Portrayed as an Antipodean import, the band was actually largely English; John “Fuzzy” Lee was born in Ashtead, Surrey, John Kane in Glasgow.
Both had moved down under, and there they met Australian Mel Noonan, and together they became one of Australia’s most popular acts.
Armed with a recording contract with Albert Productions, the trio first hit the Australian charts at the end of 1968 with their version of Try To Remember, a track from the stage shows The Fantastiks.
Buoyed by this success, the trio travelled back to England in early 1971, working the club circuit. This led to an appearance on the UK talent quest show Opportunity Knocks, where they became popular winners.
Their winning song – and therefore their first single for producer Mickie Most and his fledgeling label RAK – was the Joe South country classic Rose Garden, and it swiftly became their first British hit.
It made #15 in February 1971, and would doubtless have climbed higher had Lynn Anderson not been topping the chart with her own version at the same time.
The band then teamed with RAK’s songwriting team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (also a Brisbane boy) resulting in the hits Tom Tom Turnaround and Sister Jane.
Oddly, New World’s original version of Living Next Door To Alice – a top 20 Australian hit – failed to make any impression in the UK (where it subsequently became a mega-hit for Smokie).
The three members of New World were tried at the Old Bailey in 1973 with offences under the Forgery Act after attempting to rig votes on Opportunity Knocks.
They admitted they had taken part in a plot involving students at the West Wickham Teacher Training College in Kent to send bogus votes to the TV show but were cleared of other allegations linking them to infamous prostitute Janie Jones.