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BILLY THORPE’S TIME ON EARTH
The measure of any really top notch biography is not merely rattling off facts, figures, amusing anecdotes, salacious stories and career achievements, but also providing an insight to the private person at the story’s core.
Billy Thorpe was a legend in the burgeoning Australian pop and rock scene – he was a “Mum’s favourite” child pop star, led the Beatles-esque Aztecs in the first wave of Melbourne’s pop explosion, dropped acid live on TV and dropped out to grow his hair and master his way around an extremely loud guitar, then led a new – and completely different in every way possible – version of The Aztecs on an hash and acid blues rock trip areouund Australia until he literally couldn’t achieve any more in this country.
Walker explains how Thorpie then dropped everything and relocated with his family to The States, where he had an amazing and unexpected run of success with space rock epics “Children Of The Sun” and “East Of Eden”, as well as The Zoo project with Mick Fleetwood.
Back in Australia Thorpie bankrolled and co-produced the “Long Way To The Top” travelling roadshow, and at the time of his sudden 2007 death, was midway through recording an ambitious world music/rock project to be titled “Morocco”.
Walker opens many doors to the reader and we do get Billy’s career and personal life in thorough detail, but the one thing lacking is some real insight into what made the man himself tick, what was motivating him along his unique and often solitary road. Walker does try to offer some insight, but perhaps Billy was just too private a fellow and showed his real self to only a few select confidantes, all of whom closed ranks upon his death.
Billy Thorpe’s body of work remains criminally underappreciated in Australia – apart from his 1972 hit ‘Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy’ it’s a fair bet not a lot of people could rattle off many of his tunes, and that is a damned shame, though sadly not one which will change in a hurry, although his 70’s Aztecs albums were remastered and rereleased in great packaging a few years ago, and should be sought out by the true collector.
As Rose Tattoo mainman Angry Anderson has said more than once – “I’ve dreamt about that voice. I worship at the temple of that voice.”
Overall though, there’s still plenty of fun to be had along the way with drug & booze fuelled tours, groupies and bed hopping, as well as his latterday life as a devoted family man to be digested, and Waker has crafted a good story here which is well worth a read.