Shirl: The Life of Legendary Larrikin Graeme ‘Shirly’ Strachan

9 01 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m reading the biography Shirl about the life of Graeme Strachan, and written by Jeff Apter. Well, actually, I’m not reading it; I’ve finished.

What an extraordinary book it was (or is that life? It’s hard to differential which I liked most). I knew a bit about Strachan before I began reading; I knew he was the lead singer of Skyhooks, I knew his group was from Melbourne and I knew that in their heyday of the early/mid seventies that if you didn’t like their music, you must’ve like Sherbet (in the same way as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones over in the UK – ed.).



Strachan lead a wonderful life that was full of energy, yet was simple, and this is kind of metaphorically captured is the book’s presentation. The simplicity is apparent on the cover of the book; with a large black and white picture of Strachan adorning the front and the title Shirl in the bottom third of the page in a yellow typeface. The energy comes through in the reading which is so addictive but also easy to follow and enjoy. The only reason I didn’t finish it earlier is two days ago it was 40C+ and maintaining attention wasn’t easy (sooo glad I didn’t have work that day – ed.).

Things that you could learn (as I did) about Strachan from this reading include the fact that he was a television host on more than one program and he also had a stint in radio for a period that was successful enough that when he got dumped by the station, it didn’t take them long to come crawling back by which point he had the last laugh.

Graeme Strachan

Graeme Strachan

The Skyhooks outfit wasn’t destined to be a success story from the start as there were quite a number of hiccups along the way; Strachan wasn’t even the first lead singer of the band (ooooooohhhhhh – ed.). Strachan’s solo career wasn’t exactly what some people would have liked with a lot of his singles flopping quite significantly. Red Symons left the band after their third album Straight In A Gay, Gay World.  The band travelled to the US of A but didn’t find any really success there. Ross Wilson, of Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock fame, had a lot of input in the band, producing a number of their albums.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t know if it was the style of writing or the story itself that made me enjoy the book but none the less, if I were getting paid to rate the book out of say 5, I would give it a solid 4. To help with my dilemma of not knowing that actual reason that I enjoyed the read, I went to the library and loaned out Apter’s Together Alone which is the story about the Finn brother and their musical legacy.



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