Pommy Rob and one of his creations

In September 1966 I moved into a boarding house in Military Road, Mosman Junction with Sue Toohey, Diane Willard and Denise Tsolarkis. Other tenants I recall were Little Sandy, Zorba, Elaine and Brian. Life was very gloomy after Graham's death and the doctor prescribed me blue heart-shaped pills. I remained curled up in a corner at social functions.

Pommy Rob the artist, said 'take this'. I took the little white pill and within a short space of time I felt part of my surroundings; I was able to think clearly and began to talk, and talk and talk ...

Rob's brother, Pommy Alan wore hipster checkered flares and a tailored leather jacket (it was nearing the end of the mod era). Alan's undying devotion to my girlfriend Diane was not reciprocated and during the night Alan grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to kill himself if she didn't return his affections. The usually composed Diane was distressed, was I concerned? I vaguely remember telling her not to take any notice of him as I guided her in the direction of our awaiting taxi.

The Criterion, a hotel in Liverpool Street was frequented by white collar workers in the daytime. By night it was crawling with groovers, who hung around waiting the opening of Rhubarb's doors. I did not partake in the consumption of alcohol, I had taken up the habit of 'scoring' these amazing 'little white pills'..(one hundred methedrine tablets sold on the black market for $10). Heads were scanned and noted looking to see who was present and who was not, clothes were studied to see any change in fashion.

One night, Steve alerted us to a bashing in George Street ...'Its Ray', he announced, leaning on the pub door for support. 'Some sharpies got him', he continued. Pleased with the attention, he continued breathlessly. 'Ya know, Ray, Ray with the long hair, 'es been bashed in George Street, I think he's dead.'

We were a shallow lot, prattling on, never thinking to run up and see if Ray was alright. If you knew a short story associated with him you were in great demand. The drama petered out, seems no-one really knew Ray. It helped to pass the time until nine, then chattered as we straggled across Liverpool Street and down Douglass Lane. The guys we attracted weren't nice types, they kindly accepted our offer to pay their way into the disco

Definition: Sharpies were anti anti anti, they were anti long hairs, anti social (not politically inclined). They hung in groups or gangs. Their hair was closely cropped, their uniform consisted of boots (?), tight very high-waisted jeans and chest hugging tops. Well-dressed thugs; purported to be from the suburbs. Though, there were 'sharpies' from the 'Loo as early as '63, they had their corner of Surf City, Some worked as bouncers at the local strip clubs. They would arrive very late, with a girl on their arm, as if a handbag. They contact dancing, we 'surfies' stomped around in usually solo.

'Nah Na-Na Na Nah Na-Na Nah Na Na-Na Nah Na-Na Nah 
Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa
Um Um Um Um Um
6 3 4 - 5 7 8 9
Da da-da da da da da da da a da da the midnight hour
R -E- S- P- E- C- T'

Reverberated through the dingy, dark cavern-like venue. The brass section dominated and was skillfully played,  the driving sound of soul music. Rhubarbs was quivering with a volume unheard of around town, louder than Beatle Village, Beach House and Surf City put together. Drugs featured very heavily in this underground maze of pillars, couches, nooks and crannies, people packed tightly together. This was 'the scene'!

Descending into the darkness Horse (Horst Leopold) was waiting there, greeting with a hand out for our dollar. I thought he was just some old guy doing a casual job for a couple of quid. Completely ignorant as to his heritage and prestige, totally unaware that he was hugely responsible for promoting jazz in Australia!

'Hello Horse.' We chorused as we trooped past, handing him our dollar and one for someone else - if we were 'lucky' enough to have some one who found us important enough to bludge off! Jenny, the very fast coat-check chick, traded us a ticket for our coats and/or bags, we then continued through into the sweaty, smoky vibration, which was Rhubarbs. The roof was low, held up by half a dozen pylons, these were handy to lean on and spy around. It must have been some old warehouse under an office block. The acoustics were unbelievable. 'Horse' had placed couches and armchairs around the wall and in clusters, the stage was ever so tiny, with toilets either side.

Jenny also doubled as drink waitress, a juice could be purchased for 20 cents, it was handy for spreading over the floor so that we could *James Brown our way from left to right. Alan Reagan was the best 'scooterer'. She was Pommy Rob's girl, she was very good at her job, stacking and restacking and stacking and restacking bags and coats like a little mechanical doll, she looked very strange. I was not yet 'savy' to a speed freak's behaviour .. Clutching the coat ticket made it very unrecognisable and we soon learned to put it down our bras, along with our keys, money, cigarettes and such. Bags were a nuisance and tended to walk or be forgotten.

 'Python Lee Jackson'.. I edged my way up front to glimpse the Apollo-like Malcolm McGhee (ex Wild Cherries), He was lead vocalist for the band, The stage was at audience level with up to six musos packed into this tiny space at any one time. Seasoned musicians like, Dave Bentley-keyboard, Bob Welsh also keyboards, Dave Montgomery-drums (ex Jeff St John & the Id), lead guitarist Mick Leiber, Lloyd Hardy on bass. Members came and went, the band remained hypnotic. Oh, and Bernie McGann on sax.

Their repertoire included:- Sam and Dave, Major Lance, Otis Redding, James Brown and Wilson Pickett covers - "Who Do You Love?", "Mm-Um-um-Um-Um-Um", "Hold On, I’m Coming", "Your Mother Should Have Warned You", "Papas Got a Brand New Bag", "Respect", "Mustang Sally", "Midnight Hour", "I Keep Forgetting". I've just been watching the Soul doco and methinks maybe Mal did "Knock on Wood" also.

Hello Eric Clapton, Mayall and Butterfield! One night, to our surprise - out in the back room was a much younger group. The group was in fact the Sect, consisting of Mick Lester-vocals (President Sydney Uni Blues Club), Michael McCormack & Danny Groves on drums, Mick Morphett-bass. Lead guitarists included original Neil Smith, Paul Baker and Kim Humphries.  Being a Clapton fan, The Sect immediately appealed to me. Eric Clapton aka 'slow-hand' or 'god' was well-known to the music scene from his stint with the Yardbirds, and he was revered by many. I found his style distinctive. I downed a few more white tablets and memorized every note and introduced myself to the band.

After an ear-shattering night we headed over the Harbour Bridge to Mosman Junction, with Rhubarbs clientele followed in toe. The remainder of the night was spent listening to the quieter sounds of Dylan and Donovan.

The Starving Wild Dogs also featured in the back-room and jug band music certainly was a treat for me. Headed by a little guy with a mop of curly hair and playing the harp, Dylan style - a quick chat revealed they were Wheezing Walter T Mudd, his brother Paul Wyld, (keyboard) and Terry Wilkins (bass). I'm not sure who the other members were at the time... Wally and I remained firm friends for many, many years.

'Lyn, you may wish to check this out. Regards David McDermott'

Python Lee Jackson 
1967 ABC TV "Be Our guest". 
Unknown song. 
Recorded in Australia before going to England to record with Rod Stewart
Mick Lieber-guitar, (spelling)
Dave Montgomery-drums, David Bentley-keyboards
Mal McGhee-vocals, Lloyd Hardy-bass

'Hi Lynne, I'd never seen that one before. Is that you standing at the back? :-) They may be the worst at miming, but they were a true 'soul' band and were all very good players. Probably still are! Keep 'em coming please. Regards, Keith Herbert'


  1. With regard to Rhubarbs, I'd be most grateful if you'd check out a video I have!

    It's a Coca-Cola commercial shot in around 1966; someone's left a comment on it, saying that it ws shot at Melbourne's Thumpin' Tum - but if you watch VERY closely, you can make out a sign in a couple of shots (around the 7 to 10 second mark) which says "Rhubarbs". Unless it's the name of the band seen playing in the d, I'd assume it's the venue you've mentioned.

    Hee's the ad:

    What d'you think - is it Rhubarbs??

    1. The footage at the start of the clip looks to me like the Rhubarbs layout. After analyzing the section with the wall banner behind the band, the name is distinctly "Rhubarbs". I can be confident in saying that the clip was filmed in what we knew as Rhubarbs in Douglass Lane. Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues received a visit from the Festival Records producer there one night and a recording contract was signed soon after. We had been filling Python Lee Jackson's spot while they were in Melbourne. The venue closed soon after and we moved to Beethovens Disco in Cunningham Lane, behind Chequers.

  2. Anonymous22:35

    I think the guys from Rhubarbs who couldnt fight for shit, should thank us guys from Bankstown, who on many occasion protected you guys, and of course rooted the girls. But us rockers who also loved soul music, should get some respect.
    Rob Bell

  3. my reply does not seem to have 'appeared'

  4. Anonymous10:50

    great post Lynne (from Cass)