Mike Rudd's
Stop Press
June issue #186

A Cruddy eulogy for Spectrum's original keyboardist, Lee Neale - 2.6.19
Shiver me timbers! The Indelibles brave cruelly chilly temperatures in Davey Jones' locker. Fri. 21.6.19
Robbo snuggles up to Bernie Bicknell for some warmth
Now we know why pirates say 'Aaaaargh'.
24.6.19 - I think you've probably got the picture already, but if it was cold enough when I got there at 6.30, the shed that is the Pirates Tavern in downtown Williamstown just got colder as the night went on.
Enough of that, though. I arrived there a bit before the others and had mostly set-up my stuff when they began trickling in. No technical problems this time, unless you count a preliminary G&T as a technical problem.
The traditional raffle draw that precedes the first set started a bit later than usual so I think I was a bit blurry already, but what the hell - I was enjoying myself.
We played a couple of tunes we hadn't played for a while, but the vibe on stage was encouraging and the audience seemed to be enjoying whatever we threw at them as well.
Willy locals Rob and Wendy Rowe and Bernie Bicknell (pic) arrived with a few friends and Greg and Joanne Blunt brought a few as well so with the other blow-ins the room looked quite friendly. Nevertheless, (me hearties), about half way through the second set I opted to forget the second break - at least by keeping on playing we stayed warm.
Maybe we'll look at some more dates at the Pirates Tavern in late spring..
In the meantime, the next Indelibles gig is slotted for Friday July 5th at the Alpine Retreat Hotel in Warburton - on my side of town. Hooray!
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Spectrum and Murtceps' original (in every sense) keyboardist is remembered as a one-off enigma.

Lee Neale strikes an imperious pose for TV Week.

A delayed eulogy for Lee Neale 20.5.'47 - 31.3.'19
2.6.19 - When I first met Lee Neale, (actual first name Leo), he was in a band called 1987 (futuristic in 1969) and was playing a green plastic Farfisa organ with brown trim that he continued to play for at least the first year of Spectrum's career.
Since the demise of The Party Machine I had been rehearsing with a near neighbour in East Hawthorn, David Skewes, who owned a Hammond/Leslie rig, (the rig of my dreams being a Traffic fan), so Lee's Farfisa was a bit of a come-down, but it soon became evident that he was a very accomplished keyboardist in his own right and when he did get the opportunity to play the Hammond (a band-purchased M-series topped with a Hohner clavinet piano) he proved to be equally adept on both instruments - not always the case, even with very talented players.
For financial and logistical reasons the band couldn't supply the Leslie speaker part of the equation, so Lee's sound, per an unaffected Strauss amp and speaker box, sounded less lush than the usual B3 + Leslie combinations favoured by most bands of the era, but Lee turned this to his (and the band's) advantage creating a fearsomely dynamic, if ascetic landscape that had to be experienced to be believed.
Greg Macainsh gave me a cassette tape some years back of a Spectrum gig he'd attended (pre-Skyhooks) and Lee's organ sounded even more dominant than on record. And way more scary.
Lee recorded two albums with Spectrum (Spectrum Part One and Milesago, the ground-breaking double album) and The Indelible Murtceps' Warts up Your Nose and if you've never heard them you're in for a treat discovering Lee's truly individual keyboard voice.
Spectrum and Murtceps thrived on working and touring and eventually the privations of the lifestyle took their toll on all of us, but particularly on Lee. An unsolicited encounter with LSD on the Aquarius Tour with Daddy Cool eventually led to a brush with the Law that only served to highlight the perilous state of Lee's health.
At one stage he decided to live exclusively on peanuts and at the end of each Spectrum gig there'd be a significant pile of peanut shells next to the keyboards. In the end I was forced to confront the fact that Lee's odd behaviour was having a negative effect on all of us and distressingly the band lost the services of this highly original and talented player.
Subsequently I heard that he'd briefly joined forces with Red Symons in a Carlton-type band (possibly called Mud), after which he'd, to all intents and purposes, completely disappeared.
Some years later I heard a rumour that he was living in a Queensland caravan park and I contacted his relatives to see if they could confirm this or if they knew where he was, but nobody seemed to know anything.
It was only a couple of days ago that I heard from Lee's brother, Harvey, who'd himself just heard from the police that Lee had died in Brisbane Hospital back in March from a cardiac arrest.
By nature Lee was an exceptionally solitary man and after briefly being in the spotlight with Spectrum he resumed his intensely private life with even his relatives unable to discover where he was living until after his lonely death.
Apart from his musical talent, Lee was an original thinker - study the detail from the TV Week middle-spread above and you'll notice that he's ordered his Joseph's Coat T-shirt to be printed inside-out (!) and he's wearing a chain round his neck with a tooth-brush attached.
I haven't listened to the Spectrum back catalogue in years, but I'll make the effort to listen to the reissued early albums I've mentioned and I know I'll be shaking my head in wonder at Lee's musical artistry.

Sometimes people live on in unconscious rituals. At service stations I still clean my van's windscreen à la Leo and when I'm driving I often change down the gears to neutral without using the clutch in the approved Lee Neale methode. You know, I think he just might approve.

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