- Linda George (Australian singer)
Linda George was one of
Australia’s most successful and respected female vocalists of the 1970s, best known for her soulful voice and her 1974 hit "Mama's Little Girl". She went on to be an in-demand session singer, and teacher.
George was born in the
UKand emigrated with her family to Australia as a young teenager in the 1960s where they settled in Adelaide. By 1969 Linda had joined her first band Nova Express, a large Jazz-Rockgroup similar to U.S. acts Chicagoor Blood Sweat and Tears, with the notable difference of having a female singer up front.
Finding it hard to financially sustain such a large ensemble the Nova Express soon moved to
Melbourne, Victoria, then the live music capital of Australia. There they entered and won the state final of the 1969 Hoadley's Battle of the Bands, though they lost out to The Flying Circus, runner up Zootand 3rd place- getter Autumn at the National Finals. However 1970 saw the band’s first and only single released on the EMI label imprint Columbia. A more than competent version of " Piece of My Heart" (originally recorded by Erma Franklin, then Janis Joplin). This debut single managed to reach a respectable #28 in hometown Melbourne and George’s career began to take off. She left Nova Express later that year for a solo career, initially sharpening her performance skills with Brian May and the ABC Showband on a tour of Vietnam.
In 1972 George joined the new independent label
Image Recordsand released her first solo single "Let's Fly Away" in May of that year. Though not a success, her career received a major boost in March 1973 when she scored the pivotal role of the Acid Queen in the Australian stage production of The Who’s Rock Opera" Tommy". George’s performance was singled out for praise amongst a cast of local stars including Daryl Braithwaite, Colleen Hewett, Billy Thorpe, Ross Wilson, Jim Keays, Doug Parkinson, Broderick Smith, Wendy Saddington, Bobby Brightand The Who’s own Keith Moonwho reprised his role as Uncle Ernie for the Melbourne show only. The Sydney show, with Molly Meldrumreplacing Moon, was later televised by the Seven Network. The show later received a TV award for the year's most outstanding creative effort.
The raised exposure helped ensure that George’s second single (as 'Miss Linda George', a name under which she released some later material as well) in July 1973 was a success. A superb interpretation of the then current
Gladys Knight & the PipsU.S hit "Neither One of Us" George’s version took all the sales in Australia, just narrowly missing the National Top 10, while the original failed completely to dent the Top 40. George's hit follow up, an updated remake of Ruby and The Romantics(1963) hit "Our Day Will Come", while not as big a hit, helped keep her name at the forefront.
Next came the much acclaimed debut L.P. "Linda" in August 1974. No expense was spared to hire the best
session musiciansat the time, U.S. Record Producer Jack Richardson, who had worked with Alice Cooper, The Guess Who, Pocoand Bob Segeramong others, was brought to Australia to oversee proceedings by Image Records boss John McDonaldand George's Manager Garry Spryof Aim Australia Management.
Choosing not to rest on her laurels, neither of George’s previous two hits appeared on the new record. However, the first single from the album became her biggest hit and her signature song "Mama's Little Girl", which went to #8 Nationally. It’s follow up "Give it Love" was not as successful but, did garner enough TV and radio exposure to keep album sales moving steadily. While only peaking at #32, the "Linda" album stayed on the charts for five months, quite an achievement for an Australian female performer at the time. The previous two years had also seen George win several awards as "Best New Female Artist", "Best Female Vocalist", "Best Female Single", despite some formidable competition at the time, she clearly became Australia's Top Female Singer and her appearance at the historic
Sunbury Pop Festivalconfirmed it.
Now at the peak of her still-young career Jack Richardson was again enlisted to produce the follow up album, "Step by Step" which was released in December 1975. The album featured a tougher rock sound compared to the soul/pop of the previous release. After the release of the second album her management company parted ways with her. To promote the album she formed her own Linda George Band which performed throughout 1976 to rave reviews for her performances. The album’s first single "Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Dah Day" performed reasonably well in former hometown Adelaide, but public reaction in the rest of Australia was only lukewarm. Even worse, the album only managed three weeks at the very bottom of the Top 40. A follow up single, the title track, was released to boost sales but, this performed even worse, failing to make the charts at all.
Moving on from this disappointment, George then released a brand new, non-album single "Sitting in Limbo" in November 1976. A version of the
Jimmy Cliffclassic, it still did nothing to stem the tide. Following this latest disappointment George broke her ties with Image to continue working as a session singer and found herself much in demand.
The Session Singer and beyond
Throughout her hitmaking years Linda George had continued to be a popular backing vocalist on many singles and albums by her contemporaries, including
Brian Cadd, Madder Lake, Daryl Braithwaite, Normie Rowe, Marcie Jonesof Marcie and The Cookies and Kerrie Biddell. She decided to continue in that direction. During those remaining years of the 1970s, not only was her voice prominent in the background of many recordings, but with her hits still fresh in the memory, she was also one of the most recognised and most used voices singing Radio and TV jingles. These advertisements endorsed the virtues of everything from margarine to real estate and provided a lucrative income.
During 1979 Linda found herself performing backing vocals on
Mike Brady’s album "Invisible Man". Brady had just enjoyed a massive #1 hit with "Up There Cazaly" and helped by thissuccess, he set up his own record label Full Moon Records, through which the album would be released. One of the results of all this was that George signed to the label and was again back in the spotlight.
Her first single in four years was a duet with Melbourne stalwart Paul McKay on "Love Is Enough" which was released in April 1980. It resulted in George enjoying substantial airplay on Radio and TV. She found herself back in the charts ten years after first charting with Nova Express, the single peaking at #25 in Melbourne and again things looked promising for her. A follow up single, the uptempo "Telephone Lines" came out in 1981 and also enjoyed some airplay, but was not a success. One last single was released on Full Moon in 1982 but this one sank completely without trace and she has not recorded since.
Not that she has been idle. While resuming her session work, George also spent much of the 1980s singing with the soul big bands Grand Wazoo and W.J.A.Z and often guested with the Cox-Brady band. More recently her vocal gifts have been used to teach voice at the
Victorian College of the Arts.
*May 1972 Let's Fly Away / Song To Save The World (Image Records)
*July 1973 Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye) / If It's Alright With You (Image Records)
*November 1973 Our Day Will Come / Yesterday And You (Image Records)
*July 1974 Mama's Little Girl / Between Her Goodbye And My Hello (Image Records)
*December 1974 Give It Love / Yesterday And You (Image Records)
*September 1975 Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day / I Wanna Hear Music (Image Records)
*May 1976 Step by Step / Wake Up (Image Records)
*November 1976 Sitting In Limbo / Hard To Be Friends (Image Records)
*April 1980 Love Is Enough / You Are Mine Tonight (with Paul McKay) (Full Moon Records)
*June 1981 Telephone Lines / Physical Things (Full Moon Records)
*August 1982 Face To Face / Up Until Now (Full Moon Records)
* Noel McGrath's Encyclopedia Of Australian Rock and Pop
* David Kent's Australian Chart Book 1970-1992
* Gavin McGrath's State Chart Books
* Chris Spencer's Who's Who Of Australian Rock
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