Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons

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In a great line-up of Aussie rock ‘n’ roll, two of the land’s most iconic bands join forces for the special It’s Time To Rock ‘n’ Roll tour. Ol’ 55 and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons have both left an indelible print on the Australian music landscape and inspired up-and-coming artists for decades. Coming together for two special co-headline shows in Melbourne and Sydney this November, the bands – all featuring their classic line-ups – will treat audiences to an explosive show jam-packed with their hits.

Ol’ 55 and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons have rarely played since the 70s and early 80s, although the members comprising these outfits have never stopped performing. Indeed the classic Ol’55 line-up – with Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde upfront, songwriter Jimmy Manzie on bass, guitarist-singer Rockpile Jones and Patrick Drummond – has not been sighted since 1977 (an occasional Carols by Candlelight excepted). Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons have only played together a handful of times since the band’s zenith in the early ‘80’s, to hear them together on the one night is something not to be missed.

Countdown favourites Ol’ 55 made their way into the history books during the 1970s and 1980s with chart topping singles such as On The Prowl, Looking For An Echo, (I Want A) Rockin’ Xmas and Two Faces Have I. The band smashed on to the music scene with their 1950’s and early ‘60s inspired sound in 1976 with their acclaimed debut long player Take It Greasy. The multi-platinum album established them as one of the biggest bands in the country, while their live performances cemented their reputation as one of the most powerful bands on the burgeoning live circuit. They were more than mere revivalists; they not only blew the local audiences away, but also impressed the international headliners with whom they toured (ELO, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley et al). They were great entertainers, and they made great records.

Ol’ 55’s initial success could be attributed in part to the management of Glenn A Baker and two strong musical personalities – front-man Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde on sax. The band’s antics not only saw them on the covers of the popular music press of the time, but also as TV Week poster boys and regulars on Countdown, Donny Sutherland’s Sounds Unlimited, The Paul Hogan Show, Mike Walsh and Hey Hey It’s Saturday. The band originated the ‘half-time Rugby League Grand Final performance’ tradition when they circled the ground on the back of a truck at the brutal 1976 Parramatta/Manly Clash at the SCG. It may be hard to believe it’s been four decades since Ol’55 became a household name, but they’ll be celebrating in true rock ‘n’ roll style when they hit the road with Frankie and Wilbur. The special tour follows the release of much-anticipated special 2CD, 56-track anniversary release Time to Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Anthology. Time To Rock ‘n’ Roll covers the band’s full life-span and features all the hits and fan favourites, as well as a host of unreleased material.

Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons also ruled both the charts and the venues in Australia in the late 70s and early 80s. With a string of R&B and reggae-influenced hits such as So Young, Shape I’m In, All I Wanna Do and Hit and Run, their music had an indelible influence on the local scene. Led by singer-songwriter Joe Camilleri, the band released a string of albums, toured internationally including the Montreux Jazz & Blues Festival, London and all over the USA, receiving along the way patronage of artists such as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Garland Jeffries. Highly regarded by the Australian music industry, the band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007. The Falcon’s classic breakthrough album Screaming Targets was the subject of a deluxe reissue, including previously unheard tracks last year.

The Falcons are known for the heat of their live performances featuring the booming rhythms of John Power on bass, Jeff Burstin and Tony Faehse’s searing guitars and the legendary original Gary Young and special guest Angus Burchall getting the job well and truly done on the drum kits. With the awesome Joe Camilleri out front on lead vocal, guitar and saxomophone, and with Willy Wilde also blowing his horn – yes he joined the Falcons after leaving Ol’ 55 in 1977 (and yes he is going to need oxygen!) – be guaranteed they’ll be making these shows real special for Falcon Freaks and Ol’55 Boppers alike.