gigs influenced some early vocal recordings in Poppa Oom Mow Mow, Sunday Kind of Love, If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody and later In My Room, a Beach Boys ballad. They had two singer guitarists round 1968 Bill Pyman and Johhny Cosgrove, before Terry Walker joined.In February 1967 Terry Walker replaced Fred Weiland, who left to join The Mixtures. During 1969 Melanie Makes Me Smile made #16 in Sydney, #9 in Melbourne and #7 in Brisbane.

Throughout the band's 14 years, The Strangers underwent numerous membership changes and provided backing for many local and overseas acts. These included: Johnny Farnham, Russell Morris, Johnny Young, Neil Sedaka, Johnny O'Keefe, The Seekers, Merv Benton, Ted Mulry, Lynne Randell, Ross D. Wylie, Yvonne Barrett, Grantley Dee, Pat Carroll, Little Gulliver, Barry Crocker, Buddy England, Ronnie Burns, Town Criers, Masters Apprentices, Axiom, Hans Poulsen, Lionel Rose.

The Strangers set an exceptional standard for live sound, using the best and 'cleanest' equipment they could procure: German Dynacord microphones and public address systems, multiple guitar effects units, an exponential horn for the bass guitar, and carefully selected and matching guitars (e.g. Rickenbacker 6 and 12 string, Maton El Toro) and amplifiers.

Farrar, who married Pat Carroll and moved to USA, wrote a number of hits including 'Hopelessly devoted to you' sung by Olivia Newton-John.

This 2CD, 50 track compilation contains all their hits plus covers of many other popular songs of their time. Click here for CD1 and here for CD2.


  1. Replies
    1. have checked links and they seem to be working when I try have to click on the "skip this ad" in top right to access download

  2. working fine now :)...thanks for all the great posts :)