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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 Punk

Sends a permanent shiver down my spine

The Boys Next Door, 1978 Michel Lawrence
The Boys Next Door, 1978 Michel Lawrence. © Michel Lawrence

Robert Forster and Grant McLennan met as students at the University of Queensland in 1975. Brisbane ‘had a hayseed image’ back then, Forster says, ‘lacking the cosmopolitan groove of Sydney or Melbourne’. Yet it was Brisbane that gave rise to The Go-Betweens (formed by Forster and McLennan in 1977) and The Saints – bands whose originality was as unforeseen then as it is venerated now.

1The Saints, London, 1978 Gary Ede. Courtesy of the artist. © Gary Ede. 2The Saints, CCAE (Canberra College of Advanced Education), 7 March 1980, Chris Bailey (vocals) 'pling. Courtesy of the estate of the artist. © Estate of 'pling.

For Ed Kuepper, a founding member of The Saints, Brisbane was a stimulus: ‘You’re forced into a situation where, okay, if you want to do something, you’ve got to do it yourself’. In 1976, without having been blooded on the Sydney or Melbourne pub circuit, The Saints recorded a single – ‘(I’m) Stranded’ – and distributed copies themselves locally and overseas. With its grungy, unadulterated guitar riffs, it was described by the UK’s Sounds magazine as the ‘Single of this week and every week’, and earned The Saints the distinction of releasing a punk single before The Sex Pistols did.

1Radio Birdman (cover shot for Radios Appear album), 1977. 2Radio Birdman, 1977. 3Radio Birdman, 1977. All Bob King. Courtesy of the artist © Bob King

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Radio Birdman – formed in 1974 by Rob Younger and Deniz Tek – had garnered mainstream distaste with their unpredictable, almost visceral, performance style. In 1977 though, once punk had become a thing, Radio Birdman were signed to record their first LP, Radios Appear. Earlier that year, Nick Cave had seen Radio Birdman and The Saints live in Melbourne. For Cave, as writer Clinton Walker says, the Saints gig ‘was living, breathing confirmation of what was possible, even out of little old Australia’s supposed backwater’.

1Nick Cave and Rowland S. Howard (of The Birthday Party), 1983 Bleddyn Butcher. © Bleddyn Butcher. Bleddyn@Tenderprey.com. 2Nick Cave, 1999 Howard Arkley. © Estate of Howard Arkley. Licensed by Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art. 3Dave Graney, 1996 Bleddyn Butcher. © Bleddyn Butcher. Bleddyn@Tenderprey.com. 4Dave Graney and Clare Moore, 1996 Bleddyn Butcher. © Bleddyn Butcher. Bleddyn@Tenderprey.com.

"Sends a permanent shiver down my spine" taken from ‘Shivers’. Written by R Howard (Mute Song Ltd / Mushroom Music)

Related information

Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling
Young Docteurs, Kingston Hotel, 6 March 1980 (Paul Hayward guitar and Chris Shakallis), 6.3.80 'pling

Canberra cool

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 25 Sep
12:30pm

Your backstage pass to sensational stories about Canberra’s Pub Rock scene with Chris Shakallis (Young Docteurs), Julia Ford (The Framed) and Fiona Edge (keeper of the ‘Pling archive)

Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis
Angus Young, AC/DC, LA, 1978 Rennie Ellis

Pub Rock Trivia

Thu 8 Oct
7:00pm

Join us for a bout of FREE pub trivia – all online and live-streamed of course! There’ll be an hour of music mayhem and prizes to be won.

The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling
The Lighthouse Keepers, ANU Union, Canberra, 1983. Juliet Ward (vocals), Greg Appel (guitar) 'pling

Tales and time

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 9 Oct
12:30pm

It’s like an after party, but waaay after. Join Greg Appel (Lighthouse Keepers), Robina Gugler (co-writer of Head Full of Flames) and Fiona Edge (Keeper of the ‘Pling archive).

Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall
Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss, Cold Chisel 1980 Wendy McDougall

Squished and sweaty

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 23 Oct
12:30pm

Grab your press pass and hold it tight as we dive camera-first into the mosh pit! Photographers Wendy McDougall and Stuart Spence have captured the likes of INXS, Cold Chisel, Paul Kelly, Tim Freedman and many more.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.