December 5, 2004

SJP


Artist: Flying Circus




Doug Rowe (vocals, guitar)
Bob Hughes (vocals, bass)
Red McKelvie (guitar, mandolin)
James Wynne (guitar)
Warren Ward (bass; replaced Hughes)
Terry Wilkins (vocals, bass; replaced Ward)
Colin Walker (vocals, drums)
Greg Grace (vocals, guitar; 1968-1969 and 1971-1973)
Sam See (vocals, guitar, keyboards; 1970-71 and 1973-74)

The Flying Circus formed in Australia in August of 1968 as a country folk-rock band. New Zealander Rowe had been a member of The Castaways and The Saints before settling in Australia. Original vocalist and bassist Hughes left in early 1969 and was replaced by Ward (Nutwood Rug, Stonehenge, A Love Supreme, Quill).

Flying Circus signed to EMI/Columbia in late 1968 and their first major concert was in Sydney's Domain on Australia Day 1969. They had a national Top 40 hit (No. 26) in March of '69 with the single "Hayride". The song was an innocent pop ditty but created an airwaves controversy in New Zealand, over the lyrics "...making love in the hay...". The song wasn't banned but was delayed for release in New Zealand until May of that year. The song gained exposure for the band outside their New South Wales stomping ground thanks to a promo film which was rotated on national TV shows like 'Uptight!' in Australia.

The band's second single was "La La" and became a bigger hit making the Sydney and national Top10 in June of 1969. The band soon suffered an identity crisis as their chart success made them out to be bubblegum pop artists while their live shows were a serious mix of progressive rock and country rock elements making them a hard sell for the record label. This led to personnel changes over the next few months: Grace left in June '69 (to form Hot Cottage) and Ward left in September (and later joined Blackfeather). Terry Wilkins (ex-Quill) replaced Ward. Meanwhile, Rowe and Wynne suffered rounds of poor health which sabotaged their tour schedule later that year. It was at this time the group recorded their eponymous debut album featuring their previous pop singles, some original country rock numbers and a medley from the musical 'Hair'.

The next single was "Run Run Run" released in late 1969 and reaching No. 19 in January of 1970. In April of '70 they McKelvie (ex-Starving Wild Dogs, Quill). With McKelvie's notable pedal steel sound the group decided to hammer home the idea that they were a country rock act as heard on their 7" 'Frontier' EP, which included Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and Merle Haggard's "The Day The Rains Came" plus two others.

In July 1970 came the band's follow-up album, 'Prepared In Peace', now a full-blown country-rock transitional record featuring all original tunes save for the cover of Leadbelly's "Goodnight, Irene". That same month they won the Hoadleys National Battle of The Sounds. The first single was McKelvie's original song "Israel" released in October of 1970. McKelvie would not enjoy the fruits of the release as he was fired shortly thereafter.

After adding keyboardist Sam See (ex-Clapham Junction, Sherbet) the band ditched their country leanings and recorded a straight-ahead rock LP in 1971 called 'Bonza, Beaut & Boom Boom Boom'. The album housed two singles - "Turn Away" and "It Couldn't Happen Here" neither of which charted.

The Hoadley's prize win included a trip to North America so Flying Circus headed to Canada and settled in Toronto without Jim Wynne. The trip went well, and they secured a deal for a $10,000, two-month tour of Canada from American music agency Music Factory. The band returned to Australia briefly in July 1971. Another single was released ("The Ballad Of Sacred Falls") in September of 1971. The "Turn Away" single was re-released in the US but did poorly there as well. At this time Sam See left to join the band Fraternity, and Greg Grace returned to the group.

The Circus headed back to Canada in late 1971 and found steady work for most of 1972 at which time they landed a reputed million-dollar contract with Capitol Records. They would soon record another album, called 'Gypsy Road', featuring the single - "Maple Lady" which scraped the bottom of the US Top 100 and "Old Enough (To Break My Heart)" which reached No. 8 on the Canadian charts.

The band returned to Australia for the second Sunbury Festival in January 1973 but were greeted with a lukewarm reception. Feeling more at home in Canada they soon returned where Capitol decided to hedge their bets on the huge investment they had made in the band and re-issued 'Gypsy Road' as resequenced self-titled release with 'Jabber Jabber' as the next single in 1973. It was at this point that Sam See rejoined the group and Grace quit permanently.

Flying Circus recorded one more album, 'Last Laugh', in 1973 and released the non-charting single "Morning Sets You Free". The band toured the record but by 1974 had called it quits.

Sam See and Terry Wilkins later joined Lighthouse; Doug Rowe set up his own studio in Toronto before eventually returning to Australia; See joined Greg Quill's Southern Cross, and later formed Stockley, See & Mason; Bob Hughes became a very successful actor best known for his lead role in the long-running Australian series 'Hey! Dad!' and 'The Abba Movie'; McKelvie moved on to solo career and later formed the country-rock groups Chant, Powderhorn and Third Union Band; Grace would go on to roadie for semi-Australian-turned-Canadian rock outfit Wireless; Wilkins is a reknowned session bassist on many of Canada's top recordings including those by Colin Linden, Big Sugar, Rick Fine among others; Walker went on to join Bond in 1978 and would later play in Cyril Way & 'Round Midnight.

with notes from Mike Kras, Bob Segarini, Craig Smith, Greg Quill and Milesago.


Singles
1969 Hayride/Early Morning (Columbia - AUS) DO-8617
1969 La La/The Last Train (Columbia - AUS) DO-8775
1969 Run Run Run/All Fall Down (Columbia - AUS) DO-8989
1969 Frontier [7" 4-song EP] (Columbia - AUS) SEGO-70187
[I Remember Jo-anne/I'll Be Your Baby Tonight//The Day The Rains Came/...]
1970 Israel/Giselle (Columbia - AUS) DO-9254
1971 Turn Away/Longest Day (EMI/Harvest - AUS) HAR-9321
1971 It Couldn't Happen Here/Somerville (EMI/Harvest - AUS) HAR-9546
1971 Finding My Way/Ballad Of Sacred Falls (HMV - AUS) EA-9608
1971 Run Run Run/Silvertown (Capitol) 72652
1972 Maple Lady/Green Patch (Capitol) 72676
1973 Old Enough (To Break My Heart)/Train Ride (Capitol) 72688
1973 Jabber Jabber/Gypsy Road (Capitol) 72711
1973 Morning Sets You Free/Wake Up Wake Up (Capitol) 72724

Albums
1969 Flying Circus (Columbia - AUS) SCXO-7907
1970 Prepared In Peace (Columbia - AUS) SCXO-7925
1971 Bonza, Beaut & Boom Boom (EMI/Harvest - AUS) SHVL-604
1972 Prepared In Peace [re-issue] (Capitol) ST-6365
1972 Gypsy Road (Capitol) SKAO-6383
1973 Flying Circus [re-issue of 'Gypsy Road'] (Capitol) ST-6391
1973 Last Laugh (Capitol) ST-6400
1977 Steam Trains & Country Lanes (EMI - AUS) EMA-326
1995 Flying Circus 1969-71 [CD] (EMI - AUS) EMI-814170

Video
1969 Hay Ride

Compilation Tracks







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