.. 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 second night.
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 Law, 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 financial realities.
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 named
Mozi" or "Micius" because of his writings on optics. (Wkipedia)

² The Mayor’s a Square – Live Music and Law and Order by Shane Homan

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