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:: Spotlight :: 2008 ARIA Hall Of Fame

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

In the very short time the ARIA Hall Of Fame has become a momentous and special event in the music calendar. Already several great musical moments and tributes have occurred since it became a stand-alone event.

The organisers are proud to announce that the 2008 ARIA Hall Of Fame, now in its fourth year, will be held at Melbourne Town Hall on Tuesday, July 1, 2008 and, for the very first time, members of the general public will be able to attend. A limited number of general admission tickets will be made available to the public from 9.00am on Monday, 12 May, 2008 through Ticketek or phone 132 489.

ARIA Chairman and President & CEO of Warner Music Australasia Ed St John said, “2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Johnny O'Keefe's "The Wild One” - the ground zero of Australian rock & roll. So in our 50th anniversary year, it's so exciting to be again celebrating the wonderful history of Australian rock & roll and the many incredible artists who have made it so special. The ARIA Hall of Fame has become the most memorable night in the Australian music calendar - a time to remember our fallen heroes and celebrate careers that have lasted longer than one or two albums. We're talking about whole lives devoted to music - and it's an honour just to be a part of it."

Over the past three years ARIA has inducted some of the most important performers in Australian music history into the stand alone event - Brian Cadd, Radio Birdman, Hoodoo Gurus, Daddy Cool, Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons, Hunters & Collectors, Rose Tattoo, Normie Rowe, Icehouse, Easybeats, Renee Geyer, Split Enz and Lobby Loyde all join the list of music legends who define the Australian music landscape.

The 2008 event will feature the induction of five legendary artists and one very special industry inductee who will be welcomed into the ARIA Hall Of Fame. This year the ARIA Hall Of Fame moment will be completely separate to the ARIA Awards, this is the only time this year the artists will inducted on this legendary honour role.

The 2008 ARIA Hall Of Fame promises to deliver more musical magic moments with performances by the inductees, contemporary Australian artist performances and in some cases musical collaborations with both. Simply, this is a night not to be missed. Music fans will be able to watch the 2008 event when it is broadcast exclusively on Vh1 (available on channel 810 on subscription television Foxtel, Optus and Austar) on Saturday, July 5 at 9.00pm. Vh1 will screen an encore presentation of the event on Sunday, July 6 at 5.00pm.

A brand new dedicated website for the ARIA Hall of Fame has been created and will be activated very soon. Click here and await its official launch. The website will feature all the latest on the 2008 inductees and in-depth history of the ARIA Hall of Fame.

2008 ARIA Hall of Fame
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 - Melbourne Town Hall

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**Update as at June 14**

ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) is honoured to announce the first two of five iconic Australasian music artists who will be inducted into the prestigious ARIA HALL OF FAME on Tuesday, July 1 in Melbourne. This greatly respected annual music industry event, now in its 4th year, will take place at MELBOURNE TOWN HALL and will be broadcast exclusively on Vh1 (available on Channel 810 on subscription television Foxtel, Optus & Austar) on Saturday, July 5 at 9.00pm.

When DRAGON made their way across the Tasman to become pop sensations with a decidedly dark side, their story became the stuff legends are made of. For 3 intense years (1976 – 1978), DRAGON dominated the Australian charts with a parade of hits which include This Time, Get That Jive, April Sun In Cuba, Still In Love With You, Sunshine, and Are You Old Enough? - songs that still receive regular radio airplay to this day. By the time they released the album O Zambezi they quickly became Australia's number one band. In commercial terms they were unstoppable, the medals couldn’t be minted fast enough - Band Of the Year, Album Of the Year, Most Popular New Group.

Founding member, Todd Hunter, said “It is an honour to be included in the Hall Of Fame and it has always been a privilege to be part of the Australian music industry even though we may have felt like outsiders for much of the time. It is great to be included with bands and musicians whose work we admire. It is fitting that this should happen exactly 10 years after Marc died. I wish he was here and I know he would be thrilled. As a member of a band that has been playing on and off for 35 years, I’ve got to say it’s been a great pleasure and this is a great compliment for all involved.”

With his distinctive voice, finely crafted songs and compelling stage presence, RUSSELL MORRIS is one of Australia’s most enduring singers. A major pop star in the latter sixties, he went on to become one of the country’s first singer songwriters and achieved great success in Australia during the seventies. The song for which he is most renowned is The Real Thing, a witches’ brew of whirling, twirling psychedelia that rewrote the rules of how a record could be made and could sound. The Real Thing was released in the US and became a New York’s critic’s favourite, charting there and in Chicago and Huston. On the home front, a second solo single Part 3 Into Paper Walls, shot straight to No. 1 as well, remaining on the charts for 4 months and also earning a gold single. Many other chart hits followed. The Sweet Sweet Love single, went Top 10 nationally, as did Wings Of An Eagle.

On hearing of his induction, Russell said, “When I first began the music path on which I eventually embarked - and walked the full distance – I thought it would be all over at the age of twenty five, and by thirty I would be back doing accounting! So to be here right now and receiving this wonderful award is not only amazing but a beautiful surprise”.

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The announcement for the next two music greats to be inducted into the 2008 ARIA Hall of Fame, presented by Vodafone, has been made.

As a ceaseless crowd pleaser for more than fifty years, MAX MERRITT was a superstar in New Zealand long before his fame spread to Australian shores. Armed with a distinct gravelly voice, when MAX MERRITT & THE METEORS crossed the Tasman at the end of 1964 to dish out their Merseybeat surf pop, the dance floors filled.

By 1965 they were touring nationally with The Rolling Stones and Searchers and released a run of singles for EMI including Shake, I Can’t Help Myself and Fannie Mae. From 1965 to 1967 MAX MERRITT & THE METEORS were the live band on the eastern seaboard and entranced fans would follow them from gig to gig. Early in 1967 Max put together a new band with the aim of tackling the British market and this formation, from the outset, was a sensation. Max had refined his passion for soul music and it was the sound and style he’d been looking for - his niche. But his international aspirations were dashed when the band, on their way to a concert, were crushed and crumpled in a head-on collision that left all hospitalised and Merritt with just one eye. The benefit concerts and moral support that flowed enabled the band to endure the tragedy and slowly rebuild. The Meteors didn’t return to performance until 1968 and after two trying years, they recorded what has been hailed as the first truly great Australian rock album. The bristling excellence of the Max Merritt & The Meteors album on RCA and the national hit Hey, Western Union Man delivered on the promise. The album Stray Cats followed. At the end of 1974, a determined Max regrouped, found a new manager, and recruited four new band members. During 1975 they successfully rebuilt their pub rock reputation and word-of-mouth was so strong that the new, polished, MAX MERRITT & THE METEORS became the first signing to the British arm of Arista Records. Over Christmas 1975 Max’s Slippin’ Away was at number two on Australia’s national charts (the A Little Easier LP having been Top 10) and by the time he and his band had swept across the country on a triumphant tour in mid-’76 he’d also had hits with Let It Slide, Coming Back and Whisper In My Ear, and a Top 20 album with Out Of The Blue. By the end of the 70’s, Max was a solo recording entity and he released two fine albums - Keeping In Touch and Black Plastic Max. Further singles appeared throughout the eighties, including Prove It and Mean Green Fighting Machine. Over the decades, though he split his time with other pursuits, MAX MERRITT’s name has remained synonymous with passionately performed roots music. In 2002 he dramatically closed the first half of each Long Way To The Top concert across the nation with a fiery, intense soul-gospel revue performance based around Try A Little Tenderness that had the panting hordes truly screaming for more. Those who witnessed his set at Byron Bay’s East Coast Blues & Roots Festival in 2004 are still talking about it.

On his impending ARIA Hall of Fame induction MAX MERRITT said, “I am pleased and honoured to be inducted in such illustrious company as Russell Morris and Marc Hunter. My Mum, Dad & Stewie would have been very, very proud”.

Due to Max’s ongoing battle with kidney failure, whilst is in Australia he will be cared for at the Epworth Hospital Melbourne under consultation with his Los Angeles Nephrologist, Dr. Gregory Krastein.

THE TRIFFIDS began with high school friends David McComb, Alsy MacDonald and Phil Kakulas making a noise in the garage. By 1983 their line-up had consolidated to include Martyn P Casey and Jill Birt, and THE TRIFFIDS released their debut album Treeless Plain, which was met with critical acclaim. The band toured relentlessly and for many months they held the midnight-to-dawn residency at the infamous Sydney Trade Union Club. In early 1984 THE TRIFFIDS made their first foray to London where they were quickly embraced by the UK music press. THE TRIFFIDS made the album Calenture, which featured lush string sections and complex musical arrangements to songs such as Bury Me Deep in Love and Trick of the Light. A final album, Stockholm, recorded live in Sweden, finished their catalogue in 1989. David McComb was by now plagued with ill health in large part due to a congenital heart defect. He died in 1999. In 2006 the band were reunited for a major retrospective festival in Belgium and early in 2008 the band and friends performed as part of the Sydney Festival.

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ARIA is proud to announce one final music inductee and one special industry inductee who will be welcomed into the ARIA Hall of Fame on Tuesday, July 1, 2008.

He’s painted the Queen of England, but in Australia we’ll always know ROLF HARRIS as the lovable larrikin who sang the infectious Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport and discovered that a sheet of freshly painted hardboard made a wonderful sounding instrument he dubbed ‘the Wobble Board’. As one of the world’s most readily recognised Australians, he has enjoyed acclaim and enormous affection as a painter, television presenter and constant champion of children, animals and the arts. But music was always at the core of ROLF HARRIS’ world. As a chart hit entity, his achievements are greatly impressive. Rolf is the only Australian-born singer who has been in the British Top 10 in the 1960’s, the 1970s and the 1990s. He was the first Australian-born pop performer to reach the American Top 3 and in Australia he has had number ones a decade or more apart (a rare feat shared with John Farnham, Col Joye, Slim Dusty and, in varying group guises, Glenn Shorrock). Rolf penned his song, Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport, (originally titled Kangalypso) as early as 1957. By May 1960 it was No. 1 smash hit. By July it was in the UK Top 10 and 3 years later, it was Top 3 on the US Billboard chart. In the late 1960s his song Two Little Boys spent 7 weeks at No. 1, becoming the UK’s last No 1 of the sixties and the first of the seventies, and was the UK’s biggest selling record of 1969. Rolf’s rendition, also a smash in Australia, became part of British life, touching everyone from Margaret Thatcher, who declared it her favourite song on Desert Island Discs. Though Rolf recorded throughout the 70s and 80s, his multi-faceted career – with television, art and public-spirited campaigns - kept him phenomenally busy. By the early 90s Rolf very likely thought that he had finished with the pop charts. But they had not finished with him. Invited by Andrew Denton to perform a version of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven on his live television comedy show The Money Or The Gun, Rolf joined 27 other acts in rendering the epic rock work. His treatment was after the style of Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, with wobble board, an ‘altogether now’ chorus and didge. Released in the UK as a single it made Top 10. ROLF HARRIS, MBE, OBE, CBE, AM (and 1975 King of Moomba!) has found his way into the annals of popular music in ways known and unknown. He has been a star performer at four Glastonbury festivals and has played didgeridoo and sung on Kate Bush albums. The reach of the man, particularly in Britain, is hard to fully comprehend, even for his countrymen, and his most recent series Star Portraits with Rolf Harris has also broken TV records. As always, ROLF HARRIS continues to come at us from different directions.

Rolf said from his home in the UK “I look up at the shelf in my office and see the ARIA pyramid obelisk which was sent to me back in 1994, on my 64th birthday actually. At that time I was just gearing myself up to do my first Glastonbury Festival, and I was knocked out to get this recognition from the 8th ARIA Awards. It commemorates my win for Best Comedy Release. I think it was my version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which changed my whole life by thrusting me back into the awareness of all the University aged youngsters. They suddenly realised they knew all my songs from their childhood, and what’s more, remembered all the words. (Thanks again to Andrew Denton!) Now, 14 years later, I’m being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. I look at all the famous names and am thrilled to be with them, for basically, just enjoying myself through music for the whole of my life. Thank you so much.”


In addition to the five music inductees, ARIA is pleased to announce that legendary broadcaster and country music aficionado JOHN LAWS will receive an ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 ARIA HALL OF FAME event. Awarded at the discretion of the ARIA Board, The ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award recognises a contribution, by an Australian, spanning at least 20 years and preferably an entire professional career. The recipient of an ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award is not a musician, but someone who has made a significant and profound contribution to Australian music and the Australian music industry. Previous recipients include Ted Albert, Daryl Somers, Stan Rofe, Ian Meldrum, Michael Gudinski, Ron Tudor, Bill Armstrong, Charles Fisher and last year’s recipient John Woodruff. This year’s recipient, JOHN LAWS, is widely credited with playing a major role in either helping break or elevate the careers of country stars ranging from relative newcomers such as Lee Kernaghan and Troy Cassar-Daley, right back to local pioneers including Slim Dusty and Reg Lindsay. Local country music icon John Williamson, who is also president of the Country Music Association of Australia, was such a regular on Laws’ shows that the broadcaster nicknamed him “my little brother”. Right up to his final day on air, last year at the age of 72, JOHN LAWS had a massive radio audience across the country - over two million listeners daily. It’s why the Golden Tonsils was, for a long time, the highest-paid radio star in the world. When Laws spoke, Australia listened. When Laws played his favourite music, Australia listened, and went out and bought the records. JOHN LAWS is bestowed this honour in recognition of his unwavering support of Australian artists and the Australian music industry across the breadth of his time in radio. In an incredible career spanning over 50 years, Lawsie – as he’s always been known to generations of loyal fans and listeners – has received all manner of awards from various media and entertainment institutions, alongside accolades and commendations from royalty through to a long succession of Australian prime ministers. Now he can add ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award to his mantelpiece.

Australian of the Year and country music superstar, Lee Kernaghan summed it up saying “Lawsie's love of Australia and our music ignited the careers of many young artists, myself included. I will forever be grateful to him for riding shotgun with me on the Pass the Hat around Australia fundraising tours. He was and always will be the King of the Radio”.

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Rock legend Max Merritt will return to Australia on Saturday, June 28 for a brief visit enabling him to be in Melbourne to be inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame on Tuesday, July 1.

In April 2007 Max discovered he was suffering from the rare autoimmune disorder called Goodpastures Syndrome and has been left with total kidney failure. Max was given the all clear confirming that he was medically stable to travel. Max’s long time friend and Manager, Wal Bishop, said “The ARIA people jumped at the chance to have Max here and booked business class tickets to get him home for the award in total comfort”.

Max fell on hard times after he fell ill and the Australian entertainment industry rallied to stage a fundraising concert at the Palais Theatre on October 21, 2007 that raised over $200,000.00 to sustain him. Bishop said, “His spirits are sky high at the moment and he has been building up his strength every day. Being here will also give him a chance to thank all those people that donated their time, talent, services and money for him”

A function is being arranged so Max can thank everybody involved in the concert. “The 3DVD Concert For Max set will be released by destraMusic and be in the shops June 21 but we will hold off having an official launch until after the ARIA induction” Bishop added, “My best guess is we will head down to the Palais Theatre for an industry gathering on July 2 because Max wants to thank everybody in person.”

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**Update as at June 29**

With the 2008 ARIA Hall Of Fame just two days away, organisers are delighted to announce a stellar line-up of musicians and presenters who will help induct RUSSELL MORRIS, DRAGON, THE TRIFFIDS, ROLF HARRIS and MAX MERRITT into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, proudly presented by Vodafone, at the Melbourne Town Hall on Tuesday, July 1.

As a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Australian rock ‘n roll, THE LIVING END will kick off the show in their inimitable fashion by performing Johnny O’ Keefe’s classic hit The Wild One. The song was first released on the Shakin’ At The Stadium EP early in 1958 and has been widely acknowledged as the first great Oz Rock composition. The Wild One went on to be recorded (as Real Wild Child) by Jerry Lee Lewis and Iggy Pop, among others, and is guaranteed to show why it has stood the test of time when delivered by THE LIVING END.

Fellow Kiwi RICHARD WILKINS will induct DRAGON into the ARIA HALL OF FAME while very special guests JAMES REYNE and IAN MOSS will add some musical sparkle when they stand alongside the current DRAGON line-up (led by Todd Hunter) to perform April Sun in Cuba and Rain - two bona fide Australian classic hits.

The remarkable MAX MERRITT will be inducted into the ARIA HALL OF FAME by rock historian GLENN A. BAKER while KASEY CHAMBERS, BILL CHAMBERS and band will team up with MAX MERRITT himself to perform their rendition of his smash hit Slippin’ Away.

In a fitting tribute, music legend COL JOYE, A.M. will present his friend, former broadcast and country music aficionado JOHN LAWS, with his ARIA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1988, COL JOYE is also celebrating an anniversary of his own in 2008 as he notches up a phenomenal 50 years as a performer in the Australian music industry.

From across the Atlantic, 2007 ARIA HALL OF FAME inductee NICK CAVE will pay tribute to his former UK touring mates THE TRIFFIDS. The BLACK EYED SUSAN’s ROB SNARSKI and THE TRIFFIDS will perform Red Pony while STEVE KILBEY (THE CHURCH) will join THE TRIFFIDS on stage to perform Wide Open Road.

MIDNIGHT OIL and GHOSTWRITERS’ founding member, ROB HIRST, will take out induction honours for the incomparable RUSSELL MORRIS while a supergroup featuring special guest musicians including members of THE CHURCH (Steve Kilbey, Tim Powles), THE WHITLAMS (Jack Housden), JIMMY BARNES BAND / THE HANDS (Clayton Doley) and POWDERFINGER / THE HANDS (Lachlan Doley) will team up to perform The Real Thing, a song that was described by Cashbox Magazine at the time as a “Mind-boggling electronic blast, hypnotic spell caster … compelling at first listen and impossible to ignore”.

And last, but definitely not least, the much loved ROLF HARRIS will make a rare musical appearance, along with some very special guests, to perform his hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. TIM FREEDMAN (THE WHITLAMS) will also be taking to the Hall of Fame stage to pay tribute with his own unique and heart wrenching version of Two Little Boys.

For all final 2008 ARIA Hall of Fame updates and artist profiles please go to the brand new dedicated website which features all the latest on the 2008 inductees and in-depth history of the ARIA Hall of Fame.

2008 ARIA Hall of Fame - proudly presented by Vodafone
Tuesday, 1 July, 2008 - Melbourne Town Hall
Featuring DRAGON, RUSSELL MORRIS, THE TRIFFIDS, MAX MERRITT and ROLF HARRIS and ARIA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient JOHN LAWS

For more information, visit

www.ariahalloffame.com.au