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Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band

This group was something of an Australian institution – which started out playing to hippies and found itself playing for punks.

In its various incarnations, it was a jug band, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, it was absorbed into a circus and then later reborn as The Matchbox Band.

Mic Conway and his brother Jim formed the band in 1968, initially as The Jelly Bean Jug Band, before transferring their ideas to the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band and recording their magical first hit, My Canary Has Circles Under Its Eyes.

The band was one of the first to introduce to the rock scene other favours of entertainment such as comedy and cabaret, but they disbanded on the verge of commercial success. Their Wangaratta Wahine album was doing well in the charts and the band had attracted a good audience at Sunbury ’75 and was receiving good reviews.


Then followed Matchbox’s most controversial period; involvement with politics (the group campaigned for Whitlam but was critical of his Timor policy) and the Soapbox Circus. It horrified some and attracted others.

By 1979, they were plain old ‘Matchbox’, with an influx of new members with respectable pedigrees in the Phil Manning Band, Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons and the Jon English Band.

They called it a day in 1980 with Mic and Jim Conway performing as The Conway Brothers and The Hiccups.

Mic Conway
Vocals, washboard, ukulele
Jim Conway
Harmonica, kazoo, vocals
Mick Fleming
Banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals
Dave Hubbard
Peter Inglis
Guitar, vocals
Jim Niven
Peter Scott
Tea chest bass
Geoff Hales
Drums, washboard
Fred Olbrei
Violin, vocals
Manny Paterakis
Drums, washboard
Jon Snyder
Dave Flett
Bass, slide dobro, vocals, ukelele
Gordon McLean
Banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals
Graeme Isaac
Drums, washboard
Peter Muhleisen
Rick Ludbrook
Guitar, saxophone
Colin Stevens
Mandolin, blues harp
Jack Sara
Violin, vocals
Tony Burkys
Stephen Cooney
Chris Coyne
Sax, flute
Peter Martin
Louis McManus
Fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar
Chris Coyne
Eric McCusker
Guitar, vocals
Robert Ross