Sad news overnight that the great Billy Thorpe has passed away of a massive heart attack at the age of only 60. He really was a fantastic performer. I saw him a few years ago and commented to one of my mates that the up and coming young bands should learn from the way he goes about his business.
Thorpe was born in England and emigrated to Brisbane with his family in the 1950s, later moving to Sydney in 1963. Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs became a major rock outfit, selling out concert venues and producing chart-topping songs in the 60s and 70s.
According to rock historian Glenn A Baker, "Thorpe came up in that crop of 60s teen idols but there was a greater dimension to him. After he was a teen idol he went to Melbourne for a few years ... he completely re-orientated himself and then turned Australian rock on its ear with a thunderous, pulverising music. The Aztecs just become a byword for really the origins of Australian pub rock. It's the one form of music we've done better and more convincingly than any other. This sort of loud, roaring, howling, ferocious, sort of pub-based bluesy rock and roll and Thorpe was that incredibly powerful voice. There was something that was just primal about Thorpe's blood-curdling roar. There was nobody like him on the stage."
Condolences to his family and friends. He really will be missed.
Here's a wander down memory lane. First up is Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs on GTK (Get The Knack) with the thumping Mama followed up by his classic Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy) live from Sunbury '72:
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