Diary Australia

Rock ‘n’ Roll diary

27 January 2018

9:00 AM

27 January 2018

9:00 AM

There seems no end to the need for trigger warnings in the leftist utopia but I never thought the rock ‘n’ roll industry would find one of their own in middle age. Proving that virtue signalling isn’t just for shovel-bearded hipsters and the hair-shirt brigade, some of our most privileged (and washed up) music industry identities got their designer knickers in a knot. Their outrage was prompted by my creation of a music playlist on a popular streaming service.

It seems celebrating Australian music and asking conservatives to vote for their favourite tracks is akin to clubbing baby seals for the modern day PC rock ‘n’ roller. The battle was launched in the preferred arena of the lazy social justice warrior – Twitter, where a manly attempt to rally the musical troops was engaged by Darren Hayes. You might remember him as the garden part of the duo ‘Savage Garden’. His cri de coeur, demanding I surrender to the hectoring rock goddess, was met with chirping crickets save for a few 280 character warlords seeking relevance in the warm embrace of likes and retweets.

In keeping with the traditions of the music industry, the digital assault combined an assortment of drunks, drug takers, plagiarists, posers and a few forgotten people. I can only presume most of the actual musicians preferred to watch their royalties pile up rather than attack the listening public. Jimmy Barnes had to be prompted by his son (and my one time dining companion) David Campbell, who may have been bitter he didn’t make the top 100 himself, to break his Japanese skiing holiday in order to fire off a tweet of discontent. He then went back to the slopes.

Men at Work’s Colin Hay essentially told the ABC that drugs were the answer and that he wrote about Vegemite and vomiting four decades ago as a stand against my political views. I haven’t had the heart to tell him I was only eleven at the time but even then I knew that drugs fried the brain. One chap from Who Am I (or is that You Am I?), even went so far as to send a legal letter demanding they be removed from my list, threatening court action. The adage ‘a fool and his money are soon parted’ was clearly written by a lawyer about their music industry clients.

But these forgotten rebels provided a trigger all of their own which took me back to my late teens when I had a much different relationship with the Aussie music scene. It all began with a Deep Purple concert at Memorial Drive in Adelaide. I was part of the crew that built the stage and was always on hand to make sure nothing went wrong during the show. That concert also marked the last time alcohol was allowed within 200 metres of that venue after a litany of violence swept through the outside crowd. It was the equivalent of a Milo concert but with bogans on the rampage instead of today’s smelly green socialists.

But that was the start of a fantastic part time job that saw me work on concerts for Dire Straits, Rod Stewart, INXS, Midnight Oil, Australian Crawl and many others. Some of these bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll even dared play on Australia Day and it wasn’t unknown to see them having a fag or two… even while inside.

It was also a lucrative part-time gig despite the minimum rates of pay. Our side hustle was being backstage during the concert and having the drummer throw his broken sticks our way so we could sell them to fans after the show. The gentlemen of left activist rock politics, Midnight Oil, were particularly supportive of this capitalist enterprise. Who’d have thought that Peter Garrett and I would find ourselves as serving politicians a couple of decades later.

Not all of the musos I worked with were so orthodox though. Some were so radical that they chose to eat sugar through their nose right in the soundstage between sets. I guess I am lucky that I’ve never had a sweet tooth otherwise I might have ended up as a mixed-up Twitter warrior too! The band I enjoyed the most though was Australian Crawl. Even though few could understand a word James Reyne sang, he knew how to get the crowd pumped. Their concert at the Adelaide Formula One Grand Prix was sensational. They were supported by four hit wonder Kids in the Kitchen who were so keen on fame they even let me do a photo session with them. Before the days of digital cameras every shot was a masterpeice in focus failure.

But it wasn’t all cash, cameras and nose candy. Some of the true superstars were among the most down to earth. Rod Stewart was happy to play football (soccer) with anyone, anytime and we had a great match on centre court at Memorial Drive. Even with my Italian pedigree and 25 year age advantage, I was no match for his silky skills.

Of course all that wouldn’t be possible today. I’d need a scaffolding ticket, a union rep, overtime allowance and health and safety inspections before getting a job that jolted me out of my private school cocoon.

And of course, without inside knowledge of just how the music industry has operated for decades I might even have taken this week’s abuse from some of its relics seriously.

However, it’s only the media who seem to think the Twitter complaints from a group of vainglorious millionaires, who have profited handsomely from the general public despite their contempt for mainstream views, are worthy of paying attention to.

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