It was the best-selling single of 1998 and signalled a radical change of musical direction for Cher — complete with bizarre vocal processing. Yet, surprisingly, it was produced in a small studio in West London. Sue Sillitoe relates the astonishing tale of ‘Believe’.
For most of last year, it looked as though Celine Dion’s track ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was going to be the best-selling single of 1998 — but this accolade was snatched from the Canadian Queen of AOR at the 11th hour by another female vocalist who not only launched a successful challenge for the title, but did so with a song that was massively different from anything she had ever done before.
For those of you who’ve been stuck on a radio-less desert island for the last two months, the single in question is Cher’s dance hit, ‘Believe’, which spent seven weeks at the top of the UK charts and — at the time of going to press — had already achieved sales of 1.5 million and rising. What’s less well-known is that it was produced by two London-based producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, in their own studio.
Together, Mark and Brian run Metro Productions, a production and publishing company which operates from Dreamhouse, a three-studio complex in Kingston, Surrey. According to Mark, despite the track’s mainstream commercial success, the story behind the creation of ‘Believe’ is a strange one. As released, the single incorporates the work of six different songwriters, two producers and executive producer Rob Dickins (the erstwhile chairman of Warner Brothers, who has now left the company for pastures new).
Mark, whose previous production credits include Gina G and Danni Minogue, says the fact that the single happened at all is down to a series of lucky breaks, which began when Metro’s songwriters were asked by Rob Dickins to submit a song for possible inclusion on Cher’s new album.
He explains: “Thanks to the work we had done with Gina and Danni for Warners, we had a good relationship with Rob, and that’s why we got the opportunity to work with Cher. Rob asked us to write a song and we came up with the song ‘Dov’é L’Amore’ [now a track on Cher’s new album, also entitled Believe]. Initially, he wanted Junior Vasquez to produce it, which we were delighted about, because it was quite a coup to have the song accepted in the first place.”
‘Dov’é L’Amore’ was duly sent over to Vasquez in New York, but when he sent back his version, it was rejected by Rob, who decided instead to give the production of the track to Taylor and Rawling as well.
“It was one of those scenarios where lucky breaks, chance and other people’s bad luck come into play,” says Mark. “We were only meant to do one song, but in the end we were responsible for the bulk of the Believe album — six tracks in total including ‘Believe’ itself. Vasquez did another and producer Todd Terry did three.”
The starting point for ‘Believe’ was a song by Brian Higgins, Matt Gray, Stuart McLennen and Tim Powell, which had been knocking around the Warner offices in demo form for months. “Everyone loved the chorus but not the rest of the song,” says Mark. “As we were already writing other songs for Cher, Rob asked us if we could sort it out. Two of our writers, Steve Torch and Paul Barry, got involved and eventually came up with a complete song that Rob and Cher were happy with.”
Mark says Torch and Barry were given a DAT with a programmed demo in a firmly eurobeat style, which they weren’t too keen on, so they sat down with guitars and began to rewrite it. In the end, they kept only the chorus, which went through some minor chord changes but basically remained intact. “The lyrics for the chorus were already there, but our guys added the lyrics, melody and chords for the verses and middle eight, then put the whole thing back together again. We sent it over to Rob Dickins and he highlighted a few changes. Then Cher heard it and she liked it straight away.”
Once the demo version was agreed, Mark and Brian took over for the actual production, working at Dreamhouse, which has Mackie consoles in every room. Mark says, “We knew the rough direction to take, because Rob had said he wanted to make a Cher dance record. The hard part was trying to make one that wouldn’t alienate Cher’s existing fans. We couldn’t afford to have anyone say ‘I hate this because it’s dance’ — then we would have turned off loads of people who are used to hearing Cher do rock ballads and MOR songs. I think we can safely say we succeeded in maintaining the balance, because kids on their own will buy a certain type of record, and adults on their own will buy another. The only way you can achieve sales of 1.5 million is to appeal to both camps. Getting that right was the most difficult part — and was the reason why I ended up doing the track twice!”
Mark got halfway through the first version before consigning it to the bin without having played it to anyone else. “It was just too hardcore dance — it wasn’t happening,” he says. “I scrapped it and started again, because I realised it needed a sound that was unusual, but not in a typical dance record sort of way. This was tricky, because dance music is very specific. To get what I was after I had to think about each sound very carefully, so that the sound itself was dance-based but not obviously so.
“It was really a question of finding, say, a kick drum that didn’t sound like a typical TR909 dance kick drum — and instead, using something that had the right sound but wasn’t so clichéd. I ended up using all kinds of sounds mixed together. The drums are all samples, but samples that have been mutated, EQ’d and compressed. The kick drums in particular were heavily compressed to give them a weird, pumping, smacky sound.”
Mark believes one doesn’t need expensive technology in order to make a hit record, and adds that ‘Believe’ exemplifies this philosophy. “Don’t forget I was only using a Mackie desk, and the rest of the equipment involved was the sort of thing any Sound On Sound reader could aspire to. Having a really expensive piece of kit doesn’t mean you’ll make hit records. My view is that the end result is what matters — not how you get there.”
Co-producer Mark Taylor.With this attitude, it’s not so surprising that Mark used nothing fancier than Cubase VST on a Mac G3 to assemble the entire track, including the vocals (although these were initially recorded to Tascam DA88s — see later). The G3 contains a Korg 1212 I/O card, but in fact a stand-alone Soundscape converter unit provides the main audio interfacing with the rest of the Metro kit, particularly their DA88s (via TDIF).
“The sampler was an Akai S3000, and for other sounds we used several of our synths, including the Clavia Nord Rack, Oberheim Matrix 1000 — for the white-noise wind effect at the very beginning of the track — and the Moog Progidy for some sub-bass. A lot of the time I was just fiddling around to see what came out! The samples were a combination of sample CDs and ones I’ve collected myself over the years. As I’ve said, I wanted the samples to sound different, so that the track didn’t sound like any old dance hit. We did this by using the EQ in the Akai sampler, from our little ART Tube EQ and on the desk to really crunch things up, and compressing and squashing sounds to give them an unusual edge. The great thing about the S3000 is that you can put four different samples on each note in a keygroup — so for the kick drum, for example, I used four different kick samples from my own collection playing together. One was just a noise, one was a splat, one had all the bottom end and so on. By mixing everything together I was able to create something unique.”
Cher’s vocals were recorded onto three Tascam DA88s with a Neumann U67, at her suggestion, as she had just finished a recording with George Martin using that mic and was particularly pleased with the results. From the DA88, the vocals were loaded straight into Cubase VST on the Mac, and nearly everything else was then done on the computer’s hard disk.
Mark: “There’s also some guitar in the chorus, which we ran through a Sessionette amp miked with an AKG C414. Then we put it through a Zoom to add tremolo and severely EQ’d it to make it sound a bit odd. For the piano we used an Emu Vintage Keys sound which I really like. It’s based on a Yamaha CP80 electric piano which we slightly modified to make it cut through the track better. Then we compressed it quite hard to give it a definite ringing sound. We also added lots of delay using a Roland SDE330, which sounds really spacious and adds ambience without cluttering the track — although the really obvious delay on the vocal phrase ‘after love, after love’ at the very beginning wasn’t done using that — we just sampled that phrase and repeated it with the S3000’s internal filter on it, so that it fades in very dull and brightens up.”
Mark explains that the main synth pad remained the same throughout the recording of the track, and was the only element that survived from his first version. “It’s a very distinctive, core part of the record — the song hinges on it. I combined two sounds to get that — one from my old Roland Juno 106 and another from the Korg TR-Rack. There is something about the way the pad and melody work together that gives the whole track a sort of hanging feeling. When I started putting the song together for the second time, I had the pad running, and I rebuilt the drums to make the pad and the drums sound like they were driving everything along. Then I added the other instrumentation — the guitar and the piano.”
Cher’s ‘Believe’ (December 1998) was the first commercial recording to feature the audible side-effects of Antares Auto‑Tune software used as a deliberate creative effect. The (now) highly recognisable tonal mangling occurs when the pitch correction speed is set too fast for the audio that it is processing and it became one of the most over-used production effects of the following years.
In February 1999, when this Sound On Sound article was published, the producers of this recording were apparently so keen to maintain their ‘trade secret’ process that they were willing to attribute the effect to the (then) recently-released Digitech Talker vocoder pedal. As most people are now all‑too familiar with the ‘Cher effect’, as it has become known, we have maintained the article in its original form as an interesting historical footnote. Matt Bell
Everyone who hears ‘Believe’ immediately comments on the vocals, which are unusual, to say the least. Mark says that for him, this was the most nerve-racking part of the project, because he wasn’t sure what Cher would say when she heard what he’d done to her voice. For those who’ve been wondering, yes — it’s basically down to vocoding and filtering (for more on vocoders and the theory behind them, see the ‘Power Vocoding’ workshop in SOS January 1994).
Mark: “It all began with a Korg VC10, which is a very rare, very groovy-looking analogue vocoder from the ’70s, with a built-in synth, a little keyboard and a microphone stuck on top”, he enthuses. “You must mention this, because SOS readers will love it — and I know, because I’ve been reading the mag for years!
“Anyway, the Korg VC10 looks bizarre, but it’s great to use if you want to get vocoder effects up and running straight away. You just play the keyboard to provide a vocoder carrier signal, sing into the microphone to produce the modulator signal, and off you go. The only drawback is the synth — you can’t do anything to change the sound, so the effects you can produce are rather limited.
“I played around with the vocals and realised that the vocoder effect could work, but not with the Korg — the results just weren’t clear enough. So instead, I used a Digitech Talker — a reasonably new piece of kit that looks like an old guitar foot pedal, which I suspect is what it was originally designed for [see review in SOS April 1998]. You plug your mic straight into it, and it gives you a vocoder-like effect, but with clarity; it almost sounds like you’ve got the original voice coming out the other end. I used a tone from the Nord Rack as a carrier signal and sequenced the notes the Nord was playing from Cubase to follow Cher’s vocal melody. That gave the vocals that ‘stepped’ quality that you can hear prominently throughout the track — but only when I shifted the Nord’s notes back a bit. For some reason, if you track the vocal melody exactly, with the same notes and timing, you hardly get any audible vocoded effect. But I was messing about with the Nord melody sequence in Cubase and shifted all the notes back a fraction with respect to the vocal. Then you really started to hear it, although even then it was a bit hit-and-miss — I had to experiment with the timing of each of the notes in the Nord melody sequence to get the best effect. You couldn’t hear an effect on all the vocals by any means — and on others it made the words completely impossible to understand!
“In the end, we only used vocoded sections where they had the most striking effect and didn’t make the lyrics unintelligible. To do that, I had to keep the vocoded bits very short. So for example, when Cher sang ‘Do you believe in life after love?’, I think I only cut the processed vocals into the phrase on just the syllables ‘belie‑’ from ‘believe’ and ‘lo‑’ from ‘love’ — but that was enough to make the whole phrase sound really arresting. I made sure throughout that the last word of each vocal phrase was unprocessed, because again, I found it sounded too bubbly and hard to understand when it was vocoded.”
Mark spent time alone in the studio painstakingly processing Cher’s vocals in this way, and by the following morning, he was convinced he didn’t have the nerve to play her what he’d done. “It was a bit radical,” he laughs. “Basically, it was the destruction of her voice, so I was really nervous about playing it to her! In the end, I just thought it sounded so good, I had to at least let her hear it — so I hit Play. She was fantastic — she just said ‘it sounds great!’, so the effect stayed. I was amazed by her reaction, and so excited, because I knew it was good.”
Although the vocoder effect was Mark’s idea, the other obvious vocal effect in ‘Believe’ is the ‘telephoney’ quality of Cher’s vocal throughout. This idea came from the lady herself — she’d identified something similar on a Roachford record and asked Mark if he could reproduce it.
He explains, “Roachford uses a restricted bandwidth, and filters the vocals heavily so that the top and bottom ends are wound off and the whole vocal is slightly distorted. It took a while to work out exactly what it was that Cher liked about this particular Roachford song, but in the end we realised it was the ‘telephoney’ sound. I used the filter section on my Drawmer DS404 gate on the vocal before it went into the Talker to get that effect.”
‘Believe’ took approximately 10 days to record. Once it was completed, Mark ran a monitor mix onto DAT and sent it to Rob Dickins for clearance. To Mark’s surprise, Rob was so pleased with the sound that the monitor mix basically became the final version, with only the most minor of tweaks. “The vocals were much too loud, because I was trying to clear the track,” he laughs. “But apart from that, it worked fine, and everyone was really happy with it. It just goes to show that you don’t need to spend days mixing in order to get a hit. With ‘Believe’, I was adjusting things as I went along and running everything live on the computer, which meant I could save just about everything, apart from the effects and EQ hooked up to the desk. All the level changes in the mix were already recorded in the sequencer, so the finished mix just kind of grew in an organic way as we worked on the track.”
The single was mastered at Townhouse, although very little was actually changed at this stage. “It was very straightforward,” says Mark. “Just the fades and the odd dB of cut and boost here and there — standard mastering stuff.”
Looking back, Mark says the most satisfying part of the project was getting to know Cher who spent six weeks at the studio working on the album. “The first day was incredibly nerve-racking,” he admits. “I thought she might think our setup was a bit small, and that she would turn out to be a bit ‘Hollywood’. But she was really great and easy to get on with. These days, artists like Cher are used to working with producers who have their own studios — and these are not necessarily big, just well equipped.”
With such a massive hit to their credit, it’s not surprising that the eight-man team at Metro is now in great demand. They are currently finishing a Gypsy Kings album (which was started after the group guested on the ‘Dov’é L’Amore’ track), and other high-profile projects are in the pipeline, such as the first single from Gary Barlow’s new solo album, and the next Tamperer release. Whether they will continue their relationship with Cher, however, remains to be seen.
“She’s said she wants to work with us again, but you know how record company politics can be,” says Mark. “I hope it does happen, because it was a great project and one we all thoroughly enjoyed. We certainly never expected the single to do so well — let alone seven weeks at number one. But when I listen to it now I can see why it worked. It’s a great song with a fantastic chorus, and the weird vocoder effect on the vocals makes it special.”
“Accused Hideki Tojo, on the counts of the indictment of which you have been convicted, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East sentences you to death by hanging.”
With those words on November 12, 1948, a judge of the High Court of Australia unwillingly passed a death sentence on the wartime leader of one of the major Axis powers.
As president of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Sir William Webb presided over one of the two multinational tribunals established to prosecute the Axis crimes of World War II (the other being the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg).
No Australian jurist before or since has ever held such responsibility, yet his part and Australia’s key role in the prosecution of hundreds of accused Japanese war criminals throughout the Asia-Pacific are little remembered today.
Webb’s scruples about the death sentence did not come from sympathy for Tojo or the other six defendants also sentenced to hang.
Rather, it was the joint decision of the Allied Governments to grant Emperor Hirohito immunity in exchange for his cooperation.
“It would be a travesty of justice, seriously reflecting on the United Nations, to hang or shoot the common Japanese soldier or Korean guard while granting immunity to his sovereign perhaps even more guilty than he,” Webb had written in September 1945.
Having spent three years investigating war crimes in the Pacific, he was convinced that responsibility for Japanese atrocities needed to be pursued all the way to the very top.
The Australian Government came around to his view, but its British and American Allies did not. The Emperor was left in power, used as a buffer to soften Japan’s rough and rapid transition to democracy. As a consolation prize, perhaps, General Douglas Macarthur appointed Webb as president of the tribunal.
Webb out of his depth
Webb was a diligent and effective investigator, but he was out of his depth in Tokyo. Balancing the competing legal and political objectives of the cosmopolitan court would have required a subtle and confident judge, extremely knowledgeable in international law and able to deal effectively with the international bench and the Japanese defendants.
Webb was not such a man. New Zealand judge Erima Harvey Northcroft described him as “brusque to the point of rudeness. He does not control the court with dignity, he is pre-emptory and ungracious in his treatment of counsel and witnesses, and instead of giving shortly the legal justification which in most cases exists for his decisions, he leaves everyone in the court with the impression his rulings are dictated by petulance or impatience and an impression, which may easily develop in the future, of prejudice.”
Nuremberg was wrapped up and the death sentences carried out by the end of October 1946. Tokyo, afflicted with administrative troubles, translation difficulties, and the incompetent management of the prosecution case by lead prosecutor Joseph Keenan, limped on into late 1948.
Carrying on without the president
Webb’s authority with the court, already weak, suffered a fatal blow in early 1947 when the Australian Government, in a breathtakingly parochial decision, summoned him to home to sit on the High Court for the bank nationalisation case.
By the time he returned to Tokyo in December, he was president of the court in name only.
Three judges — Northcroft, Lord Patrick of the United Kingdom, and Edward Stuart McDougall of Canada — had decided to take matters into their own hands.
All three men had served in one world war, seen a second, and had become determined that there should not be a third.
They knew that the prosecution’s case was struggling, particularly following Tojo able handling of Keenan’s botched cross-examination. And they also knew that two of the other judges, Bert Roling of the Netherlands and Henri Barnard of France, had serious reservations about convicting men under laws which they believed the court was making up as it went along.
Northcroft, Patrick and McDougall succeeded in pulling together a solid but not overwhelming majority of seven judges out of 11.
As president, it still fell to Webb to read the majority judgement, even though he played no role in writing it.
Reading the judgement and the sentences took him eight days; the sentences were read on November 12.
Tojo accepted his fate with characteristic stoicism. Taking off the headphones through which he had heard a translator announce Webb’s sentence in Japanese, he stood up, smiled at Webb, nodded, and bowed very deeply. Turning sharply, he walked out of the courtroom.
‘He has lost his belief in war’
Five of the judges wrote partial or full dissents of their own, although these were not read to the court and were only published later.
Most controversially, openly pro-Axis judge Radhabinod Pal of India wrote a massive and inflammatory dissent where he suggested that Japan had fought a justified war against Western imperialism, implied that evidence of Japanese war crimes against Asian civilians had been exaggerated for propaganda purposes, compared the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the Holocaust, and argued that all of the defendants should have been acquitted of all of the charges.
In a short partial dissent, Webb agreed with the majority on their interpretation of the law but expressed reservations about the sentencing: “I do not suggest the Emperor should have been prosecuted. That is beyond my province. His immunity was, no doubt, decided upon in the best interests of all the Allied Powers. Justice requires me to take into consideration the Emperor’s immunity when determining the punishment of the accused found guilty: that is all.”
This mild statement still inflamed Macarthur, who believed Webb was cynically exploiting anti-Hirohito feeling to boost his popularity in Australia, and compelled the prosecution to issue a statement affirming that there had been no grounds to prosecute the Emperor.
In his final public statements before his execution on December 23, 1948, Tojo repeated his satisfaction that the Emperor had escaped prosecution, confirmed his faith in the people of Japan, and called for world peace.
He was now under the guidance of a Buddhist priest, Dr Hanayama, who was pleased with the progress his pupil was making.
“Since he embraced the Buddhist faith six months ago, he has lost his belief in war,” Dr Hanayama told the media in a press conference in early December.
“A devout belief in Buddhism, together with the knowledge of the suffering the war has caused the world’s peoples, has convinced him that there are other, better means of solving world’s problems.”
That, at least, is a good lesson.
Adam Wakeling is the author of The Last Fifty Miles: Australia and the End of the Great War and Stern Justice: Australia in the Pacific War Crimes Trials.
The Beauchamp Hotel in Darlinghurst is named after this former governor of NSW.
Built in 1540 to guard the English coast against foreign invasions, Walmer Castle is one of Kent’s most prominent landmarks. Since the 18th century it has been the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. During the 1920s Walmer was home to William Lygon, 7th Earl of Beauchamp, who held lavish homosexual parties at the castle. This led eventually to his dramatic fall from grace, the break-up of his family, and the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s most famous novel, Brideshead Revisited.
CABINET MINISTER AND FAMILY MAN
Born in 1872, William Lygon was a well-known public figure from a young age. Succeeding his father as Earl Beauchamp in 1891, he became mayor of Worcester at the age of 23, and was appointed governor of New South Wales, Australia, in 1899. A high-flying figure in the Liberal Party, he rose to become a senior cabinet minister in 1910. He was also appointed First Commissioner of the Office of Works (later English Heritage), in charge of works to royal residences and government buildings.
In 1913, Beauchamp was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He enjoyed the pomp and ceremony that came with the role of Lord Warden: one of his duties was to welcome visiting foreign dignitaries at Dover on behalf of the king. Equally, however, he spent time at Walmer Castle with his family. In 1902, he had married Lettice Grosvenor, sister of Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. Family photographs show Beauchamp, Lettice and their seven children enjoying their surroundings and each other’s company at Walmer.
Beauchamp’s family life appeared conventional. However, during the 1920s he is known to have thrown some rather racy parties at Walmer, to which he invited his high-class friends, along with local fishermen and youths. A hint of their nature is given in the memoirs of Lady Christabel Aberconway, who wrote that:
One Sunday, my host, Lord Jowitt, asked my husband if he and I would like to see one of the famous castles of the Cinque Ports. Delightedly we accepted. … We arrived [at Walmer] and were shown into a garden surrounding a grass tennis court. There was the actor Ernest Thesiger, a friend of mine, nude to the waist and covered with pearls.
In 1930 Beauchamp became embroiled in a scandal that would prove disastrous to his career and personal life. He had embarked on a round-the-world tour in August that year, spending two months in Sydney, Australia. He was accompanied by a young valet, who lived with him as his lover. This did not go unnoticed, and Beauchamp’s tastes were reported in the Australian Star newspaper:
The most striking feature of the vice-regal ménage is the youthfulness of its members … Rosy cheeked footmen, clad in liveries of fawn, heavily ornamented in silver and red brocade, with many lanyards of the same hanging in festoons from their broad shoulders, [who] stood in the doorway, and bowed as we passed in … Lord Beauchamp deserves great credit for his taste in footmen.
Following this report, Beauchamp’s brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminster, hired detectives and began to gather evidence of Beauchamp’s activities.
A RUINED REPUTATION
The Duke of Westminster was reported to be a bullying, womanising, angry man, once described as ‘nothing but a fatuous, spoilt, ageing playboy’. He had always disliked Beauchamp, jealous of his brother-in-law’s public office and apparent domestic happiness. In addition, the duke was a staunch Tory, whereas Beauchamp was the Liberal Party’s leader in the House of Lords. To ruin Beauchamp would not only satisfy Westminster’s personal vendetta, but would also be politically advantageous.
In 1931 Westminster publicly denounced Beauchamp as a homosexual to George V, who reportedly responded, ‘Why, I thought people like that always shot themselves’. Westminster insisted that Beauchamp be arrested, forcing him into exile.
Beauchamp fled first to Germany, where he contemplated suicide, but was dissuaded from it by his son Hugh. He later split his time between Paris, Venice, Sydney and San Francisco – four cities that were relatively tolerant of his sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, Westminster presented his evidence to his sister Lettice, who suffered a nervous breakdown at the news. She submitted a petition for divorce, moved to her brother’s Cheshire estate and took to her bed. The divorce petition described Beauchamp as:
A man of perverted sexual practices, [who] has committed acts of gross indecency with male servants and other male persons and has been guilty of sodomy … throughout the married life … the Respondent habitually committed acts of gross indecency with certain of his male servants.
Westminster ordered Beauchamp’s children to testify against their father, but they all refused. Though his wife had deserted him, his children’s support never wavered. They shunned their mother and never made peace with her (except the youngest son, Dickie). Westminster became their worst enemy and he let it be known that anyone dealing with the Lygons would be dropped from society. In an extraordinary display of spite, Westminster wrote Beauchamp a short letter, simply stating:
Dear Bugger-in-Law, You got what you deserved. Yours, Westminster.
Cut off from the rest of society, Beauchamp’s children took turns to visit their father abroad. According to Beauchamp’s daughter Sibell, he never grumbled, nor mentioned Westminster again, but grew resigned to his exile.
RETURN AND REPRIEVE
It was not until George VI came to the throne in 1936 that the warrant for Beauchamp’s arrest was lifted. Beauchamp returned to England in July 1937. He moved back to Madresfield, the family home, and wasted no time in painting out his wife’s image from a fresco in their personal chapel. The family threw her bust into the house’s moat.
Beauchamp died of cancer in 1938. His various misfortunes inspired Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited – the character of Lord Marchmain was based on Beauchamp himself, while his son Hugh proved the inspiration for the ill-fated Sebastian Flyte.
Go-Set was the first Australian weekly newspaper which focused on Australian teenage popular music, culture and fashion. Its role was to bring these aspects of Australian life to its readership, Australian youth aged between 14 and 20 years old. In performing this role it also established and developed as an institution through which rock music journalists and writers in popular culture could flourish. Go-Set was able to provide this environment while being produced and published independent of the other mainstream presses at the time.
It was the first sixties newspaper to explore an emerging and developing Australian popular music industry. Go-Set did not remain locked in its 1960s persona and shifted its appearance and musical tastes to keep up with the changes that were taking place within its areas of interest. The dynamics of these changes were so strong that by the early seventies Go-Set was a significantly different paper in appearance to what it had been in 1966. Its decline and demise in 1974 was as much a condition brought on by crisis as had been its life in keeping in touch with, and reporting on the state of the Australian and overseas music and fashion.
It was because Go-Set’s life was short and crisis filled that we can use developmental psychologist Erik Erikson’s model for the childhood development as a means of explaining its history. Erikson theorised that as a child develops, it goes through a series of crises that allow it to mature and reach adulthood. These crises are psychosocial in nature. As they get older, human beings, by nature of their physical, intellectual and emotional growth become ready to face new life tasks. These new life tasks present an outcome that can be a successful graduation or a gradual impairment of the life cycle. Each crisis is a preparation for the next stage and so the child develops into adulthood (Erikson, 1958, 248). Erikson is saying that child defines itself in terms of the crises it experiences in growing older. Go-Set defined itself in terms of the crises it experienced as a result of being the only magazine in Australia covering the Australian popular music scene and its associated industries. Go-Set’s ego might be defined in terms of the personalities who produced its features, news and gossip columns
Go-Set provided the training ground for some Australian musicians and non-musicians to get into rock magazine journalism and book writing. Among these were, ex-Valentines singer, Vince Lovegrove, author of a book on nineties rock group INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence. Vince Lovegrove describes the founder of Go-Set, Phillip Frazer, as the man who “gave us opportunities to work at something we loved”. (Lovegrove, 25/8/99). Of the magazines earliest feature writers, writer Lily Brett, is now an established author of fiction books living in New York. Sydney film producer, David Elfick, started the Go-Set’s Sydney office under instructions from Phillip Frazer (Frazer, 26/8/99), and was later significant in keeping the magazine running (McLean, 1999). Ian “Molly” Meldrum was the “talent co-ordinator” for Countdown, the ABC’s long running music show in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s. He has been regarded by some as Australia’s “rock music guru”. Ed Nimmervoll, works as a freelance journalist in Melbourne, his career began producing national top 40 music charts for Go-Set and eventually moved into music industry analysis. Over the nine years of Go-Set‘s existence it employed many up-and-coming writers and journalists.
Go-Set played an important role in the development of Australian pop and rock music, it was also the nurturing center for pop and rock music journalists. Yet Go-Set‘s history has remained submerged within the music industry. Go-Set gave many artists and writers the exposure they needed in order to succeed. This paper presents a disjointed, but chronological first view of Go-Set‘s life. It focuses on the crisis stages of the development of the magazine. Selective use of Erikson’s childhood ego development model is used where it matches those aspects of magazines history chosen for this paper.
Beginnings (1966 and 1967)
According to Erikson, the first stage crisis determines the innermost mood of the child in which, “the baby must establish basic trust as ‘he’ takes in’ the society that surrounds him. This is through eating (the mother plays the key role here), and through the development of the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Crisis occurs when child realises that mother cannot devote all the time that is needed. The outcome of this crisis will be determined largely through the sense of trust built up between the child and the mother” (Beringer, R.E., 1978, 94).
Erikson is saying is that at the beginning of a childs’ life, it is stimulated by its surroundings and develops a trust with its mother. When the childs’ needs are not met it will may not develop an appropriate bond with its mother, and unless it determines another coping strategy may be weakened by the crisis. Applying this analogy to the magazine, we could infer that after its initial creation, Go-Set sought the trust and support of its readers, failure to gain this trust could be catastrophic for future of the magazine.
Go-Set Weekly-A-Go-Go was created at 4 Grace Street, Malvern, the shared rental accommodation for two Monash University students, Phillip Frazer and Tony Schauble (Frazer, 8/9/99). They were editors of the Monash University student paper, Lot’s Wife (Frazer, 28/9/99). Go-Set was initially published through a credit arrangement with the Waverley Press, the company that was printing Lot’s Wife (Frazer, 1999). Borrowing ideas off English and American popular music and fashion magazines, Go-Set began life as a teenage fanzine.
A fanzine is “a magazine dedicated to the journalistic coverage of one artist or one type of music, obviously derived from ‘fan magazine’” (Cable, 1977, 211). Go-Set‘s initial market was the Australian teenagers aged 14 to 16 years old (Hawkes, 1999) with a focus on teenage girls. It included a female fashion column edited by Prue Acton; pictures, comments and views of Australian and overseas pop music stars; beauty hints; pen pal columns; and personal columns all point to this target group. Go-Set was able to establish itself as \ul the teenage magazine covering the Australian youth culture in all Australian states without the support of the other mainstream publishing houses including Frank Packer’s Everybody’s magazine whose market was exactly the same as Go-Set‘s (O’Brien, 1982, 143).
As a fanzine, Go-Set gave its readers insights into many musicians and performers. Major international artists such as Tom Jones (Go-Set, 2/2/66, 2) and The Rolling Stones (Go-Set, 21/2/66, supplement) lent their words and opinions to the magazine. Local artists, focusing on Melbourne at first but eventually spreading to all the major capitals and large parts of Victorian and NSW country, were to be found within its pages. Australia’s biggest singing star, Normie Rowe (Go-Set, 6/7/66, 1) appeared on the cover in one form or another more than other Australian recording star. Pop group, The Easybeats (Go-Set, 7/3/66, 3) appeared within the magazine many times as one of Australia’s proud international exports. Pop singing duo, Bobby & Laurie (Go-Set, 6/4/66, 9) appeared in many issues, and continued to do so as solo stars after they disbanded.
The inclusion of Ian Meldrum a few months after the magazine began added a new pop music viewpoint. He was a pop fan who liked to mix with pop stars (Charles, 2000). He would add more to the fanzine aspects of Go-Set. His stories would make the front cover of Go-Set many times during his first three years with the magazine. The first time was a news report on band, The Twilights winning the 1966 annual “Battle of The Sounds” band competition (Go-Set, 27/7/66,1). Ian Meldrum would travel with 1967 winners of this same competition, The Groop, to England (Charles, 2000). Ian Meldrum covered the local Melbourne and Australian music scene while Go-Set star reporter Lily Brett and photographer Colin Beard travelled to London to cover the overseas scene first hand on the BOAC World Pop Tour (Go-Set, 1/3/67, 5). Popular singer Normie Rowe, was already in England hoping for success (Go-Set, 6/7/66, 1) Lily Brett and Colin Beard reported on Normie’s progress for Go-Set’s readers. Normie Rowe was already enormously popular with young Australian girls 13 to 15 years old who tried to rip the clothes from his body during a concert in December 1965 (Cockington, ???, 135).
Fashion was important to Go-Set and it catered this to the female part of its audience. In providing these fashion columns Go-Set provided a reason for its audience to trust it. Prue Acton provided the first fashion column introduced readers to overseas fashions dominant in England (Go-Set, 2/2/66, 9). She departed the pages of Go-Set in August 1966. Staff writer, Sue Flett, who doubled as “Dear Leslie Pixie” also contributed a beauty and fashion column called “Beauty Notes” dealing with appearance and looks (Go-Set, 6/7/66, 9). Readers returned Go-Set‘s trust by writing to the magazine.
Readers could write to Go-Set in three separate columns. “Go-Gos and No-Gos” was a form of immediate and instant means of expressing an opinion. “Postbox” was a letters to the editor type column. The third type was the “Dear Leslie Pixie”, or the personal column.
“Go-Gos & No-Gos” was introduced early in 1966, and was a column by which readers could tell other readers what they thought of rock music groups or even Go-Setwriters journalists. The format remained the same until the column finished in February 1970. Go-Set did not just feature successful pop groups in these columns but many bands whose fame and recognition never went beyond the magazines pages. The column gave readers the chance to state why they liked or disliked artists or personalities within the music scene.
Go-Set also used more formal formats within its pages. Reader trust in Go-Set was also expressed through readers letters section, under the 1966 column heading “Postbox”. Readers could express their opinions, concern or admiration for artists or groups. For a short while in 1966, readers also provided review of concerts and events they had witnessed. One issue that caused great concern was the way in which Australian bands in England expressed their nationalism.
While on the one hand, singer Normie Rowe had travelled to England in order to break into the English charts and be a successful artists in the mother country (Go-Set, ??,??), the Easybeats whose origins were England, Scotland and Holland expressed doubts about the Australian music scene (Go-Set, ?1967, ?). In her letter to “Postbox”, reader, Irene Hany of Melbourne discussed the issue of why bands travel overseas:
“Dear GO-SET, In reference to your article “Easybeats Knock Australia”, I think people who take offence at this are being over sensitive. A columnist in a magazine can say we are behind England in the pop field, but let the Easybeats say it and they’re being big-headed. If you don’t think we are a bit behind, how come none of the Australian records take off overseas? An Australian artist has to go overseas first before he or she can make it there. Usually they study other artists there and find out what is popular, then they try and mould their image to fit into the English or American scene. Anyway, so far none of the teenagers are complaining about the pop scene in general here, so why worry about what anyone says about it.” (Go-Set, 7/12/66, 6).
Readers’ personal problems were answered in Go-Set. The service was provided by staff writers often with little experience in the field of psychology (Nimmervoll, 1998). The “Dear Leslie Pixie” were written by Sue Flett, an ex girlfriend of Go-Set founder, Phillip Frazer. Most of the letters to Sue Flett related to issues of getting, keeping, or dropping boyfriends or girlfriends. “Dear Leslie Pixie” answered questions until 1969 when the column was taken over by Melbourne based blues singer Wendy Saddington. By late 1969 with Wendy Saddington running the column, the letters were of a more sexual nature:
“Dear Wendy, I have an older brother who plays soccer and often he brings his team-mates home. e have a tree house in the bush out the back of our house and we often go there. No girls go except me as no other girls live around our way. At the tree house the boys used to take turns at stripping me. I was about four years younger than I am now. (I am 13 now.) Now they still come and threaten to take me out and try to do something to me and as I am in the position to get into trouble I don’t want to go. They say they will tell my parents what I did a few years ago. I don’t want my parents to know as they would be very disappointed in me and also very upset. What can I do – become pregnant or never be able to face my parents again?” Trust or Pregnant (Go-Set, 4/2/70, 18)
It was not only the readers who had a critical voice. Radio personality disk jockey Stan “The Man” Rofe wrote for Go-Set through a reciprocal arrangement between Go-Set and 3UZ. Under the arrangement 3UZ would provide radio time for Go-Set in return for advertising of the station within the magazine (Frazer, 1999). Stan Rofe’s first year of columns followed a gossip style format until April 1967. Stan moved to more serious commentary with “Stan Rofe’s Tonic” in April 1967. An example of some of his criticism related to the axing of the TV shows Kommotion and Go!! by Channel 0. He wrote:
“It was a bleak dark day when Channel “0” announced the shutdown on Kommotion and Go!! The value both these shows had in promotion of young Australians was inestimable and the effects will not only be felt severely by the end of 1967, but could be the cause of a complete collapse in the ready risky teenage entertainment business. It will initially be felt more in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia, but eventually all States will suffer by the loss of these outlets for teenage promotions” (Go-Set, 6/9/6)
During this period Go-Set did not run an editorial column, that is the editor did not define an issue of concern or point to which the readers could respond. Stan Rofe appeared to fall into the role, the “Tonic” column provided criticism of musicians, social issues, concert performances and music industry decisions. Readers responded to negative columns about favoured pop through the “Postbox” and “Go-Gos & No-Gos”. “Stan Rofe’s Tonic” would continue as a regular item until March 1971.
The horoscope was a fanzine item that survived in one form or another till late in Go-Set‘s history. “Your Stars As I See Them” was prepared by Evelyn King and lasted until the end of 1966. It was replaced with “What’s In The Stars For You” which lasted for another year and was anonymously written. The horoscopes last incarnation was “This weeks [sic] super Go-Set-Oscope” which was shortened to just “Go-Set-Oscope”. Terry Cleary was the outgoing and talkative staff member who sold the magazines advertising space. Terry Cleary was not an experienced fortune-teller (Nimmervoll, 1998). If Evelyn King appeared to know something about fortune telling, then Terry Cleary hasd little or no idea at all. Compare Evelyn King, (Go-Set, 1/6/66, 16)
“A week of upheaval is in store. Overcome tendencies to give up. Make the best of all situations and maintain enthusiasm for new plans. Highlight personality, charm. An eligible newcomer will be impressed. Luck in the family. Lucky number 7. Lucky day: Tuesday.”
with Terry Cleary, (Go-Set, 6/2/71, 23)
“Gemini (May 21 – June 20) Geminis! Your morning exercises! Step (1) Stand before mirror: (2) Smile ‘till it hurts: (3) Say “I am friendly, chatty, nice to know: (4) Clean teeth (and mirror): (5) Go out and make a friend (It’s the only way to get to know them): (6) Shower: (7) Face the mirror and try not to say ‘If they want me they’ll have to pay’.”
From Erikson, the next crisis of childhood, the child begins to develop the sources of what will become its human will, and its sense of individual autonomy (Beringer, ?,?). Erikson is saying that development of a self will occurs slowly, but the real self can only be achieved when individual autonomy or self-controlled self motivated guidance is achieved.
For Go-Set, the beginning of a sense of self occurred when the magazine began being critical and analytical of the music that was being listened to. Between August 1966 and February 1967, three changes occured that would determine Go-Set individuality as a magazine. In August it dropped the “-weekly a-go-go” from its title. It represented a move away from its relationship with its teenage audience. In October 1966, it developed its first national top 40 chart. In February 1967, Go-Setstarted publishing a new national top 40 chart developed by music analyst and architecture student, Ed Nimmervoll.
The top 40 music chart has always been an important part of the pop music industry. The chart allows readers to see where their favourite song is, a sense of how popular the song is. Until October 1966 there had never been a national top 40 chart, they were always State or radio station based. When Ed Nimmervoll joined Go-Set he brought with him an intellectual view on music. He took the top 40 charts seriously, studying the progress of songs in the English and American charts through the magazines he had on overseas subscription (Nimmervoll, 1998). Nimmervoll added a sense of criticism that had not been clearly visible till then. His commentary on songs and artists within the top 40 charts through the notes he included (Nimmervoll, 1998) gave the magazine a more serious sense of purpose. From 1967 and 1973 he provided record reviews and provided critical analysis of the music scene (Nimmervoll, 1998). His integrity, intellect and love of music would help the magazine through its next crisis which did occur until the end of 1968.
Autonomy through addressing social issues also helped Go-Set. In June 1967, the magazine addressed the important social issue of the discotheque. Important because discotheques were for many Melbourne and Sydney teenagers the place where they went on a Friday or Saturday night. “We Need Disco’s [sic]”: There is no argument – Police’. (Go-Set, 6/7/67, 3). Go-Set presented an educated view on discotheques, saying that most had healthy atmospheres in which teenagers could be safe. Go-Set wrote from the perspective of being part of the discotheque scene, with the maturity of an adult or as the parent of the teenager who might visit these clubs. Along with this social conscience, Go-Set started to get critical, it did this through the writings of 3UZ radio personality Stan Rofe.
A sense of autonomy was also being developed for Go-Set through Stan Rofe’s column which grew more critical in late 1967. One issue he took on was censorship. He observed that the older generation and authorities were questioning the values and behaviour of teenagers. Go-Set raised this issue and others with its readership. In doing so it became a force in making rock and pop music more respectable as a source of critical comment, both to the teenagers who read the magazine and to their parents.
While Go-Set was developing its sense of self, an American magazine called Rolling Stone entered the American scene in October 1967. Rolling Stone took a more serious approach, and did not venture into fanzine territory. In America it quickly became the cultural bible of American youth (Nimmervoll, 1999), by providing insights and analysis into the American music scene (Draper, 1990). In Australia it did not to have an immediate impact in terms of the style of journalistic coverage Go-Set applied to the Australian music scene. It took two years for Go-Set to respond to the influence of Rolling Stone. In the end Rolling Stone would provide the motivation for the shift of Go-Set away from the fanzine role it had played between 1966 and 1968.
Mid-life Crisis and Transition (End 1968 to Early 1971)
Erikson’s next stage leading to an end of childhood is vital in that it is the search for ego identity and concerns defining social roles, or the niche that they will fit as adults. They seek a sense of belonging and of knowing that their existence is meaningful for others. The crisis during this stage is one of identity or identity diffusion. Most frequently this occurs when young people are uncertain of their future occupations (Berringer, 1978, 95). Erikson is telling us that in order to leave childhood, a child must develop a sense of identity so that it can enter the adult world. Go-Set sought to leave its teenage beginnings behind and be seen as a more mature form a music journal. Acceptance as a more mature type of journal would mean it would have to change.
The transition from fanzine to more serious music journal took from the end of 1968 to the beginning of 1972. During the change period, Go-Set went through many crises. It changed its name, generated two new magazines and reinventing itself internally.
* * *
While Go-Set‘s initial and prime audience had grown older by three years. In order to keep hold of the new 14 to 16 year old market it was necessary to develop a new magazine. Gas was created originally to take advantage of the Monkees tour of Australia in later 1968 (Frazer, 1999). Gas was a fanzine aimed at the late 1960s teenage market interested in posters and pin-ups. Its full title included the sub-heading “Australia’s Greatest Pin-up Magazine”. Ian Meldrum’s specialisation in gossip and news now ran to three years. He was in contact with many of the pop stars (Nimmervoll, 1998) and was aware of the music trends. He became editor and compiler (Frazer, 1999) of Gas.
Go-Set introduced “Core” in mid-December 1969. Its role was to provide analysis and intelligent well written articles on bands and groups that comprised the rock music scene and was edited by Ed Nimmervoll. It represented his view on what a rock magazine should be (Nimmervoll, 1998). The section was characterised by detailed histories and in-depth studies of Australian and overseas groups sometimes running to two full pages in length.
One structural change to the Go-Set infrastructure situation was the creation of a separate magazine with a different focus satisfying Phillip Frazer’s need to produce a radical political paper (Hawkes, 1999). Revolution was a radical underground political paper that also covered rock groups that were not listened to by the Go-Setreaders (Frazer, 1999). It was edited by Phillip Frazer and more closely represented his views on what a paper should be (Nimmervoll, 1998). It incorporated a Rolling Stone magazine supplement (Brown, 1981, 197).
The Australian music industry also experienced great upheaval with the record ban of 1970. For Go-Set the record ban was significant as the magazine came out in support of the Australian musicians who were affected by the non-playing of their music on radio (Nimmervoll, 1999). The basis of the record ban lay in the record companies argument that since the radio stations made a profit from the music they played and that it was the record companies supplying the talent, the record companies were owed a percentage of the profits made by the radio stations. In response, the radio stations argued that they were actually promoting the music provided by the record companies (Nimmervoll, 1999). Go-Set‘s identity as a music industry watcher was put in crisis by the ban.
Go-Set took the side of the musicians who were affected by the ban. The effect on the public was explained by Ian Meldrum who was seen by this time as an authority on Australian music. Writing from the perspective of the effects of the ban he commented that:
“From this week on you won’t be hearing any more of your favorite Australian or English records on commercial radio unless some last minute agreement is reached between radio stations and record companies.” (Go-Set, 23/5/70,3)
Two weeks later and writing as a radio station insider Stan Rofe explained the situation to readers that the record ban could be worked out through negotiation. He also took the opportunity to criticise other parts of the media industry saying that:
“As was to be expected segments of our daily and week-end press have blown the radio/record company dispute out of all proportion. Let it be said here and now, that radio stations and record companies will negotiate further and that both parties are on friendly speaking terms.” (Go-Set, 6/6/70, 19).
In Erikson’s terms, this criticism from Go-Set is a sign of taking its growth and maturity seriously. It was capable of taking a stand and standing up for its principles.
One final issue would seal the future direction of Go-Set, and define the role of Rolling Stone magazine in Australia. Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone had managed to get an interview with ex-Beatle John Lennon then living in the United States. It was the most important and controversial interview of the early 1970s (Nimmervoll, 1998). In it, John Lennon burst the bubble around the Beatles, he discussed his experiences with the drug LSD. He belittled other Beatle members including Paul McCartney who had been his partner in writing many of the Beatles songs. The interview was eventually published over a five week period in January and February 1971. One difficulty with the interview was its length. Go-Set‘s articles were generally of only half to one page and occasionally longer. After this incident Go-Set started printing articles of two to three pages. Soon after Revolution became Australian Rolling Stone, and Go-Set continued down the path to becoming a serious rock music journal.
Decline and Death (May 1972 to August 1974)
In the adulthood – ego integrity stage, the full acceptance of one’s self and one’s inevitable fate is realised. The ‘one and only life cycle’ is understood ‘as something that had to be and that, by necessity, permitted of no substitutions’; resignation and wisdom mark the realisation ‘that an individual life is an accidental coincidence of but one life cycle with but one segment of history’ (Beringer, 1978, 97). Erikson is saying that upon reaching this “ego integrity” stage that the adult has accepted the decisions it has made and is now tied to a particular life path, along with this comes the acceptance that this is their destiny. For Go-Set this acceptance of role seems to have been established after its mid-life crisis period 1968 to 1971. Having established itself as the only pop and rock magazine in Australia, it could have continued down this path for many years, but further crises were still to come.
By May 1972 Go-Set was a veteran of the pop music scene in Australia. It had gained the experience and knowledge of having been around during the growth of the Australian music scene. It still owed money to Waverly Offset. The debt was something the magazine could not afford (Nimmervoll, 1998), along with a scandal associated with printing some material from Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This State resulted in Phillip Frazer finally selling Go-Set to Waverly Press (Frazer, 4/10/99). As a result of the sale Waverley Offset’s placed their advertising manager, Gavan Disney as the national general manager of Go-Set. From 1972, in order to reduce costs, articles were being printed in full from New Musical Express and Melody Maker, both IPC publications. Go-Set now presented a world-view of the music industry, even if it was limited to American and English overseas artists. Some ex Go-Set staffers believe that the magazine died when Phillip Frazer sold it to Waverly Offset at the end of 1972 (Williams, 1999, MacLean, 1999).
After the sale Phillip Frazer left to start a new political magazine. Editorial control of Go-Set went to Ed Nimmervoll. In February 1973, Go-Set was sold to Sungravure Press of Regent Street, Sydney. Go-Set was now being controlled from Sydney, and while it meant financial stability, it meant that it was no longer totally free of editorial control (Nimmervoll, 1998).
Ed Nimmervoll states that as editor in 1973, he had independence but was occasionally asked to justify items within the paper to the new publisher (Nimmervoll, 1998). This period also saw the critical commentary side of the magazine take on a new meaning. (With) the knowledge, maturity and experience of music industry analyst Ed Nimmervoll, Go-Set gained the confidence to seriously criticise the industry it had helped nurture Editorials expressed both praise and disappointment at the rock music industry. Go-Set was now ready to play the role of guide, and help the industry re-invigorate itself. Invigoration of the music industry required some hard questions to be put.
From July 1973, national editor Ed Nimmervoll used the editorial to put these questions. He identified issues such as the price of records in Australia (“Our Records Are Too Dear” Go-Set, 18/8/73, 2); a Senate inquiry into Payola in Australia (“Is There Payola In Australia” Go-Set, 4/8/73, 2). His very first editorial questioned the validity of the Australian music scene:
Over and over we’ve told ourselves “our turn must come” , told the fairy-tale in which a struggling overseas music scene searching for something new and fresh finds the suppressed potential of Australia’‘ rock music, the brilliant new rock revolution ready to pounce and sweep the world charts.
He then addresses the record companies, writing that they:
“… don’t help the acts in the slightest and the acts don’t help the record companies AT ALL. What SHOULD happen is that agency, management and record company should get together and organise ATTRACTIVE promotion tours. But we muddle on.”
Finally, after addressing the uselessness of the musicians union, he addresses the radio stations:
“But what’s crippling this industry most of all is radio, with its single rock network, turning down records left and right, having the scene wide open to one set of radio programmers pointing the scene wherever they see fit, to whoever gets closest to them. And being a “high-rotation” station they’re waiting for the other straight” stations to “break” records. How dangerous, too, to have a radio chain connected with a publishing concern.” (Go-Set, 28/7/73, 3)
There is a sense of frustration associated with his comments. They are critical of the process and the struggle that Australian bands had to go through.
In the last issue of 1973, the Ed Nimmervoll’s editorial announced that Go-Set was moving to Sydney. He wrote that Melbourne had both loved and hated Go-Set. The question was now whether Sydney would care about it in the same way (Go-Set, 29/12/73, 2).
Erikson does not deal with the issue of old age except with the reference “one’s inevitable fate”. This could be considered as a reference to death. Yet in Go-Set‘s case it had little control over its future.
There is some confusion as to which company actually owned Go-Set. Michele O’Driscoll (aka Mitch) returned to Australia from England in 1974 and took up a writing/editorial position with Go-Set. She believes that at the time she was working for the English publishers IPC (Williams, 1999). Rock music journalist Christie Eliezer, who supplied articles to Go-Set in 1974, believes he was working for Sungravure. Phillip Frazer believes that IPC bought out Sungravure, possibly as a means of killing off Go-Set (Frazer, 15/12/99).
The 1974 magazine took on a new format. It combined the old gossip and news sections, with the fanzine photo-feature, and long in-depth two to three page articles courtesy of New Musical Express. Ian Meldrum’s gossip column fitted the format of the magazine desired by the new owners, he too, returned to his roots, he became the voyeur, with his “Keyhole News” (Go-Set, 2/2/74, 10). Go-Set also revisited the photo-feature style of its past with staff photographer, Phillip Morris, visiting venues and recording the action. Now the feature was called “Scene Around with Philip Morris” (Go-Set, 2/2/74, 11), not “The Seen, The Scene” (Go-Set, 2/2/66, 10-11).
Irrespective of who owned Go-Set, it was was compiled alongside Dolly in an office at 57-59 Regent Steet, Sydney. There were now just two full time staff members, Michele O’Driscoll, still writing as Mitch, and editor Jenny Irvine (Williams, 1999). There were other writers who submitted work but were not resident in the IPC office.
In losing its independence Go-Set lost control of its direction. Go-Set was already decaying as it shifted to Sydney. Sungravure’s intentions for Go-Set may not have been destructive, but according to Michele Williams, they placed an editor in charge who was unfamiliar with rock music journalism (Williams, 1999). Sungravure had its own four-year old, a magazine known as Dolly, whose target audience was teenage girls around the age of 12 to 15. It is Ed Nimmervoll’s belief that Go-Setbecame Dolly (Nimmervoll, 1998). There is some evidence to show that it is more likely that Go-Set became RAM magazine.
According to Michele Williams, IPC policy dictated that no staff could be replaced. Around the end of the first week of August 1974, Michele decided that Go-Set was not the magazine she remembered, and so she left (Williams, 1999). It is likely that the result of her resignation was that there was no-one to work on the magazine, IPC therefore had no choice but to close Go-Set down.
Go-Set‘s demise was not without long term benefits for rock music journalism in Australia. Out of the ashes of Go-Set came a new revitalised rock music journalism industry. Go-Set was stripped of its depth, knowledge, experience and dignity. Six months later Sungravure became active in the music press. A new magazine called RAM (Rock Australia Magazine) came into existence. It retained some of Go-Set’s format, and appeared to have the publishing rights to New Musical Express, one of the magazines Go-Set had published articles from. RAM was distributed by Sungravure, and printed by Waverly Offset. Early in 1975, Ed Nimmervoll started Juke magazine in Melbourne. His magazine would last until the 1990s. He is the currently working as an independent rock music chronicler in Melbourne (Nimmervoll, 1998).
Beringer, R.E., 1978, Historical Analysis – Contemporary Approaches to Clio’s Craft, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
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Ross D. Wyllie (born 21 November 1944) is an Australian pop music singer, television presenter and producer from the 1960s and 1970s. Wyllie had a top 20 hit with his cover of Ray Stevens‘ song “Funny Man” and an Australian No. 1 with “The Star”, both in 1969. Originally from Brisbane, he hosted, Uptight, a weekly four-hour music series, on Channel 0 in Melbourne from 1967 to 1969. In 1970 he followed with a similar show, Happening ’70, and from 1978 to 1980, he presented films on a late-night time slot.
Ross D. Wyllie was born in Ashgrove, Queensland on 21 November 1944, to Harold John Wyllie (1913–), an army sergeant serving during world war 2, and Jean nee Jennings (c. 1920–2002). He was raised in Brisbane with two siblings. As a child he contracted poliomyelitis and for most of his adult life he had a limp. In 1964 he joined a pop band, the Kodiaks, as lead singer. By 1967, as a solo artist, he signed with the Ivan Dayman‘s label, Sunshine Records, and released his debut single, “Short Skirts”. He was backed by label-mates, the Escorts. His next single, “A Bit of Love”, followed later that year, using only studio musicians.
Wyllie relocated to Melbourne and, on 28 October 1967, became the host of a new pop music TV show, Uptight, for local Channel 0. He signed with Festival Records and released a non-charting single, “Smile”, in April 1968.Uptight ran as a Saturday morning three-hour show until 1969. By that time it was being produced by Bob Fraser and the presenter’s wife, Eileen Wyllie, for Jardine Productions.Molly Meldrum was a regular member of the on-air team. Uptight – Party Time, by Ross D. Wyllie and the Uptight Party Team, was issued via Calendar/Festival Records in 1968. The record was produced by Roger Savage. It contains two side-long medleys of then-current songs including, “Midnight Hour”, “You Are My Sunshine” and “Day Tripper”.
In 1970 Uptight was replaced on Channel 0 by a one-hour pop music series, Happening ’70, with Wyllie retained as host and Eileen as producer. In April he released a double-A-sided single, “Free Born Man” / “My Little Girl”, but its sales were affected by the radio ban, during which commercial stations refused to play recordings by Festival Records (among others) from May to October. The singer, presenter left Melbourne to return to Brisbane late in 1970 and was replaced on Happening ’71, in April 1971, by Jeff Phillips.
In 1971 Wyllie signed with the Fable label and released a single, “He Gives Us All His Love”, in April. He followed with “It Takes Time” in August and “Sweet White Dove” in May 1972. He then turned to the pub and club circuit. Later he formed a production company with fellow pop singer, Ronnie Burns, and talent manager, Jeff Joseph. With Tony Healy he created a public relations company. In the late 1970s he presented a late-night movie show on Melbourne’s Channel 0–10. During the mid-1970s Wyllie opened and operated a record retail store in Bayswater, Arch Rivals.
In May 1988 Festival Records released, Smile: The Festival Files Volume Ten, a compilation album of Wyllie’s singles, as a part of their Festival File series. In a review of the collection for The Canberra Times, Stuart Coupe observed, “Star of Uptight, Wyllie’s run of hits ended in the early ’70s. This is probably the least interesting of the albums in this series, but at worst is a curio item.” In August 2003 Wyllie performed an Uptight-themed variety show at the Palais Theatre, Melbourne, reuniting with other 1960s performers.
Aztec Records released another compilation, Ross D. Wyllie: the Complete Collection, in August 2014.Paul Cashmere of Noise11 described it as “the first definitive career overview of 60s pop star.”Toorak Times‘ Gary Turner observed, “[it features] all the classic hits including ‘Funny Man’, ‘The Star’, ‘My Little Girl’, ‘Smile’, ‘Uptight Party Medley’, ‘Short Skirts’ and many more tracks including tracks live from Festival Hall Melbourne in 1994.” Wyllie and Eileen were still living in Melbourne as from September 2014. During November 2016 Wyllie used a crowd funding site to attempt to raise money for a motorised wheelchair.
TitleDetailsUptight – Party Time(by Ross D. Wyllie and the Uptight Party Team)
^“Family Notices”. The Telegraph. City Final Last Minute News. Brisbane, Qld. 14 July 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 25 July 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
^ abcdefg McFarlane (1999). Encyclopedia entry for “Ross D. Wyllie”. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004. Retrieved 11 June2016.. Retrieved 20 November 2010. Note: McFarlane gives birth year as 1948.
^ Cashmere, Paul. (28 July 2003), “Melbourne Gets Uptight”. Archived from the original on 15 December 2003. Retrieved 28 June 2007.. Undercover Music News(Undercover Media). Retrieved on 20 November 2010.
“DOODLEBUG” IS ONE OF THOSE quaint old terms that seems to have been around forever, and crops up in the news repeatedly: this past year saw the discovery of an orphaned kangaroo by that name and deep dive on the actual insect. At this point, though, the word can be used for any number of meanings from someone who simply likes to draw, to a person who wastes all sorts of time.
So what exactly is a doodlebug? All of these things.
1. A simpleton or time-waster
The term “doodle” actually dates back to the 17th century when it was used as a pejorative to describe simpletons. Over the next couple of centuries it increasingly came to be used as a verb meaning to waste or fritter away time, and it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that it seems to have taken on the specific association with drawing and scribbling. The term “doodlebug” seems to have arisen in 1800s, initially meant to once again mean, “idiot.” Today, the term has evolved to describe someone who incessantly draws.
2. An actual bug
The other most frequently used meaning of doodlebug is probably as a description of an actual insect. Doodlebugs, as they refer to an actual creature are usually associated with ant lions in their larval form. These squat little bugs, who mostly live in loose sand where they create pit traps, earned their goofy nicknames not because they are thought to be stupid, but instead because of their unintentional drawings. When the (frankly kind of scary-looking) ants move through the sand, their big butts drag behind them, leaving behind scribbly little trails. While ant lions are the most well known as doodlebugs, the term has also been used to describe other insects like pill bugs and some beetles, although this seems to be earned simply thanks to how goofy the nickname sounds.
3. Someone in the business, reputable and otherwise, of locating oil deposits
This usage of doodlebug actually started as an insult but seems to have been coopted as an affectionate name for those bold souls who head out in search of black gold. Dating back to 1940s America, the a “doodlebug” initially referred to devices that were said to be able to locate oil deposits, although in in the day, they were mainly just scams as miraculous oil detecting technology did not actually exist. The snake oil salesmen who peddled such devices came to be known as doodlebuggers. However, as the technology progressed, and more reliable methods of finding underground oil actually emerged, doodlebuggers came to mean people who head out into the wild and use actual methods (usually seismic mapping) to try natural resources trapped underground. It seems to be a much more affectionate nickname today.
4. A World War II-era drone bomb
Long before we were afraid of drone aircraft zooming silently overhead, there was were V-1 flying bombs, otherwise known as “doodlebugs.” This Nazi missile looked like a small plane, but inside was nothing but machinery and death. During World War II, the large bombs were deployed against Britain with devastating effect before countermeasures were developed that made the bomb planes essentially obsolete. The bombs got their misleadingly whimsical nickname from the sound their pulsejet engines as they flew overhead.
Alternately they were also known as “buzzbombs.” The nickname would later be applied to other experimental aircraft as well.
5. A self-propelled rail car
In the early 20th century, short rail lines and tracks that were in light use would employ single, self-propelled train cars that were known as “doodlebugs.” These autonomous cars were a welcome alternative to large locomotives and carriage cars, and often ran on gasoline or electricity. The nickname supposedly popped up when the first of these cars hit the tracks and a rail person described it as a “potato bug” (see above) which morphed into doodlebug.
6. A DIY tractor
From the Great Depression on into the World War II, material resources were scarce in America’s heartland, but that didn’t stop them from working! During this period a specific variety of homemade tractor began to pop up on farms across the country. Generally using old cars as the base, inventive farmers would crop and chop the vehicles into makeshift tractors most often called, doodlebugs (they were also known as Friday tractors and scrambolas, among other names). The conversions became so popular that custom kits even began being sold through catalogs.
6. Brogan Doodlebug: Frank Brogan Offered “Minimal Motoring” in Small Numbers
Minimal motoring” – small, no-frills, basic transportation – has never satisfied the American automobilist. In 1912, a cyclecar craze began in Europe and quickly spread to the United States, where more than 200 manufacturers sprouted and shriveled within 18 months. After Ford stopped producing the Model T in 1927, upstarts like Martin, Littlemac, American Austin, and Bantamattempted to fill the economy car void. But the public preferred large used cars over tiny small ones.
However, as the supply of dependable used cars dried up during World War II, pilot Frank Brogan believed attitudes would change. His B & B Specialty Company at Rossmoyne, Ohio, primarily manufactured a variety of screws, fasteners, and other machine products. But he also created the lightweight Brogan Foldable Monoplane that could be towed from the airport to the owner’s home for garage storage. Later, he designed a motor scooter for his daughter. And in 1944, his wife asked him to design a small car to make shopping tasks easier for women whose husbands took their primary vehicles to work.
So, Frank Brogan crafted a sleek, two-passenger runabout he called the Brogan Doodlebug. It featured a highly streamlined steel body with headlights and windshield posts seamlessly blended in. The topless, doorless three-wheeler measured 96 inches long, rolled on a 66-inch wheelbase, and could be turned around within its own length. With the buyer’s choice of rear-mounted, single-cylinder Briggs & Stratton or twin-cylinder Onan air-cooled engines, the Doodlebug could achieve a top speed of 45 miles per hour and travel nearly 70 miles on a gallon of gas.
Brogan designed the Doodlebug especially for women, so he made sure operation and maintenance were easy. Gear-shifting was automated using a mercury-actuated system similar to fluid drive, which eliminated the clutch pedal. Changing the hidden front tire simply required popping out the grille and unscrewing two bolts. The engine was removed just as quickly—lift the rear deck lid, release three pins, disconnect the gas line, and lift the engine from its position beside the five-gallon fuel tank and battery. Frank Brogan referenced an October 1944 clipping from The Washington Post, which featured Ray Russell’s Gadabout in his patent application.
After photos of the Doodlebug appeared in the nation’s newspapers and popular magazines, Brogan received an average of 200 postcards and letters per month. Requests to buy and distribute came from every state and 20 foreign countries. Brogan hand-built 30 Doodlebugs and sold them for $400 each before realizing he lost $100 on every car he turned out. Tooling for mass production required $150,000 that he didn’t have, so he suspended Doodlebug sales. Instead, he used the same chassis design for the three-wheeled Errand Boy delivery scooter, and developed the four-wheeled Brogan-Truck pickup and delivery van. Brogan-Trucks featured one steerable wheel upfront and three independently sprung wheels in the rear with power transferred via chain to the center rear wheel. The odd configuration eliminated the need for a costly differential. Brogan-Truck prices started at $450, and Frank Brogan sold more than 200 of them. But he still wanted to build passenger cars.
More information on Frank Brogan and his inventions is available from the second link below/
In 1851, an American editor named Amelia Bloomer wrote an article in support of female pantaloons — inspiring women to wear a controversial garment called “bloomers.”
In the 1850s, crushing corsets, heavy skirts, and a half-dozen petticoats weighed women down as a literal hamper to their quest for liberation. So one women’s rights activist named Amelia Bloomer thought to change that by way of an outfit that became known as “bloomers.”
Even though bloomers still kept women covered from their necks to their feet, the garment sparked a backlash from anti-suffragists that was so fierce even Bloomer herself abandoned the new fashion.
As Amelia Bloomer’s suffragist friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton privately confessed, “Had I counted the cost of the short dress, I would never have put it on.”
This is the story of how bloomers completely backfired — and almost stalled the women’s rights movement in America.
Who Was Amelia Bloomer?
Born in 1818 in rural New York, Amelia Bloomer began her career as a humble teacher, but then she moved to Seneca Falls, a city that hosted a vibrant community of women’s rights activists.
In 1848, Bloomer attended the historic Seneca Falls Convention, where suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott discussed the condition of women’s rights in the United States.
The experience inspired Bloomer to found a newspaper called The Lily, which was dedicated to the growing fight for gender equality. It was the first American newspaper edited by a woman.
While encouraging increased access for women in education and in the ballot box, Bloomer waded into another major issue in the 19th-century women’s rights movement: fashion.
Victorian women were weighed down by pounds of petticoats and heavy corsets, a stark representation of their muted voices outside of the home. Additionally, the heavy styles of the mid-1800s weren’t just uncomfortable — they could prove deadly.
Tightly laced corsets impaired breathing, and flammable crinolines burned3,000 women to death between 1850 and 1860. Additionally, bulky garments got caught in newfangled machines, injuring and killing women.
Bloomer thus wondered, could a change in style change the condition of women?
The Invention Of Bloomers
In 1851, Amelia Bloomer read an editorial from a man who recently became supportive of the women’s suffrage movement in which he suggested that women adopt “Turkish pantaloons and a skirt reaching a little below the knee” as an alternative their current clothes.
The notion of loose pantaloons stuck with her.
Around the same time, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s cousin, Elizabeth Smith Miller, showed up in “Turkish trousers” that she’d designed herself.
Miller explained that long skirts impeded her work in the garden. In a moment of frustration, she declared, “This shackle should no longer be endured.” Miller donned “Turkish trousers to the ankle with a skirt reaching some four inches below the knee.”
Bloomer quickly adopted the style herself. Then, she promoted the new fashion to her readers.
The idea caught fire. Women wrote from across the country and subscriptions to The Lily skyrocketed. The outfit, once called a “freedom dress” or “Turkish pantaloons,” had earned a new name: bloomers.
“As soon as it became known that I was wearing the new dress,” Bloomer wrote, “letters came pouring in upon me by hundreds from women all over the country making inquiries about the dress and asking for patterns—showing how ready and anxious women were to throw off the burden of long, heavy skirts.”
Stanton declared that bloomers made her feel “like a captive set free from his ball and chain.” In August 1851, American suffragists made the trend international when they wore bloomers to the World’s Peace Congress in London.
The Backlash Against Amelia Bloomer’s Costume
The style certainly caused an uproar. Magazines demonized bloomers as “a sort of shemale dress.” Gangs of boys harassed “Bloomerites” on the streets.
Stanton confessed that her own father banned her from wearing bloomers at his house and her sister “actually wept.” Men declared “they would not vote for a man whose wife wore the Bloomers.”
Stanton eventually gave up on bloomers herself, returning to “uncomfortable, inconvenient, and many times dangerous” Victorian dresses. “We put the dress on for greater freedom, but what is physical freedom compared with mental bondage?” She wrote. “By all means have the new dress made long.”
But Amelia Bloomer continued to wear her namesake trousers for years. She did eventually return to petticoats and full-length skirts and tried to frame the retreat as a victory.
“We all felt that the dress was drawing attention from what we thought of far greater importance — the question of woman’s right to better education, to a wider field of employment, to better remuneration for her labor, and to the ballot for the protection of her rights,” she wrote.
“In the minds of some people, the short dress and woman’s rights were inseparably connected. With us, the dress was but an incident, and we were not willing to sacrifice greater questions to it.”
Suffragists Abandon Bloomers
Why did bloomers spark such a backlash? Amelia Bloomer had a theory. By donning pants, women visibly likened themselves to men. The bloomers hinted at a larger-scale “usurpation of the rights of man,” Bloomer lamented.
For generations, bloomers were linked with all kinds of subversive female behavior. Once women put on trousers, critics argued, they’d begin smoking cigars, working as police officers, and engaging in lewd behavior.
In Bloomer’s day, suffragists thus retreated to a less controversial fashion statement: Susan B. Anthony tied a simple red shawl around her neck. The Philadelphia Press lavished praise on Anthony for her “plain dress and quaint red shawl,” a look deemed appropriately matronly.
Anthony’s clothes offered “not a hint of mannishness but all that man loves and respects. What man could deny any right to a woman like that?”
Amelia Bloomer tried to improve women’s lives by lightening their burden and increasing their mobility. But trousers were men’s domain, and when women donned them, they threatened the gender order.
A quiet, red shawl could be forgiven — but bloomers were apparently too much.
Best known for her trousers today, Amelia Bloomer devoted her life to women’s suffrage.
Theme parks that fall into disrepair seem to receive the same fate around the world: rusting roller coasters, overgrown swings and the eerie absence of children’s laughter.
From giant, decaying Gulliver statues to an overgrown yellow brick road, these are the theme parks left to the annals of time. A creepy experience awaits all who enter. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Opened in 1950, Dadipark, Dadizele, was closed in 2002, reportedly after a young boy had his arm ripped off on the Nautic Jet water ride.
Starting life in the 1950s as a church playground, Belgium’s Dadipark was transformed into an amusement park in the 1980s. Although it was initially popular, with a million people visiting at its peak, disaster loomed.
In 2000, a child lost his arm on one of the rides and two years later the park closed. This was supposedly due to renovations, but these refurbishments never happened and the park was eventually abandoned.
However, unlike many other deserted amusement parks which become tourist attractions in their own right, Dadipark is set to soon be transformed into a residential area, with the rides demolished and a grassy recreational area planned instead.
A Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park in North Carolina, the Land of Oz was deemed a success when it opened in 1970. However, it closed in 1980, after a fire in 1975, reportedly started by disgruntled former employees, destroyed some of its Oz artifacts, including the dress worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film.
It was hoped the park might become a year-round attraction as a ski resort, but these hopes were not fulfilled. There are few things creepier than a yellow brick road left to rot.
Only open for four years from 1997 to 2001, Gulliver’s Kingdom was built near Mount Fuji near Aokigahara, an infamous suicide spot. The park was based on the novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, as the giant creepy Gulliver statue is testament to.
Gulliver’s Kingdom, Japan
In prime position in the park was an enormous 147-foot (45m) statue of Lemuel Gulliver, tied to the ground by tiny Lilliputians as per the story. It’s not just this eerie statue that put off visitors though. The location of the park was inauspicious – it sat next to both Aokigahara, a dense forest where an unusually high number of people have taken their own life and also the former headquarters of Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult that killed 13 people in a nerve gas attack in Tokyo March 1995.
Gulliver’s Kingdom, Japan
The park opened in 1997, but closed just four years later after failing to attract visitors. Gulliver’s Kingdom was then demolished in 2007, leaving just concrete slabs and exposed foundations where the creepy statue once lay.
Perhaps one of the world’s best-known abandoned theme parks, the park near Chernobyl was due to open on May 1, 1986. Then three days earlier on April 26, disaster struck Chernobyl. The park opened for a few hours the following day to entertain locals before the city’s population was ordered to evacuate.
This now derelict amusement part tells a wider, more tragic story than just a few abandoned Ferris wheels. Located in Pripyat, Ukraine, the park was one of the many areas of the city to be left behind by residents after the devastating Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
The explosion halted the park’s opening, which was supposed to take place just four days later, and so it was left to be swallowed by nature. Over 30 years on, the rides are covered in rust and there’s not a soul to be seen.
Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
Its rusting Ferris wheel has become a symbol of the disaster, standing motionless in the abandoned city, which is much like a ghost town, except for the occasional tour group exploring to understand the catastrophe for themselves.
Shut in 2001, Berlin’s Spreepark opened in 1969 as East Germany’s only amusement park and welcomed 1.5 million visitors a year in its heyday. When it closed, due to falling visitor numbers, owner Norbert Witte packed up six of the park’s most popular rides into shipping containers and had them sent to Peru – a new park in Lima never quite took off and Witte’s problems grew when some of the rides were shipped back to Germany and customs officers discovered 167 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the mast of the Flying Carpet. Tours of the abandoned park ran until last year when the city council put up a perimeter fence to protect the remaining rides.
Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
Spreepark once saw over 1.5 million visitors a year, but decades after it opened in 1969, the park ran up millions of euros worth of debt, and it couldn’t renovate the rides that needed attention. It eventually fell into disrepair, and today stands abandoned east of the German capital.
Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
Despite its closure, the amusement park is still popular with locals, who visit the ghostly site now used for events, performances, festivals, markets and screenings.
Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
Originally known as Plänterwald, the park was renamed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 to Spreepark. And there’s hope for yet another new chapter in the park’s history too. Thanks to a regeneration project that includes a beer garden, exhibition space and even a rebuilt Ferris wheel, the site could welcome thrill-seekers again in 2022.
Originally opened by Alfa Smartparks, Jazzland was bought by Six Flags in 2002. The attractions company turned around the park’s fortunes and planned to turn it into a water park. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit, devastating the park and flooding much of it. The park never reopened and is now owned by the City of New Orleans. It lies abandoned.
Jazzland (Six Flags) New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Instead of the screams of joy and laughter once heard in the park, it’s now silent, with graffiti gracing almost every surface, and disused roller coasters, dodgems and Ferris wheels rusting away, never to be used again.
Jazzland (Six Flags) New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
It’s not always abandoned, though, as the park occasionally sees life as a filming location. Blockbusters such as Jurassic World and Dawn of the Planet of the Apeshave been filmed here. There have been talks of redeveloping the park but nothing has ever stuck, and in 2019 the mayor said they were considering demolition. Today, though, it still stands as a example of the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.
Originally part of Noel Edmond’s Crinkley Bottom theme park, Dunblobbin, Mr Blobby’s once-home, was abandoned and left to rot after the rest of the park in Somerset was renovated and turned into a hotel and wildlife park. Rumour has it the ghost of the ’90s television character haunts this rundown shack. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
The ownership of Dogpatch USA changed hands a number of times before the park closed in 2002. It was put on eBay for US$1 million (A$1.4 million) in 2002, but there were no bids. In 2005 a teenager was driving through the park, he says with the owner’s permission, when he collided with a length of wire strung between two trees and was nearly decapitated. After a successful lawsuit, he was awarded the deed to Dogpatch when the owners failed to pay compensation. There are murmurings of a reopening. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
The Kent attraction is set to reopen this summer as a “Reimagined Dreamland” following an 11-year campaign to save the amusement park from destruction. It was first opened in 1880 but closed in 2003 after a number of rides were sold to other theme parks. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Dating back to the 1930s, the entertainment complex became increasingly popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s before losing business to the Plymouth Pavilions in 1991. The venue declined until 2003 when only the Gossips nightclub remained. Development plans are said to be in the pipeline but no work has begun. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Based on the story of the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot opened in 1983 on land once covered by the largest lake in England, Martin Mere, also known as the Lost Lake of Sir Lancelot after it is believed that Sir Lancelot’s parents fled to its shores from enemies in France. After it closed in 2009, numerous plans have failed to develop the area and so it lies in ruin.
Located in the English county of Lancashire, this theme park opened in 1983 and was a popular family attraction.Now however, this incarnation of Camelot has sadly seen better days. It operated for almost 30 years, but visitor numbers and poor food ratings led to the park’s downfall. Its closure was finally announced in 2012, and some of its rides and roller coasters were sold off. You can ride the Whirlwind, for example, at Germany’s Skyline Park.
Camelot, Chorley, UK
The Magical Kingdom of Camelot, to give it its full name, had roller coasters, children’s rides and staff dressed in medieval costumes. The site has had a few ups and downs since closure, with planning sought for a housing development quashed by the council, and another plan for new homes jettisoned by the developers in 2018. Today, parts of the park remain in a state of disrepair, with some rides such as Knightmare, pictured, only removed and sold for scrap in February 2020.
The Blackpool holiday park closed in 2009 after steadily falling visitor numbers. It has been earmarked for redevelopment with planning permission granted for housing but as yet remains half-demolished. A Pontins holiday resort in Hemsby, Norfolk, met a similar fate. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Opened in 1887, the amusement park ran alongside a water park until 2007 when the former closed. It remains empty while the water park still operates today as Wildwater Kingdom.
16. Boomers! Dania Beach, Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Is there anything creepier than a frozen Ferris wheel or a creaking roller coaster track? At these abandoned theme parks, there’s no fun to be had. Some were left to rot and ruin after natural disasters, while others suffered nuclear catastrophe or financial struggle. Click through to see haunting images of some of creepiest abandoned amusement parks in the world.
Boomers! Dania Beach, Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
The Hurricane, a 100-foot-tall (30m) wooden roller coaster, was the main attraction at Boomers! Park in Dania Beach. It was the longest wooden roller coaster in Florida when it first opened in 2000 and, although it was part of the Boomers! Park, it was owned and operated independently. It was shut down by its operators in 2011 with the owners citing “business reasons”. It’s thought the humid climate in Florida made maintaining the roller coaster unviable.
Boomers! Dania Beach, Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
The rest of the park stayed open, attracting visitors to its colourful mini-golf course and arcades until April 2015, when the park was closed to make way for development.
However, once closed, the park lay dormant for long enough to let the vegetation take over a little. While several plans to demolish the roller coaster and the buildings on site were made over the years, it wasn’t until recently that a new development started taking shape. Now called Dania Pointe, it’s a 102-acre space with offices, luxury apartments, retail stores and restaurants
17. Joyland Amusement Park, Kansas, USA
Joyland Amusement Park, Kansas, USA
Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas opened in the 1940s and was once the largest theme park in central Kansas, with a wooden roller coaster and 24 other rides. It enjoyed a long life, entertaining residents of the state and visitors passing through. But in 2004, disaster struck.
Joyland Amusement Park, Kansas, USA
The park was the scene of a serious accident in which a teenager fell from the Ferris wheel and was injured. Joyland was then closed and, apart from a brief lease of life in 2006, remained empty and grew increasingly dilapidated, with vandals and thieves flocking to the deserted space to break windows, start fires and mark it with graffiti.
Joyland Amusement Park, Kansas, USA
In 2015, after more drama including severe windstorms, alleged arson attacks and looting, demolition began. Locals, some of whom had visited with three generations of their family, stopped by to take their last photos of the park before the attractions were hauled away.
18. Nara Dreamland, Japan
Japan certainly has its fair share of creepy theme parks. Nara Dreamland, in southern Japan, was opened in the 1960s as the country’s “answer to Disneyland”. It was dreamt up by a local businessman, who was inspired after a trip to the USA.
Nara Dreamland, Japan
It was a reasonably popular theme park, but as Universal Studios Japan opened, visitor numbers dwindled. The park was closed in 2006, and it soon became popular with urban explorers. Those fascinated by ruined landscapes visited the park to take photos and explore the empty rides.
Nara Dreamland, Japan
Until 2016, when demolition of the park began, it had been abandoned for ten years and resembled a ‘nightmare-land’ rather than a Dreamland, with rust and overgrown foliage engulfing the roller coaster tracks, and the sinister silence of desolate rides.
19. Yongma Land, Seoul, South Korea
This tiny abandoned theme park has now become an attraction in itself. While you can’t ride the merry go rounds or dodgems at Yongma Land, pay a small fee to enter and you can wander among the derelict grounds as you wish.
Yongma Land, Seoul, South Korea
Established in 1980, Yongma was popular with the locals in Seoul. But when Lotte World opened in 1989, featuring indoor and outdoor rides, Yongma lost favour, and the park’s income dwindled. It was closed in 2011 due to suffering profits.
Yongma Land, Seoul, South Korea
Today, the park is popular with photographers who come to take artistic shots of its once bright and breezy attractions. It has appeared in music videos, and is now owned by a local businessman who will turn on the lights of the carousel for you for a fee.
20. Wonderland, China
This Chinese theme park never welcomed visitors. Wonderland, around 20 miles (32km) outside of Beijing, was pipped to be the largest amusement park in Asia, but it was a promise that proved too big for the developers.
Construction was halted after disagreements over property prices and a political corruption scandal. Ever since, the park – which was only partially constructed and is now littered with half-finished buildings – has been mostly empty, drawing only photographers and local kids to explore its eerie skeleton.
After 15 years of abandonment, much of the attraction was demolished in 2013, leaving only foundations in place of the empty buildings. Reports have said that a luxury shopping centre will be built in its place.
21. Ho Thuy Tien, Hue, Vietnam
Today, it stands abandoned and its water slides, the only attraction that was ready at the time of opening, lie dormant with no gushing water and screeching thrill-seekers. Instead, you’ll just see the odd curious backpacker, and perhaps a herd of cows who are now helping keep the weeds at bay.
Ho Thuy Tien, Hue, Vietnam
Set in lush countryside around five miles (8km) to the south of the city of Hue in central Vietnam, it’s easy to see the potential this aqua adventure park once held. But the once blue splash pools are now smelly and stagnant, and the flumes have been left to rot.
Ho Thuy Tien, Hue, Vietnam
Perhaps the most intriguing structure in the park is this giant sculpture of a dragon, overlooking a lake. Urban explorers have even climbed inside, via a staircase located in the beast’s body, to peer out from its gnashing teeth.
22. Ghost Town in the Sky, Maggie Valley, North Carolina, USA
Known as Ghost Town in the Sky, this abandoned Wild West-themed amusement park has seen as many ups and downs as its Red Devil roller coaster pictured here. Located on Buck Mountain, a mountaintop site towards the bottom of the Great Smoky Mountains, the park opened in 1961 and closed for good in 2016. Today it lies in ruins. It’s featured here courtesy of Abandoned Southeast, in images taken by photographer Leland Kent.
Ghost Town in the Sky, Maggie Valley, North Carolina, USA
At the height of its popularity, Ghost Town attracted thousands of guests every year. In the early 1970s, the park welcomed 400,000 visitors during its peak seasons, from families to Wild West enthusiasts.
Ghost Town in the Sky, Maggie Valley, North Carolina, USA
From the early 2000s a series of mechanical failures, expensive repairs and lack of cash meant the park was on a downwards spiral. In early 2009, Ghost Town’s owners failed to secure any further funding and declared bankruptcy. Now the park has been left to Mother Nature.
Born in Shanghai just before the war, Judy the dog was adopted by British sailors and protected them across Indonesia — where she became the only animal imprisoned as a POW.
From Greco-Roman war elephants and medieval horses to World War I carrier pigeons, animals have been used in military conflicts throughout human history. But perhaps one of the most inspiring stories of an animal in battle might be that of Judy the dog — the British Royal Navy canine who became a prisoner of war.
From surviving a crocodile attack to abandoning ship in the middle of the South China Sea, Judy navigated the perils of life at war like a fearless soldier.
Even after three years in an Indonesian POW camp, she never stopped wagging her tail — and saved countless men from despair.
Early Adventures In Asia For Judy The Dog
Judy was born in a Shanghai dog kennel in February 1936, when Adolf Hitler rejected the Versailles Treaty and placed his troops on the eastern border of France.
The white English Pointer found her way onto one of the British Royal Navy ships stationed in Shanghai that fall when she was purchased by Lieutenant Commander J. Waldergrave. Originally named Shudi, her name was anglicized to Judy, and The Royal Navy’s official paperwork crowned her “Judy of Sussex.”
It was a precarious time in China as Japan invaded the country the following year. As global war loomed on the horizon, Judy became a beloved crew member of the HMS Gnat. When she fell into the Yangtze River, the crew ordered a full stop to rescue her.
Judy also had an uncanny ability to sense danger. She could alert the crew to incoming enemy aircraft and once even notified her sleeping peers of pirates who tried boarding the ship. She survived being dognapped by the crew of an American gunboat, and in 1938, gave birth to 13 puppies.
And then in September 1939, Britain officially declared war on Nazi Germany. With Large British Royal Navy gunboats deployed to the Yangtze that summer, Judy and part of her crew were transferred to the HMS Grasshopper, a 585-ton gunboat headed for Singapore.
The ship remained stationed there in relative peace until Japan invaded in January 1942. The crew escaped with their lives and set sail for the Dutch East Indies but were bombed by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea. Judy and some of the crew survived, marooned on an island.
While there, Judy saved the crew when she sniffed out a fresh-water spring. After days of starvation, the sailors discovered a Chinese sailboat that they commandeered upriver to Sumatra. They arrived, only for a 200-mile hike through the jungle to lead them into enemy hands.
Bringing Joy As A Prisoner Of War
The journey had taken five weeks, during which the sailors were stalked by a Sumatran tiger, and Judy was attacked by a crocodile. They had not only missed the final British evacuation boat by nine days but arrived in an Indonesian village that was occupied by Japanese troops.
The group was taken to the Gloegoer Camp in Medan, Indonesia. Aware that their captors would likely kill Judy, the sailors hid her under rice sacks.
While at that camp, Judy met Frank Williams, a leading aircraftman in the Royal Air Force. He won her over in February 1942 after letting her eat his entire bowl of rice, and in return, Judy snarled at the guards who beat him.
Williams knew Judy would be shot dead for her defensive behavior, so he wisely waited for a night when the camp’s commander was properly inebriated in order to convince them to garner her official POW 81A status, which protected her.
As the only animal to be registered as an official prisoner of war during the global conflict, Judy’s presence provided psychological relief for the inmates. Williams later said her loving look in the mornings gave him the will to survive for the years he spent as a prisoner.
Finally, in June 1944, the prisoners were transferred onto the Harukiki Maru, formerly the SS Van Warwyk. But the ship was torpedoed on June 26. Williams shoved Judy out of a porthole and navigated his own way off the ship.
While more than 500 men drowned, Judy paddled to debris and showed many the way to safety. The survivors were tragically reinterred at another camp, but Judy and Williams survived and were finally freed when the camp was liberated at the end of the war in 1945.
Her friendship with Williams continued for the rest of her life and she received the Dickin Medal of valor for her bravery in May 1946. Though Judy died of cancer at 13 in 1950, her legacy lives on as one who selflessly protected and gave joy to those without hope in a deadly conflict.
The death in custody of 31-year-old Stefano Cucchi has brought the abuse of police power under scrutiny in Italy. After losing her brother and enduring the subsequent trial, Ilaria Cucchi is now receiving harassment and online threats from police officers. Sociologists say Stefano’s case is not isolated and ask what the country will do to clean up its policing.
The Netflix film On My Skin (Sulla Mia Pelle), directed by Alessio Cremonini and starring Alessandro Borghi, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August 2018.
At the end of the screening, Ilaria, a woman wearing a red dress, walked towards the film’s director, who was standing in the front row of the cinema receiving applause, and wrapped her arms around his neck.
The embrace momentarily hid their noticeably moved faces from the gaze of the surrounding crowd.
On My Skin (featured in our collection of human rights documentaries) tells the story of a man who was arrested by Carabinieri (Italy’s domestic police) officers in Rome and died in unclear circumstances after seven days of being in precautionary custody.
The man was Ilaria’s younger brother, Stefano Cucchi.
Since his death in 2009, Stefano, 31, has become an icon of the abuse of police power in Italy.
He was arrested on 15 October 2009, after being caught handing a dose of cannabis to his friend Emanuele Mancini.
He spent his first night in custody in a Carabinieri cell. The next day he was taken to a prison wing of the local general hospital with distinct marks and bruises on his eyes, back pain and injuries to his legs.
Seven days after his arrest, at 6.15am on 22 October, Stefano was found dead in his hospital bed.
This young amateur boxer was in good health before his arrest but his family obtained photographs from the morgue showing Stefano’s emaciated body covered in purple bruises. They rejected the assertion that Stefano had died of natural causes and began a campaign for justice.
A SISTER’S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Stefano’s story sparked a debate about the abuse of police power at a national level. The case polarised the Italian public, as the story was heavily politicised and peppered with accusations, slander, threats and cover-ups.
Stefano’s sister Ilaria received support from many, but she also received criticism and scorn from those who believed the Carabinieri officers’ integrity and innocence.
However, this year – seven years after the first trial – one of the Carabinieri officers involved in the trial added a new twist to the story.
On My Skin (Sulla Mia Pelle) film poster
On 11 October 2018, Francesco Tedesco, one of the three indicted officers, confessed that Stefano had been beaten, accusing his two colleagues, Alessio di Bernardo and Raffaele D’Alessandro. Tedesco claimed he was only a witness to the abuse and tried to stop the other two officers as they beat him for refusing to cooperate.
Furthermore, he accused his superiors of forcing him to stay silent about what happened that night.
He claimed to have written a report about the beating, but said it was suppressed by his managers.
Seven years after the first trial, following 45 hearings, dozens of reports, investigations and more than 100 testimonies collected from witnesses, the second trial is still not concluded. The confession of Francesco Tedesco, however, could add a new direction.
Stefano’s sister Ilaria Cucchi hasn’t been alone in her battle as she has significant public support in fighting for justice.
Nevertheless, since the release of On My Skin, Ilaria has been receiving death threats on Facebook from supporters of the Northern League (one of Italy’s two co-ruling political parties) and from accounts she believes belong to police officers.
On 20 October 2018, Ilaria posted one such comment on Facebook, saying she feels that she and her loved ones (as well as lawyer Fabio Anselmo, who followed Stefano’s case from the beginning) are in danger.
SHINING A LIGHT ON POLICE BRUTALITY IN ITALY
Anselmo’s law career spans some of the most renowed cases of abuse of power in Italy.
In 2005, he represented the family of 18-year-old Federico Aldrovandi, who was killed by four police officers when he was returning to his home in Ferrara. The trial ended in 2012 with the four officers sentenced to three years and six months each. This was later reduced by the Italian parliament to just six months each and the officers have now returned to work.
Anselmo was also involved in the case of Giuseppe Uva, who died in unclear circumstances in 2008 while in police custody. The trial is ongoing.
These and other cases have brought to public opinion the concept of “morti di Stato” (deaths at the hands of the Italian State), a term which defines all those incidents of violent deaths in police custody and the corresponding abuse of power.
While the abuse of police power is not unusual in Italy, it’s not easy to obtain statistics or figures on the topic as the only available sources are the witnesses in the trials.
And while the stories of Stefano Cucchi, Federico Aldrovandi and Giuseppe Uva are the most well known among the Italian public, there are many more cases which have not yet had media coverage.
International organisations such as the UN and the EU have criticised Italian policing of certain events.
One of the most widely reported episodes in recent years of abuse of police power in Italy occurred in July 2001, during the 27th G8 summit hosted by Italy, in Genoa.
The two-day summit was attended by leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US. The summit drew 200,000 protesters from all over the world for a mass demonstration.
Between July 19 and 22, hundreds of demonstrators were involved in clashes with Italian police officers. Many were injured and 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead by officer Mario Placanica as he and other protesters attacked the officer’s van.
On 21st July, the day after Giuliani’s death, 250 police officers raided the Armando Diaz school with additional support from Carabinieri officers, beat demonstrators who were spending the night there. Police authorities justified the assault claiming that they were looking for black-bloc members (hard left protesters who wear black and obscure their faces) who had devastated part of the city of Genoa during the previous days of the summit. They arrested 93 people, but only one belonged to the black-bloc group. Nevertheless, 61 of them were taken to hospital with injuries.
In the same night, the police brought some of the activists and demonstrators arrested in the school to holding cells in the barracks of Bolzaneto, a suburb of Genoa. There, some of the officers tortured several people, mentally and physically, using humiliation, threats and beatings. They even forced some to exalt Fascism.
At an international level, Italy ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1989, but did not introduce the convention into its legal system. In 2016, Ilaria Cucchi launched a petition on Change.orgto introduce a law against torture. She gained more than 240,000 signatures. Eventually, Italy introduced the law in 2017, motivated by the verdicts of the ECHR
However, according to the UN, as well as some experts and international human rights associations, the new law doesn’t respect international standards. As Human Rights Watch highlighted in their report, “the text of the new law requires ‘multiple acts’ for torture to occur. The [UN] convention, reflecting the international law, affirms ‘any act’ might be torture if it meets the gravity standard. The new law also requires that psychological trauma be ‘verifiable’ to establish ‘psychological’ torture”.
In the same report, Human Rights Watch said the discrepancy between the definition of torture drafted in the UN convention and the new law adopted by Italy (article 613-bis of the Penal Code) implies that “the restrictive definition and short statute of limitations – in a country whose judiciary system is infamous for its lengthy trials – raises the risks that torture will go unpunished, as well as hinder the ability of victims to get redress. This means that Italy will continue to be in violation of its international obligations.”.
Criticism about the new law, but for opposite reasons, came from some Italian right-wing movements too. On 12th July 2018, Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) leader Giorgia Meloni announced on Twitter two proposals to abolish the crime of torture in Italy, on the grounds that the law would hinder the police officers to work properly. Her tweet has been widely criticised.
Two years before the introduction of the law, the current Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini criticised the verdict of the ECHR concerning the G8 in 2001 and said that a law against torture is a nonsense law that would allow criminals to blackmail police officers.
COULD CUCCHI’S CASE LEAD TO IMPROVEMENTS IN POLICING?
Based at the University of Genoa, professor of sociology Salvatore Palidda is one of the few Italian researchers focusing on the relationship between police and civil society.
According to Palidda, there are hundreds of cases like Cucchi’s, Aldrovandi’s and Uva’s that have not received media coverage, because they concern outcasts or immigrants without residency permits.
“The activity of police forces is always characterised by the coexistence of a peaceful management and a violent one. The discretion of power held by officers may turn into free will and lead to torture and murder”, Palidda said.
Key to understanding the violence perpetrated by some officers is their sense of impunity. “Some police managers tolerate and cover up illicit behaviours of officers in order to earn the respect of other subordinates and police trade unions,” Palidda explained.
Another factor that facilitates impunity is the reticence of police force members to report their colleagues. The stories of Aldrovandi, Cucchi and Uva, as well as the facts of the 2001 G8 in Genoa and many others are characterised by cover-ups and silence imposed by the officer’s superiors and colleagues. Indeed, the unexpected confession of the Carabinieri officer Francesco Tedesco regarding the death of Stefano Cucchi is a rare breach of this convention.
Palidda says one practical method of containing and controlling police brutality in Italy is to “establish an independent authority that would monitor and regulate the activities of police forces. This should bring impunity to an end and tribunals would investigate the alleged crimes without the support of police”.
However, he added, “these measures are possible only in a country where most of the population has an effective sense of democracy”.