Johnny O'Keefe

Опубликовано11.11.2018 в 02:20АвторSamujinn






Johnny Okeefe Live On The Gold Coast 1968

He was raised as a Catholic and attended the local Catholic primary school, followed by secondary schooling at Waverley College in nearby Waverley. His mother was an excellent pianist and his father occasionally played in a jazz band. O'Keefe made his stage debut at the age of four when he played the role of 'Dopey' in the Waverley College production of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

He was also a keen swimmer, surfer and sailor and often sailed with the Vaucluse Juniors sailing club. He matriculated in , gaining an 'A' in French and a 'B' in English, mathematics, physics and economics.

With just a little assistance from promoter Lee Gordon, Johnny O'Keefe single- handedly willed Australian rock & roll into existence. Canadian-born but settled in .

A strong early musical influence was the American singer Johnnie Ray , who toured Australia to great acclaim in the s and O'Keefe began his singing career as a Ray impersonator. Johnny was stationed at Richmond in western Sydney, and served his six-month period in two blocks, from December—February and December—February During these appearances, O'Keefe would sing his specialty, Johnny Ray's "Cry", while wearing a pair of trick glasses which would squirt water over the audience.

O'Keefe became a regular singer with the Merzi quintet and performed with them every Sunday at the charity shows they performed at the Bondi Auditorium. The tenacious O'Keefe performed his routine no matter how small the audience, sometimes braving the rotten eggs and fruit thrown at him by local louts. He realised immediately that this was the style of music he wanted to perform, and from this point on he dedicated himself single-mindedly to becoming a rock 'n' roll singer and a star.

By he had become the most popular and successful singer in Australia and a major TV star. O'K was the first to admit that he was a limited singer, but he possessed an incredible drive, a fierce ambition to succeed, a tireless facility for self-promotion, a tremendous flair for showmanship and a larrikin spirit that was irrepressible. Norton left soon after the band formed and he was replaced by Indonesian-born guitarist Lou Casch. This was the band that supported a tour by Little Richard and his band.

Casch's contribution to O'Keefe's sound, both live and on record, was considerable. He was born in Ambon in , grew up in Aceh and Jakarta , began playing guitar at an early age, and became a dedicated jazz musician. He was introduced to O'Keefe by Keith Williams, whom he had known from a jazz trio in which they played.

At their first meeting O'Keefe played Casch a selection of rock'n'roll records and asked him to imitate the guitar playing, which he was easily able to do. Impressed, O'Keefe offered him the job and handed him a pile of records, saying "Here, learn these. The dance is on Saturday night. O'Keefe and the Dee Jays quickly attracted a strong local following, due in large measure to O'Keefe's magnetic personality and his dynamic stage performances.

O'Keefe's 'trademark' was his flamboyant stage attire, which included gold lame jackets and brightly coloured suits trimmed with fake fur. Many of these outfits were made for him by Sydney 'showbiz' costumier Len Taylor , although one famous red suit trimmed with leopard-print velvet cuffs and lapels now in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum , Sydney was reputedly made by his mother Thelma. The enterprising O'Keefe was involved in every aspect of the group's career including hiring the halls, placing ads in the local newspapers and putting up posters.

According to Lou Casch, on one occasion, while O'Keefe and the Dee Jays played at an upstairs dance venue in Newtown , an "Italian wedding" reception was also taking place downstairs. Some of the dance patrons came to blows with wedding guests in the men's toilets, and within minutes the fight had erupted into a full-scale riot that spilled out into the street, with police eventually calling in the Navy Shore Patrol to help restore order. Taylor, however, failed to act on Haley's advice, so O'Keefe then famously took matters into his own hands and began telling the local press that he had in fact been signed to Festival.

Anxious not to lose face, Taylor auditioned O'Keefe and signed him to the label. By this time O'Keefe had become a close friend of the music concert promoter, Lee Gordon , and their popularity really took off when O'Keefe and the Dee Jays were installed as the featured support act for Gordon's famous "Big Show" concert bills at the Sydney Stadium.

These "Big Show" concerts were landmarks in Australian popular entertainment, being among the first tours to feature leading overseas rock'n'roll stars, including Little Richard , Bo Diddley , Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis ; Gordon also toured many top jazz acts of the day, including the first visits to Australia by black jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong Commercial breakthrough O'Keefe and the Dee Jays' first major break was a support spot on Lee Gordon's first "Big Show" rock'n'roll tour, which starred Little Richard , Gene Vincent , and Eddie Cochran.

When Gene Vincent and his band were stranded in Honolulu on their way to Australia, Gordon contacted O'Keefe and asked him to fill in for Vincent for the first night of the tour in Wollongong.

During this period The Dee Jays also acted as the backing band for many of the international acts that Gordon toured, since they were at the time the only rock'n'roll band in the country who could read music. Their skill and energy and O'Keefe's frantic performances also saw them upstage many of the visiting performers.

Casch recalled that he actually played behind Jerry Lee Lewis , whose own backing musicians were so daunted by the Dee Jays' performance that they got too drunk to play.

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This became his first hit in March , peaking at 20 on the newly established Sydney Top 40 at this time there was no national pop chart in Australia. Although it was claimed that it was recorded live at the Stadium, it was in fact a studio recording, overdubbed with the sound of a real Stadium audience. O'Keefe issued three more singles during They had three children, but their relationship eventually concluded due to the pressure of O'Keefe's career demands and they were divorced in Miller organised a two-month tour.

O'Keefe took the staid NZ music scene by storm, although he was banned from playing at some halls and faced problems getting airplay. O'Keefe also toyed with the local press, playing on Lou Casch's exotic appearance by telling journalists that Casch was the son of an Arrernte Aboriginal chieftain from Ayers Rock Uluru and that Casch's hand-built guitar was made from mulga wood. The former independent label had been established by Lee Gordon, and was distributed by Festival. It had had some minor success but by Gordon was in financial trouble and he sold the label to Festival.

During one talent quest teenager Ray Hoff won the event with his version of the Ronnie Self single 'Bopalena. Another night saw a crew cut disc jockey Bob Rogers handing out records while being filmed for a documentary.

Leather jackets were banned in an effort to reduce fights mostly outside the premises, and if patrons were caught fighting within the club, the two police officers John and Reg on duty and in uniform, would force the culprits to don boxing gloves and get into a boxing ring downstairs.

Johnny Rebb wore a toupee and was escorted through the crowd to the bandstand accompanied by a bodyguard-manager.

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JOK was more at ease with tough wild kids. Price had collapsed on stage a few songs before he was due to finish his performance. O'Keefe quickly jumped to the rescue as a semiconscious Price was being taken away leaving most of the audience bewildered. JOK then performed Price's number one hit 'Personality' giving the audience some value for money and cementing his star status.

About 20 kilometres north of Kempsey , the Plymouth ploughed into a gravel truck. While the front of the large car bore the brunt of the very severe impact, all three were seriously injured. O'Keefe's face was smashed and Johnny Greenan was thrown out of the car, landing six metres away on the highway, causing a fractured vertebra and loss of front teeth; Janice Greenan suffered a severe concussion. O'Keefe suffered multiple lacerations, a concussion and fractures to his head and face; he lost four teeth, and his hands were also badly lacerated.

However many believe he never fully recovered from the accident and that it was the catalyst for his subsequent mental health problems. By this time he was reaching the limits of his physical and mental endurance. He blacked out and woke three days later to find himself in a psychiatric hospital. As soon as he was released from close confinement he escaped, but by chance he was able to make contact with Lee Gordon, who happened to be in London at the time, and with Gordon's help and that of O'Keefe's wife and his parents he was transferred to St George's Hospital to recover, and he returned to Australia as soon as he was well enough to travel.

Unfortunately though this was to be first of many such "breakdowns" - O'Keefe would subsequently endure numerous spells in psychiatric hospital including Hydebray alcohol rehabilitation hospital , and his drug problems dogged him until the end of his life. In August he suffered another breakdown and spent two months in the psychiatric ward at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, beginning what was to become a repeating cycle of much-publicised breakdowns, hospitalisation and recovery.

Live performances began to taper off. The Dee Jays stayed together, however, and continued performing until By late , however, a new music trend from the UK known as Merseybeat was gaining momentum.

2 Jul Johnny O' Keefe Singing Shout Release date estimated.

O'Keefe was alienated by the new developments in pop music, and later described this period as "the biggest downer in my career". His popularity continued to decline and sales of his records fell. Sing, Sing, Sing was eventually cancelled in October It was produced and broadcast by the newly opened Channel TEN and filmed at various outdoor locations around Sydney, and O'Keefe released a 'spin-off' album also titled Where The Action Is during the year, but the series was not successful and budget problems and low ratings led to its cancellation in November One of the biggest personal blows O'Keefe suffered was the end of his marriage and the divorce from his wife Marianne, whom he had married in MC Paul Hogan introduced him as a "newcomer" and urged the crowd to "give him a go", and although he was at first greeted with some jeering and booing, by the end of his set he had completely won over the crowd.

It became his 29th Australian hit, reaching 8 nationally in April They opened a boutique, J. O'K Creations, at Paddington in Since his death, O'Keefe's stature has continued to grow, and he has been posthumously accorded the recognition he did not receive in his lifetime. Besides being a great showman himself, he is also credited for nurturing other Australian talent, like Barry Stanton and Lonnie Lee.

He was raised as a Catholic and attended the local Catholic primary school, followed by secondary schooling at Waverley College in nearby Waverley. His mother was an excellent pianist and his father occasionally played in a jazz band.


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