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Boys About Town

(Adelaide mod-scene bands 1979-86)

This article attempts to put together a complete list of the bands that played some sort of role in building and maintaining an Adelaide mod scene in the early 1980s.

play faster cover

Young Modern (1977-1980)

Starting Line-up: Mark Kohler (d), Andrew Richards (b), John Dowler (v) Michael Jones (g), Vic Yates (g) 
Additions/Replacements: Mark Carroll (g 1979) Peter Laverick (v 1980), Mike Donovan (b 1980), Peter Hilton (g 1980)

Young Modern inspired other youths in Adelaide's southern suburbs to pick up guitars and emulate their power-pop sound. Some fell into mod-ish bands. Donovan and Jones had earlier played together in a band called Biceps Incorporated (The Who's Who lists them as Muscles Inc) which also featured Stu Spasm (aka Troy Spasm, real name Stuart Grey). Spasm went on to feature in many bands including Bad Poets, Lubricated Goat and Beasts of Bourbon. Young Modern went to Sydney to try their luck and, although they didn't set the world on fire commercially, they were highly regarded by peers and cited as influences by 'bigger' bands such as Sunnyboys and the Hoodoo Gurus.

Information on Young Modern's 25th Anniversary album, "Play Faster" is available at the Aztec Music site; click  here.

Quote: "One of the great  post punk pop bands in Australia " I. McFarlane, The Who's Who of Australian Rock, 2nd edition.
Quote: "[Biceps Incorporated] was my band at school when I was 15, before punk rock. So we did Deep Purple, Free, Led Zep, Stones; that sort of thing. Stu Spasm, 2006.

No Action (6/79-12/79)

Starting Line-up: Tim O'Connor (g), Andy Turner (d) Ian List (b), Rip Savage (v)

Not mods - the band managed three gigs. Rip Savage was subsequently a member of Gun Control and Funhouse. Ian List went on to play with The Dagoes, The Spikes and UVs amongst others. O'Connor and Turner went on to form The Group.

Trivia: Ian List did the mastering for the 2004 release 'Woking Class Hero',  a Paul Weller homage. He also contributed his interpretation of 'That's Entertainment!' to the compilation.

Quote: "We were pretty crappy and did a lot of Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols and other punk covers." Ian List, interview NKVD Records, 1997.

The Photos (6/79-8/79)

Starting Line-up: John Rickert (b/v), Stuart Harrison (g/v), Pete Beaumont (g), Grant Fortune (d)

Again, not a mod band, but featured Rickert, Harrison and Fortune, later of  The Jump. It is rumoured that the band played one gig, at the Flagstaff Hotel in Darlington.

The Manics (1980)

Starting Line-up: Alan Gelder (k, v), Mick Jones (g), Michael Donovan (b), Dave Moulds (d)

Watched by a few mods (of which there were very few in 1980), this power-pop band shared members with Young Modern and had a track released on a 5MMM compilation LP in 1981. More 'All Mod Cons' than 'In the City'. Alan Gelder had previously played with the prolific Stu Spasm in Exhibit A. The Manics played regularly around town, at venues such as the Tivoli, and played mainly covers of songs made famous by bands such as The Who, The Jam and The Clash. As the band gained experience, more original songs crept into the setlist.

Quote: "I do recall one of the guys who later grew his hair long and played guitar for Exploding White Mice was originally a Mod kid. We played a Mod social thing where he won his first guitar." Alan Gelder, 2005.

The Group (4/80-9/80)

Starting Line-up: Tim O'Connor (g), Andy Turner (d), Dave Williams (b)
Additions/Replacements: Richard Paarde (g 9/80)

Still no sign of mods, but an important band in terms of personnel. Rick Paarde and Dave Williams would go on to form the Bonython Parkas.

Trivia: The story goes that one incarnation of 'The Group' was banned for life from 5MMM airplay because of an 'offensive' song called She's So Slack.
Tim O'Connor went on to be a member of Frente!, and was the writer of 'Accidentally Kelly Street'.

The Urban Guerillas (1980-present)

Starting Line-up: Ken Stewart (g/v), Terry Burgan (b), John Martin (d)
Additions/Replacements: More members than the Communist Party. Dave Bell (b 1981), Kim Cambridge (b), Rodney Gilchrist (d 1987), Terry Moles (g, syn), Tim Walker (b 1987), David Moore (d 1988-95), David Skvoc (b 1988-95), Brett Dolahenty (d 1995), Charlie McMahon (didj 1995), Phil Paviour (b 1995), Danny Gorman (2000), Anthony Waugh (2000) and Michael Elsley (2000) to name but thirteen...

The Urban Guerillas deserve inclusion as they were friends of the mods, thought they were mods, and played to mods. I didn't think they were mods, but Ken Stewart says he was and that's good enough for me.
Certainly they are more deserving of a place here than some of the later incarnations of  The Jump Mk II... Singles include '1984' (1983), 'She's Probably' (1984), Here Come the Americans (1987) and 'Another View' (1988). Albums include 'Borrowed Time' (1986), 'Another View' (1990), 'Just a Lifetime' (1995), 'Mad in Australia' (1997), 'Cloud Above My Head' (2000) and 'Carols by Blowtorch' (2000).

Trivia: Once had a poster advertising themselves as 'The Very Mod' Urban Guerillas. I saw it myself in 'Mod Image', King William Road, Hyde Park. So there.

gig poster

The Jump (1/80-11/80)

Starting Line-up:  John Rickert (b), Stuart Harrison (g/v), Grant Fortune (d)

Adelaide's first, and possibly best, mod revival band. Black suits, Vox AC-30 amplifiers and 'In the City' covers helped to paint the picture.
The band played a number of shows at the ACA Basement; their last shows included performances at the Norwood Town Hall on Saturday 2/8/1980 and at the Wellington Hotel on 7/8/1980.
The Jump professionally recorded an original number entitled 'Crying for a Girl'; sadly it was never released and is now presumed lost.

Trivia: Grant Fortune later 'guested' as The Vents' drummer while Neil Webster was holidaying overseas.

The Bonython Parkas (1981-6/82)

Starting Line-up: Richard Paarde (g/v), Dave Williams (b), Michael Williams (d)

A very polished act, the Bonython Parkas provided near perfect renditions of mod revival and ska standards including 'Millions Like Us', 'Down in the Tube Station at Midnight' and 'Tears of a Clown'. They recorded one truly great original track, 'Until Tomorrow', thought lost, but recently discovered. Click here to listen.

Trivia: At one point, David Essex look-alike Dave Williams worked in England as a roadie for, yep,  David Essex.

Dave Williams and Rick Paarde

Art School (4/81)

Starting Line-up: Chris Crowe (v), Nick Deymon (d), Stuart Harrison (g), John Rickert (b)

Harrsion and Rickert rehearsed a few times with this line-up before putting The Vents together.

The Vents (5/81-1982)

Starting Line-up:
Stuart Harrison (g), David Robinson (g/v), John Rickert (b), Michael Williams (d)
Additions/Replacements: Liam McGauchey (g), Neil Webster (d, replaced Williams), Grant Fortune (d, temporarily replaced Webster).

live at the aurora, christmas 1981

Michael Williams sat in on the first gig  in April/May 1981 before Webster took over drumming duties;  Fortune substituted when Neil went to the UK for a holiday. Rickert left after 'guesting' for the first gig and Robinson switched from rhythm guitar to bass, opening a spot for McGauchey. The band typified noise over quality and, assisted by the Urban Guerillas and Bonython Parkas, established the Aurora Hotel as the number one venue for mods (later embraced by skinheads and punks). The Vents played at the Aurora, they were the main act over the Victor Harbor long weekend trip, supported The Chequers at The Alma and the Urban Guerillas at The Union. Their last gig was December 23 1981 (pictured right), playing with the Urban Guerillas and Del Webb Explosion. 
Webster returned from England and the band's last planned performance was prevented from taking place by police on Wednesday 6th  January, 1982. Liam McGaughey left the band and ended up in The Droogs while the other three started to dabble with electric blues...

Del Webb Explosion (1981-83)

Starting Line-up: Russell Barton (sax), Gary Barrett (g), Andy Berrington (sax), Daniel Clements (trumpet), Glen Errington (k), Peter Flierl (b/v), Frank Moller (v), John Oldman (g), Heinz Stein (d)

Adelaide's soul boys, obviously inspired by Dexy's Midnight Runners. They played a few gigs and released a couple of singles locally.

live at the aurora
live at the saloon

The Kingbees (6/82-6/83)

Starting Line-up: Stuart Harrison (g), David Robinson (v/harp), Neil Webster (d), John Scott (g/harp), Jason Scholz (b)

The ex-Vents Harrison, Robinson and Webster recruited Scott and Scholz, and rehearsed for months before emerging as Rolling Stones/Chuck Berry clones The Kingbees.
The band played to increasingly appreciative crowds most Saturdays at The Saloon in North Adelaide. They supported the Urban Guerillas, Hugger Mugger and Fools Apart on various occasions.
They enjoyed a pretty successful 12 months, before egos, boredom and various distractions worked their magic on the boys...

The Jump Mk II (6/83-early 84)

Starting Line-up: Stuart Harrison (g/v), David Robinson (b/v), John Scott (g/v), Neil Webster (d)
Additions/Replacements: Brian Henderson (b, replaced Robinson), Mark Atkinson (k, replaced Scott)

The Kingbees stopped dead and turned up the next week playing Bowie and Stranglers covers. No traces of modernism anywhere.

john rickert, swinging doors, victor harbor

The Swinging Doors (1984)

Starting Line-up: Stuart Harrison (g), David Robinson (v), John Scott (g), Gavin Atkinson (d), John Rickert (b)
Additions/Replacements: Stephanie Bourke (v, replaced Robinson), Sharon Thompson (v)

An occasional pursuit, some of the former Kingbees/Jump/Vents members returned to Tamla-type grooves and played a few shows for the remaining mods and skinheads.
The original line-up played at least twice - one fantastic crowd-pleaser at the Union Hotel; one not-so-hot show at Victor Harbor (captured on video).

After changing vocalists, the Swinging Doors evolved into the Rickettes. The new Swinging Doors enjoyed one particularly successful gig in Melbourne before the name change.

The Rickettes (1985-6)

Starting Line-up: John Rickert (b), John Scott (g), Stuart Harrison (g), Gavin Atkinson (d), Stephanie Bourke (v), Sharon Thompson (v)
Additions/Replacements: Paul Smith (d, replaced Atkinson), Nick Bruer (d, replaced Smith), Hermann Lauss (b, replaced Rickert)

After failing to take The Swinging Doors anywhere, the remaining members became The Rickettes. Playing similar songs to that of the SDs, the Rickettes (named after departing bassman John Rickert) rehearsed and played a couple of shows before the usual dissatisfaction saw the end of the band. By this time, things were a long way away from mod. John Scott quit before the band finally collapsed.

Trivia: The Rickettes live line-up included a life-size cardboard John Rickert.

I have used many sources in putting this together; special mentions must go to DNA magazine, Modern Times, and The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Many other musicians, web resources and fanzines etc have been consulted, not to mention personal recollections. Feel free to contact me with any information regarding errors and omissions.

© Copyright David Robinson, 2002, 2013

Not to be reproduced without the permission of the author