We are the measure of all things. And the beauty of our creation,
of our art, is proportional to the beauty of ourselves, of our souls
– Jonas Mekas
From 1966 until his departure for America in 1975, singer, songwriter, keyboard player and producer Brian Cadd was one of the most prominent musicians on the local scene. He remains a key figure in the history of Australian music; one glance at his extensive discography will indicate his prolific musical output, and he has been active in many other areas of the industry throughout his long and successful career.
Brian was born 1946 and raised in Perth, W.A. At the age of ten, his parents gave him the choice between tennis lessons or piano lessons – obviously he chose the latter. At twelve he entered a TV talent quest, from which he was offered the job as pianist in a junior band on a local children's TV show. After that, Brian worked in his cousin's club band, and in a pop group formed with school friends.
After leaving W.A in the early '60s the Cadd family moved to Tasmania and eventually settled in Melbourne, just as Beatlemania swept the country. This, combined with Brians interest in piano, opened the way to his future career. Brian's earliest musical ventures in Melbourne were the Beale Street Jazz Band and The Castaways. In 1965, The Castaways mutated into the R&B band The Jackson Kings consisting of Brian, Carl Bennett (vocals), Chas Brown (guitar), Ray Neville (bass) and Bill Turgeon (drums). Singer Ronnie Charles joined towards the end of the band's life. The Jackson Kings recorded two singles for CBS, Watch Your Step/Come On Now (February 1966) and Watermelon Man/Lawdy Miss Clawdy (April 1966).
From The Jackson Kings, Brian went on to two of the most celebrated bands of their day, The Groop and Axiom. The careers of both these outstanding groups are covered in detail on dedicated pages on the Milesago website.
The Groop 1966-69
In October 1966, Brian and Ronnie joined guitarist Don Mudie, bassist Max Ross and drummer Richard Wright to form the second and best-known incarnation of The Groop (1966-69). By this time Brian had become close friends with Ian "Molly" Meldrum. (It was he who suggested that Brian change his surname to "Caine" when the joined The Groop, but when his family objected, he soon changed it back). The Groop enjoyed considerable success during their short career, including three hit singles and first place in the 1967 Hoadley's National Battle Of The Sounds. Their success and public profile were greatly enhanced by Brian's friendship with Ian Meldrum, and once he became a staff writer there in 1967 he regularly championed The Groop in the pages of Go-Set.
Besides writing or co-writing The Groop's original material, Brian also began getting his songs covered by other artists. No doubt via the Meldrum connection (Ian and Ronnie were childhood friends) Brian wrote and produced Ronnie Burns' 1967 single When I Was Only Six Years Old, which was later covered in the UK by former Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones with some success. Brian also wrote the late '67 hit Elevator Driver for The Master's Apprentices. At that time the Masters' career had been thrown into disarray by the sudden and unexpected departure of songwriter Mick Bower. As an interim measure they covered one of Brian's songs, Silver People, which they rearranged, retitled and issued as the follow-up single to their national hit Living In A Child's Dream, and this provided them with a vital "stopgap" hit while the Masters regrouped. In 1969, near the end of their career, The Groop also contributed (uncredited) to the backing tracks for Russell Morris' first two solo singles, the phenomenally successful The Real Thing and its follow-up Part III Into Paper Walls. When The Groop split suddenly in late 1969 (to the consternation of many) Brian went straight on to his next project.
Brian and Don had formed a strong writing partnership and after the demise of The Groop they put together what is generally considered Australia's first supergroup: Axiom. The rest of the all-star line-up consisted of former Twilights lead singer Glenn Shorrock, Valentines drummer Doug Lavery (later replaced by Don Lebler) and Cam-Pact singer-guitarist Chris Stockley. Much of their work exhibited the influence of The Band, whose first two albums had cast their spell on so many musicians, including George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Don and Brian co-wrote all their original material, including the hit singles Arkansas Grass, A Little Ray of Sunshine and My Baby's Gone, and the band recorded two very fine LPs, Fool's Gold (Fable, 1969) and If Only (Warner-Reprise, 1971), the latter recorded in Los Angeles and produced by the legendary Shel Talmy.
The Bootleg years 1971-75
After the break-up of Axiom in March 1971, Brian and Don returned to Australia but they continued working together. Brian's return marked the start of a whirlwind of recording, writing and production and touring. He also worked behind the scenes in the music business, getting into publishing and management. He co-owned a booking agency and became the youngest ever Director on the Board of APRA, the Australian Performing Rights Society.
One of Brian's first major projects on his return to Australia was with for his old mate Russell Morris. Russell and Brian had known each other since the mid-60s – Russell's band Somebody's Image got their first break supporting The Groop. Russell had been working on a solo album with EMI house producer Howard Gable, which had been scrapped because of differences between Russell and Howard over the direction of the music. Brian was (pardon the pun) instrumental in helping Russell to get the faltering project back on the rails and his contribution cannot be underestimated. He assembled the crack team of musicians who realised Russell's splendid batch of new songs for the album. This studio lineup comprised a "Who's Who" of OzRock heavyweights: Barry Sullivan and Barry Harvey (the "Big Goose" and "Little Goose" rhythm section from blues stalwarts Chain), Mark Kennedy, Duncan McGuire, Billy Green, Brian Holloway, Phil Manning, Matt Taylor, Peter Jones, Marcia Jones, Zoot's Beeb Birtles, Rick Springfield, and of course, Brian himself on keyboards and backing vocals. Issued in late 1971, the recordings were a major commercial and critical success – and a validation of Brian and Russell's faith in the music. The single Sweet Sweet Love reached #7 and the album, Bloodstone made #12, as well as earning considerable praise from critics.
Brian began to establish his solo presence when he and Don Mudie issued the duo single Show Me the Way, released on Ron Tudor's Fable Records in December 1971. It was a very respectable success, reaching #17 in February 1972 and charting for 12 weeks. By this time, Brian had become Fable's A&R manager and chief producer, and in this capacity went on to write, play on and produce Robin Jolley's 1972 hit Marshall's Portable Music Machine (a virtual Cadd solo single in all but name and lead vocal) and Robin's subsequent solo album. Brian also produced Hans Poulsen's second solo album Lost and Found, Coming Home the Wrong Way Round (1972), the album 1972 AD for Frieze (Beeb Birtles and Daryl Cotton) and he produced and contributed to albums and singles for Stephen Foster, Fat Mamma, The Strangers, New Dream, Dutch Tilders, Bluestone, Kerrie Biddell and Daryl Somers.
Morning Of The Earth
Brian's first fully solo recordings were Sure Feels Good, Making It on Your Own and Come With Me and these appeared on the soundtrack album of Albie Falzon's classic surf film Morning of the Earth (Warner, May 1972) alongside tracks by Hannagan, Tamam Shud and G. Wayne Thomas.
In mid-1972 Ron Tudor and Brian set up Fable's new imprint Bootleg, which was launched in September. Brian had been inspired by the example of Leon Russell's Shelter label, and the way that keyboardist/producer/arranger Russell (a former member of crack L.A. session team The Wrecking Crew) had organised a group of regular players around him for projects like Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen. In similar wise, Brian envisaged putting together a regular Bootleg house band to back himself and all the other artists on the label, who he would also produce, for recording and touring. At the time, this included singer/songwriter Stephen Foster, jazz vocalist Kerrie Biddell, and the harmony-pop group Mississippi. Bootleg quickly became the most successful independent record label in the history of Australian popular music, and it was rivalled in the long term only by Michael Gudinski's Mushroom. Over the next few years Brian earned many gold and platinum records as a solo artist and an swag of awards for film scores, title songs and TV themes, produced many other acts and wrote and produced some of Australia's most successful advertising music.
Brian's debut solo single Ginger Man (inspired by the J.P. Donleavy novel) established him as a major solo artist. It was a significant chart success, reaching #16 nationally on its release in October 1972 and charting for 18 weeks. His self-titled debut album reached #2, and spent 20 weeks on the album charts. Brian also won the composer's section of the final 1972 Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds with one of the songs from the LP, Don't You Know It's Magic. He performed it at the Tokyo World Popular Song Festival, where he won the 'Most Outstanding Composition' award, and John Farnham recorded his own successful version in 1973.
In 1973 Brian began to fulfil his ideas for Bootleg by putting together the Bootleg Family Band, and he sang lead and played keyboards on their version of Loggins & Messina's Your Mama Don't Dance, which was another major hit that year, reaching #4 and charting for 17 weeks.
Brian's second album Parabrahm reached #5 nationally, and spawned a string of successful singles: Every Mother's Son (March), Silver City Birthday Celebration Day (July) and Keep on Rockin' (October). The next single Alvin Purple (November) was of course the theme song from Tim Burstall's feature film of the same name. Brian wrote the score for both Alvin Purple (1973), and its sequel Alvin Rides Again (1975).
Bootleg issued the Brian Cadd EP, collecting the four hit A-sides Ginger Man, Show Me the Way, Every Mother's Son and Silver City Birthday Celebration Day. There were more hits through 1974 – the LP Moonshine (#16 in September), and the singles Class Of '74 (April) (the theme song from the TV series of the same name), Let Go (#14 in September) and Boogie Queen (December). By this time Brian had signed an American distribution deal and both Parabrahm and Moonshine came out on Chelsea Records in the USA.
Brian toured the USA with The Bootleg Family Band, and became the first Australian artist to perform on the American television shows Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. 1975 saw the Australian release of the single Gimme Good Lovin' (recorded in the USA) and the compilation The Magic of Brian Cadd.
After signing a new deal with the Interfusion label, Brian moved to Los Angeles, and over the next 15 years he worked variously in the U.S., Europe and Australia as an artist and producer as well as writing material for other performers. Interfusion issued the albums White on White and Yesterdaydreams, plus the singles White On White, Longest Night (1976), Yesterdaydreams (October 1978), Skating on Thin Ice (April 1979) and Very Very Long Time (May 1980).
Brian's songs have been covered by many prominent acts, notably the Pointer Sisters (Love is Like a Rolling Stone, which was picked as the b-side for their massive worldwide hit Fire), Gene Pitney (Let Go), Joe Cocker, Ringo Starr, Bonnie Tyler, Yvonne Elliman, Charlie Daniels, Glen Campbell, The Little River Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Dobie Gray, Johnny Halliday, Sylvie Vartan, Cilla Black, Trini Lopez, Wayne Newton, Paul Jones and many others. He also returned to soundtracks, scoring the American films Homemovies (1982), Fatal Vision and Vampires At Death Beach (1987), and the last instalment of George Romero's cult zombie trilogy Return Of The Living Dead (1988).
Mushroom issued a one-off single, My Baby (Loves To Hurt Me) in September 1982, and in 1983 Brian returned to Australia for a two-year period where he ran Graffiti Records for the Polygram Group. Brian set up his production company Shameless Productions, then issued an album and two singles, Land of the Video (March 1985) and Still Hurting Me (June 1985) on Graffiti.
In 1985 Brian secured the rights to a song called Turn Up the Beat and produced it as the first solo single for the young Tina Arena, who was then just beginning her career as a solo artist after her Young Talent Time days. The single did not chart and a planned solo album was scrapped. It formed an important connection, though – the composers of that song are the same team who years later wrote Tina's international smash hit Chains. In 1986 Brian composed the theme for the successful Australian TV game show Blind Date, and over the years he has written jingles for many successful advertising campaigns including Tooheys, Fosters, Swan and XXXX beer, QANTAS, Pioneer audio, Eastcoast jeans and Tourism Tasmania. He also composed ID jingles for the radio stations 3XY, 5KA, 2HA, 2BA and 2SM, and in 1989 scored the Morning Zoo program on Radio WNEW in New York.
In 1992, Brian reunited with his old Axiom buddy Glenn Shorrock to record an album for EMI, which was released early in 1993. They spent much of the next two years touring Australia and South East Asia to support the Blazing Salads album and its three singles, When It All Comes Down, De-Emphasize and a new version of Little Ray of Sunshine. Their backing band included Rex Goh (guitar; ex-Air Supply, Club Buggery band), Kirk Lorange (guitar, ex-Richard Clapton Band) and Mark Kennedy (drums, ex-Spectrum, Ayers Rock, Marcia Hines Band). The album was subsequently released throughout Europe.
In 1991 Brian was invited to join veteran US country-rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers. Although no longer containing any of the original members, the "new" Burritos carried on that classic West Coast country-rock tradition with members John Beland, Gib Guilbeau and Larry Patton; Brian has toured with them for a number of years and he played and sang on the Eye of the Hurricane album (1994) which came out on American label One Way. In 1993 he returned to soundtracks and wrote the score for the very hit Australian film The Heartbreak Kid which launched the career of Alex Dimitriades (and which was later spun off into the successful TV series Heartbreak High). Early in 1995 he produced the very first Chinese Country album, actually recorded in Mainland China. The Flying Burrito Brothers issued a new album, Honky Tonkin', in Australia on Cadd's Streetwise label (the US title was Sons of the Golden West) in December 1999 and he toured with them through Australia in January 2000.
Now based back in Australia, on the Gold Coast, Brian still performs and tours regularly, and has been active in teaching and lecturing on songwriting, in music publishing and other various aspects of the industry in Australia and the U.S. In 1997, he built the state-of-the-art recording studio Ginger Man Sound on Queensland's Gold Coast. In March 1998 he took over as CEO of The Streetwise Music Group in Brisbane, eventually becoming a co-owner. The company, which is distributed through Warner Music, now has some 20 acts spread over 3 labels (Streetwise, Stallion and Belly Laugh).
Brian is currently the Chairman of the Australian Music Industry Advisory Council and President of the Australian Music Foundation. He has also recently joined the online music education provider musicIT as an international consultant.
On the recording front, he issued the album Live at Crown in November 1998 on Stallion Records, and has recently released the compilation, Brian Cadd: The Singles, a comprehensive collection of his classic material, digitally remastered, and including some rare tracks like Angry Words, Brian's own version of the song he originally wrote for Glenn Shorrock.
– Duncan Kimball, 1998
Reprinted from Milesago – Australasian music and popular culture 1964-1975