- Sherbet (band)
Infobox musical artist |
Name = Sherbet
Background = group_or_band
Genre = Rock, soul, pop
Years_active = 1969-1979
1979-1980 (as Highway)
1980-1984 (as The Sherbs)
RSO Records, MCA Records, Atco Records
Clive Shakespeare Daryl Braithwaite Tony Mitchell Garth Porter Alan Sandow
Past_members = Dennis Laughlin
Sherbet (a.k.a. The Sherbs and Highway) was one of the most prominent and successful
Australian rock bands of the 1970s. Their biggest singles were "Summer Love" (1975) and "Howzat" (1976), both reaching number one in Australia. "Howzat" was also a top 5 hit in the UK. Though the band's success in the U.S. was more limited, "Howzat" was a #61 hit in America, and under the name The Sherbs they also hit #61 in 1981 with the single "I Have The Skill". Throughout the 1970s, the group was managed by Roger Davies.
From 1970 until 1984 Sherbet scored 20 hit singles in their homeland (including two number ones) and released several platinum status
albums. The single "Howzat" which was number one in 1976, also reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.
They were the first Australian band to reach $1M in record sales in Australia; the first Australian band to turn their
merchandisinginto a huge industry; and they pioneered the concept of massive regional tours. In 1976, the book "Sherbet On Tour", by Christie Eliezer, sold 55,000 copies in its first week.
Formation and Early Years (1969–1971)
Sherbet were formed in
Sydneyin 1969 by guitarist Clive Shakespearewith members of his former band, Downtown Roll Band. Initially they started out as a soul band doing Motowncovers and other soul and rock-based material. The band's first single was 1970's "Crimson Ships", a cover of a song by Badfinger; it featured original Sherbet vocalist Dennis Laughlin. Daryl Braithwaitejoined Sherbet in 1970, initially as a second lead vocalist. However, Laughlin left the band within a matter of months and Braithwaite then became Sherbet's sole lead singer.
In 1971, Sherbet won Australia's prestigious national rock band contest
Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds, and in 1971 and '72 had their first hits with covers of Blue Mink's "Can You Feel It Baby?", Delaney and Bonnie's "Free The People" and Ted Mulry's "You're All Woman".
Ascendancy to Stardom (1972–1975)
By early 1972, after much turnover, Sherbet's line-up had solidified to include lead vocalist Braithwaite, Shakespeare on guitar,
bassist Tony Mitchell, keyboard player Garth Porter, and drummer Alan Sandow. As well, the band had evolved from a soul-based covers band into a pop/rock outfit that mostly relied on original material, although Sherbet would also continue to release the occasional cover tune throughout the 1970s (including Leiber and Stoller's "Hound Dog", The Beatles' "Nowhere Man" and Free's "Wishing Well".) However, from 1972 to 1976, Sherbet's chief songwriting team of Shakespeare and Porter were responsible for co-writing the lion's share of the band's music, which deftly combined British pop and American soul influences.
The band released their first album ("Time Change...A Natural Progression") in 1972. The accompanying single "You've Got The Gun" (written by Shakespeare, Porter and Braithwaite) was Sherbet's first self-penned A-side, and charted at a respectable #27. The following year, the band hit the top 10 for the first time with the Shakespeare/Porter original "Cassandra". A string of hits followed in Australia, with Sherbet consistently releasing original Top 10 hits such as "Slipstream" (1974), "Silvery Moon" (1974) and the #1 hit "Summer Love" (1975). In fact a total of 12 Sherbet songs reached the Australian top 10, and the band became the darlings of Australia's
teenyboppers and made regular appearances on the top TV pop show "Countdown". Sherbet's albums also charted well in their homeland: 1973's "On With The Show" peaked at #6, 1974's "Slipstream" hit #5, 1975's "Life...Is For Living" was a #6 hit, and their first "Greatest Hits" compilation from 1975 became their first #1 album.
From 1974, lead singer Braithwaite also maintained an active solo career alongside his Sherbet work, with Sherbet members often playing on Braithwaite's solo singles.
Beginning in 1975, Sherbet's records were produced by
Richard Lushwho had helped to engineer The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, amongst other albums. Porter also began to take an occasional lead vocal on Sherbet singles. His vocals can be heard on "Hollywood Dreaming" and "A Matter of Time".
Throughout this era, Sherbet toured Australia regularly and with remarkable thoroughness; they were one of the few bands to consistently commit to playing full-scale concerts in even the remotest regions of the country.
International Success...and Lack Thereof (1976–1979)
In January 1976, Shakespeare left Sherbet citing 'personal reasons'.The last song he played on before leaving the band was "Child's Play", a #5 hit in February.
Shakespeare was replaced at first by Gunther Gorman, but within weeks (and before any new recordings were made) Gorman left and was replaced by Harvey James. Around this same time, bassist Tony Mitchell stepped up to join Porter as Sherbet's new main songwriting team. The Porter/Mitchell duo was responsible for penning "Howzat" (1976), the band's only international hit, and a song which was inspired by the sport of
cricket. The song's success lead to a massive international tour in 1976/77.
In fact, "Howzat" became a #1 hit in Australia, and a top ten hit throughout most of Europe, as well as South Africa, several Asian nations and parts of the Middle East -- but it failed to reach the
American Top 40, stalling at #61 in Billboard's Hot 100. As well, while the "Howzat" album hit #1 in Australia, it failed to chart in the U.S. altogether.
Looking to become a truly international phenomenon, from 1977 Sherbet spent several years attempting to make an impact in the
United States. Their 1977 album "Photoplay" was retitled "Magazine" for US release, and featured elaborate gatefold packaging. Though "Photoplay" and its lead single "Magazine Madonna" were successes in Australia (both reaching #3 on their respective charts), the retitled "Magazine" LP failed to chart in the U.S., as did the associated single.
With U.S. success proving elusive, the band's label
RSO Recordsfelt that the lightweight name "Sherbet" may have been hurting their chances. Accordingly, the band's final U.S.-recorded studio album from 1978 (the self-titled "Sherbet") was issued in the States under the group name Highway and titled "Highway 1". But despite the new group moniker, the "Highway 1" record flopped in the U.S.
At the same time, the band's career in Australia started to go into somewhat of a decline. Though the "Sherbet" album peaked at #3, "Another Night On The Road" (1978) was Sherbet's final top 10 hit in Australia. The band's next single, "Beg, Steal or Borrow" missed the chart completely, and January 1979's "Angela" (from the soundtrack to the film "Snapshot") only crawled to #85.
Their Australian success was on the wane, and whether as Sherbet or as Highway, the group had been unable to come up with a follow-up international hit to "Howzat". Seemingly frustrated by the sudden career turnaround, after issuing a final single in Australia as Highway ("Heart Get Ready", which flopped at #89), the band broke up in mid-1979.
The Sherbs Era (1980–1984)
The breakup didn't last long. In 1980, the band reconvened with exactly the same personnel, but with another new name (The Sherbs) and a somewhat modified progressive new wave sound. This version of the band had some minor success in America, but their almost complete lack of chart action in Australia was in stark contrast to their 1970s heyday.
The Sherbs' first album "The Skill" just cracked the top half of the
Billboardalbum charts in the US, reaching #100. It was the first album by the group — under any of their names — to chart in America. An accompanying single ("I Have The Skill") also became the band's second US pop chart hit at #61. ("Howzat" had also reached the same US chart position of #61 in 1976).
The Sherbs also received airplay in the US on
Album-Oriented Rock(AOR) radio stations with both "I Have The Skill" and "No Turning Back". In fact, The Sherbs appeared on the very first AOR-oriented Rock Tracks chart issued by Billboard in March of 1981: "I Have The Skill" debuted on that inaugural chart at #45. A week later, on the chart dated March 28th, the track climbed to #14, in the process becoming the band's biggest US hit on any chart. However, the news was not all good: none of the singles issued from "The Skill" hit the Australian top 100, a huge comedown for a band that had been major stars in Australia only two years earlier.
A second Sherbs album, "Defying Gravity", followed in 1981, but failed to produce a single that charted in the either the US or Australian top 100. However, the band did chart again on
Billboard's Rock Tracks Chart with the album cut "We Ride Tonight". Staying on the chart for 16 weeks the track reached number 26 in June of 1982. The track's mild AOR success was not enough to ignite album sales in the US, though, as "Defying Gravity" only reached #202 on the album charts.
A mini-album "Shaping Up" appeared in 1982. It was critically well received and spawned two rather minor hits in Australia, but the US issue missed the chart completely. The Sherbs were now in a position where the American listening public was apparently largely indifferent to their new releases, and — despite their newer, more contemporary sound — the Australian audience had seemingly written them off as a relic of the 1970s. Garth Porter has said that he found this especially frustrating, as he felt The Sherbs were actually writing and performing better material during this era than in their 1970s heyday.
Harvey James left The Sherbs towards the end of 1982 to be replaced by Tony Leigh. The band finally decided to call it a day in 1984, reverting back to the "Sherbet" moniker for a surprisingly successful farewell tour of Australia and a final single, "Tonight Will Last Forever". Shakespeare returned to co-write and appear on this final single, and both Shakespeare and James rejoined Sherbet on the final tour.
Following the group's break-up, lead singer
Daryl Braithwaitewent on to a successful solo career in Australia, and Garth Porterand Clive Shakespearebecame successful record producers.
Sherbet have continued to come together to perform on occasion over the years. Their first reunion was for a special for ABC-TV on New Year's Eve 1999 (i.e.,
December 31, 1998/January 1, 1999). This reunion was held without drummer Alan Sandow: former Kevin Borich/ Australian Crawldrummer John Watson filled in.
With Sandow on board, the band reunited again for the
Ted MulryBenefit Concert in March 2001 and then a benefit show for Wayne Jarvisin June 2003.
Sherbet now usually performs as a six piece line-up of Braithwaite, Sandow, Mitchell, Porter, James and Shakespeare, as in a recent live appearance at the May 2006 Australian TV
Logie Awards, where they performed their biggest hit, "Howzat". This performance launched the Countdown Spectacular tour which they headlined throughout Australia during September and October 2006. The band also played three warm-up shows in August 2006 billed as Daryl Braithwaite and Highway [http://web.archive.org/web/20060819164926/http://www.southsjuniors.org.au/tlml/auditorium] so as not to pre-empt the Sherbet reunion for the Countdown Spectacular.
2006 also saw the release of two newly recorded tracks featured on the "Sherbet - Super Hits" CD: "Red Dress" (Porter/Shakespeare/Braithwaite/Mitchell/James/Sandow) and "Hearts Are Insane" (Porter), both produced by
2007 sees the release of a new live compilation on CD and DVD entitled "And The Crowd Went Wild" encompassing material recorded in the 70's at shows in Sydney, Melbourne and the UK.
Their song Howzat is played at Twenty/20 cricket matches.
* 1978: "Highway 1" (The Australian "Sherbet" album, remixed for US release)
Compilation albums (as Sherbet):
* 1975: "Greatest Hits 1970-75"
* 1976: "The Sherbet Collection"
* 1979: "Track Record"
* 1980: "The Sherbet Phenomenon"
* 1984: "The Hits 1969 - 1984"
* 1999: "Howzat! - 30th Anniversary Celebration Collection"
* 2001: "The Great Sherbet"
* 2006: "Super Hits"
DVD (as Sherbet):
* 2006: "Super Hits"
Clive Shakespeare(guitar/songwriting, 1969-1975, 1984, 1999-present)
Sam See(keyboards, 1969-1970)
Dennis Laughlin(lead vocals, 1969-1970)
Danny Taylor(drums, 1969)
Doug Rae(bass, 1969)
Bruce Worrall(bass guitar, 1969-1972)
Alan Sandow(drums, 1969-1984, 2001-present)
Daryl Braithwaite(lead vocals, 1970-1984, 1999-present)
Garth Porter(keyboards/songwriting, 1970-1984, 1999-present)
Tony Mitchell(bass guitar/songwriting, 1972-1984, 1999-present)
Gunther Gorman(guitar, 1976)
Harvey James(guitar, 1976-1982, 1984, 1999-present)
Tony Leigh(guitar, 1982-1984)
* John Watson (drums, 1999)
* [http://www.milesago.com/Artists/sherbet.htm Milesago article on Sherbet]
* [http://hem.passagen.se/honga/database/s/sherbet.html Australian Rock Database]
* [http://www.whiteroom.com.au/howlspace/en3/sherbert/sherbert.htm Sherbet history at Howlspace]
* [http://www.webcutsmusic.com/news14.html Webcuts] On-line essay celebrating "Magazine Madonna"
* [http://www.portrait.gov.au/static/coll_1189Sherbet.php Sherbet Portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (1974)]
* [http://www.ausnotebook.com.au/docs/ARTICLES/Celebrities/SHERBET_GarthPORTER.htm Sherbet Today (2006)]
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