and Pieces ...
John J. was notoriously publicity-shy and really didn’t put himself out there in terms of promotion. There are very few articles and photographs available. If you have any photo’s, stories or reviews of his albums or performances, please get in touch.
There are only two extended interviews we have been able to find. One is in the Go-Set magazine by writer Darrel Nugent, the other in a small book published by Moonlight Publications titled ‘Dreamers’ Vol.1. The book is an overview of contemporary singer/songwriters Greg Quill, Graeme Lowndes, Glenn Cardier and John J. Francis. The interview covers his career and aspects of the Australian music industry of that time.
An amazing fact in any day and age is that the Warner Bros. release and distribution deal for his albums was sealed by a simple handshake with the Australasian Head of Warners, the late Paul Turner and then Head of Marketing Phil Greenop. Nothing was ever put to paper and signed.
The triple-foldout cover for ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Refugee’ was the first cover of its design-type and also the most expensive ever made in Australia at that time.
A group called Ichabod Crane released a rock version of ‘Train’ on the M7 label.
The five track ‘Play Mumma Play’ 7” Extended Play vinyl disk was the first stereo 45rpm ever released in Australia. Other songs on the disk included ‘Simple Ben’, ‘City Lights, Saturday Night 1959’, 'Embarrassing Situations' and ‘Liberated Roadside Lady’.
‘Pity Me’ was first released on the now exceedingly rare RCA album, ‘Three Floors Down’. The ‘Pity Me’ track was artist-listed as Dogsboddy Blodbus, Kratch, Snug and Dank, a pseudonym John J had to use as the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Refugee’ album was in the process of being released and Warners did not want him appearing on any other album. The cover featured a shot of the old ramshackle lift that used to carry gear, performers and audience down and up to street level if they didn’t have the energy for the stairwell. In hindsight, this album contains an absolutely amazing collection of singer/songwriter/performers that were playing at the legendary Y.W.C.A. PACT Cellar Folk Club in Liverpool Street, Sydney during this period. The artists include Jeannie Lewis, Margret Roadknight, Al Head, Bernard Bolan, Declan Affley, Marion Henderson, John Currie, etc. And all for just $1 a night. Talk about value!
The soundtrack of the classic Oz surf movie ‘Morning of the Earth’ was the first Australian movie soundtrack to ever reach ‘Gold Record’ status
The song ‘Simple Ben’ was included on the ‘Morning of the Earth’ soundtrack after producer G. Wayne Thomas arrived early at Copperfield Studios to record some of the other artists featured on the album and heard a song which John J had just finished mixing playing through the studio monitors. G. Wayne thought it would fit perfectly into the movie and had director Albie Falzon listen to it when he arrived. The rest is history.
‘Simple Ben’ became almost a type of anthem for Oz surfers after the movie release and is still well-known amongst that fraternity today. It has also been taken up by environmentalists and has been taught and discussed in primary and secondary schools. Cover versions have been done by a number of people including a recent version by Beau Young whose surfing legend father, Nat Young, was one of the featured surfers in the film.
The mysterious Paul T. playing banjo on ‘Simple Ben’ and ‘Liberated Roadside Lady’ was Paul Trenwith of the still-playing, famed New Zealand bluegrass outfit, The Hamilton County Bluegrass band. Contractual conditions of the time did not allow his full name to be mentioned on the album cover.
The ‘Breaks, Works and Thoughts’ album was the most nominated album across several categories at the 1973 Australian Radio Awards, the forerunner of today’s ARIA awards. Some of these categories were: Best Album, Best Album Design, Best Production, Best Artist, Best Song, Best Original Talent. ‘Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song’ won the ‘Best Song/Composer of the Year’ award.
‘Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song’ still enjoys regular airplay across Australia. In recent years it has found its way onto a number of compilations of tv-advertised cd’s.
‘Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song’ has been covered by a number of artists over the years including Dig Richards, Jeff Hilder, Family, The Rumour, etc. There was also a version recorded and released in Italy by a male and female duo.
Everynight 'Countryside Angelus’ from the ‘Open Fist’ album was the closing theme of Newcastle's NBN-3 TV for a number of years before the advent of 24hr. television.
Copperfield Sound Studio was a medium-size 8-trk studio but developed a very distinctive sound. It was also the deadest sound studio in Sydney. This meant very clean instrument recording could be made with virtually no sound spill between instruments. This attribute attracted many other producers and engineers who came and used the recording facilities then took the 8-trk Master tape away for mixing in one of the larger studios which had greater hardware mixing facilities. Consequently many television and movie music soundtracks were recorded there but mixed elsewhere.
John J managed Copperfield Sound Studio between 1970-74. During this time he produced a number of artists and bands. Among these were Finch with their first recording, ‘She Says’, Maple Lace's hit of ‘Gimme Dat Ding’, Tex Morton's No.1. of ‘The Goondawindi Grey’, Aidan Nolan with ‘Tales from the Sun’, Bernard Bolan's ‘The Liveliness of the Long-Playing Bernard Bolan’, various contemporary folk artists on the ‘Three Floors Down’ album, The Cleves, John A. Bird’s Willie Wazoo, country singer and writer Roger Thwaites, The John Brass Big Band, Gene Pierson, Nolan McKinley and many others. He also panel-opped hundreds of radio and television commercials
Tex Morton’s ‘The Goondawindi Grey’ was the first ever ‘picture disk’ release in the world. The process was invented by a man from the South Coast of New South Wales. It was eventually licenced worldwide and many thousands of well-known artists released their songs via special ’picture disk’ vinyl editions. ‘The Goondawindi Grey’ also picked up APRA Song Of The Year Golden Guitar in 1974.
John J’s commitment as manager of Copperfield meant that he hardly played anywhere outside of Sydney. The main venues were the PACT Cellar Folk Club and The Kirk Gallery in Cleveland Street, Sydney. He also did a number of short tours of NSW and Queensland Universities.home - music downloads - extras - digital art
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