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Bitter Lemons, The

Self-taught student group The Bitter Lemons (originally known as The Orgasms) formed in Canberra, Australia, in March 1965 to play at ANU (Australian National University) functions.

The group set up a residency in a long and narrow upstairs room in the Monaro Mall in Civic Centre, Canberra, which by day served as the Mal Strahan Studio for ballroom dancing and on Friday nights was transformed into The Lemon Tree, which rapidly became the most popular teenage haunt in Canberra.

Each week, between 300 and 400 youngsters aged 15 to 20 turned out to dance to the insistent beat of The Bitter Lemons’ rhythm and blues sound.

Tragedy struck just before midnight on Thursday 24 March 1966 when 21-year-old bassist Graeme Harding fell from the pleasure cruiser Mimosa on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin after playing at a fancy dress party for the ANU Law Society.

Harding fell from the stern of the boat after losing his balance and clutching a flag-mast which broke off.

Police divers and an air force helicopter searched in vain for six days for the drowned youngster, finding the broken mast on the surface of the lake, but no sign of Harding. The body was eventually recovered on 31 March.

The group broke up soon after.

Paul Lyneham went on to work as a political journalist with the ABCs This Day Tonight and Four Corners.

Paul Lyneham
Nicky Arndt
Lead guitar
Martin Berry
Rhythm guitar
Graeme Harding
Steve Senz
Dave Kain