Monday, September 17, 2007

An Amazing Life Story

Born in Hobart Tasmania in 1945, this intensely private, but gifted boy rose to the top echelon of his profession and was there at the beginning of most of the major directional changes in music from 1965 onward. But the most amazing thing about Tappy was that he even survived his violently suppressive child-hood at all. The victim and witness of unbelievable levels of domestic violence and intimidation from surrounding adults, he not only survived but turned the classic nightmare childhood into some sort of crusade to do better, be bigger, see and do more than those who victimised him. The story of how he did it is the stuff of which movies are made.

Now, at the age of 62 (he doesn’t look it) he recently passed another extra-ordinary milestone in Australian Music History by playing his 20,000th live gig. Not many, if any, Australian musicians have performed such a feat and “there’s still more to come” says Tappy. He is now rehearsing a new Duo with good friend and colleague Peter McLaren who is a classic Harmonica player in the mould of Larry Adler. Both are very pleased with the progress on the CD and the live gigs start soon. Tappy describes the Duo as “very different”.

But the story of how this unlikely character rose above mental, physical and sexual abuse to do such extra-ordinary things, really demands to be told because there is very little in Australian Musical or general folk lore like it. This is surely one of the most uplifting sagas of recent times.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

The Early Years

Born in the shadow of this forbidding mountain, the youngest of a family of nine in the worst of post-war Hobart poverty and squalor, an older brother constantly suppressed him and the rest of the family often ignored this skinny, hyper kid who constantly asked awkward questions. Physically abused by siblings and relatives, he was eventually sexually abused by the then-serving Anglican Bishop of that time, Geoffrey Cranswick, when his parents moved to Bishops’ Court in Hobart as domestic help.

This was a devastating blow for a boy that had taught himself to read and write by four and a half years of age and eventually jumped a couple of years at school due to his bright mind. He lapsed into a laconic state and after constant caning and corporal punishment from a sardonic 4th grade teacher, found himself in the care of the Government Psychiatrist. This education professional found in this “ugly Duckling” an underlying sharp and engaging intellect and rated his IQ at “way above average”.

Years later, this act of barbarism by the then Bishop (probably the highest ranking Australian Anglican to be successfully named and shamed for such an act) came home to haunt the Church through Tappy’s tenacious legal pursuit of the matter. It now encompasses two Anglican Primates, several registrars and employees and has the makings of the biggest Church scandalin recent Australian History. His book on the affair tells the story in great detail. It is sure to cause a considerable stir because of its precise and factual descriptions and reproductions of signed personal letters. Tappy’s memory has always been quite amazing and served him well indeed during this trying time.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

The Start of the Music

But the music is the real story. On his ninth Birthday, his mother bought him an old guitar and after a few weeks of messing around on it, he discovered he was a quick learner and immediately saw his escape route from an otherwise very ordinary existence. He threw himself into music and by the age of twelve he had rounded up a couple of local boys, taught them how to play bass and drums and launched the local teen dance, from which he made more money than his father made for a week’s work.

Displeased at this, his parents and the local (Anglican) Parish Vicar pulled rank, pocketed the money and taught him another lesson- how not to expose his income to the whim of others- hence his knowledge of Contracts.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And Then the Career

But the cat was well and truly out of the bag (so-to-speak) and the next two years went by with Tappy getting better on the guitar and absorbing everything musical he could find- Radio, books, records Etc. And then the break he was waiting for came - he was offered a travelling music job in a country and western Tent Show. He never looked back. By the age of 16 he was proficient and capable of playing almost anything he was asked. Some 30 gigs a week at that time helped him to perfect a style that has changed little in approach over the years but constant innovation and modernisation has created a powerful player.

Then disaster struck. A bout of serious sickness returned him temporarily to Hobart but he was soon back in Melbourne to play at the legendary “Surfrider” club in Black Rock with people like MPD, Betty McQuade, Dinah Lee, Tony Shepp and a host of other big names from that era.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Producer Emerges.

Then came Western Australia, many well-known acts and bands where one night he heard a new sound from a group called "Ray Hoff and the Off-beats". He instinctively knew it was something new and would be big. Then back to Melbourne as the start of the Soul era emerged. He found a couple of Melbourne musicians and took the whole shebang back to Hobart for rehearsal and polish. In 1966 “Madison Brass” burst upon the scene and wowed ‘em.

They won the state finals of Hoadleys National Battle of the Sounds three years in a row and appeared at Festival Hall with the likes of the Twilights, The Groove, Masters Apprentices Etc. Recordings of the "Madison Brass" that have survived are many years ahead of their time and even compare well to todays sounds and arrangements- in fact, they have a distinctly unique quality about them.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

On the Road Again- non stop.

Back to Perth in 1969 where "Madison Brass" recorded a top-selling single, was one of the first Aussie bands to be videotaped in colour, and then off to Port Hedland where he had a sudden and very educational introduction to the mining scene and the accompanying hoo-ha in the local pubs.

The rough-and-tumble of the Pilbara stood him in good stead for the seventies when he fielded the very successful 3 piece pub band Stockade. Ever since that time, Tappy has been recognised as one of our best 3 piece guitarists.

Then it was on to Tamworth where he built a studio, toured with international acts and was special Guest on the awards in 1971 and 1972 as well as guitarist/vocalist at the Tamworth Workmans' Club.

An offer from Sydney saw him at the Texas Tavern in Kings Cross with Phil Emanuel, in the band at many Sydney Clubs and branching out into electro-acoustics and Sound reinforcement. He toured supplying sound and road management for artists like Dick Emery, Stephan Grapelli, Matt Monroe, Hank Snow, Ray Stevens John Farnham and the Russian Spectacular.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

And Now The World

While back in Hobart to kick off an American Country format in a local hotel, He toured with American Country Singer Don King and was invited to the States, which he accepted and arrived in America (via Europe and Asia around 1978.

He toured extensively in the States and built and operated the “copytape” studio in Nashville Tenn. in 1979. Then it was back to Australia to tour almost non-stop for the next 25 years throughout the Continent- mostly one night stands. From Canarvon to Cooktown, Mataranka to Pioneer, Marla to Dover- he's played there.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

Addressing the Past.

The place in question

As mentioned earlier, Tappys' early days were dominated by domestic and sexual violence and the effect on him was substantial. As he grew older, the pressure on him to address the problem and lessen the distinct and increasing effects on his personal life grew. It had changed a creative, outgoing boy into a very private and defensive character that viewed all people as suspicious. This was quite clearly not the best personal outlook for a potential entertainer and it had taken years for him to emerge as a viable identity in his chosen profession. He summoned all his energy and faith- and tackled the problem in his usual style- Head on!
But when he did, there was of course no stopping him. This brutal and demeaning treatment at the hands of self-declared "Friends and family was never forgotten. In 1998 he initiated Legal proceedings against the Anglican Church of Australia and this matter is still on-going. His expertise in Legal matters had evolved over the years as he faced one challenge after another (Music is fraught with Contract agreements and disagreements) and it became obvious that some knowledge of the Law is essential to any aspiring musician- and also very handy when confronting issues of abuse.

Tappy has written a book about those days, called “THE WALL” and it is about to be published. The startling revelations it contains are sure to make it a hot seller and he spends as much time as possible working with people with similar backgrounds. He finds it remarkable how similar their stories often are to his and plans to write a follow-up effort about the predictable and premeditated nature of such acts.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

And Now….

He has released a dozen CDs recently due to a decline in live touring through the incursion of pokies, satellite TV and such. The recording area of music was clearly the obvious alternative. Many traditionally live venues now are gambling parlours and care little for music of any kind.
But his songs are in reality the story of the years on the road in 40 Countries and make very good listening. Along with a budding Radio career and voice-over work, things have never been better for this true survivor.
The Cd's feature many original tracks and very imaginative arrangements of known standards. Tappy was one of the first sequenced Solo acts in Australia, starting out on the road with his one man show around July, 1988.

Then, in June, 2006 he played his 20,00th live gig (that excludes Radio and TV) and effectively moved into Australian music history by doing so. He was there at Hoadleys' National Battle of the Sounds, Sunbury, The Wandong Country Music Festival, Channel Nine Telethon, the birth of black and white TV, Colour TV, the Cruise ship thing (1966), his list of firsts is hard to beat.

Still a fo
rmidable guitar player, His age has been no barrier and he assures his fans and friends that there are many more years to come before he “hangs up his Rock and Roll Shoes”. Extraordinarily, he found time in all of this to get married four times and have three children, two of which are also musicians and his daughter seems intent on breaking her father’s record for live gigs. She is a star in her own right in the Christian music sphere with a current hit CD on the Christian charts in Australia and the USA.

All in all, his story is an inspiration to a new generation of musicians who feel they are doing it tough. And what we haven’t even mentioned is that over many of those years Tappy has consistently recorded and produced thousands of ads and jingles that are heard every day all across the continent and as far away as America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0449 074 232

You Must Remember This…..

All in all, there will never be another Tappy. Things have changed since he first appeared on the Australian music scene and the opportunities he took advantage of are not there for the new crop of people moving into a volatile and unpredictable entertainment industry.

In fact, it was not an industry at all when he started- but with the
efforts of people like Tappy, it has become one, and indeed, a big one. Australia has many people like him to thank for that.

Against a background of crushing poverty, intimidation and aggression, he rose to be an influential figure. People like Wilbur Wilde, John Farnham, Graeme Russel (air Supply) Colin hay (Men at Work) to name just a very few, owe a great deal to Tappy- maybe these prominent artists and many more of our best would not be where they are but for their accidental meeting with a motivated but somehow introspective guitar player that often took a punt on the talent he saw in others.

Contact Tappy at:
Phone (61) 0428 322709

The Voice

Tappy has always had a fascination with Radio. As a very small boy (9 yrs old) he appeared as a singer on the Peter's Pals Club at 7HO in Hobart which was a local kids show. From that point on he had the "bug" and by 1966 he had a solid and lasting relationship with various staff members of the Station.

His voice is now heard across the Globe via websites like VOICE123 in New York City and on dozens of Australian Radio Stations. His Character voices are hilarious, provocative and send up everyone from Bob Hawke to Pakistani camel drivers and just about everyone between.

Recently he recorded a series of voice-overs for a resort in Jordan in the Middle East and several American stations carry his voice in one form or another. His wry wit and quick response to callers also make him a favourite on interview and talkback shows.

But even that's not all. Tappy is an accomplished producer and many radio specials (like the one on the Aussie pop band Sherbert he produced in 1977) pop up from time-to-time all over Australia. Recently he has delighted in doing Community Radio in several States and the response to his rather irreverent treatment of both music and interview material has been quite eye (or rather ear) opening.

It's almost as if even at this late stage of his extraordinary career, he has again struck off in a new direction and recently when we were talking about this very subject, he confided to me that one of the big attractions of radio to him is the fact that no equipment has to be lifted and moved. But I said to him "if that is the case, how about Protocol- you will need to carry a P.A. and stuff to do that". In his usual idiosyncratic style he immediately quipped "well, maybe I can steal the Harmonica from Peter".

But he did also add that his approach to radio is the same as any other entertainment medium. "It has to be engaging, bright and breezy and contain material that cannot be heard easily on competing shows or venues". I expressed the opinion that I thought there was very little chance of such a thing.

Tappy has recorded literally thousands of Radio, TV and Film sound tracks and won several awards. There is no mistaking his voice on air or on stage- unless he is using one of his character voices. One thing is for sure- there is a lot of entertaining still to be done by Tappy.

Contact Tappy at:

Phone (61) 0428 322709

Link to the Protocol Duo

Link to Protocol: