Australian vocal harmony group The Delltones formed in Sydney in January 1959, comprising Warren Lucas (tenor vocals), Brian Perkins (baritone vocals), Noel Widerberg (lead vocals) and Ian “Peewee” Wilson (bass vocals).
The group performed in many of promoter Lee Gordon‘s “Big Shows”, backing vocalists and performing in their own spot.
They provided backing vocals for performances by visiting international and local artists including Johnny O’Keefe, Dig Richards, Johnny Rebb and Johnny Devlin. The Delltones also sang backing vocals on recording sessions for O’Keefe who invited them to appear as regulars on his ABC Television music show Six O’Clock Rock.
The group also appeared on Bandstand, hosted by Brian Henderson.
Lee Gordon signed The Delltones to his Leedon Records label and their first single – a remake of The Crows’ Gee reached #15 in Sydney. Their second single, Tonight, was released in October 1959 but failed to generate sales nationally.
Accepting an offer to switch to CBS records in 1960, the single You’re The Limit, provided them with their first national hit when it reached the top ten across Australia.
Noel Widerberg died in a car accident in Sydney in June 1962 and three weeks later the group’s single, Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands, reached #3 on the local charts. Widerberg’s position was filled by Col Loughnan.
The single Come A Little Bit Closer (1963) was an immediate hit and eventually became their all-time best-seller. An album was released to capitalise on the hit single.
With surf music now dominating the Australian Charts, The Delltones released the tongue in cheek composition, Hangin’ Five, which reached #3 in Australia and became a cult classic in California.
The group continued to record and perform live – including shows for the Australian troops in Vietnam. Following their return from Vietnam, Warren Lucas and Col Laughnan left the group and were replaced by Ray Burton and Wayne Cornell. Burton left after only a year (going on to co-write I am Woman with Helen Reddy) and he was replaced by Bill Kirwin.
Sep Martin and Bob Pierse then joined The Delltones, augmenting their vocal sound. They then travelled to the UK and based themselves in London for a while, in an attempt to crack the overseas market. They recorded in London for EMI and toured throughout Europe, until financial problems forced them back home to Australia.
For the next three years, the band toured nationally until disbanding in 1973. The group was subsequently reformed by Wilson in 1978 (with new members) as a five-piece band.
By the end of 1981, Wilson was the only surviving member. In 1988, a legal tussle over ownership of the group name between original member Brian Perkins and Peewee Wilson came out in favour of Wilson who continued to tour Australia with a completely new lineup of The Delltones into the new millennium.
They finally broke up in 2016 after almost 60 years.
Ian “Peewee” Wilson
Vocals (1958 – 2016)
Vocals (1958 – 1962)
Vocals (1958 – 1965)
Vocals (1958 – 1981)
Vocals (1962 – 1966)
Vocals (1965 – 1966)
Vocals (1965 – 1968)
Vocals (1966 – 1968)
Vocals (1968 – 1981)
Vocals (1968 – 1981)
Vocals (1981 – 1994)
Vocals (1982 – 2011)
Saxophone (1981 – 1984)
Vocals (1985 – 1994)
Vocals, guitar (1984- 2016)
Vocals, guitar (1981 – 1984)
Vocals, drums (1985 – 2016)
Vocals, bass (1995 – 2016)