|Douglas John Parkinson|
|Born||30 October 1946|
Waratah, New South Wales, Australia
|Origin||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Genres||Pop, rock, R&B|
Douglas John Parkinson (born 30 October 1946) is an Australian pop and rock singer. He led the band Doug Parkinson in Focus from 1968 to 1971. Their cover version of the Beatles' track "Dear Prudence" (May 1969) peaked at No. 5 on the Go-Set National Top 40. The follow up single, "Without You" / "Hair" (October), also reached No. 5. Between 1966 and 1997 he had six hit singles. Australian musicologist Ian McFarlane has said that Parkinson "conveyed considerable charisma with his imposing presence, 'Lucifer' beard and gruff, raspy voice. He also surrounded himself with mature, seasoned musicians who added to his appeal."
Douglas John Parkinson was born in Waratah, New South Wales, on 30 October 1946. His father was a commercial artist in print advertising. Parkinson recalled how "my father one day made the huge mistake of buying a two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. I have no idea why he bought it but it was there, and one night I snuck out and turned it on and sang into it. And I thought 'Who is that person coming back on that tape?'. It intrigued me. Then I asked for a guitar for Christmas and that was the end of me." He left secondary school at 15 and worked briefly as a labourer before starting a journalism cadetship.
In his teens Doug was an avid surfer but that almost the death of him when Doug was hit by a surfboard, knocked unconscious and almost drowned. He was dragged from the water and resuscitated and saved by a couple of mates, and taken to Mona vale Hospital. It took Doug the next six months of rehabilitation bed-ridden to recover from his injuries.
Parkinson formed Strings and Things in 1965. At the end of that year they comprised Parkinson on lead vocals, Helen Barnes on bass guitar, her brother Syd Barnes on drums and David Lee on guitar - they changed their name to the A Sound, an amateur folk music group. The Barnes siblings were children of Australian cricketer, Sid Barnes. That band issued "Talk About That" (1966), which was a "pleasant folk single (in the Seekers vein)." He quit his cadetship in that year as "I was impatient, I was earning more with the band two nights a week than I was at the paper, but I was always having to swap shifts with other cadets and then I finally bit the bullet and left."
In 1966 Parkinson joined a professional outfit, the Questions, alongside Bill Flemming on drums (ex- Midnighters, Roland Storm and the Statesmen, Max Merritt and the Meteors), Billy Green on guitar, Duncan McGuire on bass guitar (ex-The Phantoms, Roland Storm and the Statesmen) and Rory Thomas on piano, organ, woodwind and brass. They had already released an album, What Is a Question? (November 1966) - recorded before Parkinson had joined. The group held a residency at the Canopus Room, colloquially known as "The Can", at The Manly Pacific Hotel in Manly, a Sydney suburb.
Parkinson provided his "facility for soul and blues" for the line-up. They competed in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in July 1967 to finish second behind the Groop. With Parkinson aboard, the Questions issued a run of three "minor psychedelic pop classic" singles, "Sally Go Round the Roses" (July 1967), "And Things Unsaid" (October) and "Something Wonderful" (February 1968). In January 1968 they changed personnel with Ray Burton on guitar (ex-Delltones) and Les Young on bass guitar (ex-Chessmen) replacing Green and McGuire respectively. A month later the group broke up.
Doug Parkinson in Focus were formed early in 1968 with Green, McGuire and Thomas joined by Doug Lavery on drums (ex-Andy James Asylum, Running Jumping Standing Still). They released a single, "I Had a Dream", in May and finished third in that year's Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds. That version disbanded in August. In the following month a new line-up comprising Parkinson, Green, McGuire and Johnny Dick on drums (ex-Max Merritt and the Meteors, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs) formed, which "became one of the most popular outfits on the Melbourne suburban dance/inner-city discotheque circuit" as they were "perfectly in sync with the tempo of the times." The group signed with EMI/Columbia and issued a cover version of the Beatles' track, "Dear Prudence", in May 1969, which peaked at No. 5 on the Go-Set National Top 40. Also in that year the group won the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds.
Their follow up single, "Without You" / "Hair" (October), also reached No. 5. In November Green and McGuire left to join Rush while, in the following month, Parkinson and Dick recruited Mick Rogers (ex-Procession) and Les Stacpool (ex-Chessmen, Merv Benton and the Tamlas) each alternating on bass and lead guitars. By February 1970 Green and McGuire had returned and Rogers and Stacpool had left. The group issued another single, "Baby Blue Eyes" (May), which reached No. 36.
The group disbanded when Parkinson and Dick relocated to the United Kingdom where, in June 1970, they joined Fanny Adams with Vince Melouney on guitar and vocals (ex-Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, the Bee Gees) and Teddy Toi on bass guitar (ex-Max Merritt and the Meteors, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs). Parkinson "conveyed considerable charisma with his imposing presence and gruff, raspy voice." The group recorded their self-titled album in London and returned to Australia in December but disbanded a month later.Fanny Adams appeared posthumously in June 1971 on MCA Records; which McFarlane described as exemplifying "adventurous, heavy, progressive blues-rock."
In February 1971 he formed another line-up of Doug Parkinson in Focus with Green and McGuire joined by Mark Kennedy on drums (ex-Spectrum, King Harvest). Their new label, Fable Records, had released the single, "Purple Curtains" (1971), which had been recorded by a previous line-up. According to McFarlane after Fanny Adams had disbanded "Such was MCA's dissatisfaction with the split that the label effectively prevented Parkinson from recording for two years." In December 1971 the line-up fractured when Kennedy and McGuire joined their former bandmate, Leo de Castro, in Friends; while Green joined Gerry and the Joy Band.
Parkinson started his solo career and, in August 1972, issued the single, "Lonely". In March 1973 he took the role of the Hawker in the Australian music theatre orchestral version of the Who's rock opera, Tommy. Fellow Australian artists were Daryl Braithwaite (as Tommy), Bobby Bright, Linda George, Colleen Hewett, Jim Keays, Ian Meldrum (as Uncle Ernie in Sydney only), Billy Thorpe, Wendy Saddington, Broderick Smith and Ross Wilson. The Sydney performance was filmed and broadcast on channel 7 in early April.
Parkinson issued his debut solo album, No Regrets, in May 1973 on Polydor Records. For the sessions he used John Capek on piano (ex-Carson); drummers Russell Dunlop, Peter Figures and Graham Morgan; Tim Partridge on bass guitar; guitarists Billy Green, Kevin Borich, Jimmy Doyle and Ross East; Roger Sellers on percussion; Don Reid on flute and saxophone; and Terry Hannagan on backing vocals. Parkinson co-wrote two tracks with Capek, he co-produced a track with Ray Burton and other tracks with David Fookes.
He formed a big band jazz ensemble, Life Organisation, with Morgan and Toi joined by Warren Ford on guitar and piano; Peter Martin on guitar (ex-SCRA); and Bill Motzing on trombone and keyboards. They issued two singles, "In the Mood (Forties Style)" (June 1973) and "Boogie Woogie" (November). In late 1973 he replaced Reg Livermore in the role of Herod in an Australian musical theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Former bandmate Green composed the soundtrack to the biker film, Stone (1974), with Parkinson singing on two tracks, "Cosmic Flash" and "Do Not Go Gentle". In that year his touring band were Rod Coe on bass guitar, Bruno Lawrence on drums (ex-Max Merritt and the Meteors, BLERTA), Mick Lieber on guitar (ex-Python Lee Jackson) and Ray Vanderby on keyboards. In November that year he had a hit with his cover version of "Everlasting Love", which peaked at No. 22 on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart. He followed with "Love is Like a Cloudy Day" (May 1975) and "Raised on Rock" (September) but they did not chart.
From December 1977 to March 1978 Parkinson returned to musical theatre in the stage show, Ned Kelly. For his solo career the touring band were Sanctuary, which included ex-Renée Geyer Band members: Mal Logan on keyboards and Barry Sullivan on bass guitar. He then formed the Southern Star Band with former bandmates, Kennedy and McGuire, and new associates Frank Esler-Smith on keyboards (ex-Marcia Hines Band) and Jim Gannon on guitar (ex-Black Widow, Yellow Dog). Gannon was soon replaced by Tommy Emmanuel on guitar (ex-Goldrush, the Emmanuel Brothers Band).
McFarlane felt the group "played slick, funky jazz over an R&B foundation." They issued four singles with "I'll Be Around" (January 1979) the highest charting, which reached No. 22 on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart. The album of the same name was "a steady seller but failed to reach the Top 40." Parkinson also sang the opening theme song of the short-lived TV soap opera, Arcade (1980), which was issued as a solo single.
Early in 1981 Southern Star Band broke up and in March he formed the Doug Parkinson Band with George Limbidis on bass guitar (ex-Highway), Adrian Payne on drums (ex-Pantha, Broderick Smith's Hired Hands), Tim Piper on guitar (ex-Chain, Blackfeather) and Dave Richard on guitar. They issued seven singles from March 1981 to September 1983, including a cover version of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" in July 1981, originally by Frankie Valli, which peaked at No. 18. Their album, Heartbeat to Heartbeat, appeared in March 1983. Late that year he prepared for another production of Jesus Christ Superstar but this time as Judas, which included a run in Perth during 1984.
From the late 1980s, Parkinson "concentrated on musical theatre" with roles in Australian stage productions of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (January 1990), The Hunting of the Snark (October) and Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story as the Big Bopper (January and September 1991, April, June, July and August 1992). He continued performing in stage shows, cabaret, club work and recording as of 2016. He told Christian Tatman of The Herald Sun that "My favourite thing is working with a crowd. It's what I'm going to keep doing. I have no plans for retirement."
In early 2017, Parkinson undertook a tour featuring the music of Joe Cocker. Highlights of the shows not only included Cocker's songs but also his own hits as well as songs made famous by others, such as Ray Charles and the Beatles.