Any student of Australian rock music would be hard-pressed to argue against the pure fact that, since its inception in the late sixties, Chain has remained our foremost blues-rock band. In keeping with its hallowed name, there are many links to the Chain story…throughout its six year heyday over the early seventies the band, in its many permutations, commanded an undisputed dominance in the blues idiom. Chain has seen many varied line-ups, no less than 40+ different musicians passing through its ranks. There isn't enough space on this humble little blog to tell the full Chain story, even in a brief form, so I'll just give the starting point and you can go to Milseago for the complete story.
Over the years, Perth has provided the setting for a thriving blues-rock scene, spawning many future stalwarts of the idiom who have gone onto greater national success. The original Chain grew out of this hotbed, forming from the ashes of The Beaten Tracks, who won the Perth heat of the 1967 Hoadley's Battle Of The Sounds. The band at that time comprised Warren Morgan (keys), Dave Hole (guitar), Ace Follington (dr), Murray Wilkins (bs) and Ross Partington (vcls); they moved to Melbourne in early 1968 to avail themselves of their prize, ostensibly recording and touring opportunities in the eastern states.
While in Melbourne, Dave Hole (long recognised as one of Australia's top blues perfprmers) quit The Beaten Tracks, to be replaced by Tasmanian guitarist Phil Manning (formerly of Tony Worsley & the Blue Jays, The Laurie Allen Revue and Bay City Union, among others) and the band returned to Perth, where they lost the services of Partington.
A return to Melbourne in December 1968 saw the group recruit ex-James Taylor Move singer Wendy Saddington, and the first incarnation of (The) Chain was established. Saddington was a blues/soul 'belter' in the vein of Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, and it was she who came up with the band's name, derived from Aretha's classic hit, "Chain Of Fools". Sadly, this line-up of Chain never recorded, Saddington having departed by May 1969 to join Copperwine, and later to forge an erratic but compelling solo career.
Chain relocated to Sydney in August and recruited bass player Tim Piper (ex-Chants R&B, Electric Heap, Wild Cherries) and legendary blind keyboardist Claude Papesch (who was also from Electric Heap, and who had been a member of Johnny Devlin & The Devils in New Zealand in the early '60s). This line-up stayed together long enough to record Chain's first single for Festival with house producer Pat Aulton -- "Show Me Home" b/w Morgan's "Mr Time", which was released in September. The single, while not a strong charter, convincingly displayed the group's abilities, and showed the strong and unmistakable influence of The Band -- who profoundly affected so many Aussie acts at the time -- as well as particularly showcasing Manning's fluid guitar style. The single is regarded by many as the earliest example of the "progressive" stance developing rapidly on the OzRock scene around this period.
Follington, Piper and Papesch left Chain late in '69, to form Savage Rose, and each went on to reputable careers in a number of other prominent bands. Chain moved back yet again to Melbourne, where its core hooked up with the ex-Wild Cherries rhythm section of Barry Sullivan (bass) and Barry Harvey (drums). Nick-named, respectively, "Big Goose" and "Little Goose", the two Barrys injected a 'fish-arse-tight' cohesion into the band's sound, and helped unveil what was to become the classic, and best-remembered Chain configuration, gaining considerable notice in the southern capital's burgeoning blues-rock performing circuit in the process. (text courtesy of Milesago)
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