The Sharpie movement was a short-lived youth subculture that seemed to explode out of nowhere, in Melbourne, Australia, in late ’72. It was a time of early glam-rock, kung-fu movies, A Clockwork Orange. Australia was just about to ditch its conservative government and pull out of Vietnam.
Though the whole Sharpie thing was defined by a very rigid dress code – For a mean bunch of kids they were extremely fashion conscious with their crest-knit black shirts and personally designed cardigans – the Conte, the Crestknit, the black shirt, the black pinstripe pants . . .
The Sharpies loved their music tough, loud and simple. Suzi Quatro, Sweet, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, T. Rex, Gary Glitter and Bowie (as long as it was songs like Rebel Rebel or Jean Genie). But the most popular overseas group was Slade. They were probably bigger in Australia than anywhere else. Slade Alive! was played at every party where there were Sharpies.
When Slade toured Australia with Status Quo in early 1973, every gig was like a mass meeting of the Sharpie clans. Weirdly, the tour also included Lindisfarne and Caravan on the bill. Surprisingly, those two bands made it through the tour alive.
Of the local acts, the most popular were Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, AC/DC, Buster Brown (featuring Angry Anderson, later of Rose Tattoo, and Phil Rudd, later of AC/DC), Skyhooks, and Hush. But none were more popular than Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. In their short lifespan (’72–’74), they were the undisputed number one Sharpie band.
It didn’t last all that long, and by early ’75 it was petering out.