Back in Victoria, the band experienced no shortage of work in clubs and hotels. However, early in 1974, Ray decided it was time to pursue a solo career.
Within a short period he had scored himself an energetic manager in Neville Kent. A host of bookings followed. Then came television appearances, and, by January 1975, his mammoth hit, 'Touch Me' had entered the charts. Ray's punchy rock style was particularly popular amongst teenagers. He became a regular on pop shows Countdown and Bandstand. His next single was 'Love Fever', which surfaced in July and enjoyed the same success as his first release.
Although Ray was absent from the charts over the next two years, his career was certainly not inactive. He became compere of the TV series Rock'n'Roll Circus, and in July 1976, he moved to Sydney to take over hosting the five day a week national show, Flashez. The show, which was screened via the ABC network, featured a pop news coverage as well as performances from a variety of rock artists. He was eventually nominated for a Logie in 1977 for hosting the show.
Meanwhile, another single, 'Little Boy Sad' (the old Johnny Burnette standard) came to light in May '76. It was followed with Ray's first album, Not So Pretty. The album was produced by Ross Wilson and was aimed at giving him a heavier image. One of the stronger tracks on the LP, 'Sad Rock'n'Roll' (a ballad written by Greg Macainsh), was lifted from it as a single. This was followed by a further single, 'Rock'n'Roll Lightning' in November 1976. Unfortunately, neither record made the charts.
Ray rounded off 1976 by touring as a compere with Status Quo. He then took a vacation-cum-look-around trip to England and the US. With no sign of his popularity waning, Ray moved into 1977, and in May came up with his third national hit single. The song was a remarkably close revival of the 1965 smash hit for Van Morrison's group, Them, entitled 'Gloria'. In the meantime, Flashez' popularity had reached a peak with over 1,000 fan letters being received each week.
As a supplement to the series, a Flashez' Roadshow was introduced to tour near country areas in the vicinity of Melbourne and Sydney. However, the show's frequency restricted Ray's personal appearances.
In July, another Burgess talent came to light with the release of a book of thirty poems by Ray called Love, Peace and Happiness. Another single, 'Midnight Cowboy', came in September. But, perhaps because it didn't follow his punchy rock style success formula, it failed to take off.
Finally, in November 1977, the Flashez series came to an end. Ray moved to Channel 0 in Melbourne where he did the beach shows over the '77/78 summer. [extract from Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopedia of Rock 1978-79 Yearbook p48-50]
Ray’s natural talent as a performer landed him many guest appearances in 1978. He appeared in Australia’s most respected live television shows including Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, Brian Henderson’s Bandstand, Midday with Mike Walsh, and The Don Lane Show. Furthermore, Ray has worked with other A-list celebrity hosts with include Paul Hogan and Bert Newton, and he was a regular on game shows Blankety Blanks and Celebrity Squares. In addition to that, Ray hosted Young Talent Time on number of occasions, filling in for regular host, Johnny Young.
|Johnny Farnham and Ray|
Singer, musician, television presenter, host, MC and compére, Ray has undoubtedly left his mark in Australia’s entertainment industry. After 40 years in the industry, Ray Burgess has a lot to offer; he’s talented, funny, charismatic and, above all, versatile.
|Ray Burgess 2012|
In 2013, Ray returned to the charts with a new rock anthem “Legends of the Southern Land”. He is joined by friends and fellow stars John St Peeters, John “Swanee” Swan, Marty Rhone and Tommy Emmanual sharing their love and pride for all Australians.
Interview with Ray (Extracts)
(by Sharyn Hamey / Rock Club 40 / April 12, 2012)
Ray’s musical career began when he was one of the runners up on New Faces. “1969, I think it was. I got a job with a professional band and toured extensively. We worked as John Farnham’s backing band for probably eighteen months or two years.” Eventually, Ray was invited to venture out into a solo career. “I had a hit record within twelve months, which was more of a shock to me than anybody else,” he recalls. “At that stage, we were working through the AMBO agency in Melbourne, which was the house of Kevin Lewis and Johnny Young and Young Talent Time. We didn’t have a recording contract. John and Kevin heard the single and they had a contract with Festival and they said ‘We’ll release it.’ And Boom! Boom! It was on the first colour Countdown and away it went!” The song, of course, was "Touch Me" and, as Ray recalls, he was a bit of a regular on Countdown back then. Unfortunately, many of those episodes from the first two years of Countdown are now lost to us. “I think they reused the tapes and none of it ever got kept,” he explained. “I was lucky when I did "Touch Me" on that colour Countdown because that’s the reason they kept it. It was the first one.”
He is also involved in community radio. “I’d never done radio before. Radio was always the bane of recording artists,” he laughs, “because you were constantly begging them to play your stuff. There’s one major community radio station here: 90.1 on your dial. I think they cover about 23 to 24% of the Sydney market. And we specialise in 60s and 70s music which is right up my alley. I do play more modern music occasionally. It’s great and it gives me a platform to talk about the programs that Pole Depot run which are very important and relevant as well. And, in the wider music community, it also gives me a chance to talk to people who were my peers, my mates. I recently had a discussion with Darryl Cotton. He was here with Russell Morris and Jim Keays and I said ‘Guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us on air.’ and Darryl said ‘No, thank you! There’s so few that want to know anymore and we’ve got to use all the resources we can to let the people know we’re still alive, still working and still around.’ ”
“There are other industry things I get involved with too. I sing occasionally. I did a gig recently with Marty Rhone, Dinah Lee and John Paul Young which was a couple of hours of hits which was mighty.” he smiles. “It’s great to be treading the boards again.”
Thinking back over his long and varied career, Ray considers what the highlights were for him. “I suppose,” he ponders, “a major highlight was when I first heard ‘Touch Me’ played on radio. It was released on 16th December 1974 and traditionally in the lead up week, playlists get locked in over the Christmas period and they don’t change until about the second week of February and I thought ’Well, if it doesn’t get picked up this week, it’s history. But who cares? Let’s do it anyway. If I’ve got a little piece of vinyl, then that’s great. It’s better than some have got!’ It got picked up by 3XY in Melbourne on Christmas Eve and I heard it when I was driving home on the South-Eastern Freeway that afternoon and it was such a buzz.”
He pauses for a moment. “But, really, it’s the people you met on the journey and the mates you make along the way.” He relates a story to show me exactly what he is referring to. “You know, there’s a lady who comes to our shows here in Sydney who suffers from cerebral palsy. She’s about fifty and she gets herself in a wheelchair and gets a cab by herself and if you ask ‘Do you want us to help you?’ she says ‘No. I’m fine.’ She just lives and loves music and she can get out there to some of the shows… while we sometimes think ‘Oh should I do it?’ and you’ve got someone like that with such a restriction on what they can do, what an amazing person! People think it’s about the things they can’t do but people with a disability say ‘No, it’s about the things I can do!’
Ray is clearly very content with his life at the moment, and finds his work extremely rewarding. “The gamut of experiences is fantastic and it gives you a really good broad spectrum of life. It helps you appreciate what it is and what it should be. Life can be wonderful one minute and turn on its head the next. That’s what makes it interesting,” he smiles. “My life is never the same, two weeks in a row.”
For the full interview, see rockclub40.com
Ray Burgess, another member of Countdown's melancholy chorus, also conveyed mixed messages to teenage girls. Half wanting to put his picture on their bedroom walls, they found that alongside the sexpots in Skyhooks and Sherbet, Ray offered less justification to burden the Blu-Tack.
Burgess, a former bankteller from the outer Melbourne suburb of Clayton, hosted the ABC pop show Flashez for the two years of its life. With his dimples and immovable hair. Burgess had a suburban charisma, the local boy made good. But his sexuality, like decaffeinated coffee and phone sex, just wasn't the real thing. His tight satin pants housed treasures that the Countdown generation wanted to excavate for a brief period only. It was certainly the first time in the short history of Countdown that teenage girls understood the word restraint. Ray was just too much of an all-round nice guy and not enough of a pop star. It was like trying to find a TV host sexy. But it must be said that his rendition of "Touch Me" (taken from his 'Not So Pretty' album) did cause several girls to reach Rayward.
Couldn 't get to sleep in my room last night
Something wasn't quite the same
Just as I was reaching for the nearest light
I heard someboy calling my name
[Chorus] Touch me, Ooh, I get the feeling
Huh, it feels good.'
Hosting Flashez killed Burgess's pop career, just as Countdown, the steamroller, killed Flashez because it represented competition that was not appreciated. ABC management did not see the need for both shows. With the demise of his pop and TV career Burgess hit the Leagues Club circuit, doing Beatles and Billy Joel songs. He worked the casinos all around the country, including special nights among the high-rollers in Darwin.
[Extract from 'Glad All Over: The Countdown Years 1974-1987, Peter Wilmoth' p97-98]
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my recently acquired vinyl, sourced from another good day at the local flee market, and in mint, mint condition. When I spotted the album, something rang in my ears.... 'TOUCH ME, Ooh, I get the feeling, Huh, it feels good.', so I picked it up.
Full album artwork and label scans are also included. To sweeten the deal, I've added as a bonus Ray's 1981 promotional single "The Golden City" (which pays homage to Bendigo's gold rush days) along with it's B-Side "Rachel's Song". I really enjoy Ray's cover of Them's "Gloria" and Judas Priest's "The Ripper", although I don't think this album is as strong as his debut LP "Not So Pretty" which I might consider posting at a later date if there is enough interest. That's a hint people - so don't forget to comment.
01 - I Want You I Need You (Vanda-Young)
02 - Love Stealer (Wainman-Myhill)
03 - The Ripper (Tipton)
04 - Deeper and Deeper (Van Wormer)
05 - Stay Awhile Stay (Peter Jennings)
06 - Black Is Black (Wadley-Jones-Grainger)
07 - When You Lose Someone You Love (Burgess)
08 - Love Rustler (Linds-Cain)
09 - GLORIA (Morrison)
10 - Drift Away (Burgess)
11 - The Golden City (Don Mudie)
12 - Rachel's Song (Ray Burgess)
The Album "Final Mix" was produced by Ross Burton
The engineers were Ian McKenzie and Ross Cockle and the studio was Armstrongs in Melbourne
Guitars: Tony Naylor
Bass: Graham Thompson
Keyboards: Peter Sullivan
Drums: Barry Cram
Sax: Bill Harrower
Backing Vocals: Chrissie and Lindsay Hammond (Cheetah)/Ross Burton/Adrian Campbell/Tony Naylor/Barry Cram
Ray Burgess Band FLAC Link (231Mb)