Melbourne (Australia) band The Thunderbirds signed to Festival Records in 1959, releasing two EP’s and two singles. Laurie Bell left the group shortly afterwards to pursue a career as a jazz guitarist and musical director.
The Thunderbirds then signed a new deal with the W&G label and recorded as an instrumental outfit only, including the singles Wild Weekend (February 1961), New Orleans Beat (April 1961), Machine Gun (June 1961), Royal Whirl (December 1961), Dardanella (1962), One Degree North (1962) and Pink Dominoes (1962).
In November 1964, saxophonist Henri Bource – who was also an amateur underwater photographer and filmmaker – had his leg bitten off by a shark while diving. He indicated to the cameras to keep rolling and the footage was used in a documentary called The Savage Shadow. Bource was back playing with the band three weeks after he lost his leg.
In 1983, The Thunderbirds re-formed briefly for a 1960s revival concert. The line-up was Charles Gauld, Henri Bource, Murray Robertson, Gordon Onley and Harold Frith. In 1996 the original Thunderbirds Harold Frith, Laurie Bell, Henri Bource, Peter Robinson and Murray Robertson got together for a one-off concert at The Elvis Presley Fan Club dance at the Moorabbin Town Hall.
Henri Bource died of leukaemia on 4 September 1998.
In 2007 the group celebrated 50 years together with a group of concerts at leading Melbourne venues coinciding with the release of their new CD The Thunderbirds in the 21st Century. They continue as the original group to perform and record.