Eric Burdon Website
1989 Eric Burdon Tour - A personal recollection
Winter 1989, my friend Richard hears that Eric Burdon is about to tour Australia. Eric had last toured here in 1982 with Snuffy Walden and provided some fantastic performances. I had gone to three or four of the concerts in 1982 and still have vivid memories of Eric Burdon and his band performing on that tour.
This time round Eric Burdon was touring with local musicians. Paul Christie, bassist with the Party Boys, had organised a six week tour of Australia. The band featured:
Early in the tour the original keyboard player, Sam McNally, was replaced by Mal Logan.
In 1989 I was living in Sydney - a central location for the tour. I had holidays due to me from my work, and no other commitments to tie me down. My friend, Richard, had just started a new job, and wasn't so fortunate. But between us we managed to attend nearly every show in four states and one territory.
Richard flew up to the Gold Coast on Thursday 22nd June and went to the concerts at Benowa Tavern and the Cabbage Patch at Coolangatta. I left Sydney after work on the Friday and drove the 1,000 kilometers or so overnight to pick up Richard about midday Saturday.
In the Queensland shows the band was still experimenting with the play list and learning each others styles. The performances were credible, especially given that the original keyboard player had just been replaced with another - Mal Logan.
At Maroochydore - Stuarts Hotel - a stupid person chucked an empty tin on stage which hit Eric in Mid performance. The song stopped - quiet descended, before Eric launched into an angry tirade against the stupid person responsible. After this event, Eric and the band continued the set, but it lacked heart from then on. It was the only show I attended where such an irresponsible action by a member of the audience occurred.
Richard had to fly back to Sydney to his job on Monday. I spent Monday relaxing, trying to overcome a head cold. The band was next due to play on Tuesday at Byron Bay on the North coast of New South Wales. This is hippie territory. The Aquarius festival was held at Nimbin in 1973, and the area has attracted many refugees from the city to try and live alternate lifestyles. Byron Bay is the most easterly point in mainland Australia and has some superb surf beaches.
The Arts Factory at Byron Bay is a combined Hotel and performance venue. A backpackers hostel is located conveniently nearby. The audience at this show had a great vibe. Eric and the band fed off this audience vibe and gave what I think was one of the best performances of the tour. It was a great show with a great atmosphere.
The band continued down the NSW coast performing at Sawtell, Port Macquarie (see playlist) and Gosford before playing two performances in Sydney on the weekend of July 1st and 2nd. I followed them down the coast and home to Sydney. The playlist by now was reasonably fixed, with slight variations.
While Eric and the band in the following week played shows in country NSW at Jindabyne and Wagga Wagga, I returned to work.
The following weekend Richard flew to Adelaide to catch the shows on Saturday and Sunday, while I drove to Melbourne, ready to catch the band with the Victorian leg of the tour. My itinerary showed the band performing at Velvets Nightclub in Bendigo on Tuesday 11 July. However, the nightclub was closed. Evidently the itinerary had changed. I believe the band performed in Geelong that night.
In the first Melbourne gig, I remember the band walking on at the Dorsett Gardens Hotel, and lead guitarist Mal Eastick walks on and sees me right in front and his eyes brighten with a smile of recognition. The Melbourne performances were polished and accomplished. The venues were packed with appreciative audiences.
The band played the Palace Nightclub on Saturday 15 July with the following playlist.
After 5 shows in Melbourne, the last at Frankston on Sunday night, it was time for me to return to Sydney and my work commitments. I left Frankston straight after the concert and drove through the night (over 800 kilometers) to Sydney.
The band was due to play that week around the club circuit in Sydney. I led a busy life that week, going to work each day for 8 hours, then going out to a club in the evening to see Eric Burdon and the band. Often I would come home sweat drenched at 2 or 3 am to a quick shower and fall into bed, ready to get up at 8am to go to work.
On Saturday 22 July the band played at the Shellharbour Workers Club, near Woollongong (See Photos). This was the second concert that I brought my camera to, and photographed Eric and the band playing on stage. It was my last show for me on the tour. The very last show on the tour was the following night, Sunday 23 July, in Canberra. Richard borrowed my car for the night and drove down to attend.
Many of the shows towards the end both Richard and I were included on the guest list. It was a minor compensation - we'd both spent much money on travel and accommodation and door fees.
Several times we went backstage (See photos) and met and chatted with Eric, band members, a few other dedicated fans, and the road crew.
A few days after the last show the band went out for an end of tour dinner. Because of our persistence and support as fans, both Richard and I were invited along. It was a chance to sit down over dinner and talk about the tour. I produced the photos that I had taken of two shows and passed them around.
So concluded four and a half weeks of living a nomadic lifestyle of music and following my desires - being part of 17 shows by one of the British Rock Legends - Eric Burdon. Sometimes I stayed at the back and watched the band and the audience, more often I was right in front of the stage dancing and singing along.
If I had the chance I'd do it all over again!
I gratefully wish to thank Paul Christie who persuaded Eric Burdon to tour and put the Party Boys band together. My deep thanks also to Eric Burdon whose proffessionalism and dedication to his music has brought a little bit of love and light into this world. Surely that is all any of us can hope to do.
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