Alongside Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil and Rose Tattoo, The Angels had a profound effect on the Australian live music scene of the late 70s/early 80s.
The Angels helped redefine the Australian pub rock tradition with their no-frills rock which attracted punters to pubs in unprecedented numbers.
The band originally formed in 1970 as The Moonshine Jug and String Band, playing coffee houses around Adelaide. In 1974 the band turned electric and began playing 1950s rock and roll on the pub circuit as The Keystone Angels.
By 1976 the band had beefed up their sound to a unique brand of rock, and Am I Ever Gonna To See Your Face Again? was released on the Alberts label.
In 1978 the band released the singles Comin’ Down and Take A Long Line (which provided them with their first real chart success).
They also released their killer second album, Face To Face, which reached #16 in November and stayed on the charts for 79 weeks.
It achieved platinum status four times over. By this stage, The Angels were Australia’s highest-paid band and attracted record crowds wherever they played.
On New Years Eve 1979, the band played in front of almost 100,000 people on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. The night ended in a riot and rock music was subsequently banned from future New Years Eve celebrations in Sydney. Both Doc Neeson and Chris Bailey needed stitches after being struck in the head by bottles.
For their American tour, the band changed their name to Angel City to avoid confusion (and lawsuits) with US glam metal band Angel). At one stage they were thrown off a Kinks tour for being too good.
In 1980, Rolling Stone in America hailed The Angels, saying “If The Rolling Stones had come from Adelaide, they might have sounded like this”.
Despite several line-up changes, The Angels released many strong albums during the late 70s and eighties and charted with a number of singles including After The Rain, Shadow Boxer, Out Of The Blue, Mr Damage, No Secrets, Poor Baby, Face The Day and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.
At the end of 1995, The Angels announced their impending split. The Farewell Tour went so well that the band decided to stay together and continued touring throughout 1996.
Finding themselves without a record deal, they issued their next CD Single independently. In July 1997 they set off on the Lounge Lizards Tour playing acoustic instruments.
The group disbanded at the close of the ’90s following Doc Neeson’s injury in a car accident. Neeson joined a re-formed Angels in the spring of 2008, and the reunited group played a series of shows during the summer of that year.
Chris Bailey passed away on 4 April 2013 after battling aggressive cancer.
Doc Neeson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012 and although it was removed in 2013, an MRI scan early in 2014 showed it had returned. He passed away on 4 June 2014. He was 67.
Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson