First published on 27 Apr 2012. Updated on 24 May 2012.
They snubbed the psychedelia of Pink Floyd; had scant regard for the deafening evolutions of the Who and Hendrix, and dismissed alpha-male, double-denim yob-rock, as well as insipid covers of current American hits, which was about all Australia had to offer at the twilight of the 1960s.
In 1971, Daddy Cool wanted to convince everyone how much fun pop music was way back when – in 1960. A risky approach actually, because from 1958 until the first Beatles records, rock barely had a pulse, and radio was all shoo-wop, bom-bom and rama-lama-ding-dong. Ross Wilson, though, simply enjoyed a good tune, and he and Ross Hannaford created a lazy twangin’ rockabilly guitar sound that spiked their chosen imported songs with an adult mood, less high school than beachside panel van.
But the band’s own stuff blew away their covers. The hits from the album – ‘Come Back Again’ and, of course, ‘Eagle Rock’ (with its iconic video; the mad beehives, St Kilda burger shop, wonderful live footage and creaky FJ Holden steaming up the Esplanade towards town) were dreamy rockers for sunny Sunday afternoons. The kids were coming home from Vietnam. Life was good.
Daddy Who? Daddy Cool, the group’s first album, was split 50 percent between covers and originals. It sold 60,000 copies in its first run – at that time a gold record was 10,000 – and sat at number one for seven weeks, making it, at that time, the biggest-selling Australian album ever.
In 2001, ‘Eagle Rock’ was voted the second best Australian song ever by the Record Industry Association, just pipped by the Easybeats’ ‘Friday On My Mind’.
Ross “The Boss” Wilson went on to make enough brilliant hit records in the ’70s and ’80s (chiefly with Mondo Rock, which also starred RocKwiz band leader James Black) to become a Melbourne living treasure.