Australian Anthony O’Grady was a dedicated music fan and had written occasional record reviews for Go-Set and its early rival Soundblast. Ironically, the first encounter he had with future partner Phillip Mason was as an outraged freelancer demanding payment.
Mason was working at Go-Set and offered O’Grady the finance for a new music magazine. RAM (Rock Australia Magazine) was born.
From the outset, O’Grady believed that Australian artists should receive the same attention and gravitas as the international superstars. He also insisted that the Sydney-based fortnightly tabloid should match its syndicated overseas material (from the NME and Melody Maker).
As a result, many young and keen writers were put through the RAM grinder as O’Grady attempted to convert enthusiasm into writing polish.
His success can be measured by the large number of RAM survivors who went on to careers in mainstream journalism.
The paper did well from the start, primarily because it was in the right place at the right time. Skyhooks were bursting onto the Aussie music scene, Sherbet were filling concert halls, and bands like AC/DC and TMG were commanding large and avid followings.
Three months after RAM got underway, Melbourne came up with Juke (with ex-Go-Set editor Ed Nimmervoll). Juke picked up syndication of the English music paper Sounds, but within three months was in financial trouble.
Its original backers had pulled out and Nimmervoll approached the publishers of the Melbourne daily newspaper The Age – they offered to back him and Juke continued without missing a single issue.
Allan Webster took over as editor, and stayed with Juke until 1979, gradually shifting its emphasis away from the teenybopper to a more ‘hard news’ stance and a stronger local orientation.
When Graham Simpson took over from Webster, the paper broadened its horizons even more.
The only local publication of its kind to appear weekly, Juke in the main avoided aligning itself with fads and trends and evolved into a general music paper.
Anthony O’Grady left RAM in 1981, wrote for a number of Australian magazines, produced radio specials and a TV special on Australian rock.
He put together the first rock music soundtrack to win an Australian Film Institute award (for Street Hero in 1985).
In 1995 he started Australia’s first music tip sheet, The Music Network. His book Cold Chisel: The Pure Stuff, on Australia’s most legendary, enigmatic and enduringly popular rock band was published in 2001.
In 2005 he wrote and produced a 5-part radio documentary on how an Australia-wide rock n roll touring circuit came of age throughout the 70s.
Anthony O’Grady had a kidney transplant in 2010 after some years on dialysis. His health ultimately failed and a variety of melanomas led to his death on 19 December 2018.