- Wild Cherries
The Wild Cherries was an
Australian rock group, started in late 1964 as a blues group playing at the “Fat Black Pussycat” jazz venue in Melbourne’s South Yarra. It was formed by students from Melbourne University’s School of Architecture.
The band had several changes to its line-up, but is mostly remembered for the one featuring
Lobby Loyde(guitar); Dan Robinson (vocals); Keith Barber (drums), Peter Eddey(bass) and Les Gilbert(keyboards). Of this line-up, Lobby Loyde was the most notable going on to join Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. Les Gilbert was the founder of the band and recruited Loyde from the Purple Hearts. The band released four singles for Festival Records, most notably "Krome Plated Yabby" and "That’s Life".  The group’s entire work has been picked up by Half A Cow Recordswhich has a compilation album ready for imminent release.
Having studied classical piano with noted pianist Leslie Miers at an early age, keyboard player Les Gilbert formed the original Wild Cherries in late 1964 with fellow architecture students, singer John Bastow and rhythm guitarist Rob Lovett. Initially, he played bass in this combo.
The name Wild Cherries came one afternoon when the trio were rehearsing in Gilbert’s bedroom and was the product of a word game with a corruption of
Chuck Berry, which became Buck Cherry, which then changed to Black Cherries, and ultimately Wild Cherries.
The trio next added lead guitarist and singer Malcolm McGee from the local blues scene. The Wild Cherries, minus their original drummer who never turned up, made their debut performance at Melbourne’s first discotheque, the Fat Black Pussycat, located on Toorak Road, in the South Yarra district. Drummer Kevin Murphy, who had been playing in a modern jazz trio came in immediately afterwards.
The new line up made a crude recording of
Manfred Mann’s "Without You" in Gilbert’s parents’ living room before Lovett left in October 1965 to join The Loved Ones. Reduced to a quartet, they made three more crude recordings at a rehearsal at the Fat Black Pussycat, including a cover of John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road".
During early 1966, Murphy left to join Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs and English-born drummer, Keith Barber came in. Soon after his arrival, the quartet recorded two further tracks: the band composition, “Get Out Of My Life” and a cover of
Sonny Boy Williamson’s“Bye Bye Bird” but no labels were interested in picking up the songs for a single.
By June 1966, the group had run its course and McGee left to join
Python Lee Jacksonwhile Bastow returned to his studies.
Lobby Loyde joins, sign to Festival
At the end of 1966, Gilbert and Barber reformed the band by recruiting singer Danny Robinson aka (Dan Robinson), who had previously played bass in The Weird Mob, and adding Peter Eddey on bass, who had been founding member and lead guitarist of The Weird Mob. After rehearsing for several months, former Purple Hearts lead guitarist, Barry Lyde (aka
Lobby Loyde) completed the second incarnation in January 1967.
The group immediately signed to
Festival Recordsand in February travelled to Sydney to play a week-long engagement at Here disco in North Sydney filling in for the absent Jeff St John & The Id. The band then returned to Melbourne and started picking up local gigs, including an appearance at the Catcher on 4 March with The Clefs, The Mind Excursions and The Chelsea Set and playing a two-nighter at Sebastian’s on 8-9 March.
The Wild Cherries returned to Sydney in April for an extended engagement at Here Disco and attracted rave reviews from the local press. While there, they laid down tracks for a debut single, including Loyde’s “Krome Plated Yabby” and a cover of
Otis Redding’s “Fa-Fa-Fa” which was never completed.
Perhaps due to its advanced nature, “Krome Plated Yabby” failed to chart when it was released in June 1967. Undeterred, the group followed it up with Loyde’s “That’s Life”, which became a minor hit in Melbourne, charting at #38 in November. By the time, the single appeared, Eddey had left to return to Sydney (and university) and John Phillips from
The Running Jumping Standing Stilljoined in his place.
The band’s third single, released in April 1968, was the superb “Gotta Stop Lying”, which, despite being one of their finest outings on disc, failed to chart. For the group’s final Festival single, Robinson and Loyde collaborated on the sublime “I Don’t Care”, which took the “wall of sound” approach, complete with echo effects, orchestration and female backing vocals. The Wild Cherries’ crowning achievement on a creative level, it was another chart failure and the group underwent a mass exodus with founding member Les Gilbert first to leave in September 1968. Soon afterwards, Barber, Robinson and Phillips departed leaving Loyde with the band’s name.
Gilbert dropped out of the music scene but in 1975 returned to university to study music, majoring in composition. He currently runs the company Magian Design Studio with his partner Gillian Chaplin and creates sound and multimedia installations.
New Zealandband, The La De Dasand they travelled to the UK in April 1969 where they recorded a cover of The Beatles' "Come Together" for Parlophone Records. He stayed with the group until the mid-Seventies. He died of cancer in May 2005.
Dan Robinson replaced Malcolm McGee in The Virgil Brothers and also travelled to the UK where the trio recorded a cover of
The Knight Brothers' "Temptation’s About To Get Me". He subsequently returned to Australia and later worked with the bands, Duck, Hit and Run, Champions and Rite on the Nite.
Loyde recruited Matt Taylor from The Bay City Union and three musicians from
Brisbanegroup, Thursday’s Children for a new version of The Wild Cherries in October 1968 but he left within a month to join Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. The Wild Cherries meanwhile imploded in April 1969 without recording any further material. Loyde did resurrect the name in 1971 with new musicians for a one-off single "I Am The Sea". He then established a solo career in the Seventies. Lobby Loyde died on 21 April 2007.
Lobby Loydeand Keith Barber reunited for Australia Day 2002. Together with bass player Gavin Carroll and keyboard player John O’Brien, they performed The Wild Cherries’ four Festival singles at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria. It was the first time that all of the band’s recordings had been performed live and the first time that some of the tracks had been given a public airing.
Half a Cow Records has put together a compilation album of the band’s entire recordings, ready for imminent release.
* [http://www.abc.net.au/longway/episode_3/ ABC TV Long Way to the Top Episode 3]
* Photo of the Wild Cherries held by the
State Library of Victoria[http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/hwtports/0/0/3/doc/hp003470.shtml]
* [http://www.milesago.com/Artists/wildcherries.htm Miles Ago Wild Cherries]
* Ugly Things magazine, issue 22: http://www.ugly-things.com/
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