So much for rock ’n’ roll be­ing a short-lived fad that would fade away – The Dell­tones can still do doo-wop with the best of them 50 years on

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS - THERESE MUR­RAY

IT cer­tainly takes guts for a band to keep go­ing af­ter be­ing told “don’t give up your day jobs, this mu­sic is not go­ing to last’’. But Aussie leg­ends The Dell­tones knew back in 1958 they could make their mark.

“When we first started in 1958, a lot of people were telling us that we might as well en­joy our­selves while we could be­cause that mu­sic wasn’t go­ing to last – rock ’n’ roll was a pass­ing fad which would soon dis­ap­pear,” says the only orig­i­nal man stand­ing, Ian “Pee­wee’’ Wil­son.

Fast-for­ward to 2014 and the group is still rock­ing stages across the coun­try, in­clud­ing a show on the Gold Coast this weekend, prov­ing wrong any­one who ever doubted them.

“To hear those words all that time ago and still be around with an au­di­ence now is very hum­bling,” Wil­son says. “Ob­vi­ously that au­di­ence has changed, I think if we only had our orig­i­nal au­di­ence sup­port­ing us, the Del­lies wouldn’t be do­ing what we’re do­ing now.” The quar­tet will be in their el­e­ment this weekend as one of the head­lin­ers for ’50s and ’60s nos­tal­gia fes­ti­val Cooly Rocks On. The 11-day fes­ti­val fea­tures an ex­ten­sive collection of vin­tage and clas­sic cars on dis­play, in­clud­ing hot rods, cruis­ers and coupes. The Dell­tones will be joined by more than 50 rock ’n’ roll bands and per­form­ers – in­clud­ing Slim Jim Phan­tom, Jack Bay­more and the Ban­dits, Denise Drysdale and Frankie J Holden & Wil­bur Wilde.

Known for their “har­mony and rock ’n’ roll that’s good for the soul”, Wil­son says the four­part har­mony band have sur­vived a lot of changes.

“Also, I think we’re the only guys in Aus­tralia still singing doo-wop and people love it,” he says. “To earn a liv­ing out of some­thing you love af­ter more than five decades is just fan­tas­tic. We see new and younger faces all the time.”

The orig­i­nal line-up in­cluded Wil­son and his three gan­gly young mates Noel Wider­berg, Brian Perkins and War­ren Lu­cas. They were life­savers at Syd­ney’s Bronte Beach who re­alised they could not only sing but har­monised well. To­day, Wil­son is joined by lead gui­tarist Woody Fin­layson, bassist Owen Booth and drum­mer Merv Dick.

“Back in 1958, our mu­sic was an ex­plo­sion of youth, it was new and ev­ery­one loved it,” Wil­son says. “It re­ally was the start of pop­u­lar mu­sic. The four of us put in our all on stage and do our best to make the mu­sic sound as it did in the early years.”

The Dell­tones present the first half of the show un­plugged per­form­ing wellloved songs from their early years Get A Lit­tle Dirt On Your Hands, Come A Lit­tle Bit Closer, Hangin’ Five and Gee.

The sec­ond half con­sists of songs re­flect­ing their full­blown re­vival in the mid ’80s from their best sell­ing rock ’n’ roll al­bums Bop Til Ya Drop and Ticked Pink.

Wil­son says The Dell­tones sound is “aimed at the heart and feet”. “I’ve al­ways wanted to do mu­sic that re­flected ro­mance and hu­mour. The bot­tom line for the Del­lies is en­ter­tain­ment.’’

Af­ter more than 50 years on the mu­sic scene, The Dell­tones are still rock­ing out.

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