Dural HiFi and Home Theatre
© Steve Neil 2017
At this time of the ongoing saga, I looked back and realised that to go into more detail I’d need to get down and dirty with stories of my pre-marital escapades which may upset some people - especially the ones still living! It also made me realise that most Auto-Biographies from Rock and Roll musicians are complete shit. I’ve read a fair number from such luminaries as Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, John Cleese, Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and many more, all are watered down versions of their escapades and leave out the best bits (Ronnie Wood is the only one even close to telling it like it was - or is). I say this because, as a not very good musician in average bands, I got up to more mischief than all those I mentioned combined if one were to believe their stories - I can understand why they anesthetised their writings, I guess mainly as not to embarrass past and current associates, but it still boils down to being screwed over as a person interested in the true goings on behind the scenes. So, until I’m within a gnats pubic hair of death - it’s all you’re going to get from me.
© Steve Neil 2017
Dural HiFi and Home Theatre
Well then, as my music career gets a little hazy at this stage (I’d discovered Bourbon by now) it may be that the timeline is not exactly linear - and that was also reflected in my day to day life. The next thing I remember however is selling my Fender Jazzmaster for the paltry sum of $150 in Trading Post (and wondered why the phones were ringing off the hook from 7.00am on Thursday - the day it was released to the newsagents).. I was all into folk music at this point (about 10 years behind everyone else in the music industry) so bought myself a 12 string ECHO acoustic Guitar. Great sound, made in Italy and had an aluminium truss that was fashioned in a “T” so the neck stayed true. It was a bastard to tune but gave a rich, full sound that made my playing sound better than it was (that wasn’t hard). I soon added an electric pickup (DiMarzio from memory) and lashed out on a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. I’d finished with the bands at this stage as my life was overloaded with motorcycles, boats, cars and shagging (not necessarily in that order - in fact, quite the reverse). The only real workout the ECHO got was when Peter called me to play a gig at the Hornsby Community Hall, all the other muso’s were pretty good and I was a bit rusty. Looking back at the set list, it’s a wonder I had the guts or finger control to play using a 12 string. Try playing lead on Jimi Hendrix version of “Hey Joe” with a 12 string and you’ll see what I mean! The night went well however and I believe Pete still has a bootleg recording of the night. The next (and final) paid gig was in 1975 at a wine bar in Artarmon - long since gone. It was just me, my trusty 12 string, an EV vocal mike playing through the FenderTwin Reverb. I’d had a rough couple of weeks both business wise and personally so started the night with a few (quite a few) ciders. That stuff is like rocket fuel as it tastes like lolly water but has an alcohol content of around 6%. By the time I started to play, even I thought I was bad! I started at 8.00pm and emptied the joint by 9.30 - apart from a few people who were as pissed as I was. I refused to take the payment at the end of the night and hung up my pick for the last time. There was one last hurrah however. In 1982(ish) I was living in a house in Turramurra and had rowdy neighbours so just before I moved, I decided to have a backyard concert for friends and family aptly named “Neighbours Revenge” Working in the HiFi industry, one is never far from professional or ex- professional musicians and at that stage, I was able to put together a band of absolutely top class muso’s (except for me). Luckily, the General Manager of Bose at that time was a drummer called Dave Bell, Dave played for over 10 years as a session musician and player all around Australia and the Pacific region. One of the guys who repaired speaker cones at that time was Alan Daniels, an amazing Guitarist who played in bands with Dave, including a tour when they opened for the Bee Gees all around Australia, Al was also lead guitarist with Mr. George, the resident band at the Musicians Club in Sydney.  Looking good then! I was searching for a Bass Guitarist and was having trouble finding one when one of my staff members mentioned he played a bit of Bass. A bit!, bloody hell, he could play Keyboards, Bass, in fact anything that made a noise. His name was (is) Daniel Denholm and is now a leading music producer, composer and arranger both here and in LA. If you thought finding a studio quality Bass Player was hard however, you should try finding a ‘real” singer. The natural choice was Pete, my go-to singer for years. Unfortunately, Peter was out of the scene at this time (story to come later) and I was in a real quandary. Our store was based in the Eastwood Shopping Centre in those days and there was a Dry Cleaners directly under our store on the ground floor. As I was handing in my soiled shirts to the guy behind the counter, I was relating my sad story of having no singer for the Gig when he mentioned he could hold a tune. Yeh, sure, everyone says that but no, says he, he was actually in a band called The Honeycomb’s back in England in the late ‘60’s. They had a top 10 hit called “Have I The Right” in the UK and America and Al James just happened to be a singer and guitarist in that group. He met an Australian girl and moved out here but was finding it hard to get work in the music industry so he was working in the dry cleaners to make ends meet (Al now has a brilliant Neil Diamond Tribute show which plays all around Australia and South East Asia). We welcomed Al with open arms. So, the Band was ready to Rock’n’Roll. I still had my ECHO 12 string which was perfect for Rhythm duties, we played from 2.00pm to 5.00pm on a Sunday afternoon and could be heard from about 1km away. We had no complaints so I guess the overall result was pleasing to all within hearing distance. The interesting thing is that we never rehearsed and as all us guys were from the same era, we knew the same songs. All the singer did was yell out the song and the key, Dave would lead us in and away we went! I couldn’t imagine a better way to exit the music scene! That was the end of my musical career (such as it was), I sold my amp, guitar and microphones and it would be another 20 years or so before I started playing again - just by myself this time, alone, at home, inebriated most of the time but happy. I now own a VOX AC30CC amp, USA Fender Telecaster, Yamaha Acoustic, Yamaha Signature Series Semi Acoustic, Line 6 Variax, Ibanez Roadstar II, several EV Mic’s, lots of effects pedals and a Yamaha Stagepas 400i PA system. Back to a real job then. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’d just joined ACIRL as a trainee industrial chemist which bored the shit out of me after a year, plus I hated organic chemistry with a passion (back then, radicals meant something totally different and I had trouble working them out) so I was fortunate enough to be able to carry my credits across to a diploma in Metallurgy. Inorganic Chemistry, easy peasy! I got a job working for a company called Hadfields who had a steel foundry in Alexandria that cast bogies for trains. My job was to take samples from the blast furnace, drill the sample and measure the chemistry of the metal (carbon, Manganese etc) to see what to add or subtract so the final cast was within specification. Most of the work was pretty boring as we (there were two trainee’s and a senior chemist) had bugger all to do between melts. So, smartarse me and my trainee cohort learned how to make ammonium triiodide in our spare time. This is a highly unstable powder which is made by dissolving Iodine in a solution of ammonia then filtering it through filter paper and carefully scraping off the residue. When dry, this stuff is so unstable that it explodes when a fly lands on it (animal lovers can send their hate mail to me later). One time we were on night shift and we made a batch of this deadly powder and as a joke (well, we thought it was funny) spread it around near the blast furnace to dry. When the morning shift came in to tend the furnace it had dried by then and there were little explosions every time one of their big work boots trod on it. The whole workforce went on strike until we went and exploded every last bit of powder by stomping around the factory floor! Management didn’t think it was funny and I was moved to Lidcome to the electroplating plant. That was as boring as batshit as it involved assaying the liquids used in the electroplating process. So I left (again). As a change of direction, I went to work as a technician repairing electronic equipment at Watson Victor. A lot of the gear was related to metallugy (PH Meters and Ultrasonic Metal Scanners) so I was the perfect candidate, plus they let me off a day a week (in addition to my three nights) to finish my metallurgy diploma. This was fun for a while as I got to play with lots of electronic toys (and my workmates sister, but that’s another story). click here for next page