The Strangers

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The Strangers was an Australian band based in Melbourne, that existed from 1961 to 1975. The band started out playing instrumental songs in a style similar to The Shadows, with influences from Cliff Richard. The original line-up included Peter Robinson (bass), Graeme ('Garth') Thompson (drums), Laurie Arthur (lead guitar) and Fred Weiland (rhythm guitar). Robinson had previously played with The Thunderbirds, and went on to replace Athol Guy in The Seekers from the late 70s. In 1966 The Strangers became the resident backing band on the Melbourne based teenage television pop program The Go!! Show, in which they appeared each week from 1964 to 1967. After "The Go!! Show" ended, they became the resident vocal group on HSV-7's Sunnyside Up program. In all, the band appeared on television at least once a week for nine years straight. At the end of 1962 they signed with Ron Tudor's W&G Records, after working as the studio band for artists including The Seekers, Frankie Davidson, Johnny Chester, Merv Benton, Little Gulliver and the Children, Pat Farrar and Joy Lemmon. In 1964 they supported Colin Cook and released an LP called Colin Cook and the Strangers. The first charting record in The Stranger's own name was Cry of the Wild Goose (an instrumental by Terry Gilkyson) / Leavin' Town, which was released in January 1963 and reached number 12 on the Melbourne charts. This was followed by three original instrumentals, Torlido, The Outcast and Undertow, which were released in 1963, two of which reached the Top 40. Other singles included Happy Without You (Kenny Laguna, Shelley Pinz, 1968), Melanie Makes Me Smile (Tony Macaulay, Barry Mason, 1970), Looking Through the Eyes of a Beautiful Girl (1970), If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody (Rudy Clark, 1965) and Western Union (Mike Rabon, Norman Ezell, John Durrill, 1967). During the mid-1960s, the band changed labels from W&G Records to Go Records, then to Philips, and finally to Fable Records in 1970. Arthur left the band in early 1964, and was replaced on lead guitar by John Farrar who later married Pat Carroll. Carroll and Olivia Newton-John appeared on The Go!! Show as singers. Also in 1964, the band supported Roy Orbison and Paul and Paula on an Australian tour which featured The Surfaris and The Beach Boys. These support gigs influenced some early vocal recordings in Poppa Oom Mow Mow, Sunday Kind of Love, If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody and later In My Room, a Beach Boys ballad. In February 1967 Terry Walker (ex Glen Ingram & The Hi-Five) replaced Fred Weiland, who left to join The Mixtures. During 1969 Melanie Makes Me Smile made #16 in Sydney, #9 in Melbourne and #7 in Brisbane. The band broke up in mid 1970 with Farrar moving to the UK and joining Shadows Hank Marvin & Bruce Welch in Marvin, Welch & Farrar and then the re-formed Shadows. Later in the year Robinson and Thompson reformed The Strangers (sometimes billed as The New Strangers) with guitarists John Cosgrove (ex Fendermen) and Bill Pyman, Cosgrove left in early 1973 and was replaced by Jim Sifonious (ex Dove) before finally breaking up in 1975. Later singles included Mr. President (Trevor 'Dozy' Davies, John 'Beaky' Dymond, Ian 'Tich' Amey. 1970) and Sweet Water ((Fletcher/Flett) a cover by obscure British band Brass Monkey) in 1971 Throughout the band's 14 years, The Strangers provided backing for many local and overseas acts. These included: Johnny Farnham, Russell Morris, Johnny Young, Neil Sedaka, Johnny O'Keefe, The Seekers, Merv Benton, Ted Mulry, Lynne Randell, Ross D. Wylie, Yvonne Barrett, Grantley Dee, Pat Carroll, Little Gulliver, Barry Crocker, Buddy England, Ronnie Burns, Town Criers, Masters Apprentices, Axiom, Hans Poulsen, Lionel Rose The Strangers set an exceptional standard for live sound, using the best and 'cleanest' equipment they could procure: German Dynacord microphones and public address systems, multiple guitar effects units, an exponential horn for the bass guitar, and carefully selected and matching guitars (e.g. Rickenbacker 6 and 12 string, Maton El Toro) and amplifiers. Farrar later moved to the USA, and has written and produced a number of hits for Olivia Newton-John, including Hopelessly Devoted to You, Have You Never Been Mellow and Magic.