One of the defining moments of Australia’s 1970s pop legacy was undoubtedly Hush performing Bony Moronie on Countdown.
This updated version of the old Larry Williams rocker was a #1 for Hush in September 1975. It was the perfect vehicle for the band’s flashy hi-jinks.
English-born lead singer Keith Lamb would wiggle his butt in his satin flares, thrust out his crotch and leer at the camera with a mischievous look in his eyes. A look which – in the words of The Knack – the little girls understood.
This sleazy bump and grind were offset by the aura of exotica provided by the two Asian band members, guitarist Les Gock and bassist Rick Lum.
Gock strutted around in platform-heeled boots and glam threads, with peroxide streaks in his jet black hair, while Lum hammed it up in a serious kind of way. Drummer Smiley Pailthorpe cheerfully revealed his goofy, gap-toothed grin whenever the camera panned across his face.
Hush loved to put on a show. It was all a little contrived but glorious entertainment at the same time.
They had the sound (basic, sassy glam-pop and refurbished 12-bar boogie), the looks and the songs to make a grab for stardom, and for a while in 1975 and 1976, Hush were genuine scream-dream pop sensations with hordes of howling, weeping teenyboppers in tow.
Walking, Get Rocked, Bony Moronie, Glad All Over and Too Young To Know were all hit singles. Album titles like Get Rocked, C’mon We’re Taking Over, Nothing Stays The Same Forever and Rough, Tough And Ready were statements of intent.
Inevitably, as is the way with all fads, Hush’s popularity began to slide.
While the band tried to make a serious affirmation of its abilities (the 1977 album Touché featured a rock side called A Touch of Decadence, and a slow side called A Touch of Class), prospects were grim.
Keith Lamb tried to keep the flame alight with The New Hush and then with The Keith Lamb Band (which later became Airport), but by then the screaming had faded.
It would be too easy to heap derision on the memory of Hush. They were simply the right band in the right place at the right time. After all, it was great pop music, and Keith, Les and the boys probably had the ride of their life.
Underneath it all, Les Gock really did know how to handle his white Stratocaster and now works in the world of advertising as one of Australia’s foremost jingle writers.
In 1987, Keith Lamb was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after being found unfit to face a $4 million fraud charge. Keith thought that Status Quo owed him royalties for songs he’d written – which in fact they did, only they didn’t know how to contact him. So he wrote out a cheque for four million dollars and deposited it in a bank in Melbourne.
Sometime later he tried to withdraw two hundred dollars and the police were called. The police psychiatrist thought Keith was deluded because he claimed to have thirteen gold records. And of course, that wasn’t a delusion, it was perfectly true. He was later diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia.
Rick Lum Bass
Chris ‘Smiley’ Pailthorpe
Jacques de Jongh