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Bill Haley, Johnny O’Keefe, The Drifters & The Coasters

Bill Haley, Johnny O'Keefe 028

In late December 1973 and early January 1974 Johnny O’Keefe toured Australia with Bill Haley and the Comets, the Coasters, the Drifters and JOK’s young Australian protégé Dennis Knight in what was billed as Australia’s First Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Show.

Tour Dates

December 30 1973 – January 13 1974
December 30 – Randwick Racecourse

Sound System

8 x JBL 4550 c/w 2 x JBL K130
6 x JBL 2350 Horn + 2480 Driver
4 x JBL 2355 Horn + 2440 Driver
16 x JBL 075 Tweeter
Jands 150w Power Amplifiers

Jands Crew

David Mulholland
Vagn Stenvei


All images © Jands Pty Limited. Click to enlarge


Sydney Morning Herald – Dec 16 1973

Do you know more about this tour ? Post a comment

12 responses to “Bill Haley, Johnny O’Keefe, The Drifters & The Coasters”

  1. Alan says:

    I, along with a mate, attended this concert in 73 (in fact I think I can see myself in one of the photos). Although I was only 20 at the time and into bands like Led Zeppelin, Doors, CCR, I realized this was maybe the last chance to see a rock’n’roll legend. Bill Haley and his Comet knew how to deliver a rock song and still sounded enthusiastic and fresh. Due to the rain we sat in stands for most of the concert but when he did Rock Around The Clock we had to go down and stand in front of Haley and rock along to this wonderful classic.

    Apart from Bill Haley the concert, billed Australia’s First Rock’n’Roll Revival Show, included other great rock acts. The Coasters were particually impressive and had a lot of fun onstage. However it was our own Johnny O’Keefe who stole the show. He was sensational. He’d had a revival of sorts himself with a remake of the Mockingbird song and a re-release of his hit “So Tough”. His set outshone every other act, including Bill Haley. Apparently Bill later admitted O’Keefe was the real star that day. I was just glad I was there to see an Aussie rock legend in such fine form.

  2. Alan, great to hear even the legendary status of Mr Haley didn’t overshadow the Bright Star, our own J.O.K. I’d have to say that, of course; I was his bassplayer on that day & the recordings of the 2 songs you mentioned, Mockingbird & So Tough – revisited.

    The band, L – R was: Warwick Dalton/keys; Peter Moloney/bass; Barry ‘Mops’ Moore/drums;Kevin Kerr/guitar; Margaret McLaren/vox -duet on M’bird.

    I began my bassplaying career with John’s band, thanks to Kevin Kerr, who unearthed me via a guitar repairer, Julius Melnick, who had a shop in Bondi Junction. Julius sold me my first bass, a Hoffner Beatle-bass, a shocker, but serviceable. JOK bankrolled an upgrade to a Tobacco sunburst ’70 CBS Fender Precision from Harry Landis, Park St Sydney, which I used on this gig!I later did a fabbo exchange with it in ’75, Christchurch NZ, through Charlie Jammit, for a pre-L ’61 Precision, which I have to this day!

    Incidentally, the terrace next-door to Julius’ store on Oxford St, Bondi J. was the Sydney home of NZ brothers Mark & Todd Hunter, of Dragon fame.

    I have vivid memories of this gig @ The AJC, Randwick & the miserable day. The rain was so persistent that the drums were shipping water up to the rims so that each time Mops hit a drum there was a cascade of water. Needless to say, we anticipated that at any moment any one of us would be electrocuted but that’s JoK for you – The Show must Go ON!

    This for me was the first of 2 tours of duty with JoK – I re-joined the band after a year’s sabbatical in NZ & friends I made there in ’74/’75 are still mates to this day . . the ‘survivors’, that is.
    pierre0 xx

  3. Barry. "Mops" Moore says:

    Remember that day well, a stage hand was supposed to hold an umbrella over me to protect me from the rain needless to say he used it to protect himself. Still great memories and power to JOK!!

  4. Sam Galea says:

    I had the honour of MCing the Sydney concert at Randwick Racecourse (as I recall). I was a radio jock at 2UW at the time. It rained heavily all day and I and Bill Haley & The Comets, who headlined, were scheduled to go on after interval. The interval dragged out for what seemed like hours as the promoters waited for the rain to ease and there was a lot of talk backstage about Haley and the band NOT taking the stage. The crowd was very, very restless. We were all soaked to the skin as there wasn’t much shelter back there. I was really keen to do the intro for Haley but when they finally took the stage J.O’K pulled rank and said “It’s my concert and I’m introducing the main act”.

    I think Johnny was co-promoting the tour. Anyhow he took the glory of doing the intro which I wasn’t too happy about, having waited in the rain for hours. Haley and the band went on in the rain, although it had eased a bit. They played 3 or 4 numbers and left the stage. The crowd went ballistic and began throwing cans and bottles at the stage. I expected J.O’K to continue his MCing and go on stage to make the appropriate excuses to the crowd. No way. he turned to me and said “Get up onstage”. I did, ducking cans and bottles through some lame excuses about risk of electrocution etc etc.

  5. Aloysius says:

    I saw this show at Tralee Raceway in the ACT in January 1974. It was a bit wet again but the concert was fantastic. I think that the stage was under cover. J O’K stole the show again and his duet with Margaret McLaren was a knock-out. The Bill Haley set was terrific and the Coasters were great fun.

  6. David Rose says:

    I think they played at Melb Festival Hall also. Missed last train home so walked to Glen Waverley and got home about 2 am.

  7. Joe Knight-Smith says:

    Is Mops Moore still around? If so what is he doing?

  8. Peggy Emmett says:

    When did they play in Brisbane zt the old tennis compound.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I saw Bill and the Comets at a 1950’s rock revival show in Nashville, Tenn. Chuck Berry and Danny and the Juniors also performed. I think the year was 1974. That show in Nashville was a blast. Great roots rock, pure fun. Bill Halley was a helluva man and he deserves a lot of respect.

  10. Shoeman_greg says:

    I saw him at South Melbourne Football Ground. Had a great time.

  11. Roland Bannister says:

    I saw Bill Haley’s Newcastle NSW concert in early 1957. Little Richard played in Newcastle 2 October 1957. These two concerts were part of nation wide Big Show tours. A colleague and I have a comprehensive web site at Newcastle Living Histories devoted to the Little Richard Newcaste visit.

  12. Louise Kindred says:

    I too was at the concert at Randwick Racecourse as a teenager in 1973/74. It was bucketing down rain. Bill Haley sang a few numbers, disappeared for what seemed hours refusing to play so was booed badly by the crowd…then I think that was when JO’K and his band came out in front of a very angry, soaking wet, cold crowd to calm us down. Well he stole the show. The crowd went ballistic. We were singing and dancing in the mud in no time. It was incredible how fast JO’K picked up the crowds spirits. It was my first outdoor concert and I have never forgotten it. JO’K lived up to his reputation as the “Wild One”…and we loved it! Bill Haley and the Comets became a distant memory to me after that day. They were replaced by our own JO’K and the rest is history !

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