The Easybeats

the-easybeatsFrom: Sydney, Australia

The Easybeats were an Australian rock band out of Sydney. They formed in 1964 and disbanded at the end of 1969. Regarded as the greatest pop band hailing from Australia in the 1960s, the Easybeats were the antipodean echo to the style and of of the Beatles in Britain. The band was also the first rock and roll act from Australia to score an international hit with 1966’s “Friday On My Mind.”

All five members of the band were from families that had migrated to Australia from Europe: Steve Wright (vocals) and Gordon “Snowy” Fleet (drums) were from England; George Young (rhythm guitar) from Scotland; Harry Vanda (lead guitar) and Dick Diamonde (bass) from the Netherlands.

The band formed at the former Villawood Migrant Hostel. The families of the band members spent their first years in Australia living in the Hostel. The Easybeats began their career in 1964 at Beatle Village, a small teen hangout located in the basement of a pub at Taylor Square on Oxford Street, in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Real estate agent turned pop entrepreneur Mike Vaughn became the band’s manager, and through his efforts, they signed with Albert Productions. Owner Ted Albert then signed the band to a recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label. The group recorded a number of songs at the abandoned 2UW Theatre. Of those songs, they chose “For My Woman” as their first single, which reached #33 on the local charts.

While “For My Woman” gained the Easybeats some attention, the band felt they needed more uptempo songs to break through commercially. They released “She’s So Fine” as their next single, which gave them commercial success, rising to the #3 spot on the Australian charts. Their live shows and public appearances were full of hysteria similar to ‘Beatlemania.’ They were soon dubbed by the Australian press as ‘Easyfever.’

Their third single was the high-energy “Wedding Ring”, which reached #7 on the charts. In September 1965, the Easybeats released their first album Easy. It was one of the earliest albums of all original material that was written by an Australian rock band. Most of the songs on the album were written by Wright and Young.

The Easybeats returned to their blues roots for their fourth single, “Sad And Lonely And Blue.” Similar to “For My Woman”, the song failed to make the top 10, reaching #21. Both “Wedding Ring” and “Sad And Lonely And Blue” were included on the band’s second album, It’s 2 Easy, released in March 1966. “Women (Make You Feel Alright)” and “Come And See Her” were they lead singles from the album, and both landed the band back in the top 10, reaching #4 and #3 respectively. The Wright-Young writing team also wrote songs for other artists, including Johnny Young’s #1 1966 hit “Step Back.”

In the early parts of 1966, manager Mike Vaughn flew to New York City with hopes of securing an American recording contract for the band. Despite an initial lack of interest, Vaughn eventually convinced United Artists Records to sign the band. Before relocating to London in July 1966, the Easybeats recorded a farewell TV special for the Seven Network, titled The Easybeats, more commonly known as The Coca-Cola Special.

Albert Productions released an EP of material recorded before the band left Australia in August 1966. Titled Easyfever, the EP reached #1 on the Australian singles charts, prompting Albert Productions to then release an entire album of material titled Volume 3 in November. This was also a commercial success.

The Easybeats recorded a number of songs with Ted Albert at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, but these were deemed unsuitable by United Artists Records and Alberts was removed as producer. The band was then put with freelance producer Shel Talmy, who had achieved great success with his production for The Who and The Kinks. United Artists also felt the band’s song writing wasn’t sophisticated enough to compete with the UK market. With the Wright/Young composition “Come And See Her” failing to garner and commercial success, Vanda, who now had a stronger grasp of English, replaces Wright as Young’s song writing partner from this point on.

The band performed a number of titles for Talmy, and out of all of them, it was “Friday On My Mind” that caught the producer’s ear. The song would become the Easybeats’ next single, and was released on October 14, 1966. “Friday On My Mind” reached #6 on the UK Charts making it the band’s first big international hit, charting in several countires: Australia (#1), Canada (#13), US (#16) and Top 10 in Germany, Netherlands and France. The song sold over one million copies worldwide and was awarded a gold disc.

“Who’ll Be The One” was released as the band’s next single on March 17, 1967. The song was a commercial failure and did not make the UK charts. The band never wanted to release “Who’ll Be The One”, as they felt it was not a strong enough track to follow “Friday On My Mind.” Later that month, they toured Europe in support of the Rolling Stones.

The Easybeats released their first album on United Artists in May 1967 titled Good Friday (re titled Friday On My Mind in the US). They returned to Australia at this time for a nationwide tour. After the tour, Fleet decided to quit the band as he was unhappy at the amount of time he had to spend away from his wife and children.

The Easybeats returned to the UK without a drummer and began recording several songs with session drummer Freddie Smith. During this period, the band recorded their next single, “Heaven And Hell.” The song showed Vanda and Young’s psychedelic pop influences. The single was produced by Glyn Johns, who had worked as an engineer on the Talmy sessions. The band also started working on a new album with John, most of which was recorded but never released because of the band’s complicated financial and contractual problems.

Released in June 1967, “Heaven And Hell” failed to chart, due in part to the song being banned by the BBC. The song also ran into problems in America, where a censored version titled “Heaven”, replaced the offensive lyric “Discovering someone else in your bed” with “discovering that her love has gone dead.” The single did, however, reach #8 in Australia.

Tony Cahill was finally brought in as a replacement drummer. With Cahill, the band toured America in August, supporting Gene Pitney. While in America, they recorded their next single, “Falling Off The Edge Of The World.” The song received moderate airplay but did not chart.

Upon their return to London, the band recorded their next single “The Music Goes ‘Round My Head.” This was Vanda and Young’s first foray into the emerging UK Rocksteady/Ska scene. The duo began writing for other artists in late 1967, including Los Bravos and Paul Revere & The Raiders. Still trying to land back on the British charts, the Easybeats moved to a more pop friendly sound and released the soft rock ballad “Hello, How Are You”, in March 1968. The song ended up reaching #20 in the UK. Despite re charting, the band have cited the change in sound as a mistake, as it seemed to alienate their long term fans.

May 1968 saw the Easybeats release their second album for United Artists; Vigil (Falling Off The Edge Of The World in the US). The album was a mix of current singles, new recordings and out-takes from the scrapped 1967 album. “Land of Make Believe” and “Good Times” were released as singles.

Through the later parts of 1968, the once close-knit band began to drift apart. Drugs certainly played a factor, as did the growing independence of Vanda and Young. By this time the duo were working mostly on their own and between them they could play almost any instrument needed for recordings. They also had some skill in engineering and producing their own recordings.

The band left United Artists Records and Albert Productions in 1969, and signed with Polydor Records. In April, they returned to Olympic Studios to record their first single for Polydor, teaming up with producer Ray Singer, formerly a member of UK band Nirvana. “St. Louis” was released in June 1969 and failed to chart in the UK, however song did reach #21 on the Go-Set charts in Australia. In July 1969, it was announced that the working relationship between manager Vaughn and the group would come to an end.

The Easybeats undertook a short European tour in September 1969 and then reluctantly accepted an offer for a five-week Australian tour. The tour was reported as a last ditch effort to bail the band out of its debts. As a whole the tour was not successful. The band played a number of smaller venues, instead of the larger venues they had become accustomed to. By the end of 1969, the members of the Easybeats went their separate ways.

Artist Info: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1966 album Volume 3
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  • Sorry

From the 1967 album Good Friday
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  • Friday On My Mind

From the 1968 album Vigil
vigil

  • Good Times

From the 1967 single Parlophone A-8224
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  • Heaven And Hell

From the 1980 compilation Absolute Anthology 1965 to 1969
absolute-anthology-1965-to-1969

  • Amanda Storey [Previously Unreleased]

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