Saturday, 23 May 2015

Singapore, Australia and New Zealand : January - February


Jimmy Page, Sydney Stadium, 21 -23 January 1967. Photograph: Bob King.

The Yardbirds made their one and only visit to Australia and New Zealand early in 1967 as part of a triple-headline package tour called The Big Show which featured Roy Orbison and the Walker Brothers, plus Australian and New Zealand support acts Johnny Young, Jeff St. John and the Id, Thursday's Children, the Mixtures, Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues, Bev Harrell & the Third Party, and Larry's Rebels. The band arrived via Singapore and two shows there with the Walker Brothers and local bands The Antartics and the Quests. The Asian / Australasian tour was a success for the band and their initial as a four-piece, with Jimmy Page on lead guitar after the November 1966 departure of Jeff Beck. For the first time they made some good money from the tour, due in no small part to new manager Peter Grant, with his hands-on style and astute guardianship of their finances. Under the previous management a combination of constant touring, recording and promotional work left the Yardbirds with precious little monetary reward. So it was that the Australasian tour represented the beginning of a new phase for the band. It was the beginning of an 18 month period during which they would enhance their already enviable live performance reputation, have a checkered career in the studio, and lay the foundations for the later success of Jimmy Page's new Yardbirds, in the form of Led Zeppelin.

Poster for the Yardbirds at the Sydney Stadium, 21 & 23 January 1967. Source: Harry M. Miller Collection (Anfuso 2015).

 Poster for the Big Show at the Festival Hall, Brisbane, 28 January 1967. Source: Harry M. Miller Collection (Anfuso 2015).

Coming to Australia

The Yardbirds had spent the previous cold, northern winter Christmas - New Year period of 1966-7 in the United States, before returning to London on 9 January. During the following week the change of manager from Simon Napier-Bell to Peter Grant took place. They then boarded a flight to Singapore where they arrived on the 16th. After playing a gig at the National Theatre on 17 January, they headed off to Australia, where between 21 and 28 January they performed two shows each night at venues booked in the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. The tour took place in the middle of summer, and the hot weather was a decided change much appreciated by the band members. The Australian leg was followed by a brief visit to New Zealand for performances at Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland, ending on 2 February 1967. The Yardbirds then returned home to England via various routes in time for a Paris show on 11 February. A live television concert in Germany on 15 March provides an audiovisual record of the band around the time of their Australasian tour.

 The Best of the Yardbirds, LP, EMI Australia, 1967. It is possible this LP was released by EMI in association with the January 1967 Australasian tour.

This blog covers the Australasian tour in chronological detail, bringing together a range of published and internet-sourced material. An important visual record from the tour is the set of colour photographs taken at one of the Sydney concerts by professional photograph Bob King. Most notably they show an early version of Jimmy Page with violin bow and Fender Telecaster. This was to become an integral part of the Yardbirds performance, in numbers such as the I'm A Man finale of 1966-7, and later in the recording of Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor, Glimpses, and - most famously - Dazed and Confused, which the band first became aware of in August of 1967. A souvenir program was produced for the Australian and New Zealand leg of the tour. The local tour manager was Harry M. Miller, and his archives contain a number of items pertaining to the Yardbirds, including posters produced for the Sydney and Brisbane performances. A  collection of material relating to their visit to Singapore is also presented below.

1967 - January

LIVE  SHOWS: 1-7 January 1967. United States.

PRESS REPORT: Sun Herald, Sydney. Sunday, 8 January 1967. Meet the fabulous Yardbirds:  Here's your chance to meet the Yardbirds, one of England's most exciting pop groups. You'll also get tickets to the Big Show at the Sydney Stadium, which features the Yardbirds, Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers, Johnny Young and the Id. As well you'll get free double ringside seats to all the Big Shows at the Stadium this year. All you have to do is finish, in 50 words or less, the sentence: " I think pop music will always have a place in today's world because ......" Send your submission to "Yardbirds" c/- The Sun Herald, Box 506, GPO, Sydney. The five best entrants will meet the Yardbirds in a Sydney hotel, where the members of the group will give copies of the new Yardbirds LP to the winners. The winners will also receive free concert tickets for the other Big Show the tour promotors will present at the Stadium this year. The Big Show will be presented in the Sydney Stadium on January 21 and 23. There will be 32 performers. Roy Orbison will be accompanied by his backing group, the Webbs; and the Walker Brothers are bringing along their group, the Quotations. The concert is being presented by a partnership consisting of Pan-Pacific Promotions Pty Ltd., Aztec Services Pty Ltd. and Stadiums Ltd.

TRAVEL: 9 January 1967. The Yardbirds travel back to London from the United States. Peter Grant takes over management from Simon Napier-Bell and helps organise the Australasian tour. Lew Grade is involved in linking the band up with the Walker Brothers, beginning with the Singapore leg. Roy Orbison joins them for the Australian and New Zealand legs.

Singapore

PRESS REPORT: The Straits Times, Singapore, 11 January 1967. Walker Bros., Yardbirds take mob precautions. America's Walker Brothers and Britain's Yardbirds will arrive in Singapore on two planes as a precaution against Singapore fans mobbing them at the Singapore Airport. The two pop groups are arriving here to give two shows at the National Theatre on Jan. 17. The Walker Brothers recently completed a popular tour of Britain and are making their first tour of the Far East. The Yardbirds are a popular British group who have taken over from the famous Rolling Stones at the well-known Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, England. [Picture of Yardbirds including Jeff Beck]

PRESS REPORT: Sun Herald, Sydney. Sunday, 15 January 1967. Still time for the Yardbirds. [A repeat of the Yardbirds competition notice published in the paper the previous Sunday.]

TRAVEL: 15 - 16 January 1967. The band travel from London to Singapore. They arrive there late on Monday, 16 January.

The group's performance with the Walker Brothers was promoted by Donald Moore and Mike Ellery. They held a press conference, rehearsal and two performances on Tuesday 17, and had a rest day on Wednesday 18 before travelling on to Sydney the following day.

 The Yardbirds being interviewed at the EMI studios, Macdonald House, Orchard Road, Singapore, 17 January 1967.

PRESS REPORT: January 1967. According to a contemporary, undated Singapore press report: Yardbirds had a busy time in Singapore - The Yardbirds stepped off their plane in Singapore late last Monday night to begin their brief, busy visit. They spent the next day packing in as much as possible before their two shows that same night. A part of the day was taken up with the necessary rehearsals for the shows and a Chinese lunch followed. They were very impressed with the Peking Duck, but rather doubtful about the hot chillies! The four very likable lads popped into the [EMI] studios for an interview with Tan Swee Leong for the radio record programme...

PRESS CONFERENCE: Tuesday, 17 January 1967. Held at the offices of Donald Moore Concerts Ltd., Singapore and attended by all 4 members of the band.

LIVE  SHOW: Tuesday, 17 January 1967. National Theatre, Singapore. The Yardbirds perform with the Walker Brothers & the Quotations, and local bands the Antartics and the Quests. Performances take place at 6.45 and 9.30pm.

The Yardbirds, Singapore, 17 January 1967.

Joseph C. Pereira (Led Zeppelin Forum, 8 September 2010): The show was held at the National Theatre, with Antartics and Quests supporting. By all accounts the show was a success. The band and Jimmy was in fine form and quite a few musicians who were in the audience picked up pointers on the direction music was going. Besides the show they paid a courtesy visit to EMI's studio at McDonald House in Orchard. EMI presented them with a couple of EPs and singles by their Singapore artistes such as the Quests and the Antartics. The Yardbirds also visited the recording studio where they watched the Antartics recording their new single. Page gave some pointers to the Antartics lead guitar player, Joe Mann. No, the Yardbirds did not play on Nancy Pancy. What happened was that the Yardbirds were in the EMI recording studios at MacDonald House. The Antartics, which was S.A. Vinton's band, were recording their next single and the B side was Nancy Pancy. Page showed the guitar player Joe Mann how to work the fuzz box and use it for lead. Prior to this most guitar solos in Singapore were rudimentary readings of the vocal line. I think Page must have told Joe to let the fuzz box breathe and take a life of its own. If you go to YouTube and try to search for this song, if available, you can hear what I mean. The end result was astounding because, mind you, it was January 1967 and here was a Singapore band creating a sound that I termed proto-rock. At least in the Singapore context.

The Quests (by Joseph C. Pereira): They had another honour too in January 1967 when they appeared at the Yardbirds / Walker Brothers show, which was held at the National Theatre on January 17. The Yardbirds that came to Singapore was the last line up of Keith Relf (vocals, rhythm guitar, harp), Jimmy Page (lead), Chris Dreja (bass) and Jim McCarty (drums). Unfortunately just before the show Henry's father passed away and Henry was in mourning. The band decided to get a replacement bass player for the show. They remembered Peter Ghouse of Malaysia's Hunters. He was the rhythm guitarist and singer with that band. Hunters were one of the top guitar bands of Malaysia at that time, as they had an ace guitar player in their midst, Terry Thaddeus. They performed on many shows, which came through Malaysia featuring Singapore bands and singers. Hunters had played at some Quests shows, and even when they were not on the bill they would turn up at the event to talk to the band. A call was made to Peter and he agreed to fly to Singapore to play the show. This was going to be tricky. They were asking to him play bass when his instrument was guitar. To his credit Peter pulled it off. Vernon said, "We practised very hard as we wanted to of standard and be accepted by the fans of Yardbirds and Walker Brothers." Quests opened the show and played a mostly covers repertoire that took in contemporary British styles. They played seven numbers and for their finale covered the Easybeats "Friday On My Mind" which was a difficult song to do given its odd time shifts and jagged guitar riffs. They stood well next to the British bands. Vernon said, "The Yardbirds were our idols from their first hit, "For Your Love". Meeting them softened the legs, let alone standby with them in readiness to go on stage. They had no airs and were very unassuming lads. When they went on stage they ripped everyone off their chairs. Especially Jimmy Page, extraordinarily dressed in Carnaby colours who ripped and raged on guitar with amplifier volumes we'd never heard till then. Keith Relf was outstanding both onstage and off stage and had the most charisma." Yardbirds playing had a long lasting impact on Reggie Verghese in particular as his guitar playing after that seemed to chart new sonic territories. Scott Walker of Walker Brothers also had a long lasting impact on Vernon Cornelius.

PRESS REPORT: The Straits Times, Singapore, Wednesday, 18 January 1967. Singapore, Tuesday - Two pop groups to give a show together. Two long-haired pop groups are in town today for a joint performance at the National Theatre. They are the Yardbirds and the Walker Brothers. The Yardbirds - "meaning the bums we were when we started and still are" - is a group of four, all English. The Walkers are American (not blood brothers though) who went to London a year ago - with Beatle hairstyle - and made good. The Yardbirds appeared at a press conference this morning at Donald Moore Concerts Ltd.'s office dressed as if they had just walked out of Carnaby Street. So drab.... "London is so grey and drab, so we like to dress as brightly as possible," said Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist who was sporting a shimmering pink, blue and grey tie the size of a napkin. Both groups are on their way to Australia for performances together. The Yardbirds took over from the Rolling Stones at the Chawdaddy Club in Richmond, where the Stones rose to fame.

PRESS REPORT: The Straits Times, Singapore, Thursday, 19 January 1967. Police step in to control weeping fans. Singapore, Wednesday - It was almost a victory for the screams as two top pop groups - the Yardbirds and the Walker Brothers - performed at the National Theatre last night. Throughout their two performances, which lasted about 90 minutes each, teenage girls, some wearing mini-skirts, screamed continuously, half drowning their music. When they were not screaming, they were crying out "I love you, I love you." Scores tried to rush on to the stage. On each occasion they were held back by the strong arms of the Police Reserve Unit, the British military police, and the theatre ushers. Police busy. Some broke down and wept as they were carried back to their seats and told to sit down. Most were daughters of British Servicemen. Before the start of the first performance at 6.45pm about 300 teenagers had braved the rain to wait for the arrival of their idols outside the theatre. The Reserve Unit squad had to interlock arms all the way from the entrance of the theatre to the door leading to the dressing room, to force back the wildly screaming fans. In addition six tough British military policemen stood outside the dressing room door to prevent the predominantly British teenage crowd from forcing their way in.

The Yardbirds in Singapore, Wednesday, 18 January 1967. Note Chris Dreja with his camera.

Chris Dreja (1983): Singapore was particularly memorable for Chris, for the chance it gave him to indulge his growing interest in photography. "I've got a unique record of the old Singapore; it's all gone now. I hired this old boy with one of those rickshaws with a bicycle on the front. I had it for a whole day for a pound. I felt like a pig, but I suppose it was normal for him. I made him take me round all the old temples. It was a wonderful day." (Platt, Dreja and McCarty, 1983)

Australia

TRAVEL: Thursday, 19 January 1967. The band travels to Australia from Singapore, arriving in Sydney during the afternoon. There is a suggestion that they stopped off in Perth en route and did an interview, though this has not been confirmed and is highly unlikely due to the extra distance and time involved.

PRESS REPORT: Friday, 20 January 1967. The Canberra Times. Sydney influx of overseas entertainers - Roy Orbison, "fastest guitar alive", snuffled his way through a press conference at Sydney airport today [Thursday]. "I'm trying to shake off the flu because I dare not miss another Australian opening night", said 30 year-old Orbison, the singer-composer from Winks, in Texas. Two years ago, Orbison had to miss the opening of a tour - through flu. With him came The Webbs, and later in the day more entertainers arrived - the Yardbirds, and the Walker Brothers. Only 100 fans turned out to greet the entertainers, but as one policeman put it, "They made an awful lot of noise".

Program for The Big Show, January 1967.

The Big Show tour programme, Sydney, January 1967.

INTERVIEW: 20 January 1967. An interview with three members of the band - Keith, Jimmy and Jim (Chris is absent) - is published in Psychedelic Honi Soit, the University of Sydney Student Representative Council magazine, dated The Ides of March, 1967. This obviously took place before the band had a chance to rehearse at the Sydney Stadium, perhaps on the afternoon of Saturday 21 January:


MUSICAL PSYCHEDELICATESSEN: THE YARDBIRDS

(David Dale Interviews)

D.D.: How do you regard your stage performances? Is it worth trying to do a good stage act when it will probably be drowned by screaming?

Jimmy: As long as they're enjoying it .....

Keith: We still always try to maintain the same quality. We won't sort of not bother to play properly because the kids are screaming and jumping
all over the place. We still try to play our best.

D.D.: Would you prefer an audience that sat and listened quietly, to a screaming audience?

Jimmy: No, it's best to have all the different types of audiences. Otherwise you can become bored.

Keith: We'll enjoy a university audience who sits there, and, as you say, listens to every note, and
clap at the end, but we'll also, the next day, enjoy an audience that's screaming.

Jimmy: It just depends how much screaming there really is - if the whole act is obliterated it's
not too good, but we'd like a variety of audience reactions.

D.D.: Do you think that it is impossible to reproduce the same sound on stage as on record?

Jimmy: No. Come along and see.

Keith: Although with your stadium we don't know. It depends a lot on the acoustics of the hall.

Jimmy: We found in America with the younger kids, the most important thing for them is to hear
the group play the songs as the record sounds. And they've come up to us and said, "You're the first group we've heard who sound just like your records. They've listened to things like "Over, Under, Sideways Down" and they sound so different to them from what the normal group attempts that I suppose it pleases them to hear us perform them the same as on record.

Jim: How about the people sitting behind the group at this stadium of yours?

D.D.: There's a revolving stage. The stage is the size of a boxing ring.

Jim: Perhaps we ought to have a fight on stage.

Chris: Good visual effect.

Keith: Perhaps we ought to phone up Jeff for that.

D.D.: On stage do you perform only songs you have recorded?

Jimmy: No - we do a lot of other things. With I'm a Man we make It much longer than any of the recorded versions, and much different.

Keith: It starts off like the single version but then It develops into a load of different styles - a
semi-classical part, er ...

Jimmy: Indian part, Arabic part.

Jim: They've asked us to do all our singles here, so I don't think we'll have much time for anything
else. We play for about thirty, thirty-five minutes.

Keith: If we're playing a concert at a university where we can do a one-hour spot we go to town
with the wilder stuff - some blues. We prefer not to play the hits to college students.

Jim: What was our last hit out here?

D.D.: "Over, Under, Sideways Down."

Jim: Where'd that get to?

D.D.: About number six in the Sydney charts. But I want to ask you about the single you released after that call "Happenings Ten Years' Time Ago."

Keith: It was an experiment that didn't come off.

Jimmy: It was supposed to be released in anywhere but America. It was a mistake - the typical
commercial dealings of record companies. As soon as they get a tape they release it everywhere without consulting the group.

Jim: We had very little time to record it. We decided the American market could have it.

D.D.: How did it sell in America?

Jimmy: It sold very well.

D.D.: But not in England?

Keith: Well, we weren't there to promote it, you see. We haven't been in England now - apart from
a couple of days here and there just to get home - for about four months.

D.D.: Is that because you think the English pop scene is dying?

Keith: That's right.

D.D.: Can you get work there?

Jim: Oh, yeah. We'll be working when we get back from this tour. Good money, too.

Keith: We would just rather play the world market.

Jimmy: All these groups slogging it to death in England and killing themselves in the long run,
because they're making it go over saturation point. They can come to places like this where the pop
field is not so over-saturated.

D.D,: What's the situation with record sales?

Keith: In England, to sell a record you must do the TV shows and plug it all the time.

Jimmy: You've got to realise that in England's such a small place with so many groups there's
no glory left to anyone except the Beatles. People don't go out and buy a record because of
the artist's name - they buy it if they like it. They must hear it before they like it, obviously. If
you're not in the country they won't play your records, because you've got to push them all the
time. The Stones won't sell on their names any more.

D.D.: Do you intend to write all your own material in the future?

Jim: We'll take offers from other writers if they're good and if we can't do any better ourselves.

D.D.: Don't you think your own material let you down in the case of "Happenings Ten Years' Time
Ago"?

Jimmy: Well, it was done in such a rush. It was recorded in virtually a day.

Keith: Written and recorded, I might add.

Jimmy: Yeah, written and recorded in a day - made up in the studio. We weren't really satisfied
with it but our manager had it released.

Keith: We're not making any excuses - shouldn't have been released in that state.

Jim: Why don't you think it made it in Australia?

D.D.: No air-play.

Jim.: Aaah.

Jimmy: It was a strange sort of number. You had to hear it a few times to realise what we were
doing. There's so much going on on that record.

Jim.: It was labelled a psychedelic record, which I think people might have associated with drugs
and refused to play it.

Keith: It gots lots of air-play in Hollywood and was number one over there.

Jimmy: I think when record players review a record, they put it on once and then throw it away.
You could hear "Happenings" the first time and not like it.

The group's road manager (?) arrived at this point.

Jim: Ay ay.

Road Manager: Oh, ho, I got drunk last night.

Keith: Last night? I went to bed at four in the afternoon and didn't get up till eight this morning.

R.M.: You're joking.

Keith: No.

R.M.: Right. Well .....

He then muttered unintelligibly and disappeared.


 ------------------------------------------------------

LIVE  SHOW: Saturday, 21 January 1967. Sydney Stadium 6pm and 8.45pm. The Big Show tour group of Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers and the Yardbirds was supported in Sydney by Johnny Young, Jeff St. John and the Id and local Sydney band Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues. The Sydney Stadium was a large, octagonal tin shed at Rushcutters Bay which could accommodate up to 12,000 people. It had a central stage - a former boxing ring - with people seated all around.

Jimmy Page: On this day… 21 January 1967, I played at Sydney Stadium with The Yardbirds. This is the first of two dates at the Sydney Stadium. The bill comprised of local artist and very good singer Jeff St John, The Walker Brothers (Scott Walker some years later was to make a major dent in alternative circles with his solo work), The Yardbirds and the amazing Roy Orbison. This tour gave me the opportunity to speak to Roy, one of my rockabilly heroes about his time at Sun Records. – He was an incredible talent: this music comes from this era.

Bill Stern (4 April 2015): I was at that concert. I'd just turned 16. That was my second concert ever and I'll never forget it. Amazing line up. Yes Jeff St John was and still is great. Way ahead of his time here in Oz. I remember Jimmy Page using a cello bow - first time I'd seen that. I think Spinal Tap pinched that idea.

Simon Napier-Bell (21 January 2008):  Management is a wildly up and down occupation. Sometimes ... it feels good.... But at other times - when your nitwit star, out of his head on drugs or drink or self-admiration, tells you to cancel the gig with a stadium full of people waiting for the first chord, or wakes you in the middle of the night with a call from Sydney to say he can't go on stage because he has no clean socks (as the lead singer of the Yardbirds once did) - it feels less so. [Simon Napier-Bell was no longer managing the band at this stage, having handed the reigns over to Peter Grant. Napier-Bell was most likely referring to Keith Relf here, as he had a known drinking problem.]

Lowell Tarling (28 May 2015): Saturday 21 January 1967 - Accompanied by Sue & Christine we go to the Sydney Stadium. Rotating stage, you know it. The great big boxing barn. In our minds there are three good acts (Jeff St John, Yardbirds & Walker Bros) and two crook ones (Johnny Young and Orbison who had long fallen out of fashion). Johnny Young, probably backed by MPD Ltd., was a teenybopper act and probably didn't fare well. Jeff St John, hoisted on & off stage in his wheelchairs was mavellous. The Walker Brothers lost control of the sound system. I remember them totally lost in Land of 1000 Dancers as if they couldn't hear each other. The Yardbirds had similar problems but I'm sure Page played guitar with the violin bow at some stage. The big shock was Roy Orbison, the last act, who was note perfect. We were terribly impressed at this unexpected twist. He sang Leah, In Dreams, all his hits with professional conviction. And because we used to love all those songs in the early-60s, he took us back there and won the crowd.... Roy Orbison upstaged everyone. The others couldn't control the sound on this vast revolving stage.

 
Singer Phil Jones and Jimmy Page, Beethoven Club, Sydney, c.22 January 1967. Source: Taylor Square in the 60s.

PHOTOGRAPH: 21-23 January 1967. A caption for the above photograph reads: "While on tour with the Yardbirds Jimmy Page came to check out Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues at the Beethoven club, Sydney, January 1967." Beethoven's was located on Taylor Square, Oxford Street, Sydney, in the middle of the city's Bohemian district. 

Sun Herald, 22 January 1967.

PRESS REPORT: Sunday, 22 January 1967. Sun Herald, Sydney. The five girls who met the fabulous Yardbirds. It was a hard job sorting out all those entries in the Sun Herald's Meet the Yardbirds competition. Everyone had been telling us pop music was just about dead. Your response showed it's still alive and kicking. Finally, we sorted out five winners. They were all girls. The winners were * Bev Jefferson, of Wetherill St., North Lidcombe. * Wendy Malcolm, of Searl Rd., Cronulla. * Janine Dunn, of Lyons St., Dover Heights. * Ursula Joost, of Vale St., Cammeray. * Beverley Dunbar, of Beaconsfield Ave., Concord.  They all gathered at the Sharaton Hotel on Friday afternoon and were taken to the room where the Yardbirds were staying. A mad scramble for autographs and pictures followed while the girls chatted to the popsters. The girls received autographed Yardbirds LPs and tickets for last night's Big Show at the Stadium. The Yardbirds came to Australia to appear at the Stadium with Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers, Johnny Young and the Id. The will give concerts at the Stadium again tomorrow night. Mod gear was the main topic of conversation with the Yardbirds. Their dress styles were way out. Most of them had pants with the legs flared at the ankle, sailor suit style. One of them wore a medal, another a psychodelic disc. The styles were, the Yardbirds assured the girls, all the rage in London. But, the Yardbirds insisted, they were sensible, comfortable styles, and they probably would catch on here. The other main topic was the weather. The Yardbirds loved the climate here and said they were glad to escape the English winter.

TELEVISION SHOW: ? Sunday, 22 January 1967. The Walker Brothers note appearing on a Sydney television show on this date. It is unknown whether the Yardbirds also took part in this, or even if this is confused with the appearance of both groups on a television show in Melbourne, possibly on 27 January - see below. 

LIVE  SHOW: Monday, 23 January 1967. Sydney Stadium. The Big Show tour group of Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers and the Yardbirds was supported in Sydney by Johnny Young, Jeff St. John and the Id and local Sydney band Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues.

PRESS REPORT: Sydney Morning Herald. Tuesday, 24 January 1967. Teenagers Pack Stadium. Thousands of Sydney teenagers, most of them girls, packed into Sydney Stadium last night for the "Big Show" - a program of pop music by several international stars. Keith Relf (photo) lead singer of the English group the Yardbirds, clutching the microphone and gleaming in a shirt of pick silk, seems to reflect the hysterical excitement of the evening.

Press notice for the Yardbirds performance in Adelaide, 25 January 1967

LIVE  SHOW: Wednesday, 25 January 1967. Centennial Hall, Adelaide. Billed with Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers, Johnny Young and Bev Harrell & the Third Party. After the show the Walker Brothers noted that they left almost immediately for Melbourne, where they arrived around 1am.

PRESS REPORT: Adelaide Advertiser, Thursday, 26 January 1967. 6,000 at two concerts - Two audiences of more than 3,000 each attened the "Big Show" starring Roy Orbison in the Centennial Hall last night. It was the biggest "pop" attraction since the Beatles, but the screaming hand-clapping young people were more controlled than in 1964. Backed by the Webbs, also from America, Orbison, wearing dark glasses, black open-necked shirt and trousers, appeared at the end of the programme and gave generously of his most popular hits. Although the enthusiastic audience had had a steady ear-bashing of almost non-stop sound, it saved its greatest appreciation for Orbison, who relies on his talent without gimmicks. His appealing tenor voice, allied to unerring microphone technique, brought down the house is "Crying" and "Sweet Dreams" and he had to add many other favorites before he could tear himself away. The Walker Brothers, in their first Australian tour, were backed by the Quotations, also from England, and together these eccentric singers made a strong impact thorugh the sheer intensity of their rhythmic beat. The most deafening and original sounds of all came from the Yardbirds, an exotic English group whose primitive antics and incessant beat had an insane, overpowering effect. Popular Australian singer Johnny Young kept a bright face on his apparent loss of voice, but Adelaide's Beverly Harrell enjoyed an encouraging success.

 Melbourne Herald, Thursday, 26  January 1967.

LIVE  SHOW: Thursday, 26 January 1967. Festival Hall, Melbourne. The Yardbirds performed with Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers, Johnny Young and the Mixtures.

Jimmy Page, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 27 January 1967. Photograph: Geoffrey Hales.

PHOTOGRAPH: Friday, 27 January 1967. This informal photograph of the Jimmy Page was taken by Geoffrey Hales on a scorching summer's day in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, close to where the musicians were staying at the Southern Cross Hotel. Note the Victorian Butter Federation van in the background. Page and Hales had just paid a visit to the Mini Emporium, an eccentric shop run by the owner of the Thumpin' Tum nightclub, Ron Eden. This image was published in Go-Set magazine in February, 1967.

TELEVISION SESSION: ? 27 January 1967. The Yardbirds perform at Channel 9, Melbourne, for an unknown television program, according to a Facebook comment by a member of the audience, Geoff Putnam.

Geoff Putnam (11 August 2014): Also saw Yardbirds at Channel Nine studios in Melbourne in 1967. They sang live from memory but Walker Brothers mimed? It's a bit hazy but I think Jimmy used a bow on his guitar at that session. Still a huge Yardbirds fan at age 68.

LIVE  SHOW: Friday, 27 January 1967. Festival Hall, Melbourne. A live radio broadcast is made of one of Roy Orbison's performances at Festival Hall during this tour. After the show a custom-made Gibson Les Paul loaned to Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page for the tour by Keith Richards is stolen, as well as a Fender guitar belonging to Mixtures guitarist Laurie Arthur.

The Yardbirds in Brisbane, 28 January 1967, with Larry Zetlin, journalist for Go-Set magazine. Photograph: Frank Neilsen.

LIVE  SHOW: Saturday, 28 January 1967. Festival Hall, Brisbane. Billed with Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers, Johnny Young and Thursday's Children. Interviewed for the Australian music magazine Go-Set by Larry Zetlin.

TRAVEL: Sunday, 29 January 1967. Travel to New Zealand.

LIVE  SHOW: Monday, 30 January 1967. Theatre Royal, Christchurch. The Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and the Walker Brothers perform with local band Larry's Rebels. 

LIVE  SHOW: Tuesday, 31 January 1967. Town Hall, Wellington.

 The Yardbirds backstage at Wellington, New Zealand, 31 January 1967. Source: John Baker Archive.

February

LIVE  SHOW: Wednesday, 1 February 1967. Founder's Theatre, Hamilton. At the commencement of this performance Jimmy Page is sick and is replaced for three numbers by local support act Larry's Rebels guitarist, 20 year old John Williams. The Rebels later record a version of Train Kept A Rollin' titled The Flying Scotsman, after Page showed Williams how to play it.

John Williams - guitarist with Larry's Rebels (2014): At year’s end The Rebels played the successful Impact Christmas Tour, following up in January 1967 as support on a national tour with The Yardbirds, The Walker Brothers and Roy Orbison. The Yardbirds drew young John Williams’ eye and ear. “We liked their stuff and we wanted to change, so we started experimenting. I got on well with Jimmy Page of The Yardbirds and played guitar on three songs in Hamilton from the side of the stage, because Jimmy would fall over drunk.” In the tour bus, jamming, Page gave Williams the chords to his version of The Dorsey Brothers’ ‘Train Keep A Rolling’, which would turn up on Larry’s Rebels first album, Study In Black, as ‘The Flying Scotsman’. Its restless blues clatter and lonely howl harp banged on down the main trunk line. The song’s centrepiece — a soaring psychedelic guitar rave-up — has lessons in feedback and discord learnt from touring with master guitarist Page.

Larry's Rebels, The Flying Scotsman [Train Kept a Rollin'], 1967. This is an arrangement of the Yardbirds song, as taught to guitarist Keith Williams by Jimmy Page.

Keith Williams (12 April 2015): During the band's whirlwind eight years together, they also attracted the interest of some of the world's biggest groups, including the Who and the Yardbirds. Larry's Rebels guitarist Keith Williams even stood in for the Yardbirds Jimmy Page, who would later co-found supergroup Led Zeppelin, during the English rockers' 1967 gig in Hamilton. Page, who would go on to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time, was feeling ill at the beginning of the show. "Keith Relf, the singer from the Yardbirds, handed me Jimmy's guitar [which was actually Williams' white Stratocaster, as Page's gear didn't arrive with the band's gear] and asked me if I could help them out as he was in no condition to play," Williams ' says in the liner notes to Larry's Rebels' new CD I Feed Good. "It was a breeze as I had grown up with these songs." By the end of the third song Page was feeling well enough to take the stage. At the end of the tour he gave Williams his guitar strap, tone bender and the silver shirt he wore that night as a token of appreciation. Although the shirt is long gone and he thinks the tone bender was stolen, Williams still has the paisley guitar strap. {Mike Alexander, Rebels with a new cause, Sunday News, Auckland, 12 April 2015}

LIVE  SHOW: Thursday 2 February 1967. Town Hall, Auckland.

Larry Morris - lead singer with Larry's Rebels (14 June 2013): How a Legend Took the World by Storm - Hi, I’m Larry Morris, a New Zealand-born entertainer, singer-songwriter. I presently live in Auckland, the city of my birth; however, I have played gigs in several countries during the last forty-nine years. My first band, Larry’s Rebels (1964 to 1971) were very successful in New Zealand, and as a result, we supported many famous artists, such as Roy Orbison, Tom Jones, The Walker Brothers, Herman’s Hermits, and The Yardbirds. The original guitarist with the Yardbirds was Jeff Beck, and he was with the band when they played the United States as part of their 1967 world tour. The band completed the USA dates with a final concert in Chicago.  For reasons only they know, Jeff Beck departed the band after that Chicago gig. Regardless, the band was still obliged to continue with the Australasian dates that would follow the American concerts, and now they were without their guitarist, Jeff Beck. My band was at Auckland airport awaiting the arrival of the American acts we would be supporting, the Walker Brothers and The Yardbirds. The English musician chosen as the replacement for Beck arrived alone, direct from London before the American bands flew in from the States.  The tour promoter, Harry M. Miller, greeted him as he came through customs and then introduced him to the members of Larry’s Rebels.  His name was Jimmy Page. Jimmy was among an elite group of session players, and this was what he mostly did then.  He was playing on a Petula Clark track in the UK studio when he got the frantic call from Keith Relf, asking him if he could fly to New Zealand and take Jeff’s place. Because Jimmy had played the solos on the singles, ‘Over Under Sideways Down’, and ‘Heart Full of Soul’ (if my memory serves me correctly), he was the obvious replacement.  We spent the time waiting for the others to arrive talking to Jimmy. We were especially taken with the silver satin shirt he was wearing that matched his high-heeled boots.  I was just turning 20, and a very impressionable young Kiwi rocker.  I recall asking Jimmy where he bought the shirt? “Carnaby Street”, he said. Jimmy was quite shy and he expressed concern about how the Yardbirds fans would react to discovering Jeff Beck was not with the band. Jeff had legions of fans that wore Union Jack coats.  These coats were the true indicator of the Jeff Beck fans in the audience.  We understood why Jimmy was a little nervous about being the Yardbirds replacement guitarist. As it happened, these Jeff Beck fans gave him loads of grief chanting, “Where is Jeff?” constantly until the band began. Nevertheless, once they heard his wicked playing, that all changed. With his violin bow held high, sounds that nobody had ever heard coming from a guitar before, screamed out from his Les Paul.  It was a joy to behold, watching the audience reaction change, from disappointment when no Beck appeared, to utter bewilderment at this tall skinny Englishmen with his tone bender and violin bow, not forgetting those long curly blonde locks. We became friends with ‘Pagey’ on that tour.  He was wonderful to be with, and he was so supportive of us as a band.  It is not the usual treatment accorded to the support band, and that was why it was so special. We were all invited to the end of tour party when the tour finished and we had played the last show.  Promoter, Harry M. Miller, had arranged this large mansion in Parnell, Auckland as the venue for the party. When everybody had arrived and the party was in full swing, Jimmy took our guitar player, John Williams, aside.  Jimmy said he had something for him, and then gave John his guitar strap and the tone bender foot pedal we had watched him use every night.  These pedals were not available in either New Zealand or Australia, so this was an enormous gesture. To top it off, he then presented John the silver satin shirt that he had worn when he arrived in our country.  Forty-five years later, my former song writing partner, John Williams, is still playing guitar and still wearing the guitar strap Jimmy gave him that night. The party continued well into the small hours, and we shared stories and jokes.  Jimmy told us he had never enjoyed himself as much as he had on tour.  “When I arrive back in London, I am going to put my own band together”, he said, “because this is much more fun than doing session work for a living.” We were not at all surprised when a couple of rehearsal years later, Led Zeppelin with Jimmy at the helm, took the world by storm.

TRAVEL: 3-4 February 1967. Jimmy Page returns to England via Bombay, India, to take sitar lessons with Ravi Shankar. Keith Relf and Chris Dreja return directly to London. Jim McCarty returns to England via New York.

Jimmy Page practicing the sitar, following on the receipt of lessons from Ravi Shankar.

LIVE SHOW: 11 February 1967. Paris, France.

March

STUDIO SESSION: 5 March 1967. London. Little Games and Puzzles are recorded.

TELEVISION SESSION: Wednesday, 8 March 1967. Filming of Little Games for 'Tete de Bois' (Wooden Head) program, Paris, France.

LIVE SHOW: Thursday, 9 March 1967. Radio Caroline Club, Paris, France.

TELEVISION SESSION: Wednesday, 15 March 1967. Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany. Filming of Shapes of Things, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, Over Under Sideways Down and I'm A Man for the Beat - Beat - Beat television program. Duration: 13 minutes 30 seconds.

The Yardbirds live, Offenbach, Germany, 15 March 1967.

Acknowledgement

In the compilation of this blog I would like to acknowledge the research of all those authors and Yardbirds fans who have written about, and published on the internet, material which has helped to piece together this account of the Australasian tour. Where possible, links to original sources have been included within the blog and due acknowledgement made. Thank you.

Archival Records

Harry M. Miller Collection, State Library of New South Wales. MS7981, Box 42 - Roy Orbison / Walker Brothers / Yardbirds, 1967 (3 volumes). Miller was one of the promoters of the Big Show. The 3 volumes are scrapbooks and other records of the tour.

References

Anfuso, James, Rockin Australia: 50 Years of Concert Posters 1957-2007, Starman Books, 2015, 3 volumes.

Best, Lynne, Taylor Square in the 60s - Beethovens 1967 [blog], 2012. URL: http://a1960scontact-simplyrag.blogspot.com.au/2008/02/beethovensthe-cross.html.

Gray, Peter and Neilsen, Frank, "Australia’s most evil and repugnant nightspot" - Memories from those involved: The FOCO Club, Brisbane, 1968-69 [pdf], Radical Times Historical Archive, Brisbane. URL: http://radicaltimes.info/PDF/FOCO.pdf.

Platt, John, Dreja, Chris and McCarty, Jim, The Yardbirds, Sigwick & Jackson, London, 1983, 160p.

Stewart, Douglas, Jimmy Page, Melbourne, 1967 [photograph by Geoffrey Hales], Douglas Steward Fine Books, Melbourne. URL: http://douglasstewart.com.au/objects/jimmy-page-melbourne-1967/.

Michael Organ
28 September 2016