Page Updated 14/10/11
Bonnie’s Laurie Allen Tribute
Email from Kevin Lee October 2011
MY FIRST MEMORY OF SEEING LAURIE ALLEN WAS AT A DANCE AT NEWMARKET (old picture theatre late 50's early '60's) I THINK HE WAS PLAYING WITH THE BLUE JAYS----THEN I SAW HIM SOMETIMES SOLO AT MALVERN TOWN HALL------THEN ON THE EARLY GO SHOWS WHEN I WENT IN WITH BETTY(McQuade) THEN HE and BOBBY WORKED A LOT FOR CAPRI DANCE PROMOTIONS WHICH ALSO BOOKED BETTY Mc AND AS B & L DIDN'T DRIVE SHE WOULD PICK THEM UP AND WE WOULD ALL GO TOGETHER--THEY WOULD SING HUMOROUS SONGS IN THE CAR AND I WOULD NEARLLY FALL OUT OF THE CAR LAUGHING--SOMETIMES THEY WOULD DO 3 DANCES IN THE ONE NIGHT-DANDENONG--EDITHVALE--MALVERN-ETC-AND THEN GO ELSEWHERE TO PERFORM AS WELL----WHAT A MAD TIME--I HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES OF THOSE DAYS THEY WERE GREAT-
Thank you Kevin, I love hearing the stories of those times, we were all so lucky to have lived in the 60’s…. Kevin was so kind in lending me some of his wonderful collection of photos, www.laurieallen.net/kevinlee
Email from Robert Verrall ( Adelaide) September 2011.
A wonderful transcript from his father Phil Verrall, drummer of Adelaide band The Beaumen, the backing band for Bobby Bright before he met Laurie and became a legend in the Bobby & Laurie duo.
Phil Verrall..drummer in The Beaumen ( Adelaide)
Hi Bonnie. You've made my day. Thank you so much for passing this on for me and please thank Bobby from me as well. It truly meant a lot to me, I'm kinda welling up here :'( But I really do appreciate it. I never knew the name of the group so he's been a great help even with that. I have the transcript of the parts of my interview with Dad as part of the school project in 1987, which I'll put in here...
The start of our band was a bit funny. We were talking about forming a rock 'n' roll band, this was about a month after Elvis' release of "Blue Suede Shoes". We picked it up on shortwave radio. It hadn't been released here and I was sent down to Allan's for it. They never heard of it. Within a week it was released out here and they sent me a copy - that was bloody beaut! We used to play that and thrash the hell out of it. The music started to liven up a bit on the radio and we decided to form a band, only jokingly.
One of them said, "Okay, what are you going to play" and I said I'd play drums 'cos I couldn't read music. He said: "Okay, if you play drums I'll buy a sax - a tenor sax." His brother said: "Okay, if Ray plays a tenor sax, I'll buy an alto sax." Another kid said: "I've got a guitar, I'll learn how to play guitar." Another said: "Bugger you! My parents can't afford anything so I'll make a double bass out of a tea chest." So he did.
The following Monday, Ray ended up coming to school with a tenor sax. He'd been down to town and bought one and it was up to me - I had to buy a set of drums. I was still a bit doubtful about it. Ray and Dean came from a farm, they had some old separator tins - they used to separate cream from milk - they varied in sizes. We spend all our weekend covering them with brown paper, putting layer and layer of wet brown paper on them with paste. When it dried it was just like a drum skin.
For a few weeks we started to play music - it was bloody incredible. Couple of sticks, me on these separator tins, bloke with a tea chest, two saxes and a guitar.
I ended up buying a set of drums. I had lessons from one of the blokes in town, Gary Haines, he was pretty bloody brilliant. He taught me a fair bit about it.
Then we got our first... There was a dance being held at Milang and the band couldn't make it. They had no time to get somebody else so they rang us up and said: "You're on! You've gotta play this dance!" We knew one bloody song, it was "Over the Waves" (laughs). The compare would announce a fox trot and we'd play "Over the Waves", announce a barn dance and we'd play "Over the Waves", announce a modern waltz and we'd play "Over the Waves" (laughs). It was all right for the first hour but after that it was bloody embarrassing..."
"We used to play for church socials and things like that. Anything that had a suggestion of rock ‘n’ roll we’d play. “Rock of Ages”, we hotted that up. “Onward Christian Soldiers”, that was blasted around a fair bit. We’d pick a few hymns and knock the hell out of them. Distort them. Some liked it, some didn’t, some thought it was blasphemous. It was good fun."
"We played Glenelg Footy Club one night – this was with the new rock group we formed – the only one that could play the old style of music was me. The others had never heard of it, they were all mad rock ’n’ rollers. The star spot of the night were these ballroom dancers that came out. They wanted us to play Modern Waltz, Waltz, Cha-Cha, some Latin American stuff. I’d heard it before in the old group but with this new group they were all rock ‘n’ rollers. They didn't know how to play. The ballroom dancers were in the middle of the floor just expecting us to know it and we had no bloody idea. There was no time for me to explain to the blokes, not that it would’ve mattered anyway cos they wouldn’t have done it. That was bloody embarrassing. The poor ballroom dancers were staggering around everywhere; they couldn’t dance to what we were playing. It’s one of those things that just should never have happened."
He also said because of their ages they weren't very well supported by the musicians' union so they used to hire out the dance hall at Port Noarlunga and put on their own shows to make a quid that way. At one stage he said the group got to about sixteen in number and they all went up to Broken Hill to play a shindig for about 1500 people.
After Dad spoke of the "Over the Waves" debacle, I asked him "so you played exactly the same song or slow it down". He replied: "Yes, we didn't know what a Modern Waltz was or a foxtrot was, we could only play one song anyway. That lasted for about two hours till someone bought in a radiogram and played records (laughs). They thanked us very much for it. From then on we learnt a hell of a lot, we used to play pretty well every weekend."
I then asked him what kind of music they played and he replied: "Little bit of rock. Not much. Mainly the old style dances. It wasn't anything trendy."
He went on to say: "Once we got a little bit of confidence playing the country dances we all started to get better and we started to get new members in. Some of them could play guitar very well." It was there he talks about the Glenelg footy club disaster.
I asked him what happened afterwards and he replied: "By this stage we'd shifted down to town. We were getting odd-bod sort of jobs. Played a nightclub down at Glenelg. You'd play all bloody night and then they wouldn't pay you. We'd go down to the musicians union and they'd say: "You're not a member of the union and even if you joined the union, we wouldn't do anything for you anyway because you're only kids." We thought: "Well, bugger you, we won't join the union." This happened so many times. We decided to run our own shows at Port Noarlunga. We'd hire the hall and sell tickets to people, we'd make a quid out of it.
"One of the blokes decided to go to Broken Hill. At that stage we had about sixteen people in the group. We'd drive up there, we'd have a midnight to dawn dance, get about 1500-1700 people there…"
That's where the transcript ends so in order to get the rest of it means I have to listen to the tape. I reckon there is more and whether or not he mentions Bobby I honestly can't remember… I'm pretty sure he gets into the demise of the band. Once I've done all that I'll send you that as well.
The band jacket they had was a thing handmade where you could wear it inside out. The main colour was watermelon pink with black lapels but if you turned it inside out, it was silver with black lapels. Dad's sticks were a rare variety I believe, they were plastic ones where the brushes were inside the handle if that makes sense. He could pull that forward and have brushes if they were required. Kind of a two in one.
Thank you once again for everything, it really does mean a lot to me... Thanks again to Bobby as well...
Thank you Robert, I think this is a wonderful transcript from your Dad, I just hope that maybe someone out there will read this and possibly be able to provide you more info, photos or just memories for you, as I said to you the internet is a wonderful thing…..
Email from Shirley McCombe ( Gold Coast.) April 2011
What can I say about Laurie – I first met Laurie around 1964 and would have walked across water for him. He was the reason I went overseas as he was just not interested in a girl/boy relationship. My best friend Robyn and I first saw him at the Newmarket dance on a Saturday Night then from there we would go to 3DB radio station Sunday morning to see him perform and his Dad would be there too. We struck up quite a friendship with him Mum and Dad always hoping to be the love of his life but alas not to be. I also worked at the Telephone Exchange from 1959 through to 1966 when I decided to go over to London with my friends.
I now live up on the Gold Coast and have remained friends with my best mate Robyn who’s still in Melbourne, she actually told me about this site that’s what prompted me to get in touch with you. I guess I just wanted you to know that Laurie was loved by many people. In fact I was able to get him on the Johnny O’Keefe show many years back as I use to ring Johnny up Sunday nights when I worked @ the exchange and he would always take the time out to say hello to his fans – unfortunately Laurie only did the one show. My girlfriend Robyn and I met up with Laurie @ his fathers 100th Birthday and also at a rock n’ roll dance with Bobby Bright – we chatted quite abit about old times and got our pictures taken, Life certainly goes by very quickly.
That’s about all I have to say except keep up the great work you’re doing as Laurie will always live in our hearts.
Thank you Shirley for taking the time to write to me and thank you for letting me add you to my page, for sure we will never forget Laurie.
Email from Sean McGuire..March 2011
thank you for introducing a body of work, really a world i did not know existed. i stumbled onto "The Closing of the Door"
by NiteTrane quite by accident (i was looking for Connie Smith's Hinges on the Door), and since then have
truly enjoyed and appreciated the work you have done to honor Bobby & Laurie and friends.
I am but a 3 chord hacker in a bar band in southeastern Massachusetts, so I hope you will take these couple of songs
as the tribute i mean them to be.
Keep up the good work!
Plainville MA….Sean sent me his “When I grow Too Old To dream” & “Closing Of The Door”
Thank you Sean, this is exactly what Laurie would have wanted, I love the fact you got so much from my Youtube page and I think you did well with your songs, thank you for taking the time to get in touch with me, I really do appreciate it, makes it all worthwhile.
Comment from by Normie Rowe..March 2011
Together B & L were a formidable force on stage, Laurie was one of the most creative and original people I'd ever met. I know that he never got quite the accolades he deserved, Bobby is as ever a quintessential performer, having proved that... to me once again on Go!! Show, Gold. In case it's not know generally, bobby and Laurie were the first Melbournian act with a straight pop record to have made the top 10 in Sydney, thus paving the way for The Playboys and me. I belong with you, is still one amazing recording. The Rondells, Roger Savage and Bob & Laurie broke serious ground with that piece of history.
Thank you Normie for giving permission to post this … Bonnie
Email from Caroline Langford
I was doing a search and came across your webpage. It gave me a lot of nostalgia and I want to thank you. You see my father is Barry Langford who produced 'Dig we must' and my mother is Shirl one of the dancers featured in the show.
My father is 83 and is living in Israel, and my mother is 72 living in England. I live in Los Angeles.
Anyway, I thought I would drop a line to you.
All the best,
Thank you Caroline for taking the time to email me, I have heard your dads name mentioned a lot, it is nice to know where everyone is these days I am sure some of his old friends from those days will be interested in your email…thanks again… Bonnie.
Email from Richard ( Ricky ) Martin.
Hello Bonnie, you do not know me but I did have the priveledge of saying hello to Laurie some twenty-two years ago…I cannot even remember the places name but it was in Sydney down behind Suttos at the “Meccano” set, it was a place where all the musos went in those days and also truck drivers. I happened to be enjoying a drink with friends there and I looked at Laurie and it did not strike me at the time who he was but I thought he was familiar to me.
I was passing his table and said hi! and said I do know tour face but can’t put a place to it…he smiled and said “I thought nobody would remember me any more, then it hit me..the “hitch hiker man”..Laurie was a little taken aback when I said that I grew up with his and Bobby’s music. We had a down to earth conversation for the next ten or so minutes and enjoyed a beer together, me not knowing Laurie from a bar of soap..but knowing him closely from his music…we parted company and never saw one another from that day to this..I can say just from that very short encounter with Laurie that he was a good man, and even back then it was good to say I have met a part of our once great music scene and to hear Laurie say that it was good to see someone actually remembered him, he must have so underestimated his real worth to our arts and music industry then Bonnie, I just said to Laurie,you guys were just so good!! and I still love to hear your songs, oh well so much for nostalgia…hope I am not going on too much Bonnie but those musicians were good people.
I cannot imagine arts today if it had not been for the great artists of the sixties like Bobby and Laurie…its been nice to connect with you Bonnie and I wish you nothing but the nicest for your future yours sincerely Richard Martin, Croydon Victoria.
Thank you Richard, nice to hear from you, I can honesty say both Laurie was a good person for sure as Bobby still is, and I think I can safely say Laurie would have loved that chat with you, I just wish he could read your letter, I honestly think Bobby and Laurie were very underestimated, they were the absolute best…thank you again for sharing your brush with fame, very much appreciated… Bonnie.
Email from Ray Wight of Wickedy Wak… 1969-1970
I would love to catch up with past friends and members… I am still playing piano/keyboards ( any offers)
RAY WIGHT email@example.com
Thanks Ray I hope you hear from some old friends…. Bonnie
Email from Lyn C …Adelaide SA…2007
I have been visiting web pages on Laurie, I,as a teenager in the 1960’s grew up with (Bobby) and Laurie, I always loved and admired Laurie for his work he did in the music world and for the music he wrote.
I never knew Laurie personally but knew his music well.
A number of years ago I bought a record called The Best Of Bobby & Laurie and the last few months have been trying to get the same album on CD only to find that no albums have been cut to CD so I will have to continue listening to the record.Laurie was a wonderful musician and thank God I got to know him through his music..Kind regards LC Adelaide SA.
Email from Lyn C …. Adelaide SA … 2007 emailed again with a little story I think is so priceless.
I bought two Diosma plants and planted them both neat my back door. I have done this in memory of Laurie, one plant was for his birth and life, the other for our loss and have we lost such a wonderful man here. I will remember him with so much love in my heart. I will never forget him, his music, he will always be a part of my Life.
Email from. Lyn C ….. Adelaide SA…..2007
My Daughter called in yesterday after work, she saw the two plants that I put near my back door in memory of Laurie, she asked what they were called, I told her they were Laurieland plants, not saying anything to me she went to the nursery to buy one and was told bluntly there was no such plant, she said sure there is, my mother bought two Laurielands from here yesterday.
Thank you Lyn for your wonderful emails, I must say Laurie sure did have the nicest of fans and he deserved them ever so much, he would have loved you Laurieland story…. Thanks again Lyn I have put you into my Laurieland contact book…
Email from Joan from USA….. 2007
I have been listening to Laurie’s music and I find it very good!
I especially like the song about looking through a childs eyes and First Star On The Right is beautiful.
So Long Ago is a pretty song! I like Laurie’s sound; it is very distinctly unusual, which is good. Wolfman was cute! Truckers Lullaby is one of my favourites… Thank you.
Email from Kathy Elborne…December 2007
I was browsing through 'You Tube' and decided to search for Bobby & Laurie.
Back in 1957 I attended Bradshaw's Business College which was approximately where the Arts Centre is now located.
In my typing class I sat next to a boy called Laurence Allen who, as I recall, thought he wanted to be a Reporter, hence the typing course.
We chatted, as much as was possible in a classroom situation, and I always found him to be very friendly.
I too was a member of the Victoria Banjo Club, starting in 1953 learning the banjo mandolin (I noticed a photo of Laurie with one!), then progressing in 1957 to guitar lessons.
The only time I ever saw Laurie after that was at the Annual Picnic which was held at Aspendale.
In 1957 or '58 (not exactly sure) I jokingly entered their Belle of the Beach contest and was No. 26 (shown in the attached photo).
My Father boasted later that the boy leaning on the fence on the left of the photo had said to him (without knowing the connection) that "Number 26 should have won!"
I looked to see who the boy was and said to my Dad "That's Laurence Allen - I sat next to him in typing class!"
Hence, one of my few 'claims to fame' during my life has been my story about Laurie Allen.
I was very sad to read of his passing, but must say your site keeps him alive for all those who knew him or knew of him.
Thank you Kathy,nice memories you have there and thank you for sharing…
Email from Sue Gamble…. December 2007
Just one more 'gem'...Can't, for the life of me, think where we all went or who we saw but I know it was taken
at the Arts' Centre Melbourne. My mum thought Laurie (and Bob) were
just the BEST....We had a Milk Bar in Malvern (back in the 60's and
'70's) and Laurie walked in one day and my Mum nearly passed out!!! From
that day on, they were great mates and whenever Laurie was down in
Melbourne, he'd always take her
Thank you Sue, how cool was your mum….thank you…
Email from Doug Osborne of The Henchmen….December 2007
I just found your great website, and boy! Did it bring back many happy memories for me!
I am an original member of "The Henchmen" and we appeared on the "GO!! show,
performing our hit record back then "Rockin Robin". Horrie Dargie was present when we did the recording,
and Roger Savage was the Sound Engineer. The reason I am contacting you, is that I have a few photos and some memorabilia of "The Henchmen" I will attach to this email. (I am the nerd with the glasses!) Although I don't look like that now! (I am 63 now) and still doing gigs twice a week at a local Sports Club up here in Q'ld. Our lead singer back then (Rick Diamond) (second from the right, standing) is currently doing "Roy Orbison Tribute Shows" around Australia. The lead guitarist (Duncan Mckellar) kneeling beside me, is now retired, lives in the UK, and recently suffered a serious stroke. Anyway, you are welcome to use any of this material on your great website, and thanks again for the memories Bonnie!
Thank you Doug, I remember the Henchmen, I am so glad my page brought back some nice memories for you, you are one of the lucky ones that were actually part of it all, it must have been so exciting, thank you for taking the time to email me… Bonnie
Email from Pauline (Souto) Little …27/4/05
Hi. Tidying up the other day I came across an autograph I obtained in my teens- I am now 57 years of age, I think it was obtained in either Melbourne or Adelaide whilst I was on holiday from Tasmania with my older brother, we just happened to walk into a record shop to buy Bobby & Laurie’s Hitchhiker single when we realized that they were both there. I asked for the autograph which is on a white paper bag. I looked at your web site and was very interested to read all about their career. Sorry I don’t have any dates or accurate information as I lived in Tasmania and now New Zealand, I now have a son and grandchildren and family still living in Tasmania and I still visit other parts of Australia from time to time having spent a month in Melbourne in September/October 2004 driving from Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney with my girlfriend which was fun. I shall be interested to keep visiting the web site which is regularly updated which is great…
After I sent the first email I hunted for the single record which has mysteriously disappeared but I have singles of The Easybeats, Jade Hurley, Billy Thorpe, Johnny Young, and of course The Beatles, Gerry and The Pacemakers and many more singers of that time. Certainly brought back memories, these I have to say are some of the best memories of my life which has had it’s ups and downs, like most people I guess. Will keep checking your web site. Sincerely an old fan.
Thank you Pauline, I often wonder if these guys are aware what nice memories they have left people with..must be nice to know you have made such an impact on some people. Nice to hear from you and thanks again for taking the time to email me…Bonnie.
Email from Brendan Mitchell 4/5/05
Must have been early to mid 1960’s there was a little milk bar in Chapel St Windsor up near Dandenong Rd where we would stop on the way home from school. One night there is this older bloke (I was 12-14 he must have been 16-18) and he was in there playing the pinball. Over the next couple of nights or weeks we got to talking to him, so one night he tells us he is going to be on the telly that night on a new music show “The Go Show!!” We go “oh yeah”? ( thinking yeah right what bullshit) anyway there he is on The Go Show!! that night singing “House Of The Rising Sun” and playing his guitar.
I did meet Laurie once again in Maccsville NSW, we were there for the “Pub With No Beer Festival” up at Taylors Arm- where the “PUB “ was according to legend. Anyway I told that story to Laurie and he said he remembered that milk bar but not the snotty nosed little brat (me) of course
Thanks Brendan “House Of The Rising Sun” I remember that like it was yesterday, that was the very first time I saw Laurie, I remember saying to my folks…”he is the most beautiful thing I had ever seen” much to my dads horror when he saw the length of the hair, saying to me “you better not bring any boys home with hair like that” I look back at the photos of that time…Long hair…..nah. Little did I know just how important he would be in my life at that time, the absolute highlight…. And I can just see Laurie saying the bit about the snotty nosed little brat, I just loved that special Laurie humour. Thanks again for sharing your story, I appreciate it so much….Bonnie