Little River Band Biography

Prior to the success of AC/DC, Air Supply, Men At Work and INXS, the Little River Band were probably Australia’s most successful international rock band. Evolving out of Mississippi, who had previously spent much time working in London, former members Graham Goble (15 May 1947, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; guitar), Beeb Birtles (b. Gerard Bertelkamp, 28 November 1948, Amsterdam, Netherlands; guitar) and Derek Pellicci (drums) persuaded seasoned vocalist Glenn Shorrock (b. 30 June 1944, Chatham, Kent, England), who had sung with the Twilights, Axiom and Esperanto, to join them in a new venture. With a name change to the Little River Band and the addition of bass player Roger McLachlan and guitarist Rick Formosa (the latter replacing Graham Davidge who played on the band’s very first recording) the new line-up boasted years of experience and chose the US west coast harmony and guitar sound as their major influence. They had immediate success in Australia with their debut album. Under the guidance of Glen Wheatley (ex-Master’s Apprentices), the band was soon aiming for the overseas market, the USA in particular, and by the end of 1976 they had enjoyed their first appearance in the US charts with the epic ‘It’s A Long Way There’. With Formosa and McLachlan being replaced, respectively, by David Briggs (b. 26 January 1951, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) and George McArdle (b. 30 November 1954, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), the band’s second international release Diamantina Cocktail went gold in the USA in 1977, the first time an Australian act had managed this.

The band followed this with another hugely successful album in 1978, Sleeper Catcher, which contained the US number 3 hit ‘Reminiscing’. They found themselves also selling well in Latin-America and Europe, especially France. McCardle left before the release of First Under The Wire, which broke into the US Top 10 and also generated the US hit Top 10 hit singles, ‘Lady’ and ‘Lonesome Loser’. Birtles and Goble released a duo album as the band took a brief rest, punctuated by the release of a live album. Wayne Nelson was brought in as the new bass player as the band decamped to George Martin’s Air studio in Montserrat to record Time Exposure, which contained two further US Top 10 hits ‘The Night Owls’ and ‘Take It Easy On Me’, although by this point the band’s popularity had begun to wane in their native Australia. Briggs was replaced by Steve Housden (b. 21 September 1951, Bedford, England) following the sessions for Time Exposure.

Not long afterwards lead vocalist Glen Shorrock left to pursue a solo career and John Farnham (b. 1 July 1949, Dagenham, Essex, England), one of Australia’s most popular singers, was recruited as lead singer. The Net marked the beginning of the Little River Band’s commercial decline, and the departure of founding members Pellicci and Birtles indicated that musical differences were coming to the fore. Steve Prestwich (drums; ex-Cold Chisel) and David Hirschfelder (keyboards) were brought in as replacements, and although No Reins showed signs of improvement Farnham left in 1986 to pursue his solo career.

Shorrock and Pellicci returned to the line-up for the band’s MCA Records debut, Monsoon. After one more album for MCA, Goble left the band to form Broken Voices. He was replaced by Peter Beckett (b. Liverpool, Merseyside, England; ex-Player), who featured alongside new member Tony Sciuto (keyboards, guitar) on the newly recorded title track of Worldwide Love, a compilation of the best material from the band’s two MCA albums. Two new studio tracks were also featured on 1992’s Live Classics, but since then the band has been content to play their old hits on world tours. By the late 90s Housden was the only remaining long-term member in a line-up fronted by Steve Wade. The vocalist left the band in 1999 to pursue a solo career. Later line-ups included Housden, Glenn Reither (keyboards/saxophone), Wayne Nelson (vocals/bass) and Kevin Murphey (vocals/drums).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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