classic and rare Australian popular music from the 1950's, 1960's. 1970's and beyond..including rock and roll, pop, beat, rock, surf and progressive, plus contemporary artists, new releases, reviews and other fun stuff

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

From Mustangs to Masters..First Year Apprentices...garage, beat, blues and R'n'B


The Masters' story began in the South Australian capital of Adelaide in early '65, with The Mustangs, a dance band formed by four Adelaide teenagers: Mick Bower, Brian Vaughton, Gavin Webb and Rick Morrison. The Mustangs were a typical example of an early-60s instrumental band, playing the obligatory Shadows and Ventures covers. The cataclysmic visit by the Beatles in 1964 rendered all that passe overnight. The Mustangs were canny enough to realise that the surf/instrumental craze was past its 'use-by' date, and they decided to change their style to incorporate the new "beat' music, so they placed a "singer wanted" ad on the noticeboard at a local music centre. On his third (and last) visit there, the ad was spotted by a young would-be bass player called Jim Keays, who was taking lessons from musician and guitar teacher John Bywaters (who was a member of one of Adelaide's most popular and accomplished beat groups). The Mustangs began to established themselves on the dance circuit around Adelaide, in suburban halls and migrant hostels. 

They built up a strong following with the local teenagers, many of whom were, like Jim, migrants from the UK (Adelaide was a major destination for UK migrants in the 50s and 60s). Their audiences were also an important influence for the band - some of these kids were very recent arrivals, who had seen the top UK bands in action only weeks before, and they had a strong effect on the band's "look", since they were directly in touch with current 'mod' fashions, a trend which was still not very well known in Australia. The next step was a name change, and because they regarded themselves, at least for a while, as apprentices to those musical "masters" like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, their new name (suggested by Bowers) paid homage to these heroes. They decided early on to dispense with the apostrophe.

Towards the end of 1965 they found their home-base at an Adelaide club called The Beat Basement. Before long they were they regularly packing out the club, and they graduated from the less prestigious spots to the prized Saturday afternoon residency. They also became a prime attraction at the Octagon Ballroom in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth (The Twilights' home turf) which was located near another large migrant hostel. Keays recalls that the regulars included two young Scots migrant boys, John "Swanee" Swan and his brother Jimmy Barnes. The band also played at a dance in Salisbury, promoted by a young Doc Neeson, later the lead singer of The Angels.

By early in the new year the Masters were one of the most popular bands in town and regularly packed out gigs across the city, as well as making mini-tours to outlying towns and cities like Murray Bridge, Mt Gambier and Whyalla. The Masters' first big break was their appearance on the Channel 7 Good Friday telethon hosted by Adelaide TV celebrity Ernie Sigley. The Masters played four songs, to a rousing reception, and by the next day they were the talk of the town.

..text courtesy of Milesago