1983 I was in The Black Sorrows

1983 I was in The Black Sorrows with Joe Camilleri for a while and in 84 I did a tour with Tim Finn when he released his 'Escapade' album.

 

In 1984 I was contacted by Ricky Fataar to do a tour promoting Tim Finn’s first solo album ‘Escapade’. I flew up to Sydney to commence rehearsals and got a cab to Ricky’s house in Woollahra in Sydney. Ricky was married to top New York fashion model Penelope Tree, had been drummer with The Beach Boys, played the part of ‘Ringo’ in The Rutles. Ricky went on to produce Womack and Womack, Etta James and Bonnie Rait.

So I arrived from the airport at Ricky’s house, he was on the phone and directed me to the front lounge room and told me to introduce myself to ‘George’ and he would be in in a minute. So I walked into the lounge where ‘George’ was sitting on the sofa and he arose and greeted me with, “Hi Joe, so how’s the weather in Melbourne?” I’m looking at George and thinking …. This guy looks really familiar when I realize …… I am talking to George fucking Harrison!!! Jesus! Well he was really friendly and we talked about the weather and stuff until Ricky finished his phone call.

So Ricky comes in and says “George wants to take us to Marios, which was a quaint Italian restaurant in Surrey Hills. So off we go. I am sitting at a table of about eight people with George opposite me, Ricky on my left, Zion Yu, George’s acupuncturist on my right at the head of the table . After a bit of nice wine and small talk I started a conversation with George where I mentioned that I knew some people that were good friends with his wife Olivia. I had been for several years involved with a meditation group with a spiritual master Maharaj Ji or Prem Pal Rawat as he is known these days. George, immediately said ‘Oh you mean ‘the Premies’ (followers of MJ were known as premies) I answered yes and then incurred a diatribe of wrath of how much George didn’t like Prem Pal. He said ….”He drives fast racing cars …. So do I but I am an ex-pop star ….. he is a spiritual leader!!!

After suffering his assault for a while I asked, “George, does your wife like it when you talk to her like this?” He stopped for a moment and said ……. “No, actually she doesn’t”

I said, “Neither do I”

He though for a moment and said, “I’ll tell you, the only thing I liked about that whole organization was the band One Foundation, they were a great band and I love some of their songs.” I knew this as he had offered us to record at his studio once when we were in England.

I said, ‘George, that was my band ….. I was the bass player and one of the singers in that band”

He said, “ Wow, I love that band”, and started quizzing me about some of the songs we had recorded. At this point everyone at the table is listening and I am trying to digest the fact that I am sitting at a table with George Harrison …. Former Beatle ….. and he is asking me about a band that I played in that he really liked. Pinch pinch!

Last thing I remember is walking down Stanley street, George with his arm around my shoulder saying, “I hope I didn’t offend you before with the reference to Maharaj Ji, but I just get a bit disturbed by his lifestyle even though I know Olivia really loves him”. What could I say? I just started asking him about working with Willie Weeks, who happens to be one of my favourite bass players. I did of course offer my services should he ever need them. This goes down as one of my fond memories.

The Escapade band had an all-star line-up with Ricky Fataar (ex Beach Boys, Rutles, and now Bonnie Rait's band) on drums,Wilbur Wild and Joe Camilleri on Brass (and comedy), Mark Punch on guitar, Sam McNally on keyboards, Alan Mansfield on keyboards, Mark Williams and Venetta Fields on backing vocals and yours truly on the bass.It was at this time I met Venetta Fields. We immediately got on like a house on fire.

Venetta Fields - Gospel Jubilee
L to R: Shirlee Mathews, Chong Lim, Venetta Fields, Geoff Bridgford, Joanne Campbell, Joe Creighton

A while later we formed a gospel group with her old singing partner Shirley Mathews. The three of us started doing lots of vocal sessions around the Melbourne studios. Those girls really got me in shape. They had so much experience behind them. Venetta had worked with everybody from Bob Dylan to Boz Scags to Barbara Streisand and here I was in Melbourne getting the education of my life. Check out Venetta's web site: http://www.venettafields.com/

Thank you Venetta it has been a pleasure to know you and we have shared some great laughs together.

Venetta put together her own gospel show, 'Gospel Jubilee' around 86 I think, and asked me to join her. We did a season at the Troubadour in Brunswick St, Melbourne with great success.

NEXT: chapter 8 - It was there John Farnham saw us