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The nucleus of Sydney band Feather came together in early 1976 under the name Blackfeather, and lead singer Neale Johns had fronted various incarnations of Blackfeather since 1970.

The 1976 Blackfeather line-up was more pop-oriented and featured Johns, Ray Vanderby (keyboards), Lee Brossman and Warwick Fraser, plus Warwick’s 14-year-old brother, Stuart.

In November 1976, Johns left to travel to the UK and Vanderby followed him out of the band. The remaining members recruited singer John Swan and guitarist Wayne Smith to become Feather.

The bands first break came that same month when it supported UK visitors Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow on an Australian tour. Feather then settled into the local pub rock circuit and issued the single Girl Trouble (May 1977) on CBS. The band reputedly also recorded an album at that time called Going Through Changes which has never surfaced.


Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel) joined as co-lead singer in July 1977, but a few weeks later he returned to his old band. In November 1977, Brossman and Smith left to be replaced by Mark Mitchell and Chris Jones (ex-Finch).

In April 1978, on the eve of the band’s support spot on TMG‘s three-month ‘Disturbing The Peace’ tour, John Swan left the group. 19-year-old Gary Conlan stepped in as Swan’s replacement (large shoes to fill indeed).

The band contributed two tracks to an Alberts compilation album, Canned Rock, recorded live at Parramatta jail, but by 1980 were working under the name of Kid Colt.

John Swan was the most successful ex-member of Feather, going on to considerable fame under the guise of Swanee.

Neale Johns
John Swan

Ray Vanderby

Lee Brossman

Warwick Fraser

Stuart Fraser

Wayne Smith

Mark Mitchell

Chris Jones

Gary Conlan