About Australian Crawl
Melbourne based band from 1978-1986
Australian Crawl was an Australian rock band formed by James Reyne (lead vocals/piano) and Simon Binks (lead guitar) in 1978 and joined by Guy McDonough (co-lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Bill McDonough (drums, percussion), Paul Williams (bass guitar), and Brad Robinson (rhythm guitar). The band was named after the front crawl swimming style also known as Australian crawl. The band’s music was a defining feature of Australian surf culture during the 1980s.
A Brief History Of Australian Crawl
In 1978 if you’d wanted to invent a truly Australian group, you’d have invented Australian Crawl, five sun bronzed Aussies from middle to upper class backgrounds: possibly the first high profile band to draw their influences almost solely from their Australian predecessors ( in Australian Crawl’s case, groups like the Dingoes and Sports). Even the characteristic drawl in singer James Reyne’s vocals seemed to approximate an Australian accent.
It was a time when world music was going disco crazy. The first recession in the music business since the arrival of ‘popular music’ saw many international labels trimming their rosters, and Australia took its eyes off the world charts and trends to enjoy the music being played in our own backyard. That recession was a boom period for Australian music. One of the bands at the centre of that boom was Australian Crawl.
They grew up in the Mornington Peninsula suburb of Mt.Eliza on the outskirts of Melbourne, where judges and diplomats raised their young families in a pseudo rural setting within driving distance of the city. While their bored parents attended cocktail parties the bored children surfed and smoked marijuana. For extra fun this particular group of friends also formed a band to entertain their friends. Their first attempt at a band Spiff Roach (!) ended up as the core for Australian Crawl.
Once the band’s escalating popularity brought them into the city they caught the attention of Little River Band’s guitarist David Briggs, who helped them to a recording contract and produced their first single. If Australian Crawl had been an English band they might have handled the subject matter like a Sex Pistols or a Stranglers, with anger and vitriol. But this was an Australian group from Mornington, and they looked at their parents’ world with sarcasm and self-effacing humour. The result was a hit single called ‘Beautiful People’.
While on stage they were these handsome Australian hunks – everything the girls in the audience could want – there was also something brattish and arrogant about them – everything the guys wanted to be. Within eighteen months of their first gig they were the most popular band in the country, on the strength of their first album and its title single, ‘The Boys Light Up’, teenage rebellion in the suburbs dressed up in an accessible chant-along pop songs. The album spent more than 50 weeks in the Top 30 and sold five times platinum, one of the biggest selling Australian albums of the Eighties.