Rewind 1983: Skyhooks, The Church, Sunnyboys and The Party Boys at the Noosa Aussie Hop

On 23 April 1983, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people came together at the Picnic Racetrack in Cooroy for an Aussie live music extravaganza. The Noosa Aussie Hop, as it was called, featured the reunion of legendary ‘70s band Skyhooks at the top of the bill as well performances by Midnight Oil, Mental As Anything, The Party Boys, Sunnyboys and The Church. There were two supporting Queensland bands, Black Market (from Brisbane) and Hooker (from the Sunshine Coast). Brisbane radio station Radio 10 was one of the sponsors of the event. The entertainment was scheduled to run from 11am to 11pm and tickets were $15 in advance or $20 at the gate.

Shirley Strachan, lead singer of Skyhooks performing at the Noosa Aussie Hop on 23 April 1983. 33263 Alan Grills photographs of touring bands. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: Image number: 33263-0001-0021

According to the Noosa News (29/4/1983), the event was plagued by traffic gridlock. Police sergeant Arthur Frohmuller told the newspaper that traffic had begun building up at 8:30am and by the time the concert began at 11am vehicles were backed up by three kilometres around the venue. There were approximately 35 police in attendance, across two shifts, to manage the crowd and traffic.

“We didn’t see any violence” Roger Green, program director for Radio 10, told the Noosa News. “A lot of alcohol was confiscated at the gate, but obviously some got through”. The only major complaint according to Green was the “lack of volume” of the music.

Seven photographs taken by Alan Grills on the day are now part of State Library’s collection. The images feature the bands Skyhooks, The Church, Sunnyboys and The Party Boys.

Formed in 1973, Melbourne band Skyhooks released five studio albums, four of which made the Aussie Top 10 albums chart. They also achieved five Top 10 singles, including their number one hit, Horror Movie. After disbanding in 1980, the band reunited for the first time at the Noosa Aussie Hop. The line-up included Graham ‘Shirley’ Strachan, Reg Macainsh, Bob Starkie, Imants ‘Freddie’ Strauks and Red Symons.

Skyhooks performing at the Noosa Aussie Hop on 23 April 1983. 33263 Alan Grills photographs of touring bands. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: Image number: 33263-0001-0022

Sydney band Sunnyboys formed in 1979, going on to release four studio albums between 1981 and 1989. They are best known for their song Alone with You (1981) which reached number 28 in the charts.

Band members of The Sunnyboys performing at the Noosa Aussie Hop on 23 April 1983. 33263 Alan Grills photographs of touring bands. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 33263-0001-0028

The Church were formed in Sydney in 1980. By the time of the Noosa Aussie Hop they had released two studio albums, Of Skins and Hearts (1981) and Blurred Crusade (1982), going to number 22 and 10 on the Aussie album charts respectively. They had had two Top 30 hits with Unguarded Moment (no.22) and Almost With You (no.21). The Church would later achieve international success with the song Under The Milky Way in 1988. Between 1980 and 2017, The Church released 25 studio albums. Alan Grill’s photograph of the band shows the line-up of Marty Willson-Piper, Richard Ploog, Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes.

On a side note, The Church were late arriving on the day, requiring the Sunnyboys to go ahead of them. Fast forward to 2010, The Church were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. During their acceptance speech, Steve Kilbey confessed that the band had been delibately late. "The Church were supporting the Sunnyboys at a festival," Kilbey told the audience. "We decided to be late... and we were standing there and we had explained it quite adequately why we were legimately late and Red Symons [from Skyhooks] came in and said, 'I know you meant to do it. It's all part of the game. You meant to be late. You didn't want to go on before them.'"

Rock bank The Church performing at the Noosa Aussie Hop on 23 April 1983. 33263 Alan Grills photographs of touring bands. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: Image number: 33263-0001-0037

The Party Boys were formed in 1982 and over the years featured a continuing rotation of part-time band members from other Australian acts, including Australian Crawl vocalist James Reyne who appeared on stage at the Noosa Aussie Hop.

Party Boys performing at the Noosa Aussie Hop on 23 April 1983. 33263 Alan Grills photographs of touring bands. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 33263-0001-0020

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