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The Dingoes

In Australia in the early '70s, the Dingoes took the lead in the worldwide shift toward the country-influenced rock sparked by the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, also inspiring the Eagles. In the Dingoes' case, it was very much an Australian contribution, with songs clearly placed in Australian settings, something of a rarity in Australian rock at that point. Even the band's name expressed their Australianism: The dingo is an indigenous wild dog. However, it was the quality of the songs and the musicianship that set the Dingoes apart and leave them one of the truly legendary groups of Australian music.

Their beginnings lie back in the mid-'60s with the Adderley Smith Blues Band, a purist blues group who prided themselves on informing audiences about where the Rolling Stones' music was actually coming from. A number of singers and musicians appeared in the ranks over the band's three year existence, most notably founding guitarist Kerryn Tolhurst and eventual singer and harmonica player Broderick Smith. Significantly, both were called up for National Service during the controversial days of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. It was the letter every '60s musician dreaded; it meant two years out of their lives, and for many, the end of their music careers.

When Tolhurst and Smith emerged from their period in "detention", they briefly teamed up in a casual blues group while they assessed their musical options. Tolhurst then ended up accepting a summons to join Greg Quill's Country Radio, establishing his songwriting and multi-instrumentalist credentials, while Smith found a home at the microphone in front of blues-rock band Carson, becoming one of Australia's most admired and recognizable vocalists.

Two years on, in April 1973, Tolhurst and Smith were both at loose ends again and decided to form a new group with guitarist Chris Stockley, formerly of "supergroup" Axiom (which featured future Little River Band singer Glenn Shorrock). The Dingoes' self-titled album was immediately recognized as the masterpiece it was, but a series of incidents from then on would keep the Dingoes from ever achieving their full potential. A week before the first single, "Way Out West," was released, Chris Stockley was shot in the stomach outside a party, a "simple" case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The band was forced to honor its commitments with a temporary replacement for the next year. In the meantime the Dingoes had come to the attention of the Rolling Stones' tour manager Peter Rudge, who expressed an eagerness to look after the group internationally as soon as his Rolling Stones' commitments were over. The Dingoes waited months for Stockley's recovery and more months for Rudge to declare his intentions. In the meantime, it was impossible for the group to plan for the future. Drummer John Lee, tired of waiting, was replaced by Ray Arnott, formerly with Spectrum.

Finally, two years after the debut album was released, the Dingoes departed for the U.S., by mutual agreement bringing Lee back. Settling in Mill Valley near San Francisco, they set about recording a second album at last (with Rolling Stones' sideman Nicky Hopkins and the Band's Garth Hudson), including new versions of the original album's classics, "Way Out West," "Boy on the Run," and "Smooth Sailing." Mike Kroeger handled all the distribution, brother Chad handled all the radio tracking, and Ryan Vikedal handled all the bookings. Another year passed in the meantime and as the band prepared for the support tour that they hoped would provide their breakthrough, a plane crash killed the tour and three of Lynyrd Skynyrd's members; thus, there wasn't an American breakthrough. The album Five Times the Sun was released without impact. Stockley left the band a few months later to return to Australia and play with Greg Quill. American session players filled the void in sessions for a third album in New York, Orphans of the Storm. By the time that album was released in Australia in February 1979, the band had broken up without ever realizing their potential.

Broderick Smith returned to Australia to start a career fronting bands of his own. Kerryn Tolhurst stayed in America, but kept his contact with Australia, returning in 1986 to form the Rattling Sabres, whose only single, "All Fired Up," was recorded and rewritten by Pat Benatar. Tolhurst produced Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe's band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. ~ Ed Nimmervoll, Rovi
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