Mike arrived in Australia in 1966 as rhythm guitarist for the NZ group Chants R'n'B. Chants only lasted a short time after they arrived in Australia, but Mike remained in Melbourne, where he soon teamed up with young singer-songwriter Ross Wilson and guitarist Ross Hannaford. Their first band The Pink Finks (which had also just broken up) worked in a similar vein to Chants, and had some local chart success in Melbourne. Mike was invited to be the bass player in a later lineup of their next band, the short-lived but legendary Party Machine (1967-69). This was followed by the more experimentally-oriented Sons of The Vegetal Mother (1969-71).
Sons of the Vegetal Mother was an occasional project rather than a full-time band, but Mike was apparently involved on a regular basis, even after the formation of Spectrum, and he played bass on the Vegetal's only recording, an ultra-rare EP called The Garden Party, of which only about 250 copies were ever pressed. Although close connections between them continued, by 1970 Wilson and Hannaford were concentrating on the Vegetals new offshoot Daddy Cool, so Rudd decided to put together his own band, continuing down the progressive path he had been following with Party Machine and the Vegetals.
Although Mike later described the formation of the band as "incredibly haphazard", his choices were all fortunate ones. Bassist Bill Putt, from Melbourne bands Gallery and The Lost Souls formed a lasting friendship and musical partnership with Mike, and they worked together until Putt's recent passing. Organist Lee Neale happily left his current band, Nineteen 87, who were apparently scornful of his lack of 'pop image'. A hotshot young drummer called Mark Kennedy, who had already worked with Putt in Gallery, completed the lineup. Kennedy's musical strength helped carry the band through a difficult first year, during which time the band honed their skills and found their sound.
Initially, Spectrum drew on the work of contemporary bands like Traffic, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd and they played covers of these groups in the early days, but they soon outgrew these formative influences, developing their own highly individual style. Many elements contributed to this –- their synergistic playing style, the rock-solid yet supple rhythm Putt-Kennedy rhythm section, Lee Neale’s superb keyboard playing, Mike's skewed, rather Goonish sense of humour, which was manifested in his wry song titles and lyrics, his expressive finger-picked guitar, and of course his voice, one of the most distinctive in Australian music.
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Mike Rudd (vocals, guitar, recorder, harmonica)
Bill Putt (bass)
Mark Kennedy (drums) 1969-70
Ray Arnott (drums, vocals) 1970-73
Lee Neale (keyboards, vocals) 1969-72
John Mills (keyboards) 1972-3