Dural HiFi and Home Theatre
© Steve Neil 2017
The ongoing tale - A Proper Job then…. My first  job as a TIT in the ABC wasn’t exactly my dream for the future since it involved shift work and I was determined to become a rock star so I needed a 9.00 to 5.30 job allowing me to gig at nights. Hence my employment with ACIRL (Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratories) as a trainee industrial chemist. That involved three nights and a full day at Sydney Technical College learning all about organic chemistry and things I really wasn’t interested in, then playing with stuff in a laboratory measuring calorific values and the like during my time in the North Ryde Lab. Sex, Rock’n Roll and work. At this point of the story we need to fork (I said FORK!) as a linear time line doesn’t quite work in this context. We’ll concentrate on my musical career (such as it was) and return to my real job later. A Journey into the Dark Side I was given my first guitar at the age of 13 by my brother Brian, he gave me an acoustic, Spanish style guitar of dubious origin. I learned how to tune it and bought Bert Weedons “Play in a day” Guitar book. I’m not sure about the Play in a Day - more like still trying after 55 years! After a time learning Shadows tunes I figured it was time to go electric so after a year I bought an Egmond solid body with a hardwired lead. A right piece of shit that was but when plugged into my 15 Watt No Name amplifier, made a noise. The only good thing about learning on the Egmond was that the neck was so bad, all my future guitars felt fantastic by comparison. The first group I played with was a trio with me on lead, a rhythm guitarist whose name was Bill and a drummer called Ian. We were pretty good, I remember the postman (who used to come to the door in those days) knocking to deliver a parcel and when the door was opened and he saw us playing told us he thought it was a Shadows record being played. We only ever played two gigs in public, the first at a church hall in Toongabbie in front of a crowd of around 40 people. I was 16 and went along with my girlfriend of the day, Dianne. Ian drove as he was the only one with a car. Our set list was all Shadows covers and I remember halfway through “Wonderful Land” forgetting the melody, I went over to the microphone and announced I had a brain fade and the band would take a break for 10 minutes. I was devastated and cried like a baby for five minutes in the dressing room (or Kitchen as it was commonly known). Dianne was fantastic and reassured me that I could get back out and kill it. Well, it nearly killed me but I went back out and completed the gig, it was a pivotal moment in my life as, from that day onwards, I have never been afraid to get up in front of any number of people to talk, play or sing as absolutely nothing could affect me as much as that embarrassing moment. The second gig was at the Cabramatta Civic Centre and, as the opening act for Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, were in front of a crowd of around 500. The old Egmond managed to get way out of tune on the way over and the only way to tune a guitar back then (if you didn’t have a keyboard player to belt out middle “C”) was to use a tuning fork. Try tuning a guitar in a noisy hall of 500 teenagers with a tuning fork and you’ll know success is not assured. I was absolutely shit (we only did five numbers, starting with “La Bomba”) but as the kids were all screaming, it didn’t seem to matter and quite frankly, after the debacle in Toongabbie, I was no longer intimidated by the audience. I bought a VolksWagen in 1966, my first car (I now had a job remember), it cost $175 and my dad bought it for me with the proviso I paid him back at $10 per week. This new mobility enabled me to do two things that previously eluded me - try to get girls to have sex with me in a secluded environment (in the back of a Volkswagen, you must be joking) and apply to join bands outside of my immediate area. I was far more successful with the Band than the sex (although the two were certainly not mutually exclusive) and ended up joining a group called “The Peace” - yes, I know, very ‘60’s. They were based in Kogarah, around 45kms away in the days before motorways. Practice was twice a week so a lot of miles were covered and considering the old VW had a 6 Volt lighting system with less output than a candle, I’m amazed I managed 12 months of this regime without incident. I can’t imagine we made much money at 50c a ticket and, quite frankly, I remember absolutely nothing about that night. Below is a photo of The Peace  in 1967. That’s me on the left with my new “Diamond” Guitar.
Dural HiFi and Home Theatre
© Steve Neil 2017
The ongoing tale - A Proper Job then…. My first  job as a TIT in the ABC wasn’t exactly my dream for the future since it involved shift work and I was determined to become a rock star so I needed a 9.00 to 5.30 job allowing me to gig at nights. Hence my employment with ACIRL (Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratories) as a trainee industrial chemist. That involved three nights and a full day at Sydney Technical College learning all about organic chemistry and things I really wasn’t interested in, then playing with stuff in a laboratory measuring calorific values and the like during my time in the North Ryde Lab. Sex, Rock’n Roll and work. At this point of the story we need to fork (I said FORK!) as a linear time line doesn’t quite work in this context. We’ll concentrate on my musical career (such as it was) and return to my real job later. A Journey into the Dark Side I was given my first guitar at the age of 13 by my brother Brian, he gave me an acoustic, Spanish style guitar of dubious origin. I learned how to tune it and bought Bert Weedons “Play in a day” Guitar book. I’m not sure about the Play in a Day - more like still trying after 55 years! After a time learning Shadows tunes I figured it was time to go electric so after a year I bought an Egmond solid body with a hardwired lead. A right piece of shit that was but when plugged into my 15 Watt No Name amplifier, made a noise. The only good thing about learning on the Egmond was that the neck was so bad, all my future guitars felt fantastic by comparison. The first group I played with was a trio with me on lead, a rhythm guitarist whose name was Bill and a drummer called Ian. We were pretty good, I remember the postman (who used to come to the door in those days) knocking to deliver a parcel and when the door was opened and he saw us playing told us he thought it was a Shadows record being played. We only ever played two gigs in public, the first at a church hall in Toongabbie in front of a crowd of around 40 people. I was 16 and went along with my girlfriend of the day, Dianne. Ian drove as he was the only one with a car. Our set list was all Shadows covers and I remember halfway through “Wonderful Land” forgetting the melody, I went over to the microphone and announced I had a brain fade and the band would take a break for 10 minutes. I was devastated and cried like a baby for five minutes in the dressing room (or Kitchen as it was commonly known). Dianne was fantastic and reassured me that I could get back out and kill it. Well, it nearly killed me but I went back out and completed the gig, it was a pivotal moment in my life as, from that day onwards, I have never been afraid to get up in front of any number of people to talk, play or sing as absolutely nothing could affect me as much as that embarrassing moment. The second gig was at the Cabramatta Civic Centre and, as the opening act for Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, were in front of a crowd of around 500. The old Egmond managed to get way out of tune on the way over and the only way to tune a guitar back then (if you didn’t have a keyboard player to belt out middle “C”) was to use a tuning fork. Try tuning a guitar in a noisy hall of 500 teenagers with a tuning fork and you’ll know success is not assured. I was absolutely shit (we only did five numbers, starting with “La Bomba”) but as the kids were all screaming, it didn’t seem to matter and quite frankly, after the debacle in Toongabbie, I was no longer intimidated by the audience. I bought a VolksWagen in 1966, my first car (I now had a job remember), it cost $175 and my dad bought it for me with the proviso I paid him back at $10 per week. This new mobility enabled me to do two things that previously eluded me - try to get girls to have sex with me in a secluded environment (in the back of a Volkswagen, you must be joking) and apply to join bands outside of my immediate area. I was far more successful with the Band than the sex (although the two were certainly not mutually exclusive) and ended up joining a group called “The Peace” - yes, I know, very ‘60’s. They were based in Kogarah, around 45kms away in the days before motorways. Practice was twice a week so a lot of miles were covered and considering the old VW had a 6 Volt lighting system with less output than a candle, I’m amazed I managed 12 months of this regime without incident. I can’t imagine we made much money at 50c a ticket and, quite frankly, I remember absolutely nothing about that night. Below is a photo of The Peace  in 1967. That’s me on the left with my new “Diamond” Guitar.