Australia is careful to present a specific side of itself to the world through its media -- a nation of friendly and gregarious characters who are only a little rough around the edges. There's another side to that coin, though, and that's why a comedian and musician like Rodney Rude, who never receives radio airplay and is no longer allowed on television, is capable of selling millions of albums and watching everything he releases climb to the Top 20 of the charts. The lowest-common-denominator appeal of his offensive jokes, catch phrases, and trademark high-pitched machine-gun laugh is more than a little rough around the edges, but it accurately represents the tastes of a large demographic, particularly within the country's rural areas.
Rude was born in Bathurst as Rodney Keft. By the time he was 16, he was a member of several bands that toured the showgrounds of north Queensland -- an area jokingly called "the Deep North" by Australians. His membership in bands never lasted long, as he was unable to resist the temptation to change song lyrics in ways he found amusing, which invariably meant making them crude. After being kicked out of every band he was in, he discovered his niche as a solo performer and comedian, leaving Australia to tour the North American comedy circuits and build the Rodney Rude persona. After years of performing, much of which he diligently recorded for future release, in 1981 he returned to Australia to be the host of Sydney's first standup comedy venue, the Sydney Comedy Store. His first album of live material, I Hate That, named after one of his catch phrases, surprised everyone by reaching number one on the album charts and eventually achieving triple platinum status. Impressive sales would follow every subsequent release of his prolific career.
Not everyone was a fan, however. In Queensland he earned the enmity of the state's premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, after joking that his sexual fantasy was to be flogged by Mrs. Bjelke-Petersen with a bag full of her homemade scones. While performing at the state's capital, Brisbane, in 1988 he was arrested for obscenity. In response he released the album Not Guilty, in which he refers to flathead fish as, "the Brisbane policeman fish." While touring on the back of his release Ya Mum's Bum (Top Ten in the charts, platinum sales) in 2001 he suffered a motorbike accident that required reconstructive surgery on his knee. This interfered with his performing, rendering him incapable of the segment in which he impersonates a midget, and he considered retirement. After receiving constant demands from his fans, he returned to the stage in 2004. Three years later he released the album Frog Sack and announced his final tour and his intent to retire to his rural property in Illawara to spend time with his family, indulging in his love of poetry and tractors. ~ Jody Macgregor