Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Grahame Bond
Interviewer: Kirsten Bokor
Interview date: 8 February 2009
Kirsten So you were telling me about.
Grahame What was I talking about?
Kirsten The Wollongong show.
Grahame About the Wollongong show, OK. The Aunty Jack series was … the pilot was done in ’71, there would have been a series in ’72, that went through ’72 into ’73, and then ’73 John Derum left the show. So, there was Rory, O’Donoghue, Sandra McGregor, myself and John Derum in the first show and for the second series we stopped and we made, I think I made a series called ‘Flash Nick from Jindavick’, in the middle of that, and John Derum was made an offer by Channel 7 and he left and he went to Channel 7 to do a show called ‘The True Blue Show’.
So, I looked for a new person to replace him and found Garry McDonald, just accidentally. One day, it was doing a voice over. He and I are auditioning for a voice over and Garry joined the show, so we did all that. The show is also always very musical, and at the time of the second series, Rory was doing ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. So … and we were recording lots of jingles and commercials and music for films and short films and whatever.
So, for the second series, there was a lot more music in the Aunty Jack Show and that’s when Maurice Murphy approached us and said we should do a stage show of this, of doing it. Just You and Garry and Rory. With Sandra, the big problem was Sandra McGregor couldn’t sing. So, in the show, in episode one, Renee Geyer sang for her, and in episode 2, Margaret ?Fegucio?, or Maggie McKinney, who was with the Hot City Bump Band, she’d sing some of the Tarzan parts and Sandy mimed them wonderfully, but she couldn’t sing, so it wasn’t much use of having her in the concert. The concert was going to be lots of music and lots of band. So we sat down and we started to look at how we do a show and it needed a bit of a plot line and the plot line was that Kid Eager is wanting to steal Aunty Jack’s glove, and so that was just a simple plot. And then Rory approached the Jesus Christ Superstar Orchestra, which was Greg Henson on drums, Um, Jamie McKinley on keyboard. We used a guy called Stein who is a friend of Rory’s who always played on base, ’cause we didn’t use the superstar guy, but this was the pit orchestra for Superstar and then we had a mate of mine, who was by far the best saxophone player in Australia called Geoff Oakes, who is Renee Geyer’s saxophone player in the band ‘Sun’. And we had a couple of girl singers, Denny Carter, who was a black American, who was a backing singer, and I can’t remember the other girl, but you might find it on, if there’s a program. So we rehearsed for a couple of weeks and put the show together and we decided we do, you know, Neil and Errol on the park bench and we do Aunty Jack opening it and then we do Kev Kavanagh and The Kavemen. And we did.
(Hey guys. Turn off this. [background])
And we’re doing that, so I’m just trying to think. So we did get Kev Kavanagh. Gary did, for the first time ever, Norman Gunston, on stage, and he used to open up the show and what we did, what was amazing is I don’t know how Wollongong knew it. But I decided to give the band what they call ‘Auntie Jack in the Gong in bloody concert’. And Aunty Jack and the Gong. So all the guys, what used to happen at the beginning of the show, was the drummer would walk out first in a white boiler suit and a hard hat and he’d start playing, the opening sequence of the opening title to the Aunty Jack song. Then the bass player would walk out, bundy on, there was a bundy machine on stage and they’d bundy [‘Gid ding’], you know what bundy is?
Grahame Well when you when you worked in the factory or you worked at the Post Office or yeah, yeah, you start this.
Kirsten The card?
Grahame Yeah, ? the card in the ‘ding ding’ and it would ring the time in, so they’d go ‘Gid ding’ and they’d walk on stage ‘n the bass player would go ‘tu tung tung tung tung’ [singing].
Be playing right and then they would go along and then the next person would come along and be the keyboard player and the keyboard player, oh the sax player would come on, Bundy on, put the hard hat on, walk on stage. So, it used to build. It took about 5 minutes, until it sort of got to a crescendo and Rory comes screaming on playing his lead guitar break wearing his striped tights and brought the house down. But the thing we didn’t expect was for the one concert in Wollongong. The entire audience wore hard hats and boiler suits. They all turned up in hard hats and boiler suits.
Kirsten Oh really!
Grahame So, huge amount of people do and so it’s not a huge big town Hall, but it was chock-a-block packed and then when Norman Gunston got up to sing Wollongong the Brave, they all knew the lyrics. ‘Raise your heads high, See a burnt sienna sky, Land so free of trees, You may laugh, say we pong, But to me it’s Wollongong, Wollongong the Brave.’ It was amazing, it just, it was like, this was, it was by far the best concert we ever did, because the audience was so into it. It was their show.
And and it was, you know how shows take a little while to, to sort of happen, this was … this was offered a million miles an hour straight up. It was a fantastic show. I was talking to Rory about it the other day.
Incredibly memorable show.
But as I said, the first time Gunston had ever appeared on stage, and what he did is – he walked on and bundied on first and then invited everyone to, to ah…
What’s on in Wollongong?
And then at the end of the show, at the very end of the show, he swept up the stage, while everyone was clearing up and he was like the roadie, and he was sweeping up the stage, singing ‘There’s no business like show business’ [singing]. Just to do all the rubbishy stuff.
Yeah, so it had to be 1974.
Plus, we did sketches, you know, as I said sketches from the show. I’m just trying to think what sketches we did. As I said, the major characters Neil & Errol, Kev Kavanagh, Aunty Jack, Thin Arthur, Kid Eager. The Farrelly brothers, we did. We did, ahh… Len & Riley, the builders labourers from Wollongong, who go “Yeah, Yeah, no, no, no, heh, heh, heh.” We did two Neil & Errol’s. We did guns and, and the ants which are the two famous sketches from Aunty Jack. But we’ve never tested it before, so having tested that.
Maurice went back and he organised the 28 city tour. And we started off in Newcastle, and we built this enormous glove. It was like an arm and a glove. It’s in ‘Wollongong the Brave’ the series ‘Wollongong the Brave’. You ever seen that?
Kirsten I actually couldn’t hire it because it is presently being watched?
Grahame Oh is it?
Kirsten It’s still very popular.
Grahame It’s a … Yeah, so this giant glove, which was on a fulcrum and it’s like 30 foot long. So, we took it up to Newcastle for our opening scene. And what’s funny is All the guys from, … god was the band that came out of there, … Mikey Robins and all those guys were out of a band that came out of Newcastle and he said, I can remember being there, seeing and seeing the glove. And the University students cut it into about 6 pieces and stole it on our first, ’cause we’re going to take it all around the country on a semi trailer.
A Uni prank that got done, but in Newcastle. So, we went, first concert Wollongong, second concert Newcastle. So, both industrial towns.
Kirsten Yes I have [?along?]
Grahame Yeah, so people say why did you do Wollongong and not Newcastle. I said, Newcastle the Brave’ doesn’t work you know, Queen of Newcastle though isn’t as funny as the Queen of Wollongong.
Kirsten It’s true…
Grahame Yeah, and we used to always spell Wollongong incorrectly, we’d spell it W double O double L.
Grahame With a cross the line through the ‘O’. Never corrected it and just kept getting it wrong and I, I would have thought oh, what was interesting. Maurice Murphy said to me it was later than that first concert that we had major troubles with the Mayor of Wollongong, Arkell. And I don’t know what, then that was much later, because when we did ‘Wollongong, the Brave’, Arkell went onto ‘Today Tonight’ with, not Kerry O’Brien…, but Peter Luck was doing it then.I think he was doing it then. And he said that he wanted the show banned, because he called a special, extraordinary council meeting, that would have been in ’75, about the time we were doing it, ’75. An extraordinary council meeting to have this show banned because he said it showed Wollongong in a bad light. And I said, ‘why don’t you talk to the director of Photography? He can adjust the light on the film. Sorry bout that.’
Then the, the ABC was totally primed for this. And he walked into the biggest trap in the world. I said, ‘you call an extraordinary council meeting, to have a television show banned. Is that right?’
He said, ‘Yes, it is because I think it’s really damaging for Wollongong.’
I said, ‘And yet I looked at the minutes of the meeting. There’s no mention of the pollution levels in Wollongong.’
He said, ‘what’
And I said, ‘Are you in collusion with BHP?’.
I said, ‘what is this? The the pollution levels were seven times above the acceptable limit and they don’t appear in the minutes of the meeting.’
But then, 30 years ago, 30 years later he got his eyes stabbed out. He was a pedophile.
Kirsten Yeah, I heard a lot of stories. Someone was telling me that the Northern suburbs of Wollongong have a lot of female sacred sites and an idea of a traditional feminine power.
Kirsten And we’re talking about the idea of that, and then with masculine power, with quite a number of violent corrupt Mayors, mining.
Grahame My cousins were miners from Dapto. the Bonds, yeah? They all worked in the mines. They came from Braidwood and moved to Dapto, and they were footballers and they played in the local teams and they were all very good players. But yeah, so that when people said why did I choose Wollongong? In a way, subliminally, to begin with it was, it was a protest against the pollution of a beautiful place, ’cause I can always remember coming into Dapto coming over that Bulli Pass and coming down seeing this beautiful, beautiful landscape, fantastic beaches and then this monstrosity down there. Pumping out all its bile ‘n cobalt lakes and, and there was in ‘Wollongong the Brave’, I’ll see if I can find it, it’s here somewhere and I hate to have to do it. But it’s here somewhere and If you’ve never seen the titles that says everything about what I wanted to say about the destruction of Wollongong by industry. And yet I was fascinated by industry visually.
Kirsten It’s true.
Yeah, now I’m next in line to get it [DVD]. It’s quite interesting. It’s how there are numerous copies in every library and my local video shop and they’re always hired. So yes, remains a really popular programme.
[Rubbish sound][Yeah, high ground.] [Just want to turn it off for a second.] [No.]
[Is it on now, yeah.]
Grahame So that that’s basically the formula of what the well, what the composite of all sketches, and we just pruned everything out and that was just the Aunty Jack stuff.
And as I said, there were all those other characters that are in the titles were in it, plus sketches.
I think, what your friend saw was Denny, Black Denny, Denny Carter was up there singing backup?
Kirsten Yeah she was.
Grahame She did all the shows. Amazing.
So other than that, you know I just don’t remember. I talked to her? I don’t remember that much, but it’s wonderful that your friend saw it.
Grahame She’s part of the council is she?
Kirsten Yeah, she’s one of the cultural services staff,
Kirsten So she saw it.
Grahame When did she see the last one. Sorry can we just stop talking again? ’cause I just want?
But so you can imagine, you know, having done Aunty Jack on television and done all that, but no one has ever seen that or no one ever. You know?
Kirsten Yeah? Live?
Grahame Live anyone seen live in plays, as well as in plays and have this. You know, we weren’t just this little band, you know it was just a serious group of really red hot musicians? The best in Australia. Blew their socks off, you know?
But that was Rory as well. You know, he only would want to work with the best players ’cause he was one of the best musicians in Australia. … Is!
Kirsten And, did he grow up in Wollongong as well? Did you meet him at Uni or?
Grahame No, I didn’t grow up in Wollongong.
Kirsten No? OK, well there’s a bit of a myth.
Grahame That’s a myth. They’ve claimed me in Canberra as well. You see my parents came from Braidwood.
Grahame and my father’s brother moved to Dapto. So I spent a lot of time in Dapto. All my cousins, the Bonds were from Dapto, as I said, they played football and they, they were miners and whatever, Laurie Bond and Stewart Bond and I can’t remember my other cousins name. Jeffrey, Jeffrey was a great footballer.
And so, that’s, that’s how this myth began. The fact that I always chose Wollongong. It was always asked, why did I choose not didn’t choose Newcastle, as I told you. ’cause Wollongong’s a better name, but I think I had much more connection and because I just…. Those images well, what I saw here coming over that mountain, I saw the devastation.
Grahame It took years and years because there was no such thing as well. Now I remember, Jack Mundy said to me, my God, he said, ‘Bloody Aunty Jack’s a Greeny!’
Kirsten An early, greeny.
Grahame Early greeny? No, I was a greeny. No, I was a greeny and I caused BHP and I caused Port Kembla a lot of grief, a lot of grief.
You just imagine that can bring on national television slamming so heavily with that, that song, that’s what’s set Arkell off. Because I think Arkell was the BHP’s attack dog, you know? I mean, he was obviously the man that they send into tell me to shut up.
Yeah, so cool like that. Yeah, so that was exciting, you know?
So on the surface it was very surreal and satirical, and all of those things, and not necessarily topical topical topical, but… It’s an interesting way to get your message across to just show people in an absurd way that these cobalt lakes and land with….Land is girt by sea, with people sitting on the beach and pumping crap out into the ocean, with all those boats hanging off it.
So Newcastle today is a beautiful place, no factories and one day all along the whole coast will be beautiful.
Kirsten yes that was wondering.
Grahame Yeah, that’ll have to go.
Kirsten Yeah. That is so when housing development
Grahame I said to Jack Mundy, I ran in to him years and years ago and I ran into him at a theatre. He was with his wife Judy. Jack was the head of the Builders ..err..BLF. A communist. He was one of the early communists.
And I said to Jack, “Jack, what ever happened to the, whatever happened to the communist parties.” He said, “Son, the reds turned green.”
Grahame Good, so so that was all there.
Yeah, I don’t, the interesting thing was that ahh… I’ve had various reactions. Commercial. Commercial. What was I talking about then?
Kirsten You ran into Jack Mundy with his wife.
Grahame Oh yeah, Mundy with his wife. I just saying the Reds had turned green but different reactions from Wollongong. Commercial Radio would always go, “Why have you insulted Wollongong?” ABC Radio would say, “Fantastic, you know what you’ve done is highlight a problem. That, of course, you know, Arkell was the attack dog for the, the factories etc. He was doing their bidding.
Grahame I’d say. Um? But, I think with the people of Wollongong, I’ve always had a good relationship. It’s just that you know, someone is always trying to beat up a story.
Kirsten Depends which story you want to tell.
You know, I think you’re the adopted son of Wollongong.
Grahame I’m the adopted son? Well what I did was [??](garbled) I was the adopted son of Canberra. They called me the, the Braidwood kid and I spent a lot of holidays in Braidwood because my parents were born there, but I wasn’t born there. They didn’t want to know it.
Kirsten Yeah, I know, my parents have always told me that you’re from Bulli
Grahame From Bulli, really?
Grahame Isn’t that funny?
Kirsten Needless to say, my father lived in Bulli. Yeah, yeah.
Grahame Well, my wife did. My wife lived in Wollongong. But no, I certainly didn’t, but I spent a lot of time there. I got my first duck in Dapto. Gold. My aunt gave me a duck and I brought it back to Sydney. And in Marrickville it used to sleep under the tree in the backyard with the dog.
Grahame yeah, no, I’m not. That’s… Gary, no, Rory, no. Rory’s from Lancashire originally. But …yeah, the thing about that show is, as I said, no one had any idea what to expect. Well they’d seen the music on the show, but no one.., you’d see that and you’d go “well, I don’t know where those guys can actually play it.”
Kirsten Yeah, and how everyone knew to turn up in the hard hats,
Grahame Ahh, because that was, that was just the..
Grahame No, no, the audience turned up in hard hats.
Grahame No, that was just umm, I don’t know just
Grahame Just to do a Wollongong on me. But I don’t…. They couldn’t have known that we were wearing hard hats. Or that my band was wearing hard hats on Saturday. They hadn’t seen the show.
Kirsten Yeah, that’s a bit of detective work for me.
Grahame Yeah, find out, but I think it was just their way of going. You know?
Kirsten We don’t have blue velvet dresses but we’ve got a hat.
Grahame Oh no, no, no. I’ll tell you what else we did. There was. If you go through the Aunty Jack Show series 2. There is a…? He’s now a really famous actor, Bill? I can’t remember his other name, He’s in.. , he’s younger than me. but he’s he’s really quite famous, does lots of, heads of police and what have you, in all the major, ABC and Commercial things, you know. Bill. Bill ??? anyway came in and “went ahh.. “, he was 6 foot six and he said, “I wanted to do something in the Aunty Jack Show. I want to do something. Want to do something” and Morris and I said, “Well, we got one sketch and If you’re willing to do it, you will have to wear a chiffon see through boiler suit and hard hat and you have to do ballet and pirouettes in it in front of the factory in front of Port Kembla.” And Norman Gunston did the voice over, and it went [apres midi??] in Port Kembla.
A ‘Hint of Sulfur’. Assisted an absurd perfume called Apres [Midi?] in Port Kembla, Kembla.And so he does this…. You’ll see it in series 2.
Bill Hunter? No its not Bill Hunter? Bill Ward…no? any way, I can’t think of his name. the word now.
Um, so probably, that, that was their way of going, ’cause we were doing that sort of stuff all the time. Oh, and in the second series, of course, in the second series, Renee Geyer played the voice of my mum and there’s a thing called ‘Aunty Jack at the head of the pack’ and ‘Aunty Jack goes to visit her Prince and Princess Mum’. That’s how she got to be queen of Wollongong, she meets and they both they work sheet metal constantly and they both work in a big sheet metal working factory and they both had those masks on and welders
Grahame My father was a dwarf and my mother was this giant giant woman and, and the story about the Aunty Jack story was that they, they ran away and left it because they didn’t like her anymore. And so, she goes in search of her parents and finds them working in a sheet metal working factory, wearing their crowns as their King and Queen of Wollongong. Prince, Prince and Princess. The whole mythology behind Aunty Jack. The back story, you know.
So that’s why, that’s, that explains why they have come in boiler suits, and hard hats.
Kirsten And obviously why you are this, son of Wollongong, yeah?
Grahame Daughter of Wollongong.
Kirsten Yes, daughter of Wollongong.
Grahame And it’s interesting that the lesbian girls are going into it as well. That’s interesting, yeah. Because there’s a sketch in the second series that is so out there, so….
It’s called Camp Chloe. And [?Darren Nor?] walks in and I’m sitting at a desk with mascara, and false eyelashes, wearing a boiler suit, and a spiked hairdo and full mascara and this big scar down there, and I go “Yeah, what do you want?”
It says Camp Chloe, School for practising homosexuals. It’s where they go to practice, and he comes in and I say, “OK son, you want to apply to Camp Chloe?” “That’s right.” I said “So what would you like to do?” He said “I’d like to become a homosexual?” and I just look at him, ’cause he’s really daggy and I go, “I don’t think you’re going to make homosexual bootlace, son.” He goes, “Criky, whats me mum going to say?”
And it just goes on
So they dress him up and they give him a lace see through shirt, pink trousers and white shoes. He tries to… you know, walk properly. So, everyone’s really Butch, but he’s, they’re all hopeless. Hopeless at being homosexuals. So, I don’t know how homosexuals took it back then. It was really absurd. Just absurd.
Kirsten Yeah, it really is, really different.
Grahame Yeah, Well that was the only route. Yeah, but most of it was just out there, surreal, you know.
Kirsten And did it come out of what you were doing for the architecture review?
Grahame It started. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kirsten So that’s only realized you didn’t really want to be an architect.
Grahame Yeah, there’s Architecture review stuff here.
Kirsten You know Ross Thorne was one of the instigators of um…the of performance studies department that I work at.
Grahame Ross Thorne was?
Kirsten yeah. alright.
Grahame This was compiled by Ross Thorne. So, he sent me this and he says.
Film segments of a number of sketches have been recorded as well as film components from the reviews. Yeah. That was all from the shows, from the architecture reviews.
Kirsten It funny how, yeah, there’s just so many links,
Grahame Oh yeah, but tell me about Ross
Kirsten Well Ross Thorne …
Grahame Did this, his thesis is on his doctorate on theatres.
Kirsten Yeah, so he with Gay McAuley from the French Department and Tim Fitzpatrick, who is also from languages, but I think he did Italian. They all kind of got together and said there’s a gap. There’s no study of performance, and so they gave birth to performance studies Department, which since then has taken on some anthropologists. And so, it’s, you know, not a drama school, but. We work with artists, so I run the arts liaison part, run a residency program, connect our students with people.
Grahame At Sydney Uni?
Kirsten Yeah, and so of course Ross Thorne is you know, our big father, I suppose. Grahame Sure. [?Geoff?] and I had lunch with him last year. We took him to lunch. [Cat comes into room??]
Kirsten Mango, hi you’ve lost weight? [noise] Hello Mango, you’re very skinny now. My kitten’s just fat. Even on my special diet.
Grahame Yeah, well is.. that’s a time law? But of course, [Jules?] would have kept close with
Kirsten Yeah, I think it’s pretty hard to see Ross now. His back’s bad, and he doesn’t drive much.
Grahame Yeah and he’s up at Palm Beach.
Kirsten Yeah, but he’s an honorary associate of Performance studies rather than architecture. I don’t know what the story there was, but there was a bit of a. He didn’t want to.
Grahame Who’s in charge of it now?
Kirsten I don’t know actually. But I think he just…
Grahame Yeah, but I wish I could help you more with that, but you’re going to have better, going through your records.
Grahame To see who. You know, just go through who booked it, when it was on and what date. I’m sure it was ’74 and would have been probably a…What I can’t workout is, it must have been a break in Jesus Christ Superstar because, the voice of the orchestra, all those people. How’d they get the night off, you know. They rehearsed on the day. And we did, because they, they were the band who recorded the album. We’ve heard the album. That’s all of the Superstars….
Kirsten right, yeah?
Grahame chorus and Trevor White used to come in and sing out in Johnny English. It come in & up for a few beers and you can pay it. Yeah, so it was overall mates rates.
Kirsten And did you play the organ? Did you play the organ in the town Hall?
Grahame No, no I didn’t do that. But um… How many people would it hold? ‘Cause I can’t remember.
Kirsten It holds 1400.
Grahame Does it?
Grahame I think it was getting bloody well close to packed, because it really big, big hall. But then, as I said we toured Newcastle and then off we went from Newcastle we went North. We went to Brisbane and then from Brisbane we came by bus down on the Grafton, Armidale, Gold Coast, Gold Coast – Armidale, then across to Dubbo, then Orange, down to Canberra, Wagga and then Mildura and then from Mildura we went across to South Australia. We did Adelaide. And then we came back and did Melbourne. Which is that the concert you saw. So that’s where they filmed that. And then we went from Melbourne back up and we did…ahh. Flew across to Hobart and did Launceston and Hobart. And then we flew across and did Perth. Blimey, that was a stupid thing to do, because it was so expensive to go, take the whole thing … and went to Perth. And then we came back, Through Bendigo, Shepperton, that’s when we would have done Canberra. Canberra, Canberra and then we came back [to Sydney] and we did 4 concerts and sold out the Opera House. The first time it’d ever been sold out. It was only in the first six months in the main concert hall.
Kirsten That’s fantastic.
Grahame I’ve got tickets upstairs of the Opera House, stubs, and that was great. So four concerts and that was it. We closed at the Opera House.
Kirsten Starting in Wollongong and closing at the Opera House. Hey.
Grahame Yeah, ’75? I’ll have a look later and see when that happened. Is that enough?
Kirsten That’s fantastic, yeah yeah, it’s a funny little project that’s just guess I should stop it.