After the demise of Daddy Cool & Mighty Kong, Ross Hannaford formed Billy T with Joe Creighton in Queensland, and later joined up with Russell Smith (Company Caine) and Mick Holden (The Mixtures), playing a mixture of Reggae, Soul, Funk and Rock in Melbourne.
They released 3 singles and their debut LP 'No Definitions'.
As their bass player 'Joe Creighton' recalls on his blog:
Around 1975, I hooked up with Ross Hannaford and we formed Billy T
Billy T was a unique band in that it broke the mold of standard Aussie rock in pubs. With our own brand of blue-eyed soul and reggae we had quite a successful run in the Australian pub circuit.
Our tour support with legendary US band 'Little Feat' cemented our profile as the band most likely to do it in 76. Unfortunately Ross and I kept floating off to the US and Europe to play for Maharaj Ji and Billy T suffered the consequences of our absences. The rest of the band basically got jack of it and I can't remember if we got sacked or if we called it quits. But whatever, the band eventually dissolved.
I don't think Ross was ever all that happy in the band. It is often difficult having two dynamic guitarists in one band and Russel Smith was and still is a great guitarist. I think he and Ross always had trouble defining their roll with each other musically. Maybe they should have taken heed of the title of our only album 'No Definitions'! Having said that, there were many many moments where they rose to great heights and complimented each other superbly. Billy T was a great live band and with a bit more focus probably would have made a bigger imprint on the industry than it did.
.The following is a transcript of an interview conducted by Peter Olszewski of RAM magazine with the members of Billy T (#37 - 30th July 1976):
Get up and Guru?
Do the Funky Electric Meditation?
There's this new band around called BILLY T
who...... well, read on ...
Take a large tin, throw in a hot city bump, one only of Mighty Kong's nose hairs, a smidgeon of cocaine, some dried angels wings, boil it all up. and waddya got? Billy T.
And what exactly is Billy T? It's a new band in Melbourne, comprised of exiles from Hot City Bump Band, Company-Caine, Band of Angels and Daddy Cool / Mighty Kong.
The band's just one of the many newbies poppin up in Melbourne town, all in accordance with Parkinson's Law of Rock Bandz:— Following a period of numerous band break-ups, personnel reshuffle and form a series of new bands which is approximately equal to the number of old bands that have just broken up
However, what sets Billy T apart from the other 'newbies is their unusual fusion of rock, reggae and soul (Roul? Sock?) Looking at the line-up you find, on the rock side. Russell Smith — guitar (ex-Co.Caine) and Ross Hannaford — guitar (ex-Daddy Cool — Mighty Kong). On the soul side you've got Joe Creighton — bass & vocals and Geoff Maling — percussion (both ex-Band of Angels) and Mick Holden ~ drums (ex-Hot City Bump Band).
The obvious thing to do of course, is to weigh in with the heavy question of how did this come about.
Says Ross Hannaford: "It's my taste. I've had my fill of rock and roll so we're moving into the kind of music we like to play. We don't want to brand ourselves as a soul group, and I want to incorporate a lot of rock and roll because you find people, especially in Melbourne, can't really dance to soul.
"I notice people nowadays have got a concept of what dancing is all about, and we want to really encourage it because we're simply setting ourselves up as a dance band."
Which of course is fair enough. If you're a dance band and no-one can dance to you then. uh, it's time to hang up dem geetars.
The two founders of the band are Hannaford and Joe Creighton who started to play music together through their affiliation with the Divine Light Mission. Ross and Joe first played together professionally on Jim Keays reggae cum anti-drug song "Give It Up", which presumably wasn't the right message at the right time because it did absolutely nothing sales wise, but that's another story ... or is it?
Ross explains the further development of the band: "I started the band off sort of. Joe had a gig lined up at The Patch in Coolangatta and I went with him. Ever since I left Daddy Cool ... well, at first I wanted a break and then I wanted to get a band going ..."
Joe steps into the conversation ...
"Yes, and we started putting a band together in a really relaxed sort of way and we started writing some songs up there in the sun and the surf and what have you ..."
Mick Holden weighs in with the sound effects: "Tweet, tweet, tweet."
Back to Joe: "Then we came back to Melbourne and we just started talking to a few guys Mick was one of the first guys we had a blow with. We dug the feel and then Geoff came along ... it was all very relaxed you know. Russell came over one day and had a blow. Then we started blowing together with this group of guys and one day we had a look at each other and said what do you reckon?"
And on the subject of the rather strange name?
Mick: "It means whatever you want it to,
Uh uh, well I had this immediate association with Billy Tea?
"Yeah, it kinda gives us that Australiana type of thing. Although Mark Barnes at the Station Hotel (Melb's supposedly legendary rock pub of which Barnes is the founder) said: 'Isn't it really a rip off of Billy Thorpe?'
Listening to the band s music and talking to the band, one picks up this continuous ongoing concern about relaxation and detachment.Joe kindly explains: "We've all found that the detached attitude makes for really good music. Mick's found that he's detached when he's playing for the Dingoes. (Mick Holden is filling in on drums for the Dingoes until they leave for the States and rejoin with John Lee. their original drummer). It s not the type of thing he's planning for, nor is he worrying about the future; he gets into a real groove because he's just playing. Naturalism is the key."Talking about this naturalism, relaxation. soul etc brings us to the area of meditation, which brings us to the Divine Light Mission. In Melbourne there's quite a strong group of musicians who belong lo this' religious outfit'
From Billy T, Creighton, Mating and Hannaford belong to this organisation but following what you could safely say was a period of bad publicity for the Mission (it was accused of brainwashing devotees), it s very difficult to actually pin down any Divine Lighter into discussing the uh, lighter side of that religion.
I collared Creighton on this subject and he was somewhat evasive, not wanting lo refer to the Divine Light Mission, preferring to call it "this form of meditation.'
I first saw Creighton's ex-band, the Band of Angels, performing at the Guru
Margarines Melbourne public appearance I was not at all impressed with the little fat man. nor with the music that Band of Angels played, which was mostly recycled Simon and Garfunkel and early melodic Beatles. I was under the impression that the Band of Angels was sort of a Divine Light house band but Creighton corrected me.
"What happened was that the people who were in that band were into doing meditation and they were all musicians. We came from completely different backgrounds and the thing that united us was meditation rather than musical taste. We went from there, created some music, went as far as we could go together, then broke up."
"Ross and Geoff and I still do this meditation and as far as ... well, meditation gives you stillness right, a calmness m your mind, and that's happening, and that s part of the influence in the band, and that's as far as the influence goes, right? Were not a Divine Lighl band or anything like that, it s just that three of the guys do this meditation."
Is there am coincidence that most of the musicians who uh. do this meditation, usually end up in soul bands?
I think because soul music expresses that feeling most of all the thing is that everybody in this band has a really nice spiritual awareness. We're not trying to create any image, were just doing what were doing. I think it's a nice high feeling and it'll be like that all the time as long as the band can be left to just relax and play. Praise the Lord and pass me the meditation mat!
The rip of 'No Defintions' was taken from vinyl at 320kps and includes full album artwork (thanks to Ecrob and Micko from Midoztouch) . I have also included 2 bonus live tracks from the 1977 "Nightmoves Concert", a scan of the RAM article and a Video Clip (mp4) of their single "Gotta Keep On Dancing"
01 You Saved Me
02 I Am What You Are
03 Just Like Soul Music
04 Soul Power
05 Keep On Dancing
06 Baby I Need Your Lovin'
07 Live Together
08 Everything I Own
09 I'm In A Dancing Mood
10 Who The Cap Fit (Live 1977)
11 I Am What You Are (Live 1977).
Ross Hannaford (Guitar, Vocals)
Joe Creighton (Bass, Vocals)
Mick Holden (Drums, Vocals)
Geoff Maling (Percussion)
Russell Smith (Guitar, Vocals)
Neal McPherson (Keyboards)
Billy T Link (112Mb)
New Link 28/10/2015