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Thread: Australian Music #3...Rolf Harris

  1. #1

    Default Australian Music #3...Rolf Harris


    i never even thought of doing Rolf in this guide thingy until i was reminded of him by the G-Man, and as he has done my requested songs in his "deciphering the beatles lyrics" thread...i am obliged to return the favour.
    firstly, i see Rolf as an all-round entertainer than solely a musical talent, but yes Gryphon he does deserve a place here!

    Rolf Harris was born in the outer Perth suburb of Bassendean in 1930(incidently the pic above was taken last year at age 80!) and IMO he hasnt changed much since in appearance in all these years.
    he is affectionately known here as "the boy from bassendean" even though he has spent the last 60 odd years living in the UK due to getting skin cancer as a youth.
    his birth home has a backyard that includes the banks of the Swan River so needless to say he spent a lot of his youth swimming and fishing in his backyard! at age 14 he won the annual Swan River swimming race with the fastest time recorded up to that date.
    at age sixteen Rolf had his art works hung in the prestegious Gallery of New South Wales and was nominated for the prestegious "Archibald Prize" for art in the same year.
    he moved to the UK to study art in London at around the same time and started performing little 'dittys' about Australian life in pubs and clubs around London for ex-pat Aussies, to which he became a well known cult-figure. word got back to Australia and he was persuaded to return home and appear on TV with his own unique brand of singing,humour and painting.
    in the last 1950s Rolf was recording his own material and scored numerous hits in Australia including "tie me kangaroo down,sport' and 'sun arise'. come 1962, Rolf moved back to the UK where he met a little known record producer called George Martin(who?), who took him under his wing and urged him to re-record some of his Aussie releases, to which he duly did, and scored two UK top 10 hits with "sun arise" and "kangaroo...",.
    in 1963 he appeared on one of the first radio shows of "from us to you" and played "tie me kangaroo down,sport" with backing vocals by a little group called The Beatles, he changed the lyrics for the performance to:

    Cut yer hair once a year boys, (repeat), If it covers your ears you can't hear boys, so (repeat first line).
    Don't ill-treat me pet dingo, Ringo, (repeat). He can't understand your lingo, Ringo, so (repeat first line).
    George’s guitar's on the blink, I think, (repeat), It shouldn't go plinkety plink, no, (repeat first line).
    Prop me up by the wall, Paul, (repeat), 'Cause if you don't I might fall, Paul, so (repeat first line).
    Keep the hits coming on, John, (repeat), 'Til long long after I've gone, John, just (repeat first line).

    the song was accompanied with only his "wobble board" and of course Beatle backing vocals! so impressed was Ringo Starr with the "wobble board" that Rolf presented it to him after the performance,Ringo now, apparently, has the largest wobble board collection in the world?!

    NB: a wobble board is a sheet of malleable plyboard(or similar) held between both palms and shaken to produce a unique sound, i guess i'd say it sounds similar to a Didgeridoo(of which Rolf is also a profficient player:)

    original version of "tie me kangaroo down,sport" with lyrics calling Aboriginals "abo's"...which he later changed due to apparently being offensive.

    Beatle version of "tie me kangaroo down,sport"

    it took till 1969 for Rolf to have his most famous song in australia, a humourous ditty bout a man with three legs entitled "jake the peg", and it is this song with his comical live performances of it that will remain forever his most well remembered song

    his biggest selling single came in the same year, a remake of an old US Civil War song called "two little boys", this song sold one million copies in the UK alone, reaching #1 both there and here in Oz.

    throughout the 1970s and beyond Rolf Harris continued with his little lighthearted songs and painting via TV shows in Canada,UK and Aust, he was also the first person to have sydicated TV shows on both the BBC/ITV stations in the UK symultaineously.
    in the mid 1970s Rolf Harris was the first performer to appear on stage at the newly completed Sydney Opera House,
    he then returned to Perth for a short while where he recorded a semi-serious song called "back to WA", in which he describes his memories of growing up here as a child, the track reached #2 here in Oz, but unfortunately there are no links for this song.
    whilst here he did a TV show with Australian naturalist Harry Butler( a forerunner to Steve Irwin!),
    after this he returned to the UK to host and appear on numerous childrens shows where he sang, told jokes and perfected his five minute paintings in which no-one knew what he was painting until it was finished.

    Rolf also had a UK top 10 hit in the UK with a 'rolf' version of Led Zeps "stairway to heaven"

    in the earlyt 2000's he was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to paint a portrait of QE II for her 80th birthday, as a note to this, his grandfather was alo commissioned to paint the Queens grandfather George V when he was also king of england.

    Harris has also been commisssioned by the Royal Australian Mint to design images for our minted coinage.

    he has recieved honourary doctorates from several universities in Aust,Uk and Canada.

    Rolf Harris has recieved an MBE,OBE,CBE,OAM medals from the Queen and is an inductee in the ARIA Hall of Fame(australian rock hall of fame)

    he has performed at Gladstonbury on six occasions,

    Harris still appears on UK TV to this day and performs on the UK festival curcuit even as late as the summer just gone.

  2. #2


    Gryphon....feel free to add any of your knowledge of the Rolf/GM/Beatles connection as you see fit...afterall,we're all here to gain knowledge.

  3. #3


    i thought i'd add a couple more links as Rolf is "fun" and harmless to watch!


  4. #4
    Casual member bob_32_116's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Perth WA Australia



    I notice this thread hasn't been added to for a while...

    A shame about his - ahem - "misdemeanours", because it makes you feel guilty about enjoying listening to those songs, some of which were genuinely hilarious.

  5. #5


    I for one will never listen to another song by him or watch anything on tv anymore...!
    being a pedo is the lowest of the low, same goes or Gary Glitter...
    i used to have some of Rolf's singles, a couple of Glittler albums and several singles...
    all have been destroyed and put in the trash since the 'truth' emerged about their private lives!

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