Tuesday, January 5, 2016

John Farnham Band - Live At Billboard Nightclub (1981) Ex. Soundboard

(Australian 1967 - Present)
When John Farnham visited his old Master's Apprentices mate 'Glenn Wheatley' in Las Vegas in Late 1980, while LRB was touring, he was decided  that this was the direction he had been seeking. The two old friends talked and John told Glenn he would like him to take over his management. Nothing was decided there, but when Glenn arrived back in Australia, he too had been thinking about the singer. They met again and Glenn told John 'I'd love to manage you, but it's up to you.' He was aware of John's loyalty and he thought John would stay with Danny Finley. 'It was a hard thing for him to tell Danny, "I'm going to try Wheatley". It was a gutsy move. But he came back and said to me, "I want to do it, I want to get contemporary again".

Glenn Wheatley recalls: Before  the  'Uncovered'  album,  the problem was just to keep John earning. 'He wasn't making much then and while we were getting material material together for the album, he was still doing all these silly little jobs and I remember booking him into some place at Surfers - "no probs, we'll supply the house band  - great little band, here are two airfares plus the fee". In fact, it was the absolute pits. It would be the worst show we could have possibly done. The sound was awful and the light man hopeless. I was trying to coordinate the lighting guy and the sound man and John was trying to conduct the orchestra.

The house was less than half full - he had to stop the band and count them in again, they were all over the place - one was playing "Sadie" and   another   was   playing "Raindrops". When he came off, I just looked at him and said, "John, I promise I'll never let you do that again. There has to be a better way". We got the tuxedo and threw it the rubbish bin in the kitchen with all the food slops and said, "That's it. We don't care how tough it gets from here on in, you can't do that again. It's criminal - you can't get up there and do that to yourself. We'll just have to tighten the belt and get stuck into the album".'

A Royal Command performance, televised before the nation in 1980, helped stop the rot. After singing 'Help' even the hard-nosed critics were sitting up and saying what many had forgotten, "This boy can sing". Quality, thought Glenn, was the way to go -quality through putting a proper band behind John. Glenn wanted to break the showbiz image that hung like an albatross round his singer's neck. The Farnham band was formed, but the first couple of outings were

'terrible', recalls Glenn. John still had a gaping credibility problem and many people in the audiences would not take the change of pace and style seriously. But the right key was being played by the third outing and John and the band started to break through; to this day holding the record at Melbourne's Billboard nightclub.'We had them standing in the aisles. He was getting more confident, too. The album went gold and he was on his way back.' [extract from Whispering Jack - The John Farnham Story, by Clark Forbes, Hutchinson Aust, 1989, p104-107]
This post is a rare soundboard recording (MP3/320kps) taken from one of the many gigs that the John Farnham Band played at the Billboard Nightclub, in Melbourne. Although I frequented this nightclub back in the early 80's I was not lucky enough to be in the audience for any Farnham shows, probably because he still had the stigma attached of being a Cabaret Singer rather than a rock performer - and on reflection, how wrong was I. Recorded at the time when he was working on his 'Uncovered Album', this performance is testament to his ability to re-invent himself and eventually become the performer we all came to love and know as Whispering Jack.  Thanks to the original uploader, Micko (at Midoztouch) for the rip and Artwork.
Track Listing
01 - Band Intro / Instrumental
02 - Hold The Line
03 - Matilda
04 - She's Everywhere
05 - Infatuation
06 - Ride LIke The Wind
07 - Perfect Imperfection
08 - Cold Wind

09 - Dressed To Kill
10 - Never Did Get Through
11 - Blame It On The Weather
12 - Too Much Too Soon
13 - Help!
14 - Sweet Love
15 - Hollywood Nights

The John Farnham Band:
John Farnham (Vocals)
Tommy Emmanuel (Guitar)
Sam McNally (Keyboards)
Barry Sullivan (Bass)
David Jones (Drums)
Nikki Nicholls, Mary Bradfield (Backing Vocals)

John Farnham Band Link (140Mb)


  1. Sacre Bleu!
    Permission Denied.
    "Matilda" by John Farnham may be available for download from Amazon.

  2. This is tremendous. I am Sam McNally and I was THERE! I have NO archival material from those days other than the odd pic. Thank you for putting this together. SM.

    1. Hi Sam - what an honor to have one of the great Aussie musos's aboard. I have a rip of you and the band playing at Chasers from the same era, so keep your eyes posted for this one in the near future. Cheers AR

    2. Dear A.R., Something I missed on Jan 6, 2016: "When John Farnham visited his old Master's Apprentices mate 'Glenn Wheatley' in Las Vegas in Late 1980, ....." - it was most definitely earlier than this. I joined the already existing JF Band (Mark 1, as I like to call it) in Sept. of 1980; we played a bunch of 5- or 6- date runs until Billboard on NYE 80/81, in Melbourne. Which, we played again a year later, NYE 81/82, after pretty much a full year of shows. It was in March of '82 that John was recruited into LRB. So ..... I am absolutely certain of this time-line. My best guess is that that meeting between Mssrs. Wheatley and Farnham happened late '79 at the LATEST, because the Uncovered album must have been about to come out. Or, maybe it's release was very early '80. By which time, of course, Wheatley was looking after John. Thought you'd appreciate knowing this. Cheers, Sam.

  3. Bonz, the wife is a huge Farnham fan and ive told her about his pre LRB and Jack days but she couldnt picture it, this will help