Johnny Dole & The Scabs

Johnny Dole & The Scabs

Johnny Dole & The Scabs were one of the first punk rock bands in Australia; they played live and recorded in Sydney, during 1977–78. The band mutated out of The Strays, a typical cover band, and were looking for a new drummer to complete the line-up. After finding the right one the band consisted of: Terry Walsh (lead vocals), Peter Mullany (guitar), Mark Wongsee (guitar), Dave Berry (bass - vocals), and Greg Morris (drums - vocals). After a few rehearsals The Strays played their first gig on Thursday, 24 February 1977 at the Stagecoach Tavern in Sydney. After more rehearsals the band realised that the style of music was different to what they expected it to be, faster and dirtier. With punk rock bursting onto the scene this is exactly what The Strays had become, a punk rock band. This didn't sit well with guitarist Mark Wongsee and he decided to leave the band. The four remaining members chose a new name and Johnny Dole & The Scabs was born. It was obvious that this new style of music was not going to suit the 'normal' venues of the time so venues that supported Punk Rock were approached. George Kringus was the manager of Radio Birdman and booked the bands at the legendary Oxford Funhouse at Taylor Square, giving the band their first 'real' gig on Friday, 15 April 1977.

Ray Walsh, Johnny Dole's brother, agreed to manage the band. He had gathered many contacts during his time as a professional wrestler and was able to secure many interviews with all the major newspapers of the time, "The Daily Mirror ", "The Daily Telegraph" and "The Sydney Morning Herald " to name just a few. A recording session with Sydney radio station 2JJ's producer Keith Walker led to a number of interviews and songs regularly played on 2JJ. An interview on Channel 9's " A Current Affair " program with Mike Carlton which aired in January 1978 and supporting The Saints at the Refectory at Sydney University were just some of the highlights of Ray's achievements.

Peita Letchford, a student at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS), had approached the band with the proposal of making a film clip (video) for one of the band’s songs as part of her studies. “Aggro” (Dole/Mullany) was chosen and the shoot was at Woolloomooloo in some old factories that were being demolished. This film clip was never shown publicly. Letchford died of cancer in the late 1990s, but the clip was located 30 years after it was made, in the AFTRS archives.

With the closure of the Oxford Funhouse this left a hole for any punk band to get gigs as there weren’t that many venues at the time. Johnny Dole & The Scabs approached the publicans at many pubs around Sydney hoping to find one that would be prepared to put on this new style of music. The Grand Hotel at Broadway, Sydney was the only one that would listen and publican Fred agreed for the band to use the back room, which wasn't being used, to put bands on. On Friday, 16 September 1977 Johnny Dole & The Scabs opened the doors to the Grand Hotel which would go on to be known as ‘the’ place to play in Sydney. Many bands played at the Grand Hotel and some of these included Rocks (band) , Tommy & The Dipsticks, Blackrunner (with Danny Rumour who would go on to Sekret Sekret and then The Cruel Sea), Shock Treatment, Society Blitz, Subversion, Psychosurgeons, The Press (band), Mental As Anything, The Mangrove Boogie Kings, World War XXIV and many more.

Johnny Dole & The Scabs' last gig with this line-up was at the Bondi Lifesaver, in Bondi Junction on Thursday, 9 February 1978 supporting Cold Chisel. Not long after this Greg Morris was asked to leave and Dave Berry followed not long after that. The band didn't last much longer but did do a few gigs with new personnel. Johnny Dole and Peter Mullany later joined forces with Tommy & The Dipsticks to form The Crooked Hearts. Dave Berry disappeared back to the mountains from where he came and is now playing in blues band Blue Roots. Greg Morris joined Rocks and soon after recorded the EP 'You'r So Boring' which has gone onto to be a much-sought-after collector’s item he is now playing in cover band Mad Cow (band). Des Devlin, formerly of Sekret Sekret, is preparing a documentary on the Grand Hotel and the bands that played there and is hoping to have it released later in the year.

Original songs

Aggro# (Dole/Mullany)

All That's Going On# (Dole/Mullany)

Blow My Nose# (Berry)

Halfwit Rock 'N' Roll (Dole/Mullany)

Hurts My Brain (Dole/Mullany)

I Don't Wanna Work (Dole/Mullany/Berry/Morris)

Little Lord Punk# (Dole/Mullany)

Living Like An Animal# (Dole/Mullany)

Lucky Country# (Dole/Mullany)

Psycho Analyst# (Dole/Mullany)

Stuff Your Rules# (Dole/Mullany)

(# Recorded at ABC Studio 201 produced and engineered by Keith Walker)


Bondi Lifesaver - Bondi Junction - 1 gig supporting Cold Chisel

Chequers Night Club – Town Hall – 1 gig as Johnny Dole & The Strays, asked to leave after the 1 set!!

Journey's End Wine Bar – Woolloomooloo – 1 gig

Manly Vale Hotel - Manly Vale – 1 gig

Refectory - Sydney University – 1 gig supporting The Saints

Stage Door Tavern – Central – 1 gig

Stagecoach Tavern – Sydney – 3 gigs as The Strays

The Grand Hotel – Broadway – 18 gigs

The Oxford Funhouse – Taylor Square – 4 gigs

The Paris Theatre – Museum – 5 gigs

External links

* [ Official website]

* [ Film clip of their song 'Aggro' (Dole/Mullany)]

* [ My Space page]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.