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Bart Willoughby talks about Music, Their New Book And Life.

No Fixed Address formed in 1979 at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) in North Adelaide, South Australia. Most of the band members were students at CASM, where they first heard reggae music from Jamaica, including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff.

Bart Willoughby joined Wendy on Big Brekky to talk about music, their new book and their upcoming gig.

The all-Aboriginal band was led by Pitjantjatjara man Bart Willoughby (lead vocals and drums), from Koonibba Mission near Ceduna in the far south-west of South Australia, and included Gunai man Ricky Harrison (rhythm guitarist and principal songwriter) from Morwell in Victoria; Ngarrindjeri man Leslie Lovegrove Freeman (lead guitarist) from Murray Bridge in South Australia; John Miller (bass) from Port Lincoln in South Australia; and Ngarrindjeri woman Veronica Rankine (tenor saxophone), from the south-east of South Australia. Many members were related through family ties; Willoughby, Miller and Freeman were cousins. Freeman, related to Harrison through marriage, recruited him from Victoria.

In 1979, NFA played its first large concert at the National Aboriginal Day held at Taperoo, South Australia, and were especially supported by community radio station 5MMM after this. Four of their songs made the Top 5 playlist on Three D Radio (then 5MMM).

The band became a very popular pub rock outfit among students and the alternative music scene.

In 1980 the band made a feature film titled Wrong Side of the Road with another CASM band, Us Mob. The movie dealt with the trials and joys of touring and the contrasting receptions they received in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. With the recording of the soundtrack, No Fixed Address and Us Mob became the first contemporary Aboriginal bands to be recorded. The film won the Jury Prize for best picture at the 1981 AFI Awards.

On the strength of their live performances and airplay of their demo recordings on 5MMM they were the cover story on the August 1980 edition of national rock magazine Roadrunner. In late 1980, the band supported Cold Chisel on its "Summer Offensive" tour to the east coast, with the final concert on 20 December at the University of Adelaide.

In 1982 the band were contracted to Rough Diamond Records, a subsidiary of Polygram Records and released their debut mini-album From My Eyes. The album was launched at the Hilton Hotel by the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. The video for the single, "From My Eyes" was filmed at Hanging Rock in Victoria and the Old Melbourne Gaol.

The band toured Australia in 1982, in support of Peter Tosh. Following the success of the Peter Tosh tour, the band became the first Aboriginal band to travel overseas, touring Great Britain, playing at nine cities including London, Bristol, Leeds, Plymouth and Manchester.

Didgeridoo player Billy Inda made a guest appearance and Joe Geia played the introduction didgeridoo on folk rock band Goanna's single "Solid Rock" from their 1982 album, Spirit of Place. The single peaked at No. 3 in October on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart, the first charting rock song to feature the didgeridoo.

Fast forward to over 4 decades and the band are as strong today as they were then.

They have written a new book called, "No Fixed Address: The Story of Australia's Trailblazing Rock 'N' Reggae Band" - Written by Donald Robertson.

They have a gig at The Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood tonight (14th Aug) at 7pm, supported by the Stray Blacks.


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