© 2007 Richard Lockwood for Tully.

Available now at retailers or online from Chapter Music:

Tully was recorded live just once to our knowledge, thanks to Kevin Kearney
This is a hitherto unrleased recording of Tully Live at the Sydney Town Hall 1969,
at a concert produced by Kevin, Sights n Sounds of 69, featuring Tully.

Tully Insights

1. Tully: A Near View
2. Comment on Sea of Joy
3. Tully II Images Carousel

Link to: extraditionmusic.com

Tully: A Near View

The enigmaticTully, The Poets of Pop, has remained just that. At the time the band was performing the individuals who constituted the group were rarely interviewed preferring lives of relative seclusion to life in the spotlight, amplifying their oblique aura and adding weight to the argument that they were serious musicians. As a consequence, much of the history recorded about them, and the band and its unique music, is pure fantasy. For although Tully rose quickly to a prominent place on the Australian popular music stage, the mostly improvised music the band played was little understood: its appeal was its eclectic nature, its moments of wild beauty, the energy and conviction of its delivery and the chord it struck in the hearts of those who long for freedom.

Tully had two incarnations, Tully the First and Tully the Second. In the beginning Tully was four, John Blake - bass, Robert Taylor - percussion, Richard Lockwood - reeds (saxophones, acoustic and electric clarinet and flutes) and Michael Carlos - keyboards (Hammond organ, piano and accordion) and trumpet. In Sydney, circa 1968, when the motown sound was all the rage and 'I Feel Good' was a favourite of American servicemen on R&R from the war in Vietnam, these four met while playing in the Levi Smith's Clefs, a covers band working the mecca of Sydney night-clubs, Whiskey a Go Go, six nights a week, six hours a night. When they decided to go their own way to do their own thing, come what may, they called themselves Tully after Robert Taylor's philosophical novel idea of the meaning of life, Life is Blood of Tully (this in itself, at the very beginning, inspired a mystique about the name, and the first time they advertised with posters, someone affronted by their audacity went about defacing them, pasting their own 'Life' poster over 'Blood of Tully' so that the posters read, Life is Life).

Tully was born. Based in Sydney, not yet playing their own songs and mad about improvising, they landed a job at the long since defunct Caesar's Disco, one of those nocturnal facades managed by men of shady repute. It was a brief stint, however: they were sacked because patrons complained that they couldn't dance to the music. This accurate snippet of the band's history, included in the Milesago article, is important because it clearly indicates the resolve of these musicians to follow their ideal... to improvise, regardless. They were all well schooled in the art of delivering the bump and grind of popular music and could easily have satisfied the musical appetite of the management and clientele of any pub or club had they themselves not hungered for liberty, had they not been driven to express liberty through their art; collectively, as Tully, the grotesquerie of materialistic art had become a mere faceless blank space on the surface of their music-making totem-pole and would always remain so. These were salad days of communal living: they didn't have much and what they did have they shared with one another. Their musical skill and dedication to freedom didn't go unnoticed, however, and soon they were in the vanguard of the Sydney underground insofar as their sound was an ideal musical engine for events staged by Ellis D Fogg, UBU (this is a great site for Tully buffs) and others of the Yellow House lunatics. They needed a singer, so Robert called Terry Wilson in his home town, Perth, who soon made the life-changing move to Sydney, Australia's big apple. Now five and sometimes playing a song, they got their first break: they were commissioned by the ABC to do a series of six TV shows produced by Bill Munro. This was the Fusions series that featured Tully and invited guests backed by them (the Fusions series, incidentally, along with much other stuff evidently considered rubbish, was wantonly trashed when Auntie did a major spring clean in the eighties). One such guest was Wendy Saddington who sang Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out and Barefootin'. Fusions brought them to the attention of a wider audience, and since exposure and opportunity go hand in hand it was not long before fortune again knocked at their door. The legendary Mrs Whitty, who owned the iconic Whitty's Wine Bar, corner of Crown and Oxford streets, Darlinghurst, asked them to open her new club, Adam's Apple, diagonally opposite, as resident band on their own artistic terms... they could play whatever they liked. It was here that they established themselves and began to develop a style of music that would eventually inspire the godfather of Australian Jazz, the late John Sangster, to call them 'the best band in the world at the time.' (see John Clare's classic Bodgie Dada and the Cult of Cool). The retrospective HowlSpace now concludes, 'In the Australian music landscape of the late Sixties, Tully was a creature totally apart from the rest of the pack.'

At Adam's Apple they attracted the attention of entrepreneur, Harry Miller who offered them the job as backing band for his soon to be staged Australian cast production of the rock musical Hair - download complete Australian Cast Recording sound files. Seeing the obvious advantages of doing the show they took up the offer and Harry Miller took over their management. Harry's interest in Tully's music per se is doubtful, but his keen business sense surely told him there was money to be made through promoting it. The Hair band was called Tully + Four: Tully augmented by Mick Barnes - guitar, John Sangster - percussion and Keith Stirling and Fred Payne - Trumpets. Terry was part of the cast for a while and sang Aquarius. But as well as promoting Tully in Hair, through which the group became a household name due to the popularity of the show, Harry also sometimes presented them in concert at the Sydney Town Hall (Tully's music was the first to be presented at the Sydney Town Hall that was not western classical) and elsewhere, and had them appear on TV shows of Good Morning Australia ilk to promote Hair. There's a humourous anecdote concerning one such show Tully appeared on in Melbourne. Of course they were meant to talk about Hair and perhaps play a song from the show, but instead, they decided to sit in a row and play the twenty dollar violins they had purchased on their way to the studio, though none of them knew the violin. There was pandemonium behind the cameras to get them off the air soon after they had launched into their free improvisation. They knew what their real fans wanted and expected of them, but Harry was mad as hell with their antics, that from his point of view were crazy and totally irresponsible. Eventually he replaced them as the Hair group because of the musical practical jokes they had begun to play on the cast, out of boredom. General Grant's March bore the brunt of one such joke. In this scene the tribe marched on stage to a military tune played by unaccompanied piccolo. Everything was fine till the piccolo dropped half a beat causing confusion among their ranks! Michael Carlos recalls,'Then there was the dance sequence in Act One where Berger yells "Let's have some more rock-n-roll" and the band was supposed to launch into a late 50's rythmn-and-blues riff. One night we just exploded, instead, into a free-form ball of sound. I think that was the last straw for the cast.' Tully played Hair for about nine months after which Harry dumped them as quickly as possible. John Blake left the group during this time, too. They needed a new bass player and another friend of Robert's, Perth based musician Ken Firth, answered the call. It was this line up that recorded the group's first album, the self-titled, Tully, in 1970.

Due to Harry Miller's laudable efforts as their promoter they had attracted the interest of another entrepreneur, the late Clifford Hocking, with whom they became friends. Clifford's entrepreneurial approach was different to Harry's. He once said, 'I've never presented anything purely with an eye to commercial success. I've been delighted by success, but I have never gone out and said, "I must book that person, 'cause that person will make money"- I have never worked that way.' A connoisseur and collector of fine art, he presented Tully as such; he saw the group's true and unique potential.
A Tully concert of this golden age of the band's success began with a piece they called Coming In From Beyond. This meant a free improvisation lasting about fifteen minutes, beginning at triple piano and ending at triple forte or as loud and as terrifying as possible. Why? It grabbed the attention of the audience, but who knows? Perhaps it was influenced by Thus Spake Zarathustra... the Space Odyssey, 2001 soundtrack and a delight in the idea of a contemporary Word engulfing a mad world. After the thunderous close of Coming In From Beyond anything might happen. Typically, a simple, high-pitched Hammond organ thread might be left hanging in the pin-drop silence above the audience holding its breath to see what would happen next, linking the improvisation, which would then be taken up by the band to meander through an impression of any musical genre that took their fancy, from dixieland through rock, pop, jazz, western classical to eastern... for as art, Tully's concert music, of which there is just one known recording, is best described as impressionism, a description that up till now it has not been given. This observation was recently corroborated by the enthusiastic reminiscences of a fan, who said she would love to hear again 'that lovely medieval music Tully used to play.' While one can empathize with this, on the other hand, it is a fact that Tully never played medieval music and that no one in the band knew medieval musical form. A Tully concert was invariably presented with an accompanying light show, and of these arguably the most meaningfully representative of the music were those delivered by Gordon Mutch at the Sydney Town Hall, during 1969.

Hair and the band's profile as 'the foremost concert attraction in Australia' had brought it to the attention of just about everyone. Indeed, cheek to jowl with the bohemians, hippies, surfies and celebrities at a Tully concert were not only rock, jazz and classical musicians, but academics, too, and mum-and-dad-and-the-kids. One among them was NSW Arts Council Director, John Cooper. Now John, though head of a fairly conservative government institution, was a kindred spirit in the sense that he was willing to try something innovative and outrageous, and when he hit upon the idea of presenting Tully's sound in concert with something completely different he did just that. The Cell Block Theatre, Sydney, was the selected venue for this occasion, and the other 'sound' was that of Extradition, a breakaway folk-inspired group playing the fringe of the Sydney folk scene that mostly played the original songs of British guitarist, Colin Campbell, sung by the exquisite-voiced, woman-voiced Shayna Karlin (now, Stewart). A quintet, it was completed by singer-songwriter, Colin Dryden - guitar, Robert Lloyd - percussion and American, Jim Stanley - bass. John Cooper knew and appreciated each group for their individual merits; he also thought they had something in common and should meet, indeed, before the Cell Block event they were complete strangers. To quote Col Campbell, 'It was John who saw us as two bands representing the best of two vastly different Sydney genres.' The Cell Block, formerly the old East Sydney gaol, is a very sturdy, medium sized rectangular sandstone building in the grounds of the National Art School, essentially an open exhibiting space, and for the event he had in mind John had two stages erected, one at each end of it for the groups to alternately play on. The concert was well attended and a huge success, but not without hiccups, inevitably. According to an absurd hierarchy that exists among musicians and others in the spotlight based on fame and popularity, Extradition was scheduled to play first. But Col Campbell recalls, 'Dryden and Jim Stanley went missing before the start and Tully had to play first, to the huge embarrassment of everybody on the Arts Council team, and also myself, Rob Lloyd (who was already a big Tully fan) and Shayna. Much to everyone's surprise, Tully weren't in the least bit fazed. That was impressive.'

On this theme, to digress a little yet still take the story forward, at the Ourimbah Festival, 1970, Tully was among those with top billing, and due to the aforementioned hierarchy was meant to play late in the program. But when the event was due to commence, the only band that had arrived was Tully. So the organizers approached them to play. That was okay but getting the band on stage was another matter. True children of a psychedelic generation, all were indisposed. But after a thorough search of the surrounding fields of sunshine and flowers everyone had been found and was on stage ready to play, all except Robert, who had set up his drums as a work of art rather than a kit to play on and was slowly circumambulating his creation, admiring it. Fortunately a student of his was at hand who set them up for him, and the band was able to play. And what did they play? On this occasion, according to Michael Carlos, a five minute improvisation that somehow ended with Robert's foot through his snare drum. Unfazed, he then wandered to the front of the stage, sat down cross-legged, raised his hands in despair and proclaimed 'I love you' to the audience who roared and cheered an appreciative response. But this was a one-off circumstance: they had not expected to play and were unprepared. To get back to the point, on this occasion they should've stuck to their hierarchical guns and insisted on not playing.
A month later, with singer Jeannie Lewis Tully premiered Peter Sculthorpe's, Love 200, ('written for them,' Debbie Kruger) with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Town Hall... another milestone in musical innovation in the short career of the band... and a few months later, recorded it. And in July they recorded their first album. As time went on, however, Tully performances degenerated more and more into what can be best described as brilliant ninety minute drum solos accompanied by the rest of the band. And in the end days of Tully the First, this is what a Tully concert had become... anyone can attest to this who heard Tully at the beautiful old-world Elizabethan Theatre concerts in Newtown... a perfect venue long since destroyed to make way for a Westpac archives storehouse. Yet there's no denying Robert Taylor's genius: his peers were the greats, Elvin Jones, Ginger Baker and Co.

Anyway, the short of it is, the Cell Block event was a precursor to a tour of New South Wales Tully and Extradition were scheduled to do for the Arts Council. ('The tour was designed to bring some culture to the outback rather than as a showcase for the benefit of the bands. That was the Arts Council's raison d'etre, at the time. Very successful it was, too.'- Campbell). It brought together two very different creatures: the wild and capricious, vain and sometimes luminously beautiful Tully the First, and the antithesis of Tully the First, Extradition, gentle, eloquent and delicately lovely. Of course it was love at first sight, and during the six weeks they were together on tour, not only did they become friends, they also conceived the idea of a new group embracing the multifarious talents, influences and styles of both. This ultimately became Tully the Second, the band that recorded Sea of Joy. It also recorded the group's third and final album, Loving is Hard, and it's only single. But the music heard on Sea of Joy is most representative of the Tully the Second's concert music, which was very beautiful, indeed. A new Tully was being born from the ashes of the old, continuing to delight and confound audiences in Sydney and Melbourne, and elsewhere, including the Wallacia festival, 1971 (this French site is included for its pertinent photographs, and because they are reminiscent of Ourimbah, of which no photos are 'up'). It was a breech rebirth, however. Robert Taylor and the rest of the band eventually parted ways. Robert formed his own group, the short-lived Tully in Space, an eminently more suitable platform to showcase his precocious and, by now, vociferous talent and complex personality. And Terry Wilson, whose rock-n-roll heart was stifled in Tully, also went his own way.

Tully the Second was probably less understood than Tully the First and certainly less popular; before the bewildered eyes of its fans the band metamorphosed into something they could not fully comprehend, from a raging and percussive musical phenomenon into a gossamer-winged, drummer-less beauty. So, having been a scaffold for something far greater than itself, and thus having served its purpose, Tully finally succumbed to materialistic pressure... not enough income and too many mouths to feed... and, as many groups experience, a splintering of purpose due to diverse ideologies, and finally disbanded.

To sum up Tully, a few words from Don McLean seem most eloquently fitting, '... but I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.'

Odysseus Richardson, Melbourne, 2007.

Copyright ©Richard Lockwood 2007
Music historians, biographers and others are free to faithfully quote from this text,
with due acknowledgment.

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Tully II, Sussex Street studio, Sydney, circa 1971 - photographer, John Stewart

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Comment on Sea of Joy

To come to an adequate understanding of the relationship between Tully and the Australian surfing scene of the late sixties, early seventies, it is important to know that while the members of that enigmatic group lived in the northern beach-side suburbs of Sydney where many famous and talented surfers and surf film makers also lived, they were not surfers themselves. Being lovers of beauty, however, they were irresistibly attracted to the vast expanses of the sea and sky, the natural world. This was their affinity with the surfing fraternity.

When film maker Paul Witzig asked Tully to compose the music for Sea of Joy he was seeking a soundtrack to suit the mood of a generation, for whom peace and freedom were the guiding lights. It was an obvious choice: in the vanguard of the Sydney underground Tully had already carved a deep and impressive curve into the pipeline of musical innovation, a wave it would ultimately ride to the shore. The music the group produced for Sea of Joy is testimony to the accolades it received at the time, and makes the film uniquely different to anything that precedes it.

The premiere of Sea of Joy was a hands-on affair for Tully: they sold the tickets, collected them at the door, projected the film and manned the ice-cream stand. Col Campbell's following anecdote describes it well: 'When Sea of Joy premiered at the Mandala Theatre, Sydney, few of the queuing throng knew that the strange characters trying to sell them chocolate-coated bananas were the film's soundtrack musicians. Surf on, crazy diamonds.'

Odysseus Richardson, Melbourne, 2007.

Copyright ©Richard Lockwood 2007
Music historians, biographers and others are free to faithfully quote from this text,
with due acknowledgment.

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