Little River Band
is an Australian rock band, formed in Melbourne in early 1975.The band chose its name after passing a road sign leading to the Victorian township of Little River, near Geelong, on the way to a performance. Little River Band enjoyed sustained commercial success not only in Australia, but also in the United States. They have sold more than 25 million records and achieved 13 U.S. Top 40 hits, besides many music awards gained in Australia.The band's original members were: lead vocals Glenn Shorrock, acoustic guitar and vocals Graeham Goble, rhythm guitar and vocals Beeb Birtles, lead guitar Ric Formosa, bass guitar Roger McLachlan, and drums Derek Pellicci. Goble was the only original member born in Australia. The music and lyrics for most of the group's compositions were primarily written by Goble and Shorrock, with contributions from Birtles, Briggs and Pellicci.In May 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, named "Cool Change", written by Shorrock, as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time. The classic line-up of Birtles, Goble, Pellicci, Shorrock, guitarist David Briggs, and bass guitarist George McArdle, were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual ARIA Music Awards of 2004.Early years 1970sIn Australian terms, the original lineup of Little River Band can be considered a supergroup. Glenn Shorrock had been the lead singer of leading Australian 1960s pop band The Twilights and highly regarded early 1970s country rock band Axiom, alongside Brian Cadd. Beeb Birtles had been the bassist in the popular 1960s band Zoot (which launched the career of singer-guitarist Rick Springfield), and Goble had led Adelaide folk rock group Allison Gros before forming the harmony-country-rock band Mississippi (joined by Birtles and Pellici), which had enjoyed some chart success in Australia and built up a strong following on the concert and festival circuit; during 1971-72 the original members also recorded under the studio band pseudonym Drummond, scoring a national #1 hit with a novelty cover of the song "Daddy Cool".LRB found immediate success in Australia, but individual members had greater ambitions. Like other Australian groups of the period, both Axiom and Mississippi had tried to break into the UK record market without success. Axiom disbanded after moving to the UK, and Shorrock sang for a short period with the more progressive rock outfit Esperanto before meeting and joining forces with Birtles, Goble, and Pellicci in 1974. They agreed to meet back in their homeland by early 1975. Remembering the indifferent reaction they had received in the UK, they decided their new band would focus on establishing themselves in the United States.A key factor in their eventual success was a fellow Australian they had met while in England who became their manager, Glenn Wheatley. Wheatley had been the bassist in the highly regarded Australian rock band The Masters Apprentices and his first-hand experiences of the rip-offs in the 1960s music scene, combined with his subsequent experience working in music management in Britain and the United States in the early 1970s, allowed him to help Little River Band become the first Australian group to enjoy consistent commercial and chart success in the United States.Fuelled by a very successful Australian hit single "Curiosity Killed the Cat", the band began making promotional visits to the US in September 1976, which resulted in a US hit single, "It's a Long Way There" (edited down from the album track, which ran over 8 minutes long). It broke into the US Top 30 and galvanised the commitment of the band members.
Success and changes of personnel
Just before they began touring abroad, lead guitarist Ric Formosa, apparently not enthusiastic about touring outside of Australia, left the group in August 1976 to pursue other musical interests and was replaced by David Briggs. At the same time, the group decided to replace bassist Roger McLachlan, who left to join Stars and was replaced by George McArdle. However, Formosa remained in touch with his former bandmates and conducted and wrote string parts for several songs after he officially left the band.More concert performances in the U.S. followed and in 1977 "Help Is on Its Way" (an Australian #1 single) and "Happy Anniversary" were both mid-top 20 Hot 100 singles. From 1978 until 1981, Little River Band achieved one gold album (Diamantina Cocktail
, released in 1977) and two platinum albums (Sleeper Catcher
in 1978 and First Under the Wire
in 1979) plus six US Top 10 singles with "Reminiscing" (#3, their biggest hit), "Lady" (#10), "Lonesome Loser" (#6), "Cool Change" (#10), "The Night Owls" (#6) and "Take It Easy on Me" (#10). During their career they have sold more than 25 million records and scored 13 American Top 40 hits.From 1976 through 1985, the group maintained a constant touring schedule which kept it in the U.S. for long periods of time and may have contributed to much of the constant shuffling of personnel. For example: The band's schedule was so busy that when drummer Derek Pellicci was severely injured in a gas grill fire in May 1978, the band brought in a substitute drummer (Geoff Cox) rather than cancel shows. Drummer Cox remained with the group through the summer of 1978 and even played alongside Pellicci after he came back until he was healed enough to continue on his own. A keyboardist, Mal Logan, was added in time for another U.S. tour in late 1978.After finishing a U.S. tour in January 1979, bassist McArdle left after one final appearance with the band at the Nambassa Music & Alternatives Festival in New Zealand on 29 January 1979. He went on to take up Bible study, eventually pursuing a path as a minister. Barry Sullivan took over on bass until American Wayne Nelson, currently the group's lead singer, joined in April 1980. In 1981, he provided lead vocals for their Top 10 U.S. hit "Night Owls", the debut single from their Time Exposure
album; and shared duties with Shorrock on the next single "Take It Easy on Me". Time Exposure
had been recorded in Montserrat with famed Beatles producer George Martin. Guitarist Stephen Housden joined the band in August 1981 replacing David Briggs (who left over musical disagreements) right as Time Exposure
was being released. Housden currently owns the rights to the name Little River Band. He co-wrote the band's last hit in Australia "Love Is a Bridge" in 1988.
John Farnham years 1980s
In 1982 Shorrock was forced out of the band as the other members were keen to try different musical directions. Keyboardist Logan was dropped as well. Shorrock went on to pursue a solo career but failed to make much of an impression in the U.S. He did, however, have a substantial hit in Australia with a revival of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover".John Farnham replaced Shorrock in February 1982 and "Man on Your Mind" (the third single released from Time Exposure
, featuring Shorrock) reached #14 in the U.S. The first single with Farnham as lead vocalist, "The Other Guy" (one of two new offerings on their Greatest Hits
album, released in November 1982), reached #11 in the U.S., while the next single, "We Two", from their album The Net
(May 1983) reached #22 in the U.S. That same year, "You're Driving Me Out of My Mind" became the group's last single to reach the U.S. Top 40. Subsequent singles were only minor charters. In Australia, the band continued to be popular and songs such as "Down on the Border" and "Playing to Win" were major hits. At this point the band sought to move towards a more "80's style" sound and added keyboardist David Hirschfelder in September 1983.The pressures of success and constant touring took their toll on the band as the lineup continued to turnover. Birtles left in October 1983 because he did not like the harder, more progressive musical path the band was taking and because he was not a fan of Farnham's vocal and performance style. Pellicci left in February 1984 for similar reasons. Steve Prestwich (formerly of Cold Chisel) was brought in as new drummer while Birtles was not replaced.Little River Band performed four songs for the 1985 Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program)---"Don't Blame Me", "Full Circle", "Night Owls", and "Playing to Win". It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US. "Don't Blame Me" and "Night Owls" were also broadcast by American Broadcasting Company during their Live Aid telecast ("Night Owls" was only partially transmitted).Farnham left in May 1986 following the completion of the group's short Australian tour (which featured drummer Malcolm Wakeford in Prestwich's place) in support of their album No Reins.
He continued to be managed by Glenn Wheatley and his solo career took off almost immediately with the release of the successful Whispering Jack
Shorrock's return 1990s
After Farnham's departure, LRB was essentially in limbo until the following year when Shorrock and Pellicci returned at the suggestion of Irving Azoff, who was now the head of MCA Records and brought the band over to the label. With Shorrock and Pellicci back in the fold, along with remaining members Goble, Housden, and Nelson, the group released two LPs on MCA, Monsoon
in June 1988 (from which the single "Love Is a Bridge" was a moderate Adult Contemporary radio hit in the U.S.) and Get Lucky
(February 1990). (MCA released a compilation of tracks from those two LPs on their Curb Records imprint in 1991 entitled Worldwide Love
). Goble ceased touring with the group in 1989 and left altogether by 1992. Peter Beckett (formerly of Player) joined in 1989 to take Goble's place and the group went through a series of keyboard players: James Roche (a.k.a. Jamie Paddle) (1988–1990), Tony Sciuto (1990–1992, 1993–1997), Richard Bryant (ex-Doobie Brothers) (1992–1993), Adrian Scott (ex-Air Supply) (1998–1999), and Glenn Reither (1999–2004), before Chris Marion arrived at the end of 2004.Shorrock left again in 1996 and was offered the option to buy out the remaining members (he took a payment instead). Wayne Nelson also left in 1996. Hal Tupea then came in as bassist, as new frontman Steve Wade was also recruited. This lineup lasted until late 1997. At that point, everyone, except Wade, was let go and Derek Pellicci left again in early 1998, leaving Housden as sole owner of the band's trademark.
Later years 2000s
Housden brought in new players Kevin Murphy (vocals, drums, percussion), Paul Gildea (vocals, guitars), and Adrian Scott (vocals, keyboards, ex-Air Supply), and brought back Roger McLachlan, the group's original bass player, who made a surprise return after 22 years. But McLachlan's second tenure was short lived. Both he and Scott departed after a year, not accustomed to the band's heavy touring schedule abroad. Wayne Nelson then returned (in early 1999) and Glenn Reither joined as keyboardist. But the revolving door of personnel continued as Wade and Gildea were next to leave in early 2000. Greg Hind (vocals, guitars) then jumped aboard as Nelson took over most of the lead singing. The lineup of Housden, Nelson, Hind, Murphy, & Reither was stable for almost five years and appeared on three releases: Where We Started From
(2000), One Night in Mississippi
(2002) and Test of Time
(2004).At the end of 2004, Glenn Reither and Kevin Murphy left the band after more than six years. Chris Marion took over keyboards while Kip Raines took over drumming duties temporarily until Billy Thomas joined in early 2005. Housden left the touring band in 2006, though he retained ownership of the band's name. Rich Herring took over lead guitar on tour and Mel Watts replaced Thomas on drums in 2007 after Thomas suffered a shoulder injury. Ryan Ricks subsequently replaced Watts in 2012.Three founding members, Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock, and Graeham Goble, went on to perform reunion concerts (in 2002-2007), but because they lost the rights to the name Little River Band, they appeared under the name Birtles Shorrock Goble. As the trademark owner, Housden has effectively stopped Birtles, Shorrock, and Goble from using references to their LRB past. But the musicians who have since toured under the name Little River Band have continued playing songs written by Birtles, Shorrock, and Goble. Founding members Goble and Birtles have shared their frustration through song, with Goble recording "Someone's Taken Our History" and Birtles recording "Revolving Door".LRB's performance legacy has been in the hands of Wayne Nelson since 2006, as Housden himself no longer tours with the band. The current version of Little River Band continues to work in the U.S. and performs around 100 shows every year.
The original Little River Band is considered to be among Australia's most significant bands. In May 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations, named "Cool Change" as one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time. The "classic lineup" of the band (Birtles, Shorrock, Goble, Pellicci, Briggs, and McArdle) were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual ARIA Music Awards of 2004. They performed "Help Is On Its Way" at the induction ceremony in Australia on 17 October 2004. Shorrock, who wrote "Cool Change", had previously been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1991."Reminiscing", written by Goble, was recognised by BMI as one of the most frequently played songs in the history of American radio, with more than four million plays. "Lady" has also accumulated more than three million plays. Goble is the only Australian songwriter ever to win a Four Million Air award from BMI. According to Albert Goldman's biography, John Lennon named "Reminiscing" as one of his favourite songs.LRB were mentioned in the film The Other Guys
when the character played by Will Ferrell played "Reminiscing" while driving in his Toyota Prius. The character played by Mark Wahlberg threw the CD out the window, but Will Ferrell played it again later on and said that he always had six identical LRB CDs in his car. It has been speculated that the reason LRB were featured in the movie had something to do with the fact that the film used the name of an earlier LRB song, "The Other Guy".