Influenced by the Mothers of Invention, Daddy Cool quickly soared to the top of Australia’s charts, then blistered the USA on three tours, supporting Captain Beefheart and Little Feat, earning plaudits from Kim Fowley, Marc Bolan, Elton John (“Crocodile Rock” was inspired by DC’s “Eagle Rock”), Dr. Demento, Tom Petty and Benmont Tench (the latter two bonded over a Daddy Cool album). David Laing relives “the doo wop, rhythm & blues, hillbilly bop and Zappaesque proto-punk brilliance of the greatest rock’n’roll group west of the Flamin’ Groovies” for PKM.
By David Laing
It’s a fairly standard rock’n’roll tragedy on the surface. Band forms, makes some killer music, has its shot, dies in relative obscurity. And so it might seem, in the case of Melbourne’s Daddy Cool, to anyone outside of Australia who remembers hearing them back in the day. But get closer and look deeper. A truly remarkable story emerges, one that even most of the folks at home, who remember the band for the hits – their biggest hit, “Eagle Rock,” remains ubiquitous – don’t know either.
Although they were only around – in their original incarnation – for less than two years – from 1970 to 1972 – Daddy Cool packed a lot of music into that time. They released two brilliant studio albums, the first of which does for west coast R&B what the Stones were at the time doing for delta blues, the second of which adds a punkoid Mothers Of Invention-like freakishness to it. They farewelled their fans with a live album that shows how their delicious lightness of touch, perfect groove and inspired musical lunacy put them well ahead of anyone else treading the same ‘50s-inspired path.
And, yes, make no mistake, Daddy Cool were indeed ‘50s revivalists; albeit ones who formed for a goof and got drawn in by immediate and ecstatic audience response. Significantly, they were also genuine music fans and inspired musicians, as well as being drug-devouring, Zap Comix-reading hippies whose singer wore a fox tail. Indeed in their first film clip, their drummer also sported a Jughead crown, their guitarist looked positively dunce-like in a helicopter cap, and their bass player, ever self-deprecating, wore something akin to a soda jerk outfit, complete with paper hat; he was also partial to his Mickey Mouse ears.
“Eagle Rock” – Daddy Cool:
Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford, Gary Young and Wayne Duncan played their first show as Daddy Cool in late 1970. All four members were at the time also members of The Sons of the Vegetal Mother, a larger, free-rock ensemble which had formed a year earlier. They started Daddy Cool (DC) to amuse themselves and the hippies at The TF (“Too Fucking”) Much Ballroom in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. The youngest two members of the band – Wilson and Hannaford – had been playing together since 1965 when they were both in their early teens, and the slightly older two members – Young and Duncan – had been playing together since the early ‘60s, when they were in their teens.
Wilson and Hannaford formed the Pink Finks in 1965. Lead singer and harmonica player Wilson was 16; lead guitarist Hannaford was a short and chubby 14 (though later known for his lankiness). A proto-typical garage R&B band, the Pink Finks cut one of only a few known ‘60s Australian versions of “Louie Louie“ for their first of four 45s, and became local scene faves.
they were also genuine music fans and inspired musicians, as well as being drug-devouring, Zap Comix-reading hippies whose singer wore a fox tail
Then the Rosses noticed change in the wind and formed a new band called The Party Machine. The Party Machine, which also featured guitarist Mike Rudd from recent New Zealand imports Chants R&B, dug the Mothers of Invention, shared bills with the likes of Lobby Loyde’s band The Wild Cherries, and were probably the first band on the local scene to be charged with obscenity, when a book of lyrics they printed up, featuring their crowd-pleasing “I Don’t Believe All Your Kids Should Be Virgins”, was seized by the vice squad.
The band’s music was stripped of blues influences, and Hannaford’s playing in particular had an openness – a knowing artlessness that was at odds with era of the hotshot guitar hero – that would inform the way he played when he did return to more blues-based forms with Daddy Cool. After releasing just one single, The Party Machine ended when Wilson was invited to London to join Australian and New Zealand ex-pats Procession. Hannaford joined local country rock pioneers Quinn, who released one obscure single – a cover of Dylan’s “The Mighty Quinn”. In a significant turn of events, while in London Wilson was introduced to the joys of listening to Bill Haley & The Comets’ Rock Around The Clock LP while on acid, and a brief time in New York’s Greenwich Village introduced him to macrobiotic food.
Party Machine – “Keep Your Cool”:
Bass player Wayne Duncan and drummer Garry Young went way back to pre-Beatles days. Most-notably, they’d played together in The Rondells, a band best known for backing raucous local teen idols Bobby & Laurie, who rose to popularity out of Melbourne in time to give a fledgling Easybeats a leg-up in Sydney. After The Rondells both Young and Duncan played in local soul revue-style outfits; Duncan had a harrowing few months entertaining the troops in Vietnam. Then Young and Ross Wilson – whose stint with Procession had been briefer than expected – connected while packing books together in a city warehouse.
And so The Sons of the Vegetal Mother – and Daddy Cool – were born. With additional players from other outfits like Company Caine and Lipp & The Double Decker Bros, a set of songs inspired by Wilson’s vegetarianism and with what he calls “a hard angular edge” due to his ”interest in 4th chords and cutting out 3rds”, the Vegetals started out playing “hard rock food songs”, although by the time they recorded they seemed to have ditched the food bit, and it certainly wasn’t hard-rock in any standard blues-based form. Their barely-released, stunning, and non-culinary psych-prog epic “Love Is The Law” incorporates a Zappaesque mix of modern classical and strident free jazz. It also sounds to my philistine ears like a great and free rock group having a solid crack at the theme to Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds and dabbling in a bit of Crowley, but it is nonetheless nine-minutes of otherworldly brilliance that never outstays it welcome.
The Vegetals/Garden Party – “Love Is The Law”:
Daddy Cool were basically a subset of the Vegetals and were inspired by another aspect of early Zappa – The Mothers of Invention’s doo wop dabbling.
“I was a Zappa fan at the time and through that influence reconnected with doo wop,” says Wilson. “I liked Cruising With Ruben & The Jets and its deliberate cheesiness but it was more the Freak Out album that got me & Hanna going on doo wop and the harmony thing, it was something that we innately understood. Same with Gary and Wayne and that’s how Daddy Cool came about as a splinter group from Sons of the Vegetal Mother.
“The Zappa influence was in the way he drew from all kinds of spheres from classical to jazz, rock and doo wop. What I learned from that was that you can make your own rules. John Lee Hooker’s ‘40s-50s-60s stuff also spoke to me like that – I had been into him since the early 60s… DC’s early repertoire was early rock’n’roll, R&B, some doo wop and a couple of original like ‘Eagle Rock’.
“We played at one of the TF Much Ballroom nights that Sons of the Vegetal Mother was also on. Hanna’s art school mates had made us some crazy shit to wear and that was part of the fun that went with the music. The dominant new music style at the time was ‘progressive rock’ which had a certain gravity attached to it. DC was the antidote and the place went nuts. That was October/November 1970. We gigged all summer, did a couple of festivals, had Melbourne by the balls. We became the overnight sensation you hear so much about.
In January 1971, when both The Sons of the Vegetal Mother and Daddy Cool played at one of Australia’s first outdoor rock festivals at Myponga in South Australia in January 1971, the rapturous crowd response to DC signalled time for the Vegetals. In March, just a couple of months later, Daddy Cool signed to the fledgling Melbourne label Sparmac. By June, “Eagle Rock” had begun a remarkable 17 week stretch atop the Melbourne charts. It was soon No.1 nationally, where it stayed for ten weeks. By July, the group’s amazing first album Daddy Who? Daddy Cool was No.1. and on its way to earning an unprecedented ten gold albums. By the end of August, Daddy Cool were on a plane to The Promised Land.
“As we were descending the Pan-Am stairs to the LA International Airport tarmac, we were met by a film crew and a guy in a wheelchair and a guy I recognised as Kim Fowley – I had his album Love Is Alive and Well,” says Wilson. “The other DC guys didn’t know him. They’re filming and Kim says, ‘Which one is Daddy Cool?’ They all point to me, Kim wheels up, touches me and leaps out of the chair shouting, ‘I’m cured, I can walk, Daddy Cool has cured me!’”
Sparmac’s Robie Porter had relocated to LA and gone into partnership with Steve Binder, a TV producer renowned for directing both the T.A.M.I. Show and Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special. They were laying the hype on thick.
A run of showcases at the Whisky a Go Go saw the band start nervously and fail to live up to it. It was a disastrous start. Nonetheless, they signed to the happening Warner/Reprise for outside of Australia. “Eagle Rock” hit the airwaves and the album hit the stores in the States, only months after its Australian release and still less than a year since their first show.
Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! kicks off with their theme song. “Daddy Cool” is a rockin’ doo wop number first recorded by The Rays in 1957. Although Wilson reckons they came up with the band name before they knew of the song, it was perfect for the group and a dream first album opener. Starting with an excited Wilson raving about seeing “a crazy chick a-running down the street” to where “Daddy Cool is playing on their music machine”, it introduces the band and swings like no one’s business. The sound is crisp and spare, with everything focused on the groove and letting Wilson’s frantic vocals lead until Hannaford cuts in with his jagged guitar, and the harmonies – with the whole band singing and Hannaford dropping in some hilarious bass vocal lines – are sensational.
Wilson reckons the band learned a lot from old Modern and RPM records from the ‘50s. Wilson’s favourite was Richard Berry – The Pink Finks had covered “Louie Louie”, after all – whose “Good Rockin’ Daddy” the band recorded for the album: “The sounds that grabbed me most were mainly west coast,” says Wilson. “The west coast doo wop has thicker jazzier harmonies than the east coast.”
A couple of other Californian doo wop tunes, Marvin & Johnny’s 1954 Modern Records B-side “Cherry Pie”, and The Cuff-links 1957 hit “Guided Missile” were also included, although they were ditched for the US release in favour of a Hannaford-sung version of interracial duo Ronald & Ruby’s “Lollipop” and a Wilson-Gary Young duet version of another Marvin & Johnny tune, “Flip” taken from an Australian EP – the DC EP – the band cut straight after the US visit. “School Days” shows a straighter rock’n’roll side to the band and is a killer version. Hannaford does Chuck Berry with more subtlety, personality and feel than either Keith Richards or Dave Edmunds; long considered Australia’s greatest “feel” guitarist, his playing was always pure excitement.
Daddy Cool perform Chuck Berry’s “School Days” live:
Kicking off side two of the album, “Eagle Rock” was a radio hit in a number of US markets and deserves its Australian anthem status. Based on a John Lee Hooker-inspired lick of Wilson’s and originally part of the Vegetals’ set, it’s not an overt ‘50s-style retro rocker. It’s more along the lines of a poppier – and more finger-popping – version of something that might have fit on Exile On Main Street (had Mick Jagger been willing to create a new dance craze and wear a foxtail). Elton John took inspiration from it to write “Crocodile Rock”; he later described the group as “one of the most impressive bands I’ve heard,” adding that ”‘Eagle Rock’ is one of my favourite tracks of all time.” Elton’s songwriting pal Bernie Taupin can be seen wearing a Daddy Who? badge on the cover of Elton’s Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. T.Rex’s Marc Bolan, also a fan of the song, insisted on Wilson being present at a press conference when he landed in Australia so he could jokingly accuse him of ripping off “Ride A White Swan”!
The second Australian smash hit from the album was the moseying “Come Back Again”, a sort of country lope filtered through an R&B groove. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench would later talk about hearing this one night on the Florida airways and subsequently bonding over the album with his future boss. To this day, Tench plays a piano version of the song in his solo set.
“Come Back Again” – Daddy Cool:
The other originals on the album are almost as good as the hits. The riffing shuffle of “At The Rockhouse”, with Dave Brown on sax and label boss Robie Porter on piano is the band at their hardest; an unreleased version, from a recording of the band’s stand at the Whisky on that first US, tour is incredible, with Hannaford shooting out sparks and doing everything the sax and piano on the original did and more. The hilarious but perfect doo-woppers “Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac” and “Blind Date” could easily be mistaken for classic oldies. “Bom Bom” became another signature tune; a bouncy syncopated piano number which someone in Jamaica would have turned into a ska hit a decade earlier if the song had existed then, it was upbeat doo wop.
“Most doo wop singles in the ‘50s had a ballad side and a jump side,” says Wilson. “One other thing about it is that we took inspiration from novelty records and did the ‘Bom Bom’ chant sped up, so it sounded a little like The Chipmunks.” Wilson’s sweet hillbilly harmoniser “Just As Long As We’re Together”, which originally appeared on the B-side of “Come Back Again” and was added to the US album release, was also fab and could as easily have been an A-side as well.
Daddy Cool – Bom Bom:
Daddy Who? Daddy Cool was recorded in less than three days. It was produced by Robie Porter (himself a lap-steel playing teenage hitmaker in the early ‘60s) and engineered by Roger Savage, who had made his mark on the local ‘60s scene after emigrating from the UK, where he’d famously got the Rolling Stones into the studio and engineered their first single ‘Come On” before they’d even signed to Decca. The album is beautiful in its simplicity, and indeed shows the way for the rock ’n’ roll-revival aspect of punk; it’s as taut and lean and energising as anything the Ramones or Dr Feelgood would do.
The abovementioned EP, which the band cut after getting back from the States – the DCEP – was more of the same, with each member taking the lead on a track. Wilson’s great teen lament “Long After The School Days Are Through” is maybe the pick of a riotous bunch that also included the previously mentioned “Lollipop” and “Flip”, as well as Wayne Duncan taking his only ever lead vocal on The Kalin Twins’ “Three O’Clock Thrill”, and a hard-driven instrumental “Jerry’s Jump”, in honour of their new sax and keyboard player Jerry Noone, who’d previously played in The Vegetals and had made a name for himself in Company Caine. (Ross: “’Jerry’s Jump’ was for Jerry Noone on sax and we play the riff in unison – sax and harp – and there are solos. His name was actually Jeremy Kellock but he called himself Noone for ‘no one’ as it was conscription/call up Vietnam-era and he was dodging that at the time.”)
Daddy Cool was back in the States in a flash, with Jerry on board, after the US release of the album in November. This time they toured with label mates Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac. Although Purple’s Ian Gillan had glandular fever and some shows were canned, the tour was good for DC, says Wilson
”We covered a lot of ground from Florida to Canada and in between,” he says. “One of our best shows was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a college gig where we went down great. We returned there a few months later and headlined to 5,000. Our album had hit #1 there in between.”
With Grand Rapids only a couple hours from Ann Arbor and Detroit, one ponders how they might have gone down a year or so earlier with The Frut, Brownsville Station or Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. Or even Back In the USA-era MC5.
“The Zappa influence was in the way he drew from all kinds of spheres from classical to jazz, rock and doo wop. What I learned from that was that you can make your own rules. John Lee Hooker’s ‘40s-50s-60s stuff also spoke to me like that –
After the second tour, the band returned to Armstrong Studios in Melbourne to record their second album. Armstrong’s had upgraded from 8-track to 16-track, and DC were in the mood to experiment. Jerry Noone was free-jazz inclined; he was added to open things up a bit.
Wilson was also in the mood to ditch the idea of Daddy Cool as wholesome entertainment. The R&B covers they laid down were The Toppers’ 1954 single “(I Love to Play Your Piano) Let Me Bang Your Box” – retitled “Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box” – and Billy Ward and His Dominoes’ 1951 blaster “Sixty Minute Man”, and what would become the album closer was an old Vegetals track “Make Your Stash”, which had already been recorded by fellow ex-Party Machine and Vegetals member Mike Rudd’s band Spectrum. It was a 6+ minutes lesson in how to hide your drugs from the fuzz set to music derived from one of Gustav Holst’s The Planet suites, an early 20th century classical piece.
“I first played ‘Make Your Stash’ in UK with Procession in ’69,” recalls Wilson. “Their guitarist, Mick Rogers, later joined Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, who then recorded a whole album based on The Planets – it was a hit album. The track that uses the same melody as ‘Stash’ includes a bridge from ‘Stash’ that I wrote and was not part of the Holst melody. So there you go, I influenced a band that I was a big fan of in their more bluesy Paul Jones days. Another connection is that Manfred Mann had probably heard Spectrum’s version of ‘Make Your Stash’ (the inaugural recording of it) as MM covered both sides of Spectrum’s hit single ‘I’ll Be Gone’ and ‘Launching Place’ so was very aware of Mike Rudd’s post-Party Machine band.”
And speaking of suites, the centerpiece of the album, which was called Sex, Dope, Rock’n’Roll: Teenage Heaven, and released in Australian in January 1972, is a fabulous suite comprising “Teen Love”, “Drive-in Movie” and “Love In An FJ”, (an ‘FJ’ was an FJ Holden, a popular Australian car in the ‘50s). This piece merged the band’s yin and yang, combining early rock’n’oll pop elements and raunchy rock with more of the Zappa-inspired modern classical-meets-jazz kind of thing. It also named-dropped Roger Corman’s American International Pictures; Wilson loved a good ‘50s or ‘60s B-movie.
Daddy Cool – Teen Love/Drive-in Movie/Love In An FJ:
“Donna Forgive Me”, “Daddy Rock’s Off” and the hilarious “Please Please America” were more in the band’s original style, as was the undoubted highlight, “Hi Honey Ho”. Cut from the same cloth as “Eagle Rock” with added horns and keys, “Hi Honey Ho” was another ‘out-Stones-the Stones’ moment. The single edit would be another hit, but the full-length 6:51 album version is many a fan’s favourite DC track. A live version, filmed on a farm for Bob Weis’ 1972 documentary on the band, is spectacular in its simple perfection.
Hi Honey Ho:
Released to much controversy at home – which was probably Wilson’s point – yet disappointing sales, the album eventually came out in the States in altered form, and with the abbreviated title of Teenage Heaven. The shorter single edit replaced the more expansive version of “Hi Honey Ho”. Gone were “Make Your Stash” and “Sixty Minute Man”, replaced by a couple of newly recorded numbers, the solid rocker “Teenage Blues” and a sparky update of the Ink Spots’ version of the old crooner “I’ll Never Smile Again”. These later two were recorded in LA on what would be the group’s last sojourn. Jerry Noone had quit ahead of the tour to follow his free-jazz dream, so the band borrowed guitarist Ian “Willy” Winter, from Melbourne boogie kings Carson, to allow Wilson to step out to a true free-hands frontman role.
“Teenage Blues” – Daddy Cool:
This third US tour – from March to June 1972 – was the band’s most successful yet. Opening the bill for Little Feat and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band at the Santa Monica Civic, the group received a 10-minute standing ovation and Little Feat refused to go on until DC went back and sated the crowd. The band also played shows with Linda Ronstadt (still in full country mode) and Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids, who were only months away from appearing in American Graffiti. It’s a shame George Lucas didn’t spot our boys instead; Wilson may have refused a haircut, but by now Hannaford at least was freshly shorn. Indeed, it begs the question; how would Daddy Cool have fared internationally if they’d hung on a bit and rode the ‘50s revival that really kicked in after American Graffiti’s success? Sha Na Na never sold many records, but they did get their own TV series. They were more like a theatre troupe anyway; DC was a genuine group, with great original material. And the UK really lapped the ‘50s thing up: maybe if they’d gone there, Malcolm McLaren could’ve decked the boys out at Let It Rock and they would’ve been away. We’ll never know.
A lengthy multi-part tour report in Melbourne underground rock paper The Planet included a piece on the band’s afore-mentioned Santa Monica show by beloved LA DJ Dr Demento:
“Every one of the old-time vocal licks which DC has mastered so well was greeted with whoops and hollers from the crowd, spurring the lads on to the very limits of doo wop creativity…. This was Daddy Cool’s final gig on their three-month tour. The contrast between the gawky, nervous bunch I saw last March and the smashing showmanship of May 31 was incredible. Albeit the group hasn’t been an overnight smash in America (but) there is every sign that something very massive is going to happen in America the next time Daddy Cool comes ‘round.”
A live recording from the night, of The Crows’ 1953 landmark hit “Gee”, appeared on the 1981 Daddy Cool rarities collection The Missing Masters , and confirms the band was in incredible form.
With the band back home, there was talk of a fourth US tour in September ‘72, with the likelihood of some dates with Elton John and a single release of “I’ll Never Smile Again”. But it was not to be. Wilson pulled the plug. On the tour and the band. “I was getting a bit sick of the retro thing, and touring America made me want to have a more contemporary band because I could see the opportunity there.”
Less than two years after it began, it was over. The band’s farewell show at their old stomping ground, the recently renamed Much More Ballroom, was recorded and eventually released as Daddy Cool Live! The Last Drive-In Movie Show in September ‘73. The double LP was killer; everything one could want from a DC live album, with all the hits, new covers including Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day”, The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’”, Snooks Eaglin’s version of “Momma Don’t You Tear My Clothes” and Etta James’ “Roll With Me Henry”, and some amazing ‘new’ originals, including a the almost-punk “Boy You’re Paranoid” which dated back to The Party Machine (was it the curse of a “retro” band like Daddy Cool that they had to go back to move forward?). There was even a short country bracket sung by Gary Young, which revealed the template for Young’s subsequent projects, Gary Young’s Hot Dog and Gary Young & The Rocking Emus.
Daddy Cool – “Momma Don’t You Tear My Clothes”:
Daddy Cool – “Boy You’re Paranoid”:
However the timing of the live album release was terrible for Wilson and Hannaford; the one and only album by their new band Mighty Kong came out at the same time and was completely overshadowed.
Mighty Kong, which also featured some old pals from Spectrum and Company Caine, was the “contemporary” band that Wilson had wanted to take to the US. The band was short-lived, and the album was poorly realised; “the songs reflect my confused state at the time,” Wilson later said. The short and punky “Hard Drugs” was good though, and perhaps anticipated one direction the music may have been heading.
It was while with Mighty Kong that Wilson came across a young band named Skyhooks, in whom he saw something special. He started a publishing company to sign them and started mentoring them. In the meantime, the promoters of the massive Sunbury rock festival, outside of Melbourne, made Daddy Cool an offer they couldn’t refuse, so a tentative reformation took place in early ‘74.
Euphorically received at Sunbury, they rolled with it. They ended up releasing three new singles, all of which flopped, and they tried out a couple of second guitarists. They scored a few TV appearances; one included a thumping version of a yet-to-be-released Skyhooks tune called “Saturday Night” in which the leather-jacketed drummer looks every bit like a Gary Ramone, and another a cover of Lord Luthor & The Kingsmen‘s 1958 doo wop novelty “I Was a Teenage Creature”, which saw DC capturing the American International spirit in all-out horror rock mode and presaging The Cramps.
Daddy Cool made a few festival/benefit concert appearances and played the burgeoning pub circuit before finally calling it quits again in September ’75. By that time, Wilson, as producer of Skyhooks and publisher of their songwriter Greg Macainsh, had found new heights of success; Skyhooks’ 1974 debut album Living In The ‘70s smashed all of DC’s sales records and was an unprecedented Australian success.
“I Was a Teenage Creature” – Daddy Cool:
Wilson started working with other local bands from the scene that had birthed Skyhooks, the so-called Carlton scene – all of whom owed something substantial to the Daddy Cool. The Pelaco Brothers and The Autodrifters both had similarly humorous and localised approaches to American roots music; they gave way to Stonesy rockers Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons who featured Gary Young on drums, for whom Wilson produced two albums on a label he co-owned, Oz Records. Ross also worked early on with The Sports, who would soon tour the UK with Graham Parker & The Rumour and become local favourites before having a minor hit in the US – and scoring a play on WKRP in Cincinnati – with “Who Listens To The Radio”.
Oz Records would also release the first Ross Wilson solo single in 1976, “Living In The Land of Oz”, and the soundtrack album from which it was taken, for a crazed Australian update of The Wizard of Oz, called Oz – A Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie (and, in the US, 20th Century Oz.) “Living In The Land of Oz” revealed Wilson’s fledgling interest in reggae. He went to Jamaica that same year, and the records he brought back had a big influence on the local scene, none so much as on his long-time lieutenant Ross Hannaford, whose work from then on became mostly reggae focused.
The Wizard of Oz trailer:
Wilson returned to the stage with a new band called Mondo Rock in 1977. Initially streetwise, raw rockers – their 1979 album Primal Park includes a co-writer with old mate Kim Fowley – Mondo Rock evolved into slick AOR pop-rockers and became one of Australia’s biggest bands of the ‘80s.
Daddy Cool reformed in 2005 to play a massive benefit concert for victims of a recent Indonesian tsunami. A DVD set The Complete Daddy Cool also appeared featuring over 5 hours of content, including Bob Weis’ 1972 documentary, a newly made documentary, the Tsunami Benefit set, numerous film clips, TV appearances and more. A new Daddy Cool album The New Cool followed in 2006 – highlighted by Wilson’s fabulous new doo wopper “For You” – at the same time as the group was finally admitted into Australia’s version of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2014, in Melbourne, the band played its last ever show, on the night it was inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame.
Ross Hannaford died on 8 March 2016 from cancer. Wayne Duncan died on 4 December 2016, following a stroke.
Daddy Cool’s local legacy remains in a strong Melbourne roots scene – Gary Young and Wayne Duncan had for years played with local outfits, and Young still gets out occasionally – and Wilson keeps the flame alive with plenty of DC songs when he plays shows with his band the Peaceniks. A DC biography, by long-time fan and musician Craig Horne, called Daddy Who? captures their excitement and the times well, but it deserved a bigger push. If they don’t command the respect they deserve, at least “Eagle Rock”, as mentioned, is still always playing somewhere in Australia.
For the rest of the world there’s plenty of great stuff to watch on YouTube, and, finally, the custodians of the band’s recorded history have just now seen fit to at least digitally reissue both Sex, Dope, Rock’n’Roll: Teenage Heaven and Daddy Cool Live! The Last Drive-In Movie Show, both of which have been shamefully unavailable in any format for decades.
Indeed, that’s what prompted me to write this story; people everywhere can finally hear the full extent of what Daddy Cool served up. Well, almost – a reissue of The Missing Masters is still needed.
Daddy Cool were a paroxysm of pop. Their perfectly composed line-up combined teenage hedonism with dimly remembered childhood musical delights before the need to evolve took them to bizarre ends and an ultimate implosion. If you’ve yet to hear them, but want to familiarise yourself with one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands that the ‘70s ever spat out, get your google on now and start digging.
Encore: Eagle Rock – Alt video