When Paul McHenry rang to tell me that he had completed his revised edition of ‘Caddie - the musical career of Brian Cadd’, I thought it would be a good idea to check my music collection to see how many albums and CDs I have collected during the many years I have been a fan of this great Australian singer/songwriter. I was surprised to find 16 CDs and 6 LPs from his solo career and this did not include any of his earlier work with the Groop and Axiom. In a career that has spanned over 50 years, Caddy is one of those rare musical talents who has continued to produce music of a high standard which makes each release worth buying because you know it has something unique about it.
The first Brian Cadd album I bought was ‘The Magic Of Brian Cadd’ way back in 1975. The album is a collection of the best tracks he recorded since becoming a solo artist in 1972. It included the best tracks from his first three solo albums and other songs he recorded for film and TV shows. The ‘magic’ in the title comes from the Cadd-penned song, Don’t You Know It’s Magic which, was a Top 20 hit for John Farnham in 1972 and also won the ‘Most Outstanding Composition’ award when John performed the song at the Tokyo World Popular Song Festival.
Paul McHenry told me a good story about the time he first tried to get into contact with Brian when he was compiling the first issue of ‘Caddie’ in 1995. Paul placed an add in the ‘Desperately Seeking’ column of a Melbourne newspaper saying that he would like to contact Brian Cadd. A few days later he received a phone call from Brian’s mother asking, “Why do you want to contact Brian?” To which Paul replied, “Because I want to write a book about him.”Brian’s mother explained that her son was performing at the Crown Casino that night. She said she would be able arrange a free ticket for Paul and he would be able to talk to the singer after the show. Paul was of course delighted with this outcome and has written that the performance was, “filled with hit songs and Caddie magic.” And when he spoke to Brian after the show he found him to be friendly, approachable and easy to talk to.
Something that many of people do not realise about Brian Cadd is that over 150 artists have recorded his songs, including Australian and overseas recording acts. The songs Brian writes cover a variety of genres including country, pop and rock, so they appeal to a wide range of artists. Several Australian acts have benefitted from the Caddman’s writing talents. Glenn Shorrock recorded the excellent Angry Words, Ronnie Burns cut When I Was Six Years Old (as did Paul Jones of Manfred Mann fame), Brisbane singer Jon Blanchfield (now Normie Rowe’s manager), released a succession of singles including Lucy’s Place, Son Of A Simple Man and Reach For The Sun. The Masters Apprentices charted with Elevator Driver and Robin Jolley scored a Top 4 hit with Marshall’s Portable Music Machine.
Of the better-known overseas artists who have recorded Brian Cadd songs are Cilla Black, Joe Cocker, the ‘French Elvis’ Johnny Hallyday and his ex-wife Sylvie Vartan. Brian’s most recorded song is Let Go which the songwriter claims some 70 versions have been recorded around the world, quite a few these in South Africa. Other artists who recorded this song include Glen Campbell, Gene Pitney and Dobie Gray. The Pointer Sisters recorded Love Is Like A Rolling Stone as the B-side for their 1979 single Fire. The song became an international hit and made Top 5 in the US. Brian would not have been disappointed that it was a B-side because the mechanical royalties paid to a songwriter are the same as the A-side, even though it is not played as much. Ringo Starr recorded Cadd’s Some Folkes Do, which remains unreleased.
Brian Cadd has had an incredible musical journey. He took up piano lessons at 10 in his hometown of Perth, WA in 1956. After entering a TV talent quest when he was 12, he was offered the position of pianist in a junior band for a children’s TV show. He also played in his cousin’s group and with the school band at Mt Lawley High School. In 1962 the Cadd family moved to Hobart, Tasmania and Brian played with John Struther’s Planets. The following year the family again relocated, this time to Melbourne, which was probably a good move for the young musician’s musical development. Brian developed an interest in jazz and he became part of the Beale Street Jazz Band. Then in 1965 he joined the Melbourne Castaways, which became the Jackson Kings, a band that had a strong R’n’B influence. During the time Brian was with this group he called himself Brian Caine.
“While the Bee Gees were preparing to join the Easybeats and Normie Rowe as ex-patriot Australian rock stars in England and the Twilights were wowing us back home with ‘Needle In A Haystack’ and we were listening to ‘Winchester Cathedral’, ‘Everlovin’ Man’, ‘Step Back’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Sunny’ and ‘Black Is Black’; a little-known Melbourne group called the Jackson Kings broke up.” (Liner notes – The Magic Of Brian Cadd LP, 1975)
In late 1966, Brian and another Jackson Kings member, Ronnie Charles joined the Groop, an established band who were going through a change in musical direction. By early 1967 Brian had started writing songs with Max Ross and later with Don Mudie. The Groop’s second single with its new line-up was the sensational Woman You’re Breaking Me. It was Brian’s first attempt at writing a song (co-written with Richard Wright), and has been described as “having more hooks than you’d find in a hardware shop.”(McIntyre). But was still a very impressive first song-writing attempt.
Woman You’re Breaking Me was riding high in the charts when the Groop won the 1967 Hoadley’s Battle Of The Sounds. The prize was a return trip to London and some guaranteed engagements. In the UK the Groop played gigs in England, Scotland and Wales at some of the top venues. Later they did club and TV work in Germany and their single, Night Life made Top 10 in that country. The Easybeats were in London at the same time and Brian and singer Ronnie Charles would regularly visit them in their Earl’s Court basement flat. One night when they were there, there was a knock on the door at about 3 am. The visitor was one of the roadies from Cream who had just returned from a US tour. He bought with him a reel-to-reel tape of a new American group, and when the tape was put on, Brian could not believe what he heard.
“Suddenly, in the darkness, this amazing distorted organ like none I’d ever heard before leaped from the speakers. Then the driving rhythm section hooked the feel and ran with it for a while. Finally, these wonderful ghostly haunted voices began singing. The words were strange visual images of the American South and the rough edgy power of the combination of these voices was like no other music any of us had ever heard before.”
(Brian Cadd – From This Side Of Things, 2010)
The tracks were from an about to be released album called ‘Music From The Big Pink’ by a group who backed Bob Dylan, called the Band. The music had a big impact on Brian and sent him in a completely different musical direction. The Groop returned to Australia in October 1968 and had one more hit, Such A Lovely Way before disbanding in May 1969. Their final recording however was playing the instrumental backing on Russell Morris’ No.1 single The Real Thing. It’s Brian’s voice you can hear at the end of the song talking in a British accent reading the manufacturer’s guarantee from a BASF tape box.
In September 1969, Cadd and Don Mudie formed Axiom, which included ex-Twilights frontman Glenn Shorrock. Axiom signed with Parlophone and released their debut single, Arkansas Grass, a song which was obviously inspired by the Band. Axiom then commenced work on their debut LP, ‘Fool’s Gold’ at Armstrong’s Studio in Melbourne. The album contains the very popular A Little Ray Of Sunshine, which reached Top 5. In April 1970 the band returned to the UK and signed with Warners. They completed their second LP, ‘If Only’ but were disappointed with it, although it did include the hit single My Baby’s Gone. The band returned to Australia for a national tour in late 1970, then returned to the UK, but broke-up soon after.
When Brian returned to Australia he became involved in a range of music activities including production and session work, setting-up Bootleg Records with Ron Tudor, song writing and recording. He formed the Bootleg Family Band to back artists signed on the Bootleg label, to record and perform live. Brian’s self-titled debut solo album released in 1972 was a great success, selling over 20,000 copies and contained the hit single Ginger Man. In mid-1973 Brian released his second solo LP ‘Parabrahm’. The first six songs were recorded as separate tracks and Keep On Rockin’ was released as a single. The second side of the album consists of a 22-minute track, The Ballad of the Country Lady suite.
Some of the people behind scenes - photo above shows staff from Tempo Records Sydney awarding Brian Cadd with a gold record for his first solo album. Some of the key staff were also awarded a gold album for their efforts. Ron Tudor (front row far left), Promotions Manager David Douglas (front row second left), General Manager Bert Whelan (back row far left), Director Melbourne office Keith Colias (back row second left). (Photo courtesy Rob Howes - back row third left)
In September 1974, Brian released the third album in his trilogy of solo albums called ‘Moonshine’. The album has a strong country influence and features musicians from the Hawking Brothers and Captain Matchbox. Let Go was released as a single from this album and should have gone much higher than the No.14 placing it achieved. Sometime early in 1975, I saw Brian perform live for the first time when he appeared at the Newcastle Worker’s Club. The huge auditorium was packed out and I remember Brian finished the show with A Little Ray Of Sunshine. When he got to the last two lines of the song he changed the words to “Two little rays of sunshine.” Everyone smiled and cheered and knew it was a reference to the twin boys his first wife Wendy had given birth to a few months previously.
The You Tube clip below is part of a 1973 4-part ABC-TV Special 'Brian Cadd & the Bootleg Family'. The backing singers are Brisbane girls Margaret, Beverly and Wendy Cook, better known as the Cookies.
In 1975 Brian decided he needed to go to the US. He signed a record deal with Capitol Records and recorded his debut US album ‘White On White’. Despite being heavily promoted the album failed to catch on in the US as did his next album, ‘Yesterday Dreams’, although songs from the album were recorded by Bonnie Tyler (Yesterday Dreams)and Yvonne Elliman (Crazy Lady Of The Silver Spoon).
In 1981 Brian returned to Melbourne and concentrated more on production and session work and performed live. It was 1985 before he released his next album, ‘No Stone Unturned’, which included the brilliant, Angry Words. Glenn Shorrock also recorded this song and the Charlie Daniels Band covered Still Hurting Me. Brian toured with Max Meritt before moving back to the US in 1989, settling in the country music capitol of Nashville. He set up a home studio working on advertising jingles and film and television soundtracks. Brian recalls,
“I headed off into a writing and production career which really did well for me for 15 years. During that time I played hundreds of sessions with lots of the players that I had always hoped to be associated with. Randy Meisner and Tim Schmidt from the Eagles. Billy Payne and Richie Haywood from Little Feat as well as so many country rock players from the Dillards. Leon Russell and Jim Keltner through to Al Perkins.”
(Brian Cadd – CD booklet Silver City, 2018)
In 1993 Cadd returned to Australia and teamed up with Glenn Shorrock in a duo called ‘Blazing Salads’. The duo toured and made an album, which included mostly new material and a reworking of A Little Ray Of Sunshine. Later in 1993 Brian returned to the US and joined the reformed country rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers. Brian appeared on their 1994 album ‘Eyes Of The Hurricane’. It included several Cadd-penned songs including Angry Words.
In February 1999 everyone was shocked when they saw the news reports of Brian being caught in floodwaters near his home in Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast hinterland, in south-east Queensland. Brian, his then partner Linda and her daughter, were driving home when their car was washed off a causeway when they were crossing the Mudgeeraba River. All three escaped the sinking car through its windows and were washed down stream. Thankfully they were rescued by an alert local resident.
During the 2002 ‘Long Way To The Top’ tour Brian developed a relationship with one of the directors, Amanda Pelman. They relocated to Sydney before buying a farm in Central Victoria. Some of the awards Brian has received in the past 15 years include being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2018 he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to music.
In recent years the 2003 CD ‘Cleanskin’ is the Brian Cadd album I have enjoyed listening to the most. The album was recorded live at Capers, a Melbourne venue where Brian had performed for several years. The recordings were made over three nights early in November 2003, just before the legendary venue closed down. The album starts with Brian’s interpretation of the Stones’ song, Out Of Time. Brian’s treatment of the classic tune, lifts it to a new level. The semi acoustic backing on this album makes it completely different from the next live album he issued in 2007.
‘Live At The Con’ is a collaborative live album with his lifetime friend Russell Morris. Backed by the Queensland Conservatorium Orchestra. It’s interesting to hear the great songs of these two Australian legends with the backing of a full symphony orchestra. Brian also collaborated with Russell Morris in 2011 on the country-styled album ‘Wild Bull & Horses’. All the tracks (except one) are Cadd-Morris compositions with All The Young Ladies and One More Night standing out.
Brian’s 2005 release ‘Quietly Rusting’ was his first studio album in 20 years. The album was recorded in a small backyard studio called the Cheese Factory in Adelaide. Using a mixture of young musicians along with some seasoned veterans including Wilbur Wilde, Ross Hannaford and Wendy Stapleton. The result was a very entertaining album with many standout tracks including a remake of Fordsbridge. Glenn Shorrock joins Brian on this track that should have been a single for Axiom.
For the 2013 CD release, ‘The Story of Sharky & the Caddman’ Brian and Glenn Shorrock assembled an excellent group of backing musicians including, the original Axiom drummer Doug Lavery, Chris Stockley (Axiom, the Dingoes), Sam See (Sherbet, the Flying Circus) and Glyn Mason (Copperwine, Ariel). The album contains remakes of the best songs from Axiom, Little River Band, solo hits and some Cadd originals. The easy-going country influenced Hate & Love is a real gem and grows on you every time you play it. In an interview on Southerm FM, Brian said,
“The two of us have been mates since we were little more than kids. Musically we always seemed to click and our voices have a most unique sound together. We’ve certainly been on all the rides and every step and adventure has been laced with humour and fun.”
(Brian Cadd – interview with Mark Copolov on Southern FM, Nov 4th, 2013)
Brian now lives in Woodstock, NY, but returns to Australia to tour on a regular basis. Brian moved to the home of the legendary 1969 music festival in 2018 and says, “Everyone there looks exactly like me.” His latest CD, ‘Silver City’ was released in 2019. The album was recorded in Nashville with Australian producer Mark Moffat. Moffat assembled a crack team of ‘Americana’ musicians and during the sessions Brian was treated as just ‘the singer’. Moffat and the musicians took Brian’s songs that they had chosen from the hundreds he had sent them and recorded them as they wanted. The result is an Americana album to match any album recently recorded in this genre.
In April 2019, Brian returned to Australia for the ‘ARIA Good Times Tour’ with Russell Morris, Ross Wilson, John Paul Young, Joe Camilleri, Kate Cebrano and the Bull Sisters. In October 2019 he performed at the ‘Out On The Weekend’ concert playing a set of his own material and also joined Melbourne band Lost Ragas in performing the Flying Burrito Brothers 1969 album ‘Gilded Palace Of Sin’ album, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Brian never seems to get sick of performing live. He recently explained why he loves performing in front of a live audience so much.
“All of us who started in the 60s, even including Keith Richards, still seem to be going and going and going, even though we say, ‘This is definitely the last time.’ I’ve been mulling over that myself. I’m 72 and I say to myself that I won’t do it anymore, but last night there was somewhere between 10 and 15,000 people in the audience. You’re up there on stage and they’re all singing one of your songs in unison and you say to yourself: ‘This is why I’m doing it’. “ (The Weekend Australian magazine, April 13th, 2019)
The Brian Cadd & the Bootleg Family Band CD ‘Bulletproof’ released in 2016 featured songs Brian wrote while he was working in the US. The artwork on the front cover is a painting of Brian which was an Archibald Prize entry by Australian artist Phillip Howe. The painting is titled ‘Atlanta Burning’ and the artist explains his inspiration behind the painting,
“During Brian’s live performances his eyes gaze firmly onto his audience with a commanding respect. This is a performer who knows how to communicate and totally lives for the moment!”
(Phillip Howe, September 2016)
The updated edition of ‘Caddie’ does not duplicate all of the first edition, Paul McHenry compiled in 1998, but it does update Brian Cadd’s achievements, recording history and discography. The book retails for $5 plus $2 postage and is available from:
The booklet is a good companion to Brian Cadd’s excellent autobiography ‘From This Side Of Things’, published in 2010.
The trilogy of solo albums Brian recorded in the mid-70s have been reissued on CD by Sony music with bonus tracks.
Brian Cadd – From This Side Of Things, New Holland Publishers, 2010
Paul McHenry – Caddie: The Musical career Of Brian Cadd (Revised Edition), Moonlight, 2020
Ian McIntyre – Tomorrow Is Today, Wakefield Press, 2006
Rhythms magazine – A Legend Continues To Grow article by Kerrie Hickin, Sept/Oct Issue, 2019
The Senior – article by John Piggot, April 17th, 2019
Southern FM – Brian Cadd & Glenn Shorrrock interview with Mark Copolov, Nov 11th, 2013
The Weekend Australian magazine, April 13th, 2019
The West Australian – article by Simon Collins