by Paul Cashmere, Noise11
Ross Hannaford, the guitarist for legendary Australian band Daddy Cool, has lost his battle with cancer at age 65.
Ross ‘Hanna’ Hannaford and childhood friend Ross Wilson started their first band together The Pink Finks in Melbourne in 1965. The pair had a succession of bands including The Party Machine and then Sons of Vegetal Mother that evolved into Daddy Cool.
Daddy Cool was the first national success for Hannaford and Wilson together with Wayne Duncan and Gary Young. The debut album Daddy Who? Daddy Cool gave us two rock classics today considered to be two of the finest songs in Australian Rock history Eagle Rock and Come Back Again. 45 years after they were recorded, they are still played daily on Australian radio.
Daddy Cool only lasted for a couple of years and two albums. Hannaford and Wilson then formed Mighty Kong before they too would split.
Ross Hannaford would go on to create an incredible catalogue of work with various artists including The Black Sorrows, Ian Moss, Mark Gillespie and Goanna as well as his own reggae band Billy T.
In 2005 the original Daddy Cool reformed for the Tsunami benefit concert and released a live DVD. They also returned to the studio and made a third studio album The New Cool in 2007.
In mid-2015 it became known that Ross Hannaford had cancer and his friends gathered for the Hanna benefit to show their support. Ross also decided to continue working and returned to the studio to create the Hanna album, released at the end of 2015. He also continued to perform for as long as he could bringing in a full house for his Hanna album showcase at the Caravan Club in Melbourne in December.
Ross Hannaford will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest musicians and one of the music industries most colorful characters.
Ross Hannaford and Ross Wilson were barely teenagers when they met. The meeting of the two Ross’s would create one of the most iconic partnerships in Australian music history.
The following quotes come from a conversation I had with Ross Wilson at the Concert for Hanna last year, the benefit for Ross Hannaford. It is the story of a couple of school kids who became life-long friends.
How They Met:
Ross Wilson: “Ross Hannaford and myself were schoolkids when we first met. I lived in Hampton and he lived in Moorabbin, South Road. He was going to Brighton High School and he hadn’t quite turned 13. I sat in with a friend’s band at a church hall in Marriage Road in Brighton. I was playing harmonica. I didn’t actually sing. He had this band that played instrumentals, Shadows and stuff. He came up to me after and ‘that’s the sort of music we want to play. We want to play the blues and can you sing?’. I went down to Hannaford’s place where they were practicing in the garage the next weekend to have an audience. They already had a singer. I played a few songs, I’m in, he’s out. I mentioned to Hanna recently ‘whatever happened to that guy, did you keep in contact’ and he said ‘no, whenever I see him he is really weird towards me’ and I said ‘that’s probably why’.
Beatles vs The Stones:
Ross Wilson: “I remember being in the city rehearsing at the back of Scots Church somehow. It was the weekend The Beatles were in Melbourne. Quarter of a million people are outside the Southern Cross Hotel. We were wandering around but by that time we were already over The Beatles. We were onto the Stones and couldn’t be bothered going and seeing The Beatles with all those other people”.
Two Kids Who Musically Just Gelled:
Ross Wilson: “We were The Pink Finks when Hannaford and I got together and we were really lucky to have found each other. We evolved this style from pop music and blues stuff. We were learning about John Lee Hooker. We had this rapport. That was the basis of the Daddy Cool sound. It evolved into The Party Machine with Mike Rudd and when I came back from London we got Daddy Cool together. It had that interplay between me and him on guitar. Intuitively we just knew how to harmonize with each other because we had been doing it for 5 or 6 years. I always think of it as this amazing miracle that in the wilds of Hampton and Moorabbin, two young guys with the same rhythmic approach, which believe me was rare, that we somehow found each other and made careers out of that. It was incredible”.
The Propeller, the Fox Tail and Those Crazy Daddy Cool Outfits:
Ross Wilson: “The thing with Daddy Cool is we were just having fun. Hanna was going to art school at that time. His art-school mates would make us things to wear. They made me a foxtail, someone made Gary Young a chicken suit and another time he was Hot Stuff, the little devil. They just made it up. They would make them at art school and say ‘wear this this week’. When we got really big a lot of that dropped off. Hanna had a suit that he painted to look like bricks, like a brick-veneer suit. We weren’t around the art school mates anymore so we weren’t as crazy because we didn’t have people making us costumes”.
Photo: Ros O'Gorman