published November 2020
At 73, its been a fantastically full life, blessed in every conceivable way.
1947 Born in Perth, Western Australia, the only boy in a good family of Mum, Dad and 4 girls, 3 older and 1 younger, I hit the boy next door with a big metal truck and climbed onto the roof, so they say.
1950 The family moved to Broken Hill with Dad’s work as a Steward in Horse Racing and while the girls were at school, I spent days riding the little bike around the old, tennis court weeds and levelling off the half loaves from the bottom-of-the-lane delivered bread.
1951 We shifted to Melbourne into a big house where we slid on carpets in the long upstairs room; started to dig a hole to China around the side; ate fresh fruit and vegetables from Dad’s garden in the back yard and had dreams of scattering money notes as I flew over the Primary School. Proudly, I was awarded a card for my first learnt Bible verse, a good one - John 3:16.
1954 Then to Sydney, where we walked to school in bare feet, so the hot bitumen stuck to our souls; a mate and I wrestled in front of their Tele; the neighbour’s wheelbarrow of fireworks blew up on Cracker Night and the horse and carts still home delivered along Harris Street. We played with the Catholic family across the road but it was frowned on.
1957 Back to Adelaide, Mum’s home town and Dad became the Chairman of Stewards. Finished Primary School then on to College, which is the Adelaide posh way. I was mesmerised by our Nan’s left hand on the piano at eye level, playing Ragtime pieces from the days of leading her family dance band of piano, drums, saxophone and violin. There was lots of Church socialising with mentoring and our acoustic group ‘The Henchmen’ began as 4 mates with me on drums then banjo as we shifted from emulating ‘The Shadows’ to ‘The Highwaymen’. Leading and winning the school House musical item was a great boost - “and especially the boy with the vaudeville voice.” Gold. I chose to become a Jesus Follower and started writing lots of songs.
1964 Off I went to Adelaide Uni to do Architecture while developing my musical muscles - wrote more, played more, performed more. Met my future wife Vivienne at Youth Group SingSong, amidst a rich Methodist harmony vocal heritage.
1969 Vivi and I married down at “The Ranch” (Uniting Church south of Adelaide), which started an amazing life of adventure together. ‘The Henchmen’ lineup was joined by my younger sister Georgina, becoming ‘Genesis’ with a Pop acoustic repertoire. Composing and conducting Sunday School Anniversaries for over 200 children with great gusto by all was a wonderful confidence builder, so I left Uni part way through year 5 when I realised that I was much better at music.
1971 'Buffalo Drive' with 5 others began and was a fully electric rock band with screaming guitar and harmonies. Very quickly, we played shows and cut records with Adelaide studio, Nationwide and produced truck loads of wonderfully imaginative promotions by Haydn and Linc. Managed by John Woodruff, we were spotted and signed by Polydor from Sydney where, on our first interstate tour, we recorded “Life’s been good to me” and lived in Bondi together, our first Community experience. We returned exhausted to Adelaide after a month and cut the band from a 6 to 4 piece group with all original songs, emphasising the accordion, banjo, bass and drums on the record.
1973 In the SA Festival Theatre’s first Rock show, the band won the 5KA Live Performance Rock Award. Nice. Many shows in pubs, schools and churches; many tours across Australia; several more records before we broke up with financial pressure and doubts about a re-location to the East.
1975 I created ‘one man’s band’, a one man rock’n’roll band inspired by Jesse ‘Lone Cat’ Fuller with double foot drums, hooters, electric guitar or banjo, a zealous voice and a big heart to be an authentic Aussie. It toured all over Australia with radio, TV, Music Festivals, Country Shows, schools, churches and big rock tours (AC/DC, Sports, Split Enz, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel). I would fly out mostly on weekends, so with our very active ‘Good*God’ homegrown recording studio with gifted equipment, in our miraculously shared Adelaide house with a family of 5 girls so far, it was a busy and tiring life.
Our girls inspired kids’ songs, so the ‘God Gives’ series of TV spots and books was born. CTA TV spots and Channel 7’s ‘Klips' were a great outlet for visual-musical ideas and wider church opportunities meant large scale community musical-drama events, indoors and out. Composing for and conducting the CSG (Creative Singing Group) along with Rodan publishing, birthed powerful and relevant moments of faith-in-action, along with bringing to life many Spirit songs written with others in South Australia.
Lead singing in an NCYC musical inspired me to write and direct my first musical “Never, Never Yarns” with the Churches of Christ Youth Choir, inspired by our Youth Group trip to the ‘Centre’ with Mr and Mrs Griff. It was an honour to add zest to many Jesus People and Schools Ministry programs all over Australia as well as producing about 80 albums of local composer/performers with covers and posters over the years printed by the ever supportive, Tony Kitchener.
1982 After 7 rent-free years, Colin Watson needed the Duthy Street extended family recording house for his original museum vision and we believed we were called to Sydney where we formed ‘La Bouche’ which became ‘iDeA’, a fully Techno plug-in band of the times. Together we wrote scores of songs, recorded many and released a few to a tiny fanfare. I loved the 4 dedicated blokes line-up. David Smallbone was Manager and our families have been close ever since.
1985 I believed the band was called to the USA so we gave everything in the house away in preparation, but it didn’t happen. ‘iDeA’ did a final tour then broke up. I fasted in grief for 21 days at St Joseph’s House of Prayer in Goulburn NSW and then the family set out on the road around Australia, Mum pregnant with our 7th, Dad and 5 of our 6 girls in the Toyota Corona station wagon. Pilgrim’s Together.
1987 We were miraculously gifted an 8 berth motorhome in which our growing family lived and travelled for 10 years, the beginning of the nomad family era.
1988 We created and led the big ‘Bushfire’ Bi-Centennial Tour right around Australia for 12 months with 25 adults and 25 children in 13 motorhomes, 2 births and a marriage. As well as beginning with a set show and large marquee, local interest songs were composed on radio phone-ins and performed live in many hundreds of wild, weird and wonderful situations. 4 albums of very earthy Aussie material were produced.
1990 Based in Goulburn NSW with the ‘Mustard Seed Project’ of Patrick Russell, we worked on many Projects as a family with those ‘on the edge of society’, in the City and Outback. Together, Paddy and I have written probably 12 stage musicals over the years and he has produced most of them. St Joseph’s House of Prayer Lay Community was our spiritual home on the road and the space for much drama, creativity, performance, moving worship and recordings.
1992 Vivi had a vision for a space to support Christians expressing their faith through creativity, and it happened. The call came to set up the ‘Fusion Arts Colony’ at The Mansions in Malmsbury, Victoria with art, craft, sport, discovery, interaction and ‘the Waterhole’ recording studio where Gerry Holmes, Darryl Thompson and I produced about 60 albums of local expressions of faith. It was a big old rambling rent-free ex-hotel with 26 rooms so we had about 30 residents and over 100 at Christmas, with lots of hospitality and wonderful all-age musically dramatic Reflections each night. In a convoy of motorhomes, we travelled Australia creating festivals in Old Folks Homes, First Nation Homelands, Churches and Schools. Super special.
1996 Friends gifted us airfares to the USA and beyond, which was a complete surprise. After the success of the ‘BedlamOz’ show ‘Tribe’ in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Scotland, we toured the ‘Slinkies’ around the world for 12 years performing in festivals, concerts, product launches, museums, shopping centres, union days and celebrations, national and local from Russia to Brazil, New Zealand to Canada and Singapore to London. Amazing. Flying and driving back to northern UK, we were part of the Pilgrim House Communities (3 at one stage) producing the ‘The Pilgrim House Pocket Songbook’ and recordings, films and street shows with a strong involvement in the Catholic Church which we had moved over to in Sydney, 1985.
2006 After a heavy year of assisting on our family’s full length feature film ‘The Burial’ which made for a very full Community House in Stockton-on-Tees, a daughter’s marriage on Brighton beach and 3 more new grandchildren, Vivi and I felt called to move to London where we were based for the next 10 years. Clapton Park Uniting Reformed Church in Hackney was an urban pool of hope, love-in-action, dedicated souls and creative opportunities into which we dived and swam gleefully, producing many songs and recordings while leading the band in Sunday worship and heading up the Church Community House. Wonderful people. Composing about 50 songs with Barbara Glasson and seeing them published by Kevin Mayhew was a reminder of big city opportunities. Writing Literacy songs with Speech Therapists in UK and Oz and publishing in both countries with books, recordings and videos filled a reading need all over. ‘Spirit WORK’ with David Miller and Ken White was a pleasant Jazz surprise creating music-of-the-moment that I call ‘Walk on Water’, which we launched into the stratosphere via YouTube and facebook. Vivi and I confirmed our world traveller feelings with Oz and UK dual citizenship passports. ‘Rod the Revelator’ played a smattering of shows around the metropolis but the most creative computer publishing outlet for photos, movies, songwriting, poems, books, recordings, drawing, painting, drama, online channels and the band ‘Alive-in-the-City’, was at the ‘New Hanbury Project’ in Shoreditch, working alongside people in Recovery from drug and alcohol dependence and mental health pressures. Inspiring and heartbreaking.
2016 Our daughter who has Cafés in Paris suggested that we move in with them to France, which we did several times and loved it but with family all around the globe and Brexit happening, it never solidified.
2018 Now in our early 70s, it felt time to move back to reside in Australia so we bought a motorhome from Vivi’s inheritance and spent the next year visiting family and friends around Australia. Meanwhile, artist and musician Ken White, exploded with productions of over 260 short musical painting animations in 2 years which I Uploaded to our facebook page. Long-time supporter and enthuser Mal Graetz, Gerry Holmes, Chris Adams and I began work on a SONGS-of-faith-hope-and-love website for Australian composers 20th century output as a resource and archive.
2020 Talk of a Buffalo Drive and Creative Singing Group 50 years Re-union saw both stuttering along amongst the COVID-19 world Pandemic. The two ‘Buffalo Drive Alive’ shows possible late in the year were a heartwarming success and the Wednesday rehearsals, a delight. We are waiting.