I was born in Adelaide, South Australia on December 2nd.
here with my sister Jean, circa 1955.
up surfing (along
with all other sports) and began playing the drums. My brothers,
John and Bill, chipped in to buy me the drum kit my parents weren't
convinced was a good idea.
With in 6
months I was in my first band which was called PULSATION. I painted the name of the band on to the bass drum, (and not
for the last time). The singer was Drew Cooper, who went on to become
a world hang gliding champion.
My first gig
ever was at the now defunct Scout Hall on the corner of Regency Rd and Markham Avenue, Enfield, South Australia. I wore beads and a psychedelic "coachman's coat" my sister Dawn brought home from England.
Started to become obsessed with music and helped form a band called "HEAVY RAT" with Dennis
Fisher (vocals, harmonica), John Mundy (bass) and Robin Michael
(guitar). We played a lot of blues. Dennis played a mean harp for
a young bloke.
RAT: L-R: Robin Michael, John Mundy, Dennis Fisher and Geoffrey
While still at high school,
I was the drummer in 'CAPTAIN
We signed to the "Raven" label and recorded a single called
"Blind Man's Greed" at Nationwide Studios in Hindley
Street, Adelaide. It went to number 23 on the local charts.
L-R . Geoffrey
Stapleton - (drums), Rodney Gunner- (vocal), Robin Michael-
(guitar) and Michael (Mick) Kaploon- (bass).
played at venues such as "Headquaters",
"Sgt.Peppers" and "The Scene". We also appeared
on the local ABC rock show Solid Air, hosted by Chris
Bailey (14 years later we would end up playing together in GANGgajang) and
helped save the old bank in King William St., Adelaide from demolition
by performing on the steps!
is Jude on stage in Melbourne with her band "Sheer Fun"
I helped invent clever, theatrical, progressive glam
rock band, OVA. I
was both drummer and glockenspeilist.
Stephen Davey, Geoffrey Stapleton, Kevin Govet, Greg Webster, Edward
was an article by Mike Safe, in his collum, "On The Pop
Scene", Adelaide Sunday Mail. Mike only had good things
to say so we called his collum Mike, "Safe On The Pop Scene".
OVA shared management (Spirit-Sphere Progressive Management) with two
other bands, "Iron Knob" and "Cold Chisel". Of the three bands, Cold Chisel was considered least likely to succeed. My comrade in arms for decades in GANGgajang, Mr.
Robert Nelson James, was in Iron Knob. Ray Hearn was our manager.
This was the OVA logo
OVA rehearsed for a year at the "Ginger
Workshop" in Arthur St. Unley, South Australia.We devised two forty five
minute "conceptual" shows with choreographed dance steps
and long song sequences with many unusual timing signatures.
OVA performs for the first time to packed houses at the Tivoli
in Adelaide and then performs impressively at the Music Festival,
Sunbury '75, in Victoria. OVA reluctantly puts together a show with less "theatre" and
more "conventional" songs in an effort to get more work,
but in the process, loses the spark and breaks up.
By this time Danny
Johnson (vocals), Greg
Webster (guitar), Grant Wills (bass) and I were all living and
rehearsing together in a very nice house in the exclusive Adelaide
foothills suburb of Lynton. Along with Grant Lang (keyboards), we
put together a pop/funk/dance band and called it GOLD. After the
"seriousness" of OVA, it was a fun release.
1976 : We won the 5KA Life Expo Battleof the Bands. The
Adelaide Sunday Mail said in 1976, "The best way for a
group to make a name for itself is to beat the rest - and that's
just what GOLD did."
The win brought
with it a lot of work at places like "The Arkaba" and
"Countdown", but it soon became more of a job than a quest. This was the last band I played drums in
so I was feeling ready for a change.
Greg Webster, Danny Johnson, Geoffrey Stapleton, Grant Lang, Grant
introduced the first "punk"
music into the house. It happened to coincide with me putting
the drums aside and picking up the guitar. Gold morphed into a tougher
punk influenced band called Riff-Raff.
ran our own residency at the Seacliff
Hotel. My sister
Dawn, who was always my greatest supporter, collected the door money. She later went on to co-write L.O.V.E. on THE
ALIENS "Translator" album. She is also the mum of JJ Peters from I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN and
later DEEZ NUTS,
and Rik Peters and Aaron Peters from THE
SEARCH PARTY. We wrote more songs and talked about leaving Adelaide.
Johnson and I moved
to Melbourne where
we stayed with Ash Wednesday in a Carlton flat. He was in the band,
JAB, who had just signed to the "Suicide" label along
with Nick Cave's Boys Next Door. Danny and I worked at the Pancake
Parlour as singing waiters while we formed the power pop band THE
ALIENS, and met a lady there called Kez Hood who would become our manager.
Rob Grosser (drums) and Greg
Webster (lead guitar) joined the band. We began performing in Melbourne and Sydney and were courted by a number of record companies before signing to Mushroom
Gardiner's collum in THE HERALD 4-7-79 said it all...
:Michael Gudinski, Robert Grosser, Greg Webster, Michelle
Higgins (P.R. person), Danny Johnson and Geoffrey Stapleton.
first single was a song I'd written called 'Confrontation'.
It was produced by Charles Fisher who went on to become Australia's
most successful producer. It was a minor hit.THE
ALIENS toured nationally with The Police and then with UK Squeeze
(with Jools Holland).
ALIENS album Translator, produced and engineered by whiz
kid Englishman, David Tickle, and the single Follow that
Girl. We toured Australia constantly and usually by broken down
old car. We did TV shows such as Countdown, Nightmoves, Sounds,
and Hey Hey It's Saturday.
I moved to Sydney as THE
ALIENS made various line up changes.Encouraged
by sculptor John
Ladyman, I did my first acrylic on canvas painting. I did an
underwater scene and really enjoyed it.
this time, I was the only original ALIENS member.Pierre
Baroni, who went on to become an award winning designer, photographer,
graphic artist and host of the coolest radio show ever, joined the
group with a swag full of great songs and we started Planet X records.
We released an ALIENS single called "I
Don't Care" that I sang lead vocal on, (backed with Pierre's
"Over My Head") and we performed it on Countdown, introduced
by James Reyne. This was to be the last ALIENS gig ever
make up on the Countdown set with James Reyne from Australian Crawl.
my career in music may be over, I distracted myself by drawing cartoons.
To my astonishment my first cartoons were published in PLAYBOY
Magazine. This gave me the confidence to do more drawing and painting.
As a way
of coming at the music from another angle, I opened Kings
Lane Recording Studio in Darlinghurst, Sydney, and bumbled
my way into becoming a sound engineer. Backed by architect/musician
Gary Kurzer, it ran for the next seven years and went on to record
GANGgajang, Peter Blakely, Concrete
Blonde, Wendy Matthews, Sean Kelly,
and many more. Brian Hall and Chris Betro became partners toward
the end. It was managed at various times by Ian Amos and Jeffrey
I had been bumping into Chris
Bailey through out my musical career but I didn't actually know him. We
even found ourselves living opposite each other on New South Head
Road, Double Bay in Sydney. I only got to really officially know
him when, Viola Dana, his
band with Peter
Blakely and Mal Green, were the first group to book my brand new "Kings
Lane Studios. I became their live sound mixer
which I'd never done before, but I really enjoyed it. There was
so much space to play with the echoes and FX, and Peter's voice
This lead to THE
INVISIBLE MEN, a very cool covers band consisting of Mal Green (drums) who
had recently departed SPLIT ENZ and Chris
Bailey (bass and vocal) who had recently left THE ANGELS, as well as Greg Webster and I from THE ALIENS. We did our inimitable
versions of songs we thought were "classics" and because
of the group's credentials we scored some great gigs. They usually
took the form of three-week stints at places like Cairns or Moolooloba on
the Sunshine Coast. But even in an idyllic situation like that,
dramas can occur...and did.
It did give me
the opportunity for some sustained and uninterrupted drawing
and I found myself becoming quite obsessed. I
was working mainly with high-tech texta colours. I also did a number of theatre posters for "The Big Hand" theatre company that Jude was working with at the time.
was a busy year. I began performing with THE
ROCKMELONS, playing keyboards and percussion.
along with Paul Abrahams and I formed a rockabilly band called Rat
Tat Tat. I played the bass guitar, and a small electronic foot pedal
that triggered a bass drum sound. Paul Abrahams (formerly of THE
REELS), played snare and hi-hat. There was a very hip rockabilly
renaissance happening in town and we had a regular Friday night
gig at the "King Arthurs Court" hotel on William Street
in Kings Cross, Sydney.
Blakely, Geoffrey Stapleton and Paul Abrahams (artwork - R. Stone)
year, through my connection with Chris
Bailey, GANGgajang booked
my studio and I sat in on some songs playing keyboards. Next thing,
I had joined the band. The first single "Gimme Some Loving" was very well received.
Our first show in public made the 6.00pm Channel 7 news.
album was released and it went gold.
toured extensively with GANGgajang,
living perhaps just a tad beyond our means. Neil Wright was our
tour manager. He was a great tour manager was present when GANGgajang
was invited to Kirribilli House for drinks with thePrime
Minister Bob Hawke, We had performed
at his Priority One concert, and this was his way of saying
L-R: Kay Bee, Robert James, Geoffrey Stapleton, Hazel Hawke, The Right Honourable Prime Minister Of Australia Mr Bob Hawke (or Hawkey), Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup, Chris Bailey, Mark "Cal" Callaghan.
Rob James and I joined forces with drummer Jeff "JJ"
Harris (formerly of THE DIVNYLS) and formed JJ's WAY. We wrote and recorded an album's worth
of songs but after a much anticipated signing to Virgin Records
fell through, we disbanded (The band briefly re-united in 2006 to make three new songs with videos.)
JJ'S WAY - "Rock
Buzz put together
a country band called THE
STETSONS that included members of GANGgajang and MENTAL AS
ANYTHING with Mark Moffatt and some very hot country players. Here is the clip for the first single written and sung by Reg Mombassa called "There's A Train In My Head". It was a lot fun shooting the clip. Look out for Jude and myself (the harmonica player) at 3:28
There's A Train In My Head - THE STETSONS
My contribution to THE
STETSON'S album was a song I'd written called "All
The Cowboys". It was later used on a movie that(I think) was called "Tenterhooks". Here I am performing it live with the band on the national ABC TV show "Rock Arena". "All The Cowboys" starts at 9:48
All The Cowboys - THE STETSONS
I also appeared
as the drummer (miming Ricky Fataar's drumming) inPeter
That Peculiar" film clip. It was his first single.
As I became
even more obsessive with it, my painting time had begun to encroach
on my music time.
had been working with the amazing singer Gyan as far back as 1982 but it was only when she won a national television talent show
called "Star Search" that things really came together
for her. She signed to Trafalgar Records with legendary producer, Charles Fisher (who had produced THE
ALIENS first single). Her song,"Wait",
which I had helped her put together, was a hit. I was the guitarist
in the "Wait" film clip.
is also where I met songwriter, musician, writer, arranger, conductor
etc. extraordinaire, Mark
O'Connor. He had co-written and arranged a large part of Gyan's
album. On the somewhat intense three-month promotional tour that
was to follow, we shared a room and looked out for each other's
sanity. Mind you, we're not sharing a room now. (Pope's
I was living in a flat on Campbell Parade at Bondi Beach when I was asked by Sean
Kelly, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, to join
his group Absent
Friends. Their record Nobody
But You, produced by Gary Beers from INXS and sung by Wendy
Matthews, was a big hit when I joined. My first gig with them was supporting James Brown at a club called Selinas at The Coogee Bay Hotel.
We ended up doing a
huge tour of Europe as support for INXS, playing 10,000 seat stadiums through Sweden,
Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and England (including five Wembley
on the bus, often accompanied by Ronnie Francois, the amazing bass
player/vocalist/songwriter who had done a lot of art in his younger
days. He took it personally if the driver swerved and made his pencil
hand slip. I completed about 30 paintings and drawings over
the seven weeks.
in Australia, we recorded the Absent
Friends Live CD at the Kardomah Cafe in Kings Cross, Sydney.
The live Absent Friends album.
Kelly and I were both living in Kings Cross by this time and we began
writing songs together and formed the band The Dukes. Some mornings we would meet up at "Joe's Cafe" on Victoria Street where we would often be served by Caroline Byrne, the poor girl who met with such a terrible fate.
bidding for the 2000 Olympics obsessed Sydney for a time. The
Dukes got to perform our song "Faith" at Circular Quay to 250,000 people, minutes before Sydney was
announced as the host city for the 2000 Olympic Games. I can still remember the intake of breath, en mass, as it was announced "the winner is Syd-er-ny!And then the roar of the crowd as it sunk in.
Jarrett, who was boss of the South Australian Music Industry Association
at the time, had been flying me back to Adelaide to give a series
of lectures on "surviving in the music business". He talked
me into having my Third
Solo Exhibition at the Carclew Ballroom in Adelaide. I sold
from painting, I spent the early part of the year setting up a song-writing
studio in an apartment block called "Buena Vista" on Bondi Road, Bondi Beach with Sean ,
writing and recording songs.
Just before the
birth of our daughter, Sienna, I had my Fourth Solo
was a small one this time, at the
Hard Lines Gallery in Adelaide. I sold 9 of the 12 paintings I exhibited.
I also began to
tour again with GANGgajang.
In a Spinal Tap-ian twist, GANGgajang
had become popular in Brazil and we did our first national tour
there, pulling 7,000 people to our first concert at the "Metropolitan" in Rio de Janeiro.
I also discovered a little clay ornament I called the "Alligator Man"
in the northern Brazilian city of Recife. I painted continuously throughout the tour. A lot of the work would find it's way into
the Inside Alligator Man" exhibition of 1998.
the success of the first tour (and this time being a little more prepared), GANGgajang completed a second national tour of Brazil by way Buenos Aires. Playing to such big appreciative
audiences was a real thrill and our Brazilian friends knew how to party.
As with the previous year's tour, I brought a tabletop easel, canvas and acrylics and painted all the way. Most of what was to become my "Inside Alligator Man"exhibition was painted on the road in Brazil. (Chris Bailey always said the band should get a cut!)
was some touring with GANGgajang. When I wasn't touring (or playing with Sienna), I painted ceaselessly in the front room of our small flat on New
Beach Road, Darling Point, (overlooking
the most beautiful harbour in the world, Sydney Harbour) for the upcoming exhibition.
I had written
some songs with my nephew Kieron
Gardiner and we decided to form
a multi-media band called THE
search PARTY with Cye Wood on violin.
Search PARTY signs to Festival Records, and is labelled
"cyber/garage". Mark O'Connor agreed to get on board and
provided the serious musical finesse and muscle the project required.
By now Rik
Peters, another nephew, had joined the project as the deal included
the facilities to create our own videos and cd-roms, which
was Rik's speciality. His brother Aaron Peters joined the group
a little later.
Peters and I spent months compiling and animating frame by frame THE search
PARTY cd-rom, "This Is The Drug"
which was finally released.
search PARTY" CD-ROM featuring: L-R:
Masque, Aaron Peters, Mark O'Connor, Kieron Gardiner, Rik Peters
and Cye Wood.
We mixed our album with Jeremy Allom at the old EMI studio at 301 Castlereagh St. Sydney and shot a
video for the next single, "Aloha Baby". Before we had
time to edit the clip, we found out that a Mr. Murdoch had bought our
record company "Festival" and was merging it with "Mushroom".
In the process we were cut adrift.
I was selling
quite a few paintings privately and at the end of the year we moved
back to Adelaide for family reasons
GANGgajang and families saw the new millennium in at Lorne in Victoria playing at the Quicksilver New Years Eve party...and the world didn't end.
to musician, painter, sculpture Paul
Stapleton with some help from Kieron, we set up a painting/music studio in
toured nationally. We began to write and record songs for a new
album. We performed at the Sydney Opera House for Corroboree 2000.
band Timothy (later to become Fear Of Flying), asked me to co-produce their cd rom Joe Jerry. It went to number one locally (SA Real
toured Brazil for the third time, but this time with the legendary Yothu Yindi,
Spy Spy (who are very popular in Brazil) and The Chevelles. We
performed to 20,000 people on Copacabana beach in Rio
Yunupingu, Live in Florianopolis, Brazil 2001" (acrylic on canvas)
I began working
on some large paintings as
part of an upcoming exhibition to be called Oceans
and Deserts, which includes a series of tables
designed and shaped by musician/artist/sculptor Paul
I was working on the table called "99 Fish" when I heard on the radio that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I got home and turned the TV only to see the second tower come down. Like everyone else around the world, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
was more work done on the GANGgajang album, and
I developed the www.GANGgajang.com website.
created the CD booklet and cover artwork for
the Oceans and Deserts album that was released toward the end of the year.
artwork and promotional paraphernalia was created
using images from the paintings for the upcoming
exhibition of the same name.
GANGgajang toured extensively.
more tables (a total of nine) were added to the Oceans
and Deserts collection, along with three more large paintings.
Inspired by the Flash animation of one of my paintings by multi-media man/musician/songwriter/chef, Alistair "Al" Mitchell, I began working with filmmaking and editing software.
three months creating the fully animated "Anodyne
Dream" film clip for GANGgajang utilizing about 90 images from my paintings.
touring with GANGgajang including the national television broadcast
of a live performance in front Parliament house in Canberra on the "Sunrise" show. Australia had recently gone to war with Iraq and as a protest, during the performance of our song "Trust", we revealed t-shirts we'd had made up, each reading "PEACE" in a different language.
When Paul Stapleton, Mark "Cal" Callaghan and I were
talking on the way back from Leigh Creek in South Australia where
we'd shot footage for the "Nomadsland" clip...
we discussed an idea for another clip. It was to create a continuous
time-lapse film of a painting that animated to the
that end, a large portion of the year was spent creating
the film clip for GANGgajang's song "TRUST",
after filming the band individually against a green screen.
with GANGgajang and completed more paintings for the "Oceans
and Deserts" exhibition.
Apart from performing shows with GANGgajang (which surreally included
playing to 18,000 Chinese visitors at the Olympic Dome, Sydney, whilst staying in a beautiful beach apartment for 3 weeks at Coogee beach in Sydney with Jude and Sienna),
most of the year was spent creating a film clip for (what's now
become) GANGgajang's iconic anthem "Sounds
Of Then" (This Is Australia)".
I'd filmed each of the band members against a (creased!) green screen in a small change room backstage at the aforementioned Olympic Dome gig. (I added things like the drums later!)
latter part of the year was spent editing and assembling "Brazil
'95", a fifty minute documentary on GANGgajang's first tour of
Brazil for the GANGgajang DVD I've agreed to produce, which will include all the
clips, anecdotes, TV specials, documentaries and so on from the
last 22 years. (Gulp!)
After 13 months of sorting, assembling, filming, editing, animating,
acting, designing and authoring, I finally finished putting the last
twenty two years of GANGgajang on to a Double
DVD - "The Complete
(a bit self-consciously) at the Star City Casino on Sydney Harbour
in a limousine, GANGgajang performed live to 1.54 million people
on channel 7's television spectacular, "50 Years Of Television".
recorded "Surfin' Round The World" at Freshwater Beach
(first surfing beach in Australia) for David Minear, Mick Wordley
and Kerryn Tolhurst's Australian surf album/dvd "Delightful
Rain" which has screened a number of times on the A.B.C.
Although GANGgajang only did a handful of gigs (Chris and Buzz being kept busy by the reformation of their other band, THE ANGELS), we did have the
honour of performing a hot reggae version of "Royal Telephone" with Mr.
Jimmy Little at The Domain in Sydney for the Pope's visit
to Australia for World Youth Day.
"Tree Of Love" from the long time coming "Oceans and Deserts" exhibition.
another seven paintings for the "Oceans
and Deserts" exhibition (see above), did a number
of private painting commissions including two tables (with Paul Stapleton) for Helena Stone.
Working on a flim script with long time collaborator Danny
Johnson called "WATER".
GANGgajang played various shows around Australia including a musical workshop weekend in Rockhampton organised by Michael Walker. It inspired me to begin work on a painting called "Sue Smith Shows Mark Opitz and Geoffrey Stapleton the Rockhampton Collection."
Made a number of film clips including Cry Logic's remix of GANGgajang's classic, "Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia)"
Sold my painting, "Sue Smith Shows Mark Opitz and Geoffrey Stapleton the Rockhampton Collection" to the Rockhampton Gallery.
Finished the final "Oceans And Deserts" painting, where the ocean meets the desert. It's called "Life And Death" and ends the era of my beloved studio in Balfour St. Nailsworth S.A.
Jude and I opened "The Geoffrey Stapleton Gallery" at 95A Prospect Rd , S.A. and the first exhibition was "Oceans" which was opened by Mark "Cal" Callaghan. GANGgajang performed with special guest, Sienna Keera on percussion.
The opening of THE geoffrey stapleton GALLERY - 1st July 2011
GANGgajang opened the ABC's Australia Day Concert 2011 which was broadcast live around Australia and into Asia from the front of Parliament House in Canberra where there was a live audience of 35,000. Jack Thompson introduced the band after narrating the lyrics to our "Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia)"
The GANG also did a number of shows throughout the year.
GANGgajang performed about twenty-five shows around Australia, mainly in our most popular states, Queensland, Western Australia and News South Wales. (Ironically, although four of the five members of GANGgajang came from Adelaide, the band has never been very popular there.
At the Gallery, apart from showing my own work, we held six exhibitions, two of which were group shows, "DANCE" and "THIS IS AUSTRALIA", which coincided with the "Tour Down Under" which kicked off in Prospect, almost in front of the Gallery.Below is a timelapse video of my contribution to the "Dance" exhibition.
GANgajang performed at the Woodord folk festival to great acclaim and on the way there, dropped in on the "Wake Up" breakfast show on Channel 10. Rebecca Johnson was our guest on bass.
The Geoffrey Stapleton Gallery relocated to the Wassail Wine Bar after our final exhibition at the old premises which was taken over by Harris Real Estate, who were kind enough to let us continue using their walls and windows to display our paintings. Our last exhibition at 95b Prospect Rd Prospect was "Celebration"
Last year I put a little acoustic band together called "The Prospectors" playing our favourite songs ever. That continued through out the year, performing at the Wassail Winebar every second Sunday with people literally "Dancing In The Street".
The Prospectors, left to right: Corey Stewart - vocal, guitar, Clare Thackray - pecussion, David Washington - vocal, Billy Thackray - percussion, Geoffrey Stapleton - vocal, guitar, harmonica, slide, Danny Johnson - vocal
Here is a video of The Prospectors performing "Like A Rolling Stone" at the "Twilight Concerts In The Park" at the Prospect Memorial Gardens , at Prospect South Australia in February 2014.
GANGgajang did a couple of short tours including a very successful series of shows with a line-up of other bands and performers who had had big hits, called "Pure Gold". Before Xmas we did a run of gigs with "Spy v Spy" and Robert James' son Riley's band, "Cupcake Conspiracy".
Jude and I also held two themed group exhibitions at the Wassail Winebar Gallery. One was "Pets" and the other, "Food".