A fragment of a song has been stuck in my head for four decades. It floats along the neuron path, settles into the memory area, and suddenly erupts involuntarily from my mouth. It's four words, "...doin' the Eagle Rock..." I heard it on a local radio station twice in '71, thought it was pretty good, then never heard it again. But that damn line kept coming back to me. I've been telling myself lately, "Go to YouTube, see if it's there." But between that thought and actually sitting down to look at YouTube the memory has been going back into its hidey-hole in my gray matter.
Tonight I finally got it together enough to look for "Eagle Rock" by Daddy Cool...
Daddy Cool is an Australian band, and "Eagle Rock" was number one on the charts for ten weeks Down Under. I guess it just didn't go over in the U.S. It's not that we reject all things Australian...I'm thinking Bee Gees, INXS, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson (uh, we'd like to send Mel back, if that's OK with you.) The fantastic lead vocals for Daddy Cool are by Ross Wilson, and the lead guitar is Ross Hannaford, neither of whom I'd seen or heard of before tonight. So it's been something of an epiphany. My apologies to all Daddy Cool fans who have been listening to this band for 40 years. You've known all along and I'm just a Johnny Come Lately.
I didn't have time to listen to all their songs, but picked out some I thought might be interesting to fellow Americans. First one I came up with is "Gee."
"Gee" is a great old doo wop song, and it blew shards out of my overworked mind to see a gaggle of Aussie hippies doing perfect doo wop harmony. I instantly understood the problem this would pose for Americans. We are very into IMAGE; it is everything. You have to look the part to meet public expectations. You wanna do Barry Manilow songs? Comb your hair, wear suits like Barry. Same for Frank Sinatra imitators, Beatles, or whomever. You have to look the part.
I can hear the American rock promoter now: "These guys look like fukn Jethro Tull and sound like fukn doo wops." Americans could not handle the disparity. We had bands like Sha Na Na who dressed as 1950's greasers, with gold lamé costumes, sleeveless tees and duck's ass hairdos to project the image.
However, there is always Chuck Berry. But then, Chuck Berry wasn't doo wop. He was roots rock, the rootsiest roots rock there is, right from the start of the rock era. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, every band in the world has done Chuck Berry in homage to American rock and roll:
Then I went back to the YouTube listings and came up with two more songs. "I'll Never Smile Again" sent my mind spinning like a 33 at 78.
So now I know, one of the greatest American roots rock bands wasn't even American. I thought, surely these guys can't still be around after 40 years, but I found a video of "Eagle Rock" being performed live in 2006 and despite the guys having quit the hippie look, they sound much as they did in 1971.
And that's cool, Daddy!