in the course of being interviewed by Michael I discovered quite a lot about
the goings-on of Geof before and after our lives briefly intersected in an exchange
of letters back in the ‘70s.
This Geof-type information curiously resonated with the first writer, Shane
Homan’s brief, which is to record the history of venues, bands and agencies
in Melbourne from the ‘60s on, mirroring a thesis he’s already had
published² on the Sydney music scene.
In the course of the interview with Shane for this project (which was filmed,
I mention for no particular reason) I was asked a question about the Let It
Be agency, but I failed to pick up the thread and we both forgot to return to
the subject during the rest of the interview.
I remembered this omission later and contacted Shane, who suggested that I write
something about Let It Be and perhaps some of the other agencies I’ve
encountered over the years, which was when I had the expedient notion of making
it the subject of this P&W.
I can tell you that the Let It Be agency and Geof Crozier are linked, if only
because Geof had established a regular gig at – Cathedral Hall –
which, in case it means nothing at all to you, was a large-ish 19th century
hall with a not particularly distinguished frontage at the top of Brunswick
St that belonged to, and still belongs to the Catholic Church, but which became
home to the one shining moment that defined Melbourne’s response to the
Californian hippy culture, perhaps specifically to San Francisco’s Fillmore,
and that is the much acclaimed TF Much Ballroom, later to become the Much More
Ballroom. (George Pell comes to mind for some reason..)
According to Michael it was Geof who took Let It Be’s John Pinder to check
out the hall and for John in turn to see the prospect of it becoming, well,
an ideal forum for the Let It Be band roster for a start. Think Spectrum and
The Indelible Murtceps, then think The Sons of the Vegetal Mother, then Daddy
Cool, then Captain Matchbox. I wouldn’t be surprised if our naive energies
still haunt Cathedral Hall to this day.
But let’s wind back a tad. I seem to remember that the first time Bill
and I met with one of Let It Be’s future directors, Peter Andrew, it was
very informally one afternoon in a park, perhaps in East Melbourne. I also seem
to remember he was in company with Michael Browning and that AC/DC was mentioned.
Not sure. Anyway, I’m thinking that the meeting had something to do with
a new agency. Maybe not, but the next thing we know is that Spectrum is on Let
It Be’s books and we’re playing at Berties and / or Sebastians every
Then John Pinder, a dishevelled, roly-poly Dunedinite on a permanent creative
bender (who asked us to play Superbody
at his wedding, bless ‘im)
came up with the TF Much concept, and me and my precious Spectrum-cum-Murtceps-cum-Camels
had a god-given opportunity to be put in front of an audience, a real audience,
numerically at least, that had been attracted into the inner-city from the suburbs
curious to see what all this hippy shit was about.
The first TF Much show at any rate made a real attempt to marry some of the
more artistically creative ideas from Let It Be associate, Warren Knight, who’s
mentioned on the label for The Sons’ extended single, Love is The
but I suspect that this arty-farty bent was quickly discarded in favour
of the rock & roll meets vaudeville approach favoured by Pinder and Bani
McSpedden. (Bani’s brother Hugh McSpedden was responsible for the inspired
Giant Edison Screw light show that Spectrum often employed for its own shows
and who also formed an unreliable half of the pair’s Leaping McSpedden
Brothers that often featured in the TF Much shows).
The image that the Let It Be agency promoted was that of a cooler-than-cool
co-operative of hip cats working with their stable of groovy artists, but high-minded
ideals rarely survive the cut-throat realities of the real world let alone the
rock & roll world, and without the addition of Spectrum’s manager
Phil Jacobsen into the mix, I’ve no doubt the Let It Be experiment would’ve
been just that. Phil himself maintains that ‘everyone (at Let It Be) was
on the verge of madness’ which you might paraphrase as everybody being
on a creative high, but in any case in no frame of mind to deal with day-to-day
Incidentally Phil Jacobsen doesn’t get mentioned a lot in the rock journals,
but it’s fair to say that Let It Be and the subsequent Gudinski-owned
Mushroom Music and Premier Artists agency would not have survived without Phil’s
mostly steady accountant’s hand guiding those enterprises and their affiliates.
It’s also fair to surmise that Spectrum and Ariel wouldn’t have
survived as long as they did either (like, until today) without Phil pulling
off some miraculous deals on its behalf, deals that I’d be the first to
admit belied our actual market status.
This doesn’t mean that Phil was in any way shifty – he just loved
Bill and me to death and did his darnedest for us for the duration of our manager
/ band relationship.
I’m quite surprised that a conglomerate like Mushroom / Premier Artists
escaped scrutiny in the area of multiple conflicts of interests, but we are
talking about an organisation with musicians as clients. As well as water buffalo,
the word ‘hapless’ was invented for musicians, which is why we’re
mostly treated like superfluous ornaments. All I say is, try and get yer boys
to march towards certain death from raking machine gun fire without the brave
skirl of pipes to make their balls swell with pride and see how far you get.
But, back to the theme of coincidence. As if the cluster of inquiries related
to the TF Much and Much More Ballrooms³ I’ve outlined wasn’t
enough, I took an unexpected phone call from a gentleman on the last Saturday
of July, a gentleman who was there or there abouts when all this stuff was fermenting.
He’s recently been in touch with the ACU (the Australian Catholic Union)
who run what is now better known as Central Hall, and inquired about the possibility
of staging a one-off TF Much show at the hall sometime in the New Year, with
the aim of including as many of the original acts that performed there back
in the ‘70s as can raise a quorum.
Today’s custodians of the hall are surprisingly enthusiastic, especially
given the relationship with Let It Be in the day was fractious to say the least.
(They insisted on the change of name to the Much More Ballroom once they discovered
the TF in TF Much stood for Too Fucking Much - they were also oddly convinced
there were ‘cigarette girls’ dispensing reefers to the venue’s
patrons, according to Phil Jacobsen).
I have to own that I wasn’t in the most receptive of moods when I took
the call and found it difficult to sound very enthusiastic, but on reflection
it really was such a fantastical era in Melbourne’s music history that
it deserves memorialising, not only for the sake of its original participants
and audience, but for a new generation who have never heard of such a thing
- and really, if it’s organised right, what better way to do it?
¹ Mozi original
name Mo Di (??), was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of .....
at Space Scale, a joint Austrian-Chinese satellite launched in 2016, alternatively
Mozi" or "Micius" because of his writings on optics. (Wkipedia)
² The Mayor’s a Square – Live Music and Law and Order by
³ You should read Ian McFarlane’s (plus contemporaneous musos,
including me) impressions of the Cathedral Hall and the TF Much Ballroom https://www.thirdstonepress.com.au/archive-blog/2017/4/1/the-tf-much-ballroommuch-more-ballroom-1970-1972