Remember when The Easybeats rose to fame and we were gripped by Easyfever

Mar 02, 2019
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Dick Diamonde, Henry 'Snowy' Fleet, George Young, Harry Vanda and Stevie Wright of The Easybeats pose for a group portrait. Source: Getty Images

In March 1966 The Easybeats were soaring to new heights of fame in Australia with the release of a number of chart hits. Having met as immigrants in what is now known as the Villawood Detention Centre, Stevie Wright, Gordon Fleet, George Young, Harry Vanda and Dick Diamonde formed the band. Their career kickstarted in Sydney in 1964, and they quickly became one of the most popular acts around.

While their first single ‘For My Woman’ was a minor hit, the band’s next single ‘She’s So Fine’ gave them a taste of commercial success. Inspired by the British invasion that was being led by the Beatles, The Easybeats enjoyed a similar level of hysteria at their concerts, which was dubbed in the Australian press as ‘Easyfever’.

With two hits songs — ‘She’s So Fine’ and ‘Wedding Ring’ — the band threw together its first album, Easy. It is regarded as one of the first albums written by an Australian rock group to have all original material. They tried to return to a blues sound with the release of their next single, but it failed.

The band released its second album in March 1966. It’s 2 Easy had two singles that returned The Easybeats to the top of the charts — ‘Women (Make You Feel Alright)’ and ‘Come And See Her’. These songs went to number four and number three respectively in the Australian music chart. With so many hits in a short career, it wouldn’t be long before The Easybeats were taking their success overseas.

While they toured Australia in ’66, The Easybeats’ manager Mike Vaughan flew to New York in the United States to negotiate a recording contract with United Artists Records. Prior to relocating to the United Kingdom, the band performed a television special and the songs made up the Easyfever EP, which soared to number one on the charts. When the band released Volume 3 and the lead single ‘Sorry’, it topped the Australian charts.

Although ‘Come And See Her’ hadn’t done strongly in the UK, their song ‘Friday On My Mind’ struck a cord with listeners and reached number six on the UK charts, giving The Easybeats its first international hit. It reached number one in Australia, charted in the top 10 in Germany, France and the Netherlands, and made the top 20 in Canada and the US.

They had seven Australian top 10 hits, ‘She’s So Fine’, ‘Wedding Ring’, ‘Woman (Make Me Feel Alright)’, ‘Come And See Her’, ‘I’ll Make You Happy’ and ‘Sorry’ and ‘Friday On My Mind’. In 2001, to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Australian Performing Rights Association — comprising of 40,000 songwriters — invited 100 writers, musicians, critics and broadcasters to nominate the top 10 songs of the previous 75 years. ‘Friday On My Mind’ was voted number one.

It was also in March 1966 that the London Evening Standard published an interview with John Lennon where he’d stated, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first — rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me”. It was an offhand comment that passed without much fuss in the UK, but in the US Lennon was being called to task and the country campaigned against the Beatles.

Nancy Sinatra has teamed up with producer/song-writer Lee Hazelwood for a worldwide number one single, ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’. Other hits from this pairing were ‘How Does That Grab You Darling?’; ‘Friday’s Child’; and ‘Sugar Town’. Sinatra then teamed with her father Frank for another worldwide number one, ‘Something Stupid’. Other mostly country styled hits were ‘Love Eyes’; ‘Lady Bird’; ‘Highway Song’; and four duets with Lee Hazelwood ‘Jackson’; ‘Lightning’s Girl’; ‘Some Velvet Morning’ and ‘Did You Ever?’. She also recorded the theme for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.

In Philles Records, Los Angeles, producer Phil Spector was recording ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ and ‘I’ll Never Need More Than This’ with Ike and Tina Turner. Turner recalls, “He came over to our house and I was knocked out the first time I heard Phil sing ‘River Deep’ along with a guitar and loved it. Then when he added the instrumental tracks, wow! Jack Nitzsche’s arrangement was really something else”.

The top 10 in Australia in March 1966

1. ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra
2. ‘Woman (Make Feel Alright)’, The Easybeats
3. ‘As Tears Go By/19th Nervous Breakdown’, The Rolling Stones
4. ‘Listen People’, Herman’s Hermits
5. ‘Barbara Ann’, The Beach Boys
6. ‘Tennessee Waltz Song/I Am What I Am,’ Ray Brown & The Whispers
7. ‘My Love’, Petula Clark
8. ‘Michelle’, The Overlanders
9. ‘The Breaking Point/Ya Ya’, Normie Rowe
10. ‘We Can Work It Out/Daytripper’,The Beatles

The number ones in Australia in March 1966

5: ‘Woman (Make Me Feel Alright)’, The Easybeats
12, 19, 26: ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra

The number ones in the US in March 1966

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‘Ballad Of The Green Beret’, by S/Sgt Barry Sadler, was #1 for the whole month.

The number ones in the UK in March 1966

5, 12: ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, Nancy Sinatra
19, 26: ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, The Walker Brothers

Did you get ‘Easyfever’ in 1966? What music were you listening to?

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