GET­TING BACK TO WHERE IT BE­GAN

A new mini-se­ries looks at the fas­ci­nat­ing story be­hind the rise of The Easy­beats, who went from strug­gling mi­grants to in­ter­na­tional stars

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - SEANNA CRONIN

Their songs have stood the test of time, and now the story be­hind the mu­sic of The Easy­beats is com­ing to the small screen. The two-part minis­eries Fri­day On My Mind tells the story of five young, newly ar­rived im­mi­grants who met in a Syd­ney mi­grant hos­tel in the 1960s and formed the band that would take Aus­tralian rock ’n’ roll to the world.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a story of ca­ma­raderie and mate­ship, but a lot of peo­ple for­get it’s an im­mi­grant story,” Macken­zie Fearn­ley tells Play mag­a­zine.

“Th­ese were five guys from dif­fer­ent parts of the world to Aus­tralia be­ing per­se­cuted be­fore be­ing ac­cepted as Aus­tralia’s big­gest rock ’n’ roll band. It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of Aus­tralia’s mi­grant his­tory.”

Gold Coast na­tive Fearn­ley makes his TV de­but as leg­endary guitarist and song writer Jo­hannes Van Den Berg, aka Harry Vanda.

“I was back home on the Coast with Mum and Dad and told them about how they’re mak­ing a TV show about a band called The Easy­beats and they both went ‘wow, that’s from back in our time’,” he says.

“They pulled out all the old DVDs and we went through the his­tory of the band.

“From that point on I de­cided I was the only per­son in Aus­tralia who was go­ing to get this role. I wasn’t go­ing to let any­one else get it.”

The minis­eries traces the band’s for­ma­tion, part­ner­ship with Aus­tralian mu­sic in­dus­try pi­o­neer and record pro­ducer Ted Al­bert (played by Ash­ley Zuck­er­man), in­ter­na­tional suc­cess and even­tual break-up.

“Harry was the peace­keeper of the group,” Fearn­ley says. “He just loved play­ing and writ­ing mu­sic.

“He didn’t so much get in­volved in the pol­i­tics or drama sur­round­ing that.

“I study Shake­speare so I put him as the Ben­vo­lio to Romeo.

“He was just try­ing to keep ev­ery­one on track.”

Harry and Ge­orge would go on to have a much longer song­writ­ing part­ner­ship af­ter the breakup of The Easy­beats as Vanda & Young, which sup­plied hits for AC/DC, John Paul Young, Ste­vie Wright, Rose Tat­too and The An­gels.

“Apart from the dy­namic of a great rhythm guitarist and a great lead guitarist, (their part­ner­ship) also taps into the psy­chol­ogy of the both of them,” Fearn­ley says. “Ge­orge was the driver of the mu­sic cre­ation. He was the one throw­ing out most of the ideas and Harry had the chisel and the ham­mer, craft­ing things from what Ge­orge had given him … They both had that shared goal of want­ing to do mu­sic.” Fri­day On My Mind de­buts Novem­ber 26 at 8.40pm on ABC

Gold Coast na­tive Macken­zie Fearn­ley stars in Fri­day On My Mind on the ABC on Sun­day.

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