Mort Fist R.I.P.

Sadly, dear Mort has passed away in 1998 after many years as a journalist in Tamworth.

Tony Fitzgerald aka Mort Fist a student at the University of Sydney was a regular at our 'pad' in Berry Street, North Sydney in 1967.  Mort was flamboyant, favouring a top hat and 1940s clothing from the Op Shop. He loved to make a grand entrance, lunging towards you and uttering the cry, "Cringing"!

He lived to entertain and promote, forever 'forming a group', the band would disintegrate as one crawled off to escape Mort's tone flat voice. 'Emancipated Footwarmers', 'Fatty Bacon and his Rinds' to name but two and I enjoyed playing along as he practised at our flat .. members included: Phil Wood, Ross J Waters, Frank Cayley and Pete Graney, a sort of a jug/pop affair.    I recall a stint on The Today Show where he performed the most dreadful rendition of "Flim Flam Floozy with the Floy Floy" .. ( floy doy, floy doy) No matter how many times one tried to tell Mort not to sing he  soldiered on.That said,Tony was an accomplished harp player and frequently sat in on bands in and around Taylor Square.

Mort was an  entrepreneur and a walking encyclopedia on  blues roots and enriched us at his Blues Society of Sydney meetings (Foveaux Street near Central) by sharing his treasured recordings ... Sleepy John Estes, Blind Willie Johnson, McTell ...

Photo of Mort with Reg Lindsay



 "Hi Lynette, I've been meaning to get this Mort Fist story to you so here goes.

In 1965-6 Tony Fitzgerald (Mort Fist) ran a series of sporting articles on the fabled sport of 'Cringing'. A sport well known in OZ in those days. Each week on the back page of the N.S.W. university newspaper Thurunka would appear a cringe by arkle description of the weekends major inter faculty Cringing Match and occasionally the big inter University match with Sydney Uni. Stirring stories of on field heroism intermixed with fouls and injuries as the two sides struggled to outdo eachother through the four Chuggers of the match. Each succeeding arkle was longer and higher than the preceeding and corresponding cringe until the game was awarded to the team with the most players left on the field at the end of the last Chugger. Mort managed to keep this column up for a couple of years I think before running out of ideas. superlatives and enthusiasm. It was always keenly anticipated and was a topic of discussion in the roundhouse each week. There now its done. Hope its what you were looking for. We'll have to catch up again soon. We have a big Japanese order on at the moment and the website orders never stop but we hope to get up to see you soon and if you want to come down any time just let us know. Bring a friend.
All our love Errol and Fionna Wood"
Gayle Kennedy ..  "I miss Mort so much. He taught me a lot about music and took me under his wing when I was just a 19 year old from the bush.  I just adored him."


  1. It’s over forty years since I last saw Mort and 20 since I left Australia. Was sitting here in Kathmandu a few days ago and quite by accident came across this blog – lots of memories, half-forgotten faces came back. It was the first I knew of Mort’s passing, all those years ago. I had two crazy years playing in 69/70 with Mort, with ‘the famous’ Peter Miller, Lindsay Hewson, instrument maker extraordinaire Terry Hennessey and assorted washboard players. At French’s … somehow filling holes between the Heroes, Dick Hughes, the Riders, Graham Bell .… and anywhere else that would have us. Mort was all class, as was his wont. But hopefully it was an experience more interesting visually than it was aurally. We did one album that could benignly be described as ordinary with Martin Erdman’s Du Monde label (home of Flake amongst others), which somehow got a posthumous (bandwise) release. Not even Dog’s guest playing on piano and Terry Hennessey’s crazy instruments could uplift it. We had some high and low points. Mort seemed to find us puzzling gigs. I still have some photos of us playing at the Australian premiere of Paint Your Wagon and another unidentified place (which I’d be happy to pass on – how?), with Mort en full regalia: topper, frock coat and jug, wooden leg in the background. Mort and Lee Marvin had a lot in common (vocally). And then there was the time someone, probably Mort, booked us to play the Bobby Limb Show: we had problems turning the amps down to minus 1.

    Great to be able to partially relive those times on these pages. I hooked up somehow with Bob Hudson, started spending weekends playing with his cacophonous Electric Jug at the Star in Newcastle and in 72 moved to Newcastle and lost track in the haze.


    Alan Wall

  2. Hey Alan !! Great summary of the state of play in Peter Miller Jug Band and Mort's contribution. He did sing better than the both of us, at least.
    Great to find you after 50 years ... and strangely, I went to Terry Darmody's 70th birthday a few weeks back after missing him since the late 60s.

    We did some strange gigs and Mort always managed to smile and put on a show irrespective of the conditions. Remember Whitty's and Frenches and the Oxford pub.

    Lindsay Hewson