In terms of style, musicianship and songwriting ability (if not success) Adelaide’s favourite sons The Twilights were the closest thing Australia had to overseas role models like The Beatles, The Who or The Zombies.
While every young band in Australia in 1965 were struggling to sound like The Beatles, The Twilights hardly even had to try.
They were able to copy their Liverpool idols with faultless, note-for-note accuracy, and before the inevitable split came in 1969, The Twilights enjoyed significant chart success with eight consecutive hit singles.
The Twilights grew out of Adelaide vocal quartet The Checkmates, which comprised English-born Glenn Shorrock, Irish-born Paddy McCartney, Mike Sykes and Billy Volraat. In 1964, The Beatles broke in Australia and The Checkmates merged with crack instrumental outfit The Hurricanes to become The Twilights.
By the end of 1965, The Twilights had become Adelaide’s most popular band.
The singles I’ll Be Where You Are and a version of The Hollies‘ Come On Home charted in their hometown. At the end of the year, manager Gary Spry took the band to Melbourne where they swiftly became the ‘in’ band to see at hip discotheques like Pinnochios and Opus.
The band also drew enormous crowds on the suburban dance circuit. Their third single, If She Finds Out, reached #13. They scored their first major Top Ten hits with Baby Let Me Take You Home and a cover of Larry Williams‘ Bad Boy.
In July 1966, The Twilights took out first place in the Hoadley’s National Battle Of The Sounds final. Their prize was a trip to the UK, and on 26 September the band left Australia on the cruise ship Castel Felice.
In the meantime, the band had scored a smash hit with The Velvelettes‘ Needle In A Haystack and in December 1966, their debut self-titled album appeared as a strong collection of mod-rock covers (including The Who‘s La-La-La-Lies and The Rolling Stones‘ Satisfaction) and a handful of appealing originals.
While in the UK, the band recorded three tracks at EMI’s Abbey Road studios with producer Norman “Hurricane” Smith: The Hollies What’s Wrong With The Way I Live? and two original songs – 9.50 and Young Girl.
The band returned to Australia and entered the Top 5 with What’s Wrong With The Way I Live? and then saw out 1967 as the most popular band in Australia with two more hit singles, Young Girl and The Way They Play.
No doubt due to their UK sojourn, their repertoire and stage show during 1967 had taken on a new dimension.
The band played the entire Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Small Faces‘ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake albums on stage with exacting precision and in 1968 they commenced work on a proposed television series featuring the band in musical and comedy situations – not unlike The Monkees.
They completed a pilot episode of the series (called Once Upon A Twilight) but no sponsor was willing to invest money and the project was unfortunately shelved. The band’s singles began to fare poorly and in January 1969 with their drummer refusing to undertake another UK trip, the band parted company.
Terry Britten returned to the UK and became an in-demand session player, penning a number of songs for Cliff Richard (including Devil Woman). He also wrote two of Tina Turner‘s biggest hits, What’s Love Got To Do With It? and We Don’t Need Another Hero.
Clem ‘Paddy’ McCartney