photo copyright Graeham Goble
Little River Band were one
of Australia's finest and indeed biggest bands. Many reading this may not
be aware that only a small number of Australian bands broke America
successfully, and Little River Band were the first and quite probably the
biggest success in the States. They're in the fine company of future
successes INXS, AC/DC, Air Supply and Men at Work. We caught up with
original band member Graeham Goble in Melbourne, Australia.
Hello Graeham, thanks for talking to the Friars Aylesbury website. As I mention in my introduction, there's
probably a number of people reading this who don't realise how big Little
River Band were, you were one of the few Australian bands who made it big
We were huge
in America and I am still disappointed we didn't have bigger success in
the UK and Europe because we loved coming over to the UK and Europe. We
did OK in Germany and in the Netherlands. But we didn't spend very long
there because the band was doing so well in the US and Canada. So that's
where we spent most of our touring life.
I saw a quote somewhere that something like
only about a half dozen Australian acts cracked America and you're one of
Yes, we were the first
band actually. It was a big deal when we were the first doing it.
That's still a big deal now,
the fact you did succeed over there....
A lot of English acts didn't
succeed, and even Abba didn't. It seems so extraordinary that success there
eluded so many major artists. Even Cliff Richard and The Shadows and other
what I would consider iconic artists never made it in America.
The Little River Band
individually were all known in Australia before you became together as the
band weren't they?
Yes, Glenn Shorrock had been
in Axiom and Twilights, Beeb Birtles was in a band called Zoot who were
really big in Australia and I was in a band called Mississippi who went to
England but we broke up. So we formed around 1975 in England when
Missisippi broke up. Then we got a record deal in Australia and the
turning point was getting a deal with Capitol records in the US.
with the American market and obviously you were big in Australia, but in
the early days of LRB, you continued to be more successful....
It just kept on rising and
rising and we had top ten singles five or six years in a row up to 1983.
The thing was we were constantly touring the US, first as supporting act.
We just went over there, found out where we needed to be seen to get our
record noticed and got the agent to get a support slot. By the time the
second US tour came around, we were a strong live act as we had played
literally thousands of shows in Australia. After a [US] tour and half maybe, we
were starting to headline our own shows and at the same time, the singles
that Capitol started releasing were getting airplay.
Wasn't Help Is On Its
Way the breakthrough in America?
Yes, but the first single,
It's A Long Way There got to No 28 on the Billboard chart and that got us
going. That single was what Capitol released when we toured the US in
1976. Then the second single, Help Is On Its Way -
made 14 on the Billboard chart [and also the band's best selling single in
Australia]. By then, we had played so many shows in
America, we were starting to get noticed by a lot of people and starting
to get famous.
Just sheer hard work [to try
to crack the States].....
Yes, and a
bit of talent in there somewhere!
suggesting a lack of talent! Just commenting on your hard work and
We worked very hard. In all
the years touring with the Little River Band, I probably had no more than
four hours sleep a night. It was constantly touring or rehearsing or
recording in the studio for a new album. There was no rest for ten years.
It must have felt
like the proverbial rollercoaster in some ways?
Yes, very much. Rewarding?
Yes, but very exhausting. But that's the nature of it. When you are young
and you get that opportunity, you just go for it. Our albums were all
going platinum in Australia and Help Is On Its Way going to number one.
The singles did OK, but the albums went multi-platinum in Australia.
It's a shame (and Lord only
knows why as LRB were a great band) that as much as
you love the UK and Europe, you weren't as big as you were in Australia
and the US. In 1977 you played Friars Aylesbury on the Diamantina Cocktail
tour but for some reason it just didn't take off as well over here. Do you
think this was mainly down to your time being elsewhere with the US
Well, there's not the
touring opportunities in the UK as there are in America. In the UK, we did
that 1977 UK tour, but there is not the ability of endless touring or
radio opportunities in the UK that there are in America. The set up is
completely different. If you live in the UK, it's easier, but it's
expensive to stay (from a non UK band's perspective) if you are waiting
for things to happen. In America you can gig every night, as we did and
things were happening as we travelled.
I guess a two week
tour of the UK simply isn't the same...
Yes, and the
costs too. We went to the UK and Europe in 1977 but could only do it with
record company support because we were not paying our way with record
sales. And there were the costs of our air fares, freight and
accommodation. We couldn't make the shows even pay expenses from the shows
so Capitol sponsored the tour in the hope we would break through there or
But with the success in
America, there was less time to get over to Europe to capitalise on
anything. That's what it boiled down to, we had no time left in our
After 1977 and as the band got bigger and
bigger, there was a change in line up, you had John Farnham ( the same
John Farnham that went on to have huge solo success with You're The Voice) join you
around 1982 when Glenn Shorrock left.
That was a big change. I
thought we were continuing to evolve. When John joined, we had a huge hit
in America then the head of promotions at Capitol records resigned and the
new head was not a Little river Band fan. So the hierarchy that had
signed and bankrolled the Little River Band had changed. The financial tap
was turned off and really was the end of our career.
around this time, your sound had started to change as well. Many referred
to you as being of an American West Coast style, I can certainly hear
Steely Dan and Boz Scaggs influences/styles....did you feel you had to change styles?
The change was for a very
good reason - it you look at the Beatles first and last albums, there is
no comparison. We had many things we wanted to get out but without the
record company support....we were going in a direction we wanted to go in
without treading over old ground. I think we made some great new music but
it didn't get the [same level of] exposure. It could have been as big as
some of the earlier songs.
You must be proud of being the writer of the US Top Ten hit
‘Reminiscing’, apparently one of the most played songs on the radio in
Yes, 'Reminiscing' has
had almost 5 million plays in the US and has become an iconic song, that
I'm very pleased to have written.
How did working with Sir George Martin as producer on Time
Exposures come about?
It was a simple fact
that we were aware that George was still producing and that he had a new
recording facility in The Caribbean. George came to one of our US shows
and he agreed to produce our next album, which was "Time Exposure".
We also got to work with
the legendary Beatles Engineer, Geoff Emerick.
You were also involved in
Live Aid in 1985?
Yes. I don't think the Australian part was broadcast in the UK though.
Looking back over 35 years, I see the Little River Band as having cemented
its place in Australian music history and folklore as one of the most
significant and important bands to have come out from Australia. You must see it this
Yes, but I don't think for
some reason Australians see it that way. For some reason, we were inducted
into the Australian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but generally, the
Australians don't tend to revere us as the Americans revered us or any
other country for that matter. They seem to revere us less than anywhere
in the world. I don't know why that is, that seems to be a bit of an
Australian thing. They don't seem to care too much about their heroes.
Do you consider then maybe that
Australians think of say Air Supply more than yourselves?
Air Supply were just the same. The Australians preferred the heavier
things like INXS. AC/DC? Yes, they were the head of the tree. Men At Work
even, although they only had a couple of hits were revered more than
Little River Band, although Down Under is a cult anthem.
That's quite harsh I think. Down
Under is just one song that gets played to death on radio in the UK, yet
Little River Band had a huge body of work....
I'm not saying this because
I was in the band, but we were without equal. We made great records, 13 top
thirty hits in America, 25 million albums, so I do agree with you, that we
should be more revered than we are.
These days you are more
inclined to do your solo work, you haven't been involved in the Little
River Band name for some time have you?
we have lost the use of our name.......
I was reading about that and
I was horrified.
been stolen from us basically. What happened was that a guitarist (Stephen
Housden) who joined the band after all the success...when we started
individually leaving the band, we signed away our one dollar, one unit
share in the band back into the pool, what we didn't realise was that we
were actually signing away our ownership of the band name. When I left I
signed my one page registration and turned my one unit back into the
company. This guy who has been touring America as basically a covers band
has been using our name.
We (all the
original members of the band) want to play but we can't be promoted as the
Little River Band.
So, you can't even go out as
the Original Little River Band?
We tried to use that and he
took us to court and got a court injunction to prevent us from doing that.
So we couldn't use the name in any way at all.
So you have one person
joining the band after the hits now calling the shots and effectively
denying you your history!
Yes, he owns LRB trademark and
he doesn't even tour himself anymore, he lives in Ireland. He just works
with session guys out there.
That is truly shocking!
It is! It shouldn't be
You have similar situations
in the UK, with bands touring as two different versions, it is ridiculous.
It is. There's no way that
the original name of the band should have been allowed to have been abused, and that's the truth and we legally can't do
anything about it.
So you'd have to go out, as
you have done in the past, as Birtles Shorrock Goble?
That's what we tried to do
and had a fantastic band behind us that we wanted to take to America but
the American promoters were scared because we didn't have the Little River
Band name and without that they wouldn't promote us. We've closed that
down now as we had no opportunity to go [back] to the US
Just so I have a clear
understanding...US promoters couldn't even bill you as 'Birtles Shorrock
Goble playing the songs of the Little River Band'?
They (the promoters)
wouldn't even go for that and we've been trying for five years to get a
tour in America and no-one will take it on.
That is unbelievable given
how big Little River Band was in America.
The individual members of
the band are not famous in the way say Don Henley is of The Eagles....and
this is why this guy is getting away with using our trademark. People
will see LRB playing in America not knowing the band is all session
musicians standing there and sounding a little bit different. This touring
band has no original members. It's crazy.
To bring us to where we are
now, you have your solo career and where are you now with your solo
I have just released some
new material, which is on the website and hope to have a new album out
this year. A lot of people don't know I have made new music as I cannot
get to the people who follow the Little River Band. The ones who do know
and find me like what I am doing now but the fan base is small compared to
what it was. It's a passion and I make records with the same degree of
quality, the songwriting is as good as it ever was. I make them and let
them go out.
I guess you are making music
to please yourself, but you're obviously still appealing to the the fans
who were there when Little River Band was huge.
The way people look to get
music today is different with downloads (also available on my site) but the
competition is different today and you have to be satisfied with less
sales. It costs substantially more to make my CDs than I actually get back
Plus there is not the stream
of income from touring.....
Yes, plus of course, I could
sell my CDs at the venues. I am not famous enough to enough people. People
like you remember us, but [my name] isn't a draw as it isn't a famous
And not being able to use
the LRB name is of course a massive drawback. Graeham, thank you for your
time and best wishes from all at Friars Aylesbury.
This interview and its
content are © 2011 Mike O'Connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk and may not
be used in whole or in part without permission.