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Little River Band

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Little River Band (LRB) is an Australian rock music band. The band was formed in Melbourne, and named for the Victorian township of Little River, near Geelong.

The band’s original members were Glenn Shorrock (vocals), Rick Formosa, Beeb Birtles and Graeham Goble (guitars), Roger McLachlan (bass) and Derek Pellicci (drums).

The group evolved from the harmony-rock group Mississippi in 1975. Prior to that, Birtles had been the bassist in 1960s pop band Zoot (which also included singer-guitarist Rick Springfield) and Shorrock had been the lead singer of leading Australian 60s pop band The Twilights and early 1970s country rock band Axiom.

They found immediate success in Australia, but individual members had greater ambitions. Like many other Australasian groups of the period, both Axiom and Mississippi had tried to break into the UK record market without success. Remembering the indifferent reaction they had received in the UK, they decided the new band would focus on establishing themselves in the United States.

A key factor in their eventual success was their manager Glenn Wheatley, who had been the bassist in the highly-regarded Australian rock band The Master’s Apprentices. Wheatley’s first-hand experiences of the rip-offs in the 1960s music scene, combined with his subsequent experience working in music management in Britain and the United States in the early 1970s, enabled him to help LRB become the first Australian group to enjoy sustained commercial and chart success in the United States.

Fuelled by a very successful Australian hit single “Curiosity Killed The Cat”, the band began making promotional visits to the US in 1976. This resulted in a hit single, “It’s A Long Way There", which broke into the Top 30 and galvanized the commitment of the band members. More concert performances in the US followed, and in 1977 “Help is On Its Way” (an Australian number one single) and “Happy Anniversary” both narrowly missed the US Top Ten. During this period McLachlan left the group and was replaced by George McArdle.

From 1978 until 1981, Little River Band achieved six consecutive US Top Ten singles with “Reminiscing”, “Lady”, “Lonesome Loser”, “Cool Change”, “The Night Owls” and “Take It Easy On Me”. During their career the band have sold more than 20 million records and scored thirteen American Top 40 hits.

In 1982 Shorrock left to pursue a solo career. In the US he failed to make an impression but in Australia he had one substantial hit, a cover version of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”.

The pressures of success and constant touring gradually took their toll on LRB and all the original members gradually left during the Eighties. John Farnham replaced Shorrock in 1982 and the first single with Farnham, “The Other Guy” reached Number Eleven in the US. Subsequent singles were only minor hits. In Australia the band continued to be favorites and songs such as “Down on the Border” and “Playing to Win” were major hits. Farnham’s popularity in Australia was increasing at this time, and he left the band to return to his solo career, achieving huge success in Australia (he was also managed by Wheatley).

Farnham was replaced by the returning Shorrock, but he, Birtles and Goble all eventually left the group in the late Eighties. The band (which now has no original members) is based in America and is headed up by Wayne Nelson, who joined in 1980, and Stephen Housden, who joined in 1981.

Little River Band is considered to be among Australia’s most significant bands. The original members were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame at the 18th Annual ARIA Music Awards of 2004. They also performed “Help is on Its Way” that night.

Birtles, Shorrock and Goble have also performed a number of reunion concerts, but due to the fact that they sold their rights to the LRB name when they left the band, they were forced to appear under the name Birtles Shorrock Goble: The Original Voices of the Little River Band after the current lineup of the group took legal action to prevent them from performing simply as Little River Band.

Reminiscing, written by Goble, was recognized by BMI as one of the most frequently played songs in the history of American radio, with more than four million plays to its credit. Lady has also accumulated more than two million plays, and Goble is the first and only Australian songwriter ever to win four “Million Air” awards from BMI. According to Albert Goldman's biography, John Lennon named Reminiscing as one of his favorite songs of all time.


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