Ralph Graham's memories of Taylor Square
Ralph Graham (2006) ... "Perhaps I was not a “core” member of the Taylor Square mob as there are a few faces on the Taylor Square site that I don’t remember but I certainly was around and I’d like share some of what I remember.
Played drums for a time with the Starving Wild Dogs, a blues band with Wally Mudd (Warwick Wyld) who played harp and sang, others will know who the other members were. I also played guitar for a short time with a band at Whitty’s etc. but I don’t think it was the Dogs. Jim is a Kiwi and also played in bands with fellow Kiwi guitarist, Red McKelvie. [Jim was from Timaru which is where Red McKelvie now lives.] This was 1969. In 1970, I was the resident guitarist (Peter Knox was the bass player) at the Ball Pants coffee shop in Brougham Lane at Kings Cross and cooling my heels after a failed relationship when Jim Crowley tracked me down at my flat at the Cross. He asked if I wanted to join a band that was going to Vietnam. I thought it sounded like an adventure and the band flew out in February 1970. From that time on Jim and I shared many an adventure over the years, living together and playing in bands in Australia, Hong Kong Thailand etc.
In 2002, Jim lived only a few minutes away from where I live here in Epping, but we had not seen each other for quite a long time. I rang out of the blue to borrow a mike stand only to find to my horror that Jim had passed on two months prior on 17 March. His liver failed him. It was a big blow as I was not able to be with him through his sickness before he died, and missed his funeral. He left a wife and two fine boys. Jim’s father died at 57 when Jim was 13 and Jim died at 57 when one of his sons was 13. His heritage was Irish and he had revived his Catholicism some years before. He left us on St Patrick's Day.
In July 1979, Jim Crowley and I were sharing a house in Paddington and we moved to a house in Naremburn, north of North Sydney where we lived for several years. After much persuasion on Jim’s part, we managed to extract Wally from the scene at - the Cross, Darlinghurst etc – and he came to live with us. I cherish the times I sat with him in his room when we played guitar and he shared a couple of songs he had written.“Since I came to the city how my life has changed, All of the people and all of the names'.
I remember the chords and a few more words of this and he only played it once! I would love to have a copy of the whole song. I was profoundly affected by the way he disappeared to another world when he sang, seeming not to be aware of himself or the room, opening his eyes at the end as if to suddenly become aware of his surroundings again.
It must have been his destiny as not long after (I think Jim and I might have been on tour with John Williamson), Wally suddenly packed up and headed back to the never never where it seems many a good person had been lost. Within a couple of months, sadly, Wally was gone, I’m afraid.
Paul Johnson “Pig”
One night I was on the way to Ball Pants coffee shop where I was the regular guitarist, I heard a voice singing that I thought sounded like a cross between John Lee Hooker and Nat King Cole. He was actually young, white, tall, brash, already life worn and possessed of a wonderful blues voice. He played guitar and blues harp and I spent many a night playing my electric guitar for him and delighting in his vocals. A lady who often performed at the “Pants” known as Leonie (later performing around the traps as Leonora Jackson) had a “party” at her flat. Pig’s party trick was to ask for the lights to be turned off whereupon he de-trousered and set fire to a huge fart. Perhaps he should have been nick named 'Blue flame' or 'Methane'. One night at the Ball Pants he was standing there playing on his own and his song finished with rapturous applause. He obviously felt that he was below par that night and that we should have recognised it as he ripped off his guitar, threw it on the floor and said “You are all f**d! You know damn well that was terrible!” and strode out into the night. In the 80’s, some 16 years later while on tour with Digger Revell I ran into him in Melbourne where he, having now embraced country music, was performing ‘round Melbourne in a duo with his girl friend. In 2008 I was trying to track him down and discovered that he had died in the late nineties. So sad and disappointing, a CD of his is available from Dave Dawson’s website.
Paul Wyld “Dog”
You would think the nickname dog would describe a wild man but Paul, as I found him, was quiet and a gentleman. In 1977 my country rock band Rainshine was signed to a deal by our manager Colin Petersen, (former child star of the movie 'Smiley' and ex Bee Gees). Paul came to Alberts Studio and played piano on some tracks. The tracks, never released, were "Miles Away" (written by our Drummer, Shane Flew), "Flashing Lights" (written by me, Ralph Graham) and "Old Cowhand". His playing was a delight.
I didn't meet Mort in the Taylor Square days, but much later in Tamworth in the 90's where he wrote for the local paper and was everywhere during the Country Music Festival in January each year, soaking in and writing up the music scene as he saw it. I liked Mort and he would often turn up to see our band. Eureka!, playing Celtic rock (Folk Rock) and some rocky bush songs, was not your regular Tamworth fare but we went over well and Mort, who told us he loved the band was almost embarrassing in his gushing praise in print. I was so saddened to hear of yet another premature passing of a lovely man."
The link for Dave Dawson's site who has copies of Paul "Pig" Johnson's ( later known as A. P. Johnson) CD with the Dead Livers is
http://www.nucountry.com.au email on the site. Thanks, Ralph