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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Oz Elsewhere

Get me outta here

Untitled#15 from Tour of Duty series (Kylie Minogue performs at Tour of Duty concert at Dili Stadium, East Timor, 21 December 1999), 1999-2000 Matthew Sleeth. © Matthew Sleeth

While the blues-inspired hard guitar riffs of Australian pub rock were shaping tastes in this country, a number of artists were developing music primed for success on the international stage. These performers evolved with rock’s sensibilities in tow, while embracing overseas trends to take their careers in new directions.

The Bee Gees and Kylie Minogue both experienced local success, but it was the move to the United Kingdom that saw their respective careers take off. The Bee Gees initially formed as a rock ‘n roll group in Australia in 1958, releasing several singles including the hit ‘Spicks and Specks’ (1966). It wasn’t until the group returned to England in 1967 that they catapulted into the international charts, before transitioning from rock ‘n roll to disco in the mid-70s – with such success they were later branded the ‘Kings of Disco’.

Moving to the UK also sparked genuine stardom for Kylie Minogue, who’d previously found fame on TV soap Neighbours in the 1980s. Another ‘royal’ expat – she would later be dubbed the ‘Princess of Pop’ – Minogue continued to gain traction in the UK charts from the 1980s. Though she is known as a fixture of the pop genre, Minogue has re-invented herself over the years, collaborating with a number of rock artists including Nick Cave, and performing at iconic music festival Glastonbury.

1 Barry Gibb, 1970-1971 Rennie Ellis. © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive www.RennieEllis.com.au. 2 Olivia Newton-John, 1978 (printed 2017) Gary Heery. © Gary Heery.

Across the Atlantic, one of Australia’s most successful musical exports to the United States is Olivia Newton-John; her fame skyrocketed after her performance in the 1978 musical blockbuster Grease and the release of her 1981 album Physical.

"Get me outta here" taken from ‘Boys In Town’. Written by Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee. Published by EMI Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Related information

Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews

Pub Rock

Your backstage pass to 70s and 80s sounds and scenes

Previous exhibition, 2020

Celebrate the people, places and sounds of Australian pub rock and its enduring impact on our nation’s identity.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency