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Six O’clock Rock

1 9 5 9 – 1 9 6 2 (Australia)

Australian rock & roll variety show Six O’Clock Rock premiered on the ABC network on 28 February 1959. Modelled on the successful British show The Six-Five Special the show was originally hosted by Ricki Merriman.

After only six episodes, top Aussie pop star Johnny O’Keefe took over as host.

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O’Keefe quickly took over the running of almost every aspect of the show, selecting guest artists, choosing their material, supervising the rehearsals and conducting the band.

The show was broadcast live on Saturdays (at 6 o’clock naturally)  from the ABC’s Gore Hill studios in Sydney.

In addition to O’Keefe and his instrumental group, The Deejays, other regular performers included the Australian All Stars and Sydney vocal group, The Graduates.

O’Keefe’s tenure with Six O’Clock Rock ended in mid-1961, and in October he moved to ATN-7 as compere of The Johnny O’Keefe Show.

The show was a major success, but added to his already hectic workload and increased the pressure on him. In August 1962, O’Keefe suffered a breakdown (his second) and spent two months in the psychiatric ward at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, beginning what was to become a repeating cycle of much-publicised breakdowns, hospitalisation and recovery.

During his convalescence, his TV show was renamed Sing, Sing, Sing and he was temporarily replaced as host by folk singer Lionel Long.

Only one episode of Six O’Clock Rock survives in the ABC archives.