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Sherbet (a.k.a. The Sherbs and Highway) was one of the most prominent and successful Australian rock bands of the 1970s. Their biggest single were "Summer Love" (1975) and "Howzat" (1976), both reaching number one in Australia. "Howzat" was also a top 5 hit in the UKmarker. Though the band's success in the U.S.marker was more limited, "Howzat" was a #61 hit in America, and under the name The Sherbs they also hit #61 in 1981 with the single "I Have The Skill". Throughout the 1970s, the group was managed by Roger Davies.

History

From 1970 until 1984 Sherbet scored 20 hit singles in their homeland (including two number ones) and released several platinum status albums. The single "Howzat" which was number one in 1976, also reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.

They were the first Australian band to reach $1M in record sales in Australia; the first Australian band to turn their merchandising into a huge industry; and they pioneered the concept of massive regional tours. In 1976, the book "Sherbet On Tour", by Christie Eliezer, sold 55,000 copies in its first week.

Formation and early years (1969–1971)

Sherbet were formed in Sydneymarker in 1969 by guitarist Clive Shakespeare with members of his former band, Downtown Roll Band. Initially they started out as a soul band doing Motown covers and other soul and rock-based material. The band's first single was 1970's "Crimson Ships", a cover of a song by Badfinger; it featured original Sherbet vocalist Dennis Laughlin.

The band played a formative residency at Jonathon's Disco in Sydney during 1970, playing eight hours a night, four days a week for eight months, and it was during this period that they were spotted by their future manager, Roger Davies. Daryl Braithwaite joined during this period, initially as a second lead vocalist. Laughlin left the band a few months later and Braithwaite then became Sherbet's sole lead singer.

In 1971, Sherbet won Australia's prestigious national rock band contest the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds, and they are notable as one of only two groups to win the competition (along with The Twilights) who went on to achieve major commercial success.

Sherbet signed to the Infinity Records label (a subsidiary of Festival Records) and in 1971 and 1972 scored their first hits with covers of Blue Mink's "Can You Feel It Baby?", Delaney and Bonnie's "Free The People" and Ted Mulry's "You're All Woman". Most of their early recordings were produced by Festival's house producer Richard Batchens, who also produced several hit albums and singles for Infinity's other major success, Richard Clapton. The band increased its profile with prestigious support slots on major tours by visiting international acts including Gary Glitter and The Jackson 5.

Rise to stardom (1972–1975)

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By early 1972, after much turnover, Sherbet's line-up had solidified to include lead vocalist Braithwaite, Shakespeare on guitar, bassist Tony Mitchell, keyboard player Garth Porter, and drummer Alan Sandow. As well, the band had evolved from a soul-based covers band into a pop/rock outfit that mostly relied on original material, although Sherbet would also continue to release the occasional cover tune throughout the 1970s (including Leiber and Stoller's "Hound Dog", The Beatles' "Nowhere Man" and Free's "Wishing Well".) However, from 1972 to 1976, Sherbet's chief songwriting team of Shakespeare and Porter were responsible for co-writing the lion's share of the band's music, which deftly combined British pop and American soul influences.

The band released their first album (Time Change...A Natural Progression) in 1972. The accompanying single "You've Got The Gun" (written by Shakespeare, Porter and Braithwaite) was Sherbet's first self-penned A-side, and charted at a respectable #27. The following year, the band hit the top 10 for the first time with the Shakespeare/Porter original "Cassandra". A string of hits followed in Australia, with Sherbet consistently releasing original Top 10 hits such as "Slipstream" (1974), "Silvery Moon" (1974) and the #1 hit "Summer Love" (1975). In fact a total of 11 Sherbet songs reached the Australian top 10, and the band became the darlings of Australia's teenyboppers and made regular appearances on the top TV pop show Countdown. Sherbet's albums also charted extremely well in their homeland: 1973's On With The Show peaked at #6, 1974's Slipstream reached #5, 1975's Life ... Is For Living was a #6 hit, and their first Greatest Hits compilation from 1975 became their first #1 album.

From 1974, lead singer Braithwaite also maintained an active solo career alongside Sherbet, with Sherbet members often playing on Braithwaite's solo singles.

Beginning in 1975, Sherbet's records were produced by Richard Lush who had begun his career in the UK as a trainee engineer at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, where he helped to engineer a number of Beatles' recordings including Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Porter also began to take an occasional lead vocal on Sherbet singles. His vocals can be heard on "Hollywood Dreaming" and "A Matter of Time".

Throughout this era, Sherbet toured Australia regularly and with remarkable thoroughness; they were one of the few bands to consistently commit to playing full-scale concerts in even the remotest regions of the country.

International success...and lack thereof (1976–1979)

In January 1976, Shakespeare left Sherbet citing 'personal reasons'. The last song he played on before leaving the band was "Child's Play", a #5 hit in February.

Shakespeare was replaced at first by journeyman guitarist Gunther Gorman but within weeks (and before any new recordings were made) Gorman left and was replaced by Harvey James (ex Ariel). Around this same time, bassist Tony Mitchell stepped up to join Porter as Sherbet's new main songwriting team. The Porter/Mitchell duo was responsible for penning "Howzat" (1976), the band's only international hit, and a song which was inspired by the sport of cricket. The song's success lead to an extensive international tour in 1976-77.

"Howzat" went to #1 in Australia, and was a Top 10 hit through most of Europe, South Africa, several Asian nations and parts of the Middle East -- but it failed to reach the American Top 40, stopping at #61 in the Billboard Hot 100. As well, while the Howzat album also made #1 in Australia, it failed to chart in the U.S. altogether.

Hoping to achieve international success, from 1977 Sherbet spent several years trying to make an impact in the United Statesmarker. Their 1977 album Photoplay was retitled Magazine for US release, and featured elaborate gatefold packaging. Though Photoplay and its lead single "Magazine Madonna" were successes in Australia (both reaching #3 on their respective charts), the retitled Magazine LP failed to chart in the U.S., as did the associated single.

With U.S. success proving elusive, the band's label RSO Records felt that the lightweight name "Sherbet" may have been hurting their chances. Accordingly, the band's final U.S.-recorded studio album from 1978 (the self-titled Sherbet) was issued in the States under the group name Highway and titled Highway 1. But despite the new group moniker, the Highway 1 record flopped in the U.S.

By this time the band's career in Australia began to decline. Though the Sherbet album peaked at #3, "Another Night On The Road" (1978) was Sherbet's final top 10 hit in Australia. The band's next single, "Beg, Steal or Borrow" missed the chart completely, and January 1979's "Angela" (from the soundtrack to the film Snapshot) only crawled to #85.

Their Australian success was on the wane, and whether as Sherbet or as Highway, the group had been unable to come up with a follow-up international hit to "Howzat". Seemingly frustrated by the sudden career turnaround, after issuing a final single in Australia as Highway ("Heart Get Ready", which flopped at #89), the band broke up in mid-1979.

The Sherbs era (1980–1984)

The breakup did not last long. In 1980, the band reconvened with exactly the same personnel, but with another new name (The Sherbs) and a somewhat modified progressive new wave sound. This version of the band had some minor success in America, but their almost complete lack of chart action in Australia was in stark contrast to their 1970s heyday.

The Sherbs' first album The Skill just reached the top half of the Billboard album charts in the US, reaching #100. It was the first album by the group — under any of their names — to chart in America. An accompanying single ("I Have The Skill") also became the band's second US pop chart hit at #61. ("Howzat" had also reached the same US chart position of #61 in 1976).

The Sherbs also received airplay in the US on album-oriented rock (AOR) radio stations with both "I Have The Skill" and "No Turning Back". In fact, The Sherbs appeared on the very first AOR-oriented Rock Tracks chart issued by Billboard in March 1981: "I Have The Skill" debuted on that inaugural chart at #45. A week later, on the chart dated March 28th, the track climbed to #14, in the process becoming the band's biggest US hit on any chart. However, the news was not all good: none of the singles issued from The Skill hit the Australian top 100, a huge comedown for a band that had been major stars in Australia only two years earlier.

A second Sherbs album, Defying Gravity, followed in 1981, but failed to produce a single that charted in the either the US or Australian top 100. However, the band did chart again on Billboard's Rock Tracks Chart with the album cut "We Ride Tonight". Staying on the chart for 16 weeks the track reached number 26 in June of 1982. The track's mild AOR success was not enough to ignite album sales in the US, though, as Defying Gravity only reached #202 on the album charts.

A mini-album Shaping Up appeared in 1982. It was critically well received and spawned two rather minor hits in Australia, but the US issue missed the chart completely. The Sherbs were now in a position where the American listening public was apparently largely indifferent to their new releases, and — despite their newer, more contemporary sound — the Australian audience had seemingly written them off as a relic of the 1970s. Garth Porter has said that he found this especially frustrating, as he felt The Sherbs were actually writing and performing better material during this era than in their 1970s heyday.

Harvey James left The Sherbs towards the end of 1982 to be replaced by Tony Leigh. The band finally decided to call it a day in 1984, reverting back to the "Sherbet" name for a surprisingly successful farewell tour of Australia and a final single, "Tonight Will Last Forever". Shakespeare returned to co-write and appear on this final single, and both Shakespeare and James rejoined Sherbet on the final tour.

Following the group's break-up, lead singer Daryl Braithwaite went on to a successful solo career in Australia, and Garth Porter and Clive Shakespeare became successful record producers.

Reunions (1999-present)

Sherbet have continued to come together to perform on occasion over the years. Their first reunion was for a special for ABC-TV on New Year's Eve 1999 (i.e., December 31, 1998/January 1, 1999). This reunion was held without drummer Alan Sandow: former Kevin Borich/Australian Crawl drummer John Watson filled in.

With Sandow on board, the band reunited again for the Ted Mulry Benefit Concert in March 2001 and then a benefit show for Wayne Jarvis in June 2003.

Sherbet now usually performs as a six piece line-up of Braithwaite, Sandow, Mitchell, Porter, James and Shakespeare, as in a recent live appearance at the May 2006 Australian TV Logie Awards, where they performed their biggest hit, "Howzat". This performance launched the Countdown Spectacular tour which they headlined throughout Australia during September and October 2006. The band also played three warm-up shows in August 2006 billed as Daryl Braithwaite and Highway [53774] so as not to pre-empt the Sherbet reunion for the Countdown Spectacular.

2006 also saw the release of two newly recorded tracks featured on the Sherbet - Super Hits CD: "Red Dress" (Porter/Shakespeare/Braithwaite/Mitchell/James/Sandow) and "Hearts Are Insane" (Porter), both produced by Ted Howard.

2007 saw the release of a live compilation on CD and DVD entitled "And The Crowd Went Wild" encompassing material recorded in the 1970s at shows in Sydney, Melbourne and the UK.

Their song "Howzat" is played at Twenty20 cricket matches.

Discography

Singles

Release date Title Chart Positions
Australiasingles UKsingles U.S.markersingles U.S.markerrock tracks
March 1970 "Crimson Ships"
March 1971 "Can You Feel It Baby" #22
December 1971 "Free The People" #36
August 1972 "You're All Woman" #13
October 1972 "You've Got The Gun" #27
June 1973 "Hound Dog" #21
August 1973 "Cassandra" #5
September 1973 "So Glad You're Mine"
June 1974 "Slipstream" #7
September 1974 "Silvery Moon" #9
March 1975 "Summer Love" #1
April 1975 "Wishing Well" #24
August 1975 "Life" #7
November 1975 "Only One You/Matter of Time" #6
January 1976 "Child's Play" #5
May 1976 "Howzat" #1 #4 #61
June 1976 "Hollywood Dreaming/Gimme' Love"
October 1976 "Rock Me Gently/You've Got The Gun (1976 Version)" #6
June 1977 "Magazine Madonna" #3
August 1977 "High Rollin'"
January 1978 "Nowhere Man" #28
February 1978 "Feels Like It's Slipping Away" #18
August 1978 "Another Night On The Road" #8
October 1978 "Beg Steal or Borrow/You Made A Fool"

February 1979 "Angela" #85
July 1979 "Heart Get Ready" (as Highway) #89
February 1980 "Never Surrender" (as The Sherbs)
May 1980 "I'm Okay" (as The Sherbs)
July 1980 "Juliet and Me" (as The Sherbs)
November 1980 "I Have The Skill" (as The Sherbs) #61 #14
February 1981 "No Turning Back" (as The Sherbs)
October 1981 "Free The Sailor" (as The Sherbs)
February 1982 "Some People" (as The Sherbs)
June 1982 "We Ride Tonight" (as The Sherbs) #26
July 1982 "Don't Throw It All Away" (as The Sherbs) #62
October 1982 "Shaping Up" (as The Sherbs) #76
March 1983 "The Arrow" (as The Sherbs)
February 1984 "Tonight Will Last Forever"


Albums

As Sherbet

As Highway
  • 1978: Highway 1 (The Australian "Sherbet" album, remixed for US release)


As The Sherbs

Live albums (as Sherbet):

Compilation albums (as Sherbet):

DVD (as Sherbet):
  • 2006: Super Hits


Band members



References



External links




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