The “little Aussie bleeder” Norman Gunston (played by actor Garry McDonald) was one of the most famous Australian media personalities of the 1970s. The original Norman Gunston Show remains a genuinely funny and innovative television variety show.
Musical satire was also one of Norman’s strong points. Norman’s debut single, Salute To ABBA, reached #12 on the Australian charts in December 1976.
His debut album, The Popular Ballad Animal, also included his very special re-workings of Tom Jones‘ Delilah, Shirley Bassey‘s I Who Have Nothing, Elvis Presley‘s Jailhouse Rock and Billy Joel‘s Piano Man, usually with literal explanatory gestures.
His version of Send In The Clowns managed a kind of pathos while turning lines like “Don’t you love farce? My fault I fear” into “Don’t you love farts? My fault I fear” through the simple addition of hand gestures.
Mushroom Records issued Norman’s topical I Might Be A Punk (But I Love You Baby) in May 1977 (co-written by Ross Wilson of Mondo Rock) and an album called Nylon Degrees (in response to the Boz Scaggs‘ album Silk Degrees) which featured live performances from Norman’s tours over the previous year when he was backed by The Gunstonettes and The Norman Tabernacle Choir (i.e Cheetah).
A cover of Sherbet‘s Howzat was issued as a single in June 1978, and KISS Army b/w Normdrum was a national #13 single in November 1980.
McDonald then “retired” the Gunston character to concentrate on his acting career. Norman re-emerged in 1990 and performed a version of the INXS song Suicide Blonde with the Salvation Army Band at a variety extravaganza.
Gunston then recorded a version of Amigos Para Siempre (the theme song to the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games) as a duet with Effie (Mary Coustas) – a character from Australian sitcom Acropolis Now.