The Easybeats were an Australian rock band. They formed in Sydney in late 1964 and disbanded at the end of 1969. They are regarded as the greatest Australian pop band of the 1960s, echoing the Beatles’ success in Britain, and were the first Australian rock and roll act to score an international pop hit with their 1966 single “Friday on My Mind”.
The band’s line-up exemplified the influence of post-war migration on Australian society. All five founding members were from families who had migrated to Australia from Europe: lead singer Stevie Wright and drummer Gordon “Snowy” Fleet were fromEngland; rhythm guitarist George Young was from Scotland; lead guitarist Harry Vanda and bassist Dick Diamonde were from the Netherlands.
The band formed at the Villawood Migrant Hostel (now the Villawood Detention Centre) and the band members’ families spent their first years in Australia housed at the Villawood Migrant Hostel in the early and mid sixties.
Beginning their career in Sydney at the little-known teen hangout, Beatle Village, in the basement of a pub at Taylor Square on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, in late 1964, the band was inspired by the “British Invasion” spearheaded by the Beatles. They quickly rose to become one of the most popular groups in the city. Real estate agent turned pop manager Mike Vaughan took over as their manager and through his efforts they were signed to a production contract with Albert Productions, one of Australia’s first independent record production companies. It was established by Ted Albert, whose family owned J. Albert & Sons, one of Australia’s oldest and largest music publishing companies.
Albert signed the band to a recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label. After recording and writing a number of songs at the then abandoned 2UW Theatre (which was owned by Albert Productions’ parent company, J Albert and Son), they chose the bluesy “For My Woman” as their first single. It was picked up by local radio Sydney radio and proved to be a minor hit, reaching #33 on the charts.
It was their next single “She’s So Fine” that launched them to national stardom. The reached #3 and by the end of 1965 they were the most popular and successful pop band in Australia. Their concerts and public appearances were regularly marked by intense fan hysteria which was very similar to ‘Beatlemania’ and which was soon dubbed ‘Easyfever’. On 23 September 1965, the group released their first album Easy. It was one of the earliest albums of all original material that was written by an Australia rock group.
During 1965 and early 1966, they released a string of hit singles in Australia, all co-written by George Young and Stevie Wright, including: “Wedding Ring” (#7), “Sad and Lonely and Blue” (#21) and “Women (Make You Feel Alright)” (#4). These songs would all be included on the group’s second album: It’s 2 Easy, released 24 March, 1966. The lead single from that album, “Come and See Her” reach #3 on the Australian charts. The Wright-Young songwriting team also wrote a number of hits for other artists, including “Step Back”, which became a #1 hit for Johnny Young (no relation) in 1966.
In early 1966, while the group were still touring Australia, their manager, Mike Vaughan, flew to New York to attempt to secure an American recording contract for the band. After initial lack of interest, on the last scheduled day of his visit Vaughan was able to convince United Artists Records to sign The Easybeats. Ten days of negotiations resulted in a groundbreaking five-year contract for overseas releases. Just before relocating to London in 1966, they recorded a farewell TV show for the Seven Network, titled The Easybeats(but more commonly known as The Coca-Cola Special). The television special is regarded as one of the prime artifacts of Sixties Australian pop TV. The group left for the UK on 10 July 1966.
They briefly stopped over in Perth, Western Australia but a planned farewell performance on a temporary stage set up on the tarmac at Perth Airport had to be cancelled amid chaotic scenes, with 4000 fans breaking through barriers and storming the runway. A bomb threat then forced the group to evacuate the plane, and they had to be smuggled out the emergency exit into a catering van and driven to the end of the runway, where they hid for half an hour until they were able to rejoin the plane. In August 1966, Albert Productions released an E.P. of material recorded before the group left Australia. Titled Easyfever, it reach #1 on the Australian singles charts. Albert Productions would then release an entire album of material titled Volume 3 on 3 November, 1966. This too was a commercial success and its lead single “Sorry” topped the Australian charts.