5 April 2016, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016
Thank you. First let me say there are four of us in the band up here, and there should be five. Steve Prestwich, if he were here, may have done everything in his considerable powers to destroy this award acceptance. He was always hard to predict. Or he may have been as cool and funny as we remember him every day since he passed away. His daughter Melody is here with us tonight, come out to grace her dad's friends with her presence.
We never new Ted Albert, he was a it before our time, but we knew and respected everything he built. We got to know Bon Scott, and Angus and Malcolm Young before we left Adelaide through mutual friends. Years later we made our second album in Alberts Studios in King Street in the City, and met Harry Vanda and George Young who Ted Albert had mentored and managed to international success and back again.
One night we were playing at the Journo's Club near Central Station, and Harry and George turned up with guitars and amps, and played a set with us, which they didn't do with too many people. We were never signed to Alberts, but there was something in the DNA of their label and all their acts, a rawness full of cheek and melody. Always focussed on getting hits with real people that you could measure yourself up against. Ted Albert must have had a lot to do with setting that up.
This award is for lifetime contribution to the Australian music industry. When we started out more than forty years ago, contributing to the Australian music industry was very low on our list of priorities. As was accepting awards. I like to tell myself we did whatever we did all on our own, but the truth is we had help; sometimes very profound help, from individuals who liked what we do and stuck their necks out for us, often when there was not much in it for them. Some of them are here tonight. Some not. Some of them are no longer with us at all.
I'd like to name some names. Les Kaczmarek who started this band. He was our original bass player, and a wonderful and beguiling man in every respect, except that he couldn't play bass like Phil. David Blight, our mate, and the best blues harmonica player in the country, who has played harmonica with us from 1979, 1975 until now, whenever we could afford to take him on tour. Peter Moss, Ian's brother, who was our Road Manager and our sixth member for years, keeping his truck on the road, loading our gear in and out of it, night after night, and mixing us live until he took his share, just before that amounted to anything, and bailed to Darwin. There are a couple of others before him in Mick Porter and Gary Skinner, and Peter had helped too. Often drawn from the Largs Pier Hotel, people like Leon the Latvian, Rocky, Charlie, Toolie, Mick McDermott who now heads up the CFMEU in South Australia, and of course Alan Darlow and Billy Rowe, who were killed together in a truck smash in 1980. We'd like to remember Gerry Georgettis, who took over from Peter Moss as our head Roadie and front of house mixer, and the people who helped him. Harry Parsons, (looks over to the sound mixer) – sorry for popping that, mate – Meri Took, Jimi Bostock, Mark Keegan, Nicky Campbell and Michael Long. We'd like to remember Vince Lovegrove, much admired and missed by many in this room. Vince was our first manager in Adelaide in 1974. He resigned the morning after we unveiled the original songs I had been writing for the band. It's true. But, he remained our close friend for the rest of his life.
In our first year together Peter Walker, one of the best guitar players in the country then, discovered Ian's playing, one night at the Pooraka Hotel, and mentored him in those early years, and still works with Ian today. Peter produced our first album, and played some of the guitar on Khe Sanh. In Sydney, he was associated with Charles Fisher, who flew to Adelaide to watch us play; the first record company or studio producer to take notice of what we were doing. Charles gave us free time at Trafalgar studios in Annandale, as we toured through from then on.
We owe a lot to Sebastian Chase, who invited us to join his management stable of Dragon and Rose Tattoo in Sydney.
Ladies and gentleman, Rod and Gaye Willis, have accepted our invitation to sit with us in this room tonight. It would be fraudulent for us to accept any lifetime award without Rod being part of it. He was our guide, and our manager and our close friend for thirty two years from 1977. When we were languishing in Sydney – no record contract, unable to get gigs, meaning nothing to anybody – he managed us to success here, through our half hearted failures and our disintegration elsewhere, and managed the bands legacy when there mostly wasn't a band.
Ladies and gentleman, Rod and Gaye Willis.
With John Woodriffe and Ray Hearn, who had also managed us in Adelaide, Rod formed the Dirty Pool Agency, which for the first time broke open the live music scene in this country and allowed bands to plan and develop they way they were presented live.
The APRA Awards is a night for songwriters and publishers, and no publisher in Australian history was as big as John Bromell. We owe John everything. And as Bob Aird, John successor at Rondor will agree, we continue to pay the bill. But we don't mind because John Bromell gave us petrol money, when we had none, and weren't even signed to him, and with Rod Willis, he cooked up the scam that landed us our first record deal. There would be no Cold Chisel records without John Bromell. They got us to sign to Warner, then headed by Paul Turner and Peter Ryken, and incorporating our good friend and supporters, Philip Mortlock, Roger Langford and Phil Deamer. On the day of the signing, Bromell was there of course, and afterwards he suggested we celebrate with few drinks. And after more than a few drinks he suggested that since this was a signing kind of a day, some of us might just like to scribble on some publishing contracts he just happened to have on him. That's publishing – old school. And I think that everyone of a certain age in this room misses his company, his mischief, and the tales he had to tell.
I'd like to acknowledge our successive tour managers. Daffy Ferguson, Chris Bastick, and Mark Pope. Who each brought their own brand of edgy danger and unpredictability to our tours. Their task was impossible, and they, each in their own way, almost pulled it together.
Mark Opitz was the record producer who first set us up to play in the studio with the freedom and powerwe knew live, and he also taught us about editing and arranging songs, cutting out the fat for the maximum pop impact, lessons he claimed to have learned while engineering for Harry and George at Alberts.
Let me name some others that supported us and gave us their wisdom. Like Irene Scott in the Adelaide years. Like Carol Stubbly and Christine Small who ran a house in Taylor Square that contained The Couches Of Last Resort, if some of us didn't have a place to crash. Like Jenny Hunter Brown and Colleen Ironside. Like Joe Canaris, our accountant for thirty five years. There were people in the industry who were always on our side, like Eric Robinson, who pretended to be a misanthrope, but there are a couple of times across the decades when we were in a really tough spot, and he was suddenly there with his sleeves rolled up. As was the lawyer Peter Thomson. And I have to mention, when we needed high end advice a couple of times, Roger Davies always had the time.
Ladies and gentlemen, and everyone who frolicks in the gender spectrum in between, in the last five years, this band has worked more than we did most of the previous thirty. In the press, the few surviving music journalists call it a rennaisance. There is a small list of people we have to thank for that. Robert Hambling has done our audiovisuals, and has been an enormously witty and rewarding companion since the early nineties. Andy Bickers plays sax with us, and proves the old adage; that the mate you most look forward to seeing is probably a Kiwi. Producer Kevin Shirley, who's figured out a way of getting some great recordings out of what is now a very diverse set of musicians. Charley Drayton, who joined a shattered band, on the drum stool in the months after Steve died, and in many ways healed us as a band.
And our managers John O'Donnell and John Watson, whose greatest achievement was not the extraodinary planning and mounting of two tours in 2011 and 2015, or the two albums we've recorded in that time, but the care with which they organised things and shielded us in those months after Steve passed away.
We should thank the people out there who make this all possible, too, and have made it all possible over the last forty years by buying our music and buying tickets to see it.
We’ve never had any government grants, apart from a couple of years on the dole in the late 70s. So, we’re supported by the money people spend on what we do after they’ve paid their taxes. It would be great if Opera Australia could say the same thing.
Lastly, we'd like to thank our families. No one among the four of us, can make us as angry as we can make each other. And often in the past that meant our families had to occupy a house where dad was stomping around, smouldering at someone who was smouldering around his family, across town. They deserve a medal each. Jane Barnes, Margeaux Rolleston, Christine Small, Jo-Anne Prestwich and Firoozeh Walker. And all our children and grandchildren.
Enough said. Thank you and goodnight from all of us.