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Call for '70s rock group to be honoured in hometown

HOMEGROWN SUPERSTARS: This photograph of Xanadu was taken at a huge outdoor show for July 4 celebrations in 1971 in Chu Lai for US troops. The band is (from left) Barrie Morrison, Claire Morrison, Don Morrison, Chris Button and Wayne Anderson.
HOMEGROWN SUPERSTARS: This photograph of Xanadu was taken at a huge outdoor show for July 4 celebrations in 1971 in Chu Lai for US troops. The band is (from left) Barrie Morrison, Claire Morrison, Don Morrison, Chris Button and Wayne Anderson. Contributed

A FAN club formed for a Bundaberg rock group that achieved international success in the 1960s and '70s is pressing for a road or park to be named after them.

The group, Xanadu, was made up of three family members, Claire, Don and Barrie Morrison, from a sugarcane farm at Moore Park Beach, Wayne Anderson, also from a sugar cane farm at North Gooburrum, and Chris Button, whose parents lived in Bundaberg.

Jeff Askew, secretary of the Official Xanadu Fan Club, said that in 1967, after performing at the Federal Hotel in Bundaberg, as well as around the Bundaberg district for a number of years, the group left on an extensive tour of Australia's eastern seaboard.

"They finally ended up in Sydney where they quickly made a name for themselves, appearing on many Sydney TV stations as well as on the national entertainment show at that time, Brian Henderson's Bandstand," Mr Askew said.

"On this show the group performed their second single titled Isabella. This was one of, if not the first stereo 45RPM record released in Australia."

In May 1971 the band signed on for a seven-month tour of Allied bases in Vietnam.

Australian bands sponsored by the Australian government spent no more than 14 days in Vietnam, and then performed only to Anzacs based in and around Nui Dat and Vung Tau.

Xanadu, however, travelled the length and breadth of the country, from the DMZ out to the Cambodian border, and down into the Mekong Delta.

Their bass player, Barrie Morrison, was just 16, while the oldest member of the group, Wayne Anderson, had his 21st birthday in Vietnam.

"After Vietnam, Xanadu travelled to Thailand where they soon had a massive following, and even enjoyed their own television show on Bangkok TV3," Mr Askew said.

"While in Thailand the group were asked by Bee Gee Maurice Gibb to go to the UK. This they did via a few weeks in Singapore."

In Europe the group enjoyed massive success in Germany, Holland and Belgium.

For the next decade Xanadu toured, recorded or rubbed shoulders with many of the greats of that era - The Bee Gees, The Sex Pistols, Marc Bolan of T.Rex - who recorded his last hit record I Love to Boogie in the Xanadu-owned London studio, Decibel - The Seekers, The Osmonds and Leo Sayer.

By 1982 the band had gone their separate ways and all had returned to Australia.

Four of the original five members are still alive.

Guitarist and vocalist Chris Button was killed in a beach buggy accident in the late 1970s.

Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman said he could remember Xanadu returning to Bundaberg pretty much at the height of their success and staging a performance for a house full of family and friends at what is now the Moncrieff Theatre.

"Obviously council would need to carefully consider any proposal put before it regarding community recognition of the group but welcomes suggestions of this type from the community," he said.

Topics:  history music rock and roll



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