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The Party Boys was an Australian rock band with floating membership that existed from 1982 until 1992. Initially established by Mondo Rock bass player Paul Christie as a part-time venture for professional musicians with downtime from other projects, the group has boasted members from acts such as Status Quo, The Angels, Sherbet, Skyhooks, Rose Tattoo, The Choirboys, Australian Crawl, Divinyls, Models, Dragon and Swanee plus international stars including Joe Walsh, Eric Burdon, Alan Lancaster and Graham Bonnett.

Early line-ups

Christie put together the first line-up of the Party Boys during 1982, with guitarists Kevin Borich (ex The La De Das) and Harvey James (Mississippi, Ariel, Sherbet) and drummer Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup, who had recently left The Angels. Australian Crawl vocalist James Reyne was in Sydneymarker shooting the TV mini-series Return to Eden and agreed to play some shows between filming. The band did a short run of shows in Sydney performing cover songs chosen by various members. Recordings made of these performances became the basis for the group's album Live at Several 21sts. When Reyne's filming schedule was over, he returned to Melbourne and left the band; however, the album reached #9 on the ARIA chart and proved so successful that Christie and Borich were encouraged to continue with the project. Richard Clapton was brought in as Reyne's replacement and the band toured the east coast, again playing only covers from artists including Bob Dylan, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. A second live album, Greatest Hits was the result of the tour, after which Clapton and James left the group. This second album peaked at #25 on the national chart. The singer for the next tour was former Skyhooks vocalist and TV personality Shirley Strachan with Rose Tattoo guitarist Robin Riley replacing Harvey James; this version of the band produced the album No Song Too Sacred, yet another live album of covers.

The band's 1985 line-up saw Strachan, Riley and Bidstrup (who was now with GANGgajang) replaced by Marc Hunter from Dragon, ex-Divinyls drummer Richard Harvey and USmarker guitar hero Joe Walsh. The sold-out national tour that followed formed the basis of the album You Need Professional Help that featured an extended guitar duel between Walsh and Borich on Walsh's track "Rocky Mountain Way".

In 1986, Christie, Borich and Harvey teamed up with Rose Tattoo lead singer Angry Anderson, guitarist John Brewster from The Angels and ex-Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster to form a new version of the Party Boys. With Lancaster now on bass, Christie switched to drums so the band now had two drummers. No recording was made of this line-up and following the tour, Anderson was replaced by John Swan, ushering in the band's most successful period.

The Swanee years

The Party Boys' first release with Swan was a cover of the John Kongos hit "He's Gonna Step On You Again", a song that was reportedly also being considered as a comeback release for John Paul Young at around the same time (Young did not record the track). The single reached #1 on the Australian singles chart and was followed by the band's first ever studio album, The Party Boys, which featured several originals, plus covers of tracks by AC/DC, Argent, The Angels, Them and La De Das. Both the album and follow-up single, the Argent tune "Hold Your Head Up" charted well but Swan left the band for contractual reasons and to work on a film that was never completed.

Swan was replaced by Graham Bonnett, the Britishmarker singer who had recorded with an array of bands including the Marbles, Rainbow and Alcatrazz and who had enjoyed solo success as a solo artist in the 1970s. After only two performances, however, Bonnett was ejected when Swan returned and the group toured nationally with AC/DC in February, 1988 for that band's first Australian tour in seven years. Swan left the Party Boys after these shows, having served the longest continuous period as the band's singer, broken only by Bonnett's two week tenure. Joe Walsh returned to the band during a brief Australian visit and the group recorded a single, "Follow Your Heart" that was released in mid-1989.

Later Years

In mid 1989, the Party Boys reformed to tour with Eric Burdon. While Burdon is often officially listed as the Party Boys' seventh vocalist, a Burdon website suggests that the band was more correctly his backing group for the Australian tour promoting his album I Used to be An Animal. The line-up for this version of the band was Burdon, Christie, Mal Eastick (guitar), Mal Logan (keyboards) and Warren McLean (drums).

By late 1989, the Party Boys had become Christie, Ross Wilson (Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock) on vocals, guitarist Stuart Fraser (Noiseworks, Swanee), Dorian West on bass, Adrian Cannon on drums and backing vocalists Kevin Bennett and Alex Smith. A version of Manfred Mann's "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" was recorded but Wilson's vocals had to be replaced due to contractual obligations. Vince Contarino of Adelaidemarker Led Zeppelin tribute band The Zep Boys re-recorded the lead vocal track and the single became a No. 24 Australian hit in early 1990.

Christie continued to tour with various Party Boys line-ups until 1992. Other musicians to pass through the band included guitarists Brad Carr (ex-Choirboys) and Steve Williams (ex-Wa Wa Nee), former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans and ex-Models and Mondo Rock drummer Barton Price. In 1992, the band (featuring the 1987 line-up) released a cover of the Billy Preston song "That's the Way God Planned It" before coming to an end. The Party Boys was revived for some shows in 1999 with Christie, Price, ex-Angels members James Morley and Bob Spencer and singer Mark Gamble.





  • Who's Who of Australian Rock - Chris Spencer, Paul McHenry, Zbig Nowara, 2002. ISBN 1 86503 891 1

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