Rockbrat Remembers: When Coghlan, Lancaster and Brewster led The Bombers

Posted: July 4, 2010 by rockbrat in Rockbrat Remembers:
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The Bombers – Sydney Australia 1988-1991

There is some info out there on 80’s Australian rock band The Bombers – much of it incorrect – written by people who were not there. Well you know what ? The Rockbrat WAS there – from the very beginning – and it is time that some accurate info on this killer outfit was made available. I’ll do my best ! These are my memories with places and dates as accurate as can be.
I was massive fan of Status Quo. Who wasn’t ? I still am, though after Lancaster left they lost the bass grunt. That’s a fact my friends. He was also a great presence on the stage. I, along with most of the rock world, watch Live Aid on TV back in 1985, unaware really just how big those shows were. Quo opened Live Aid in London, in what was to be Lancaster’s final show with them. He had already made Australia his home and now it was to be his working base. He joined a popular local Sydney live outfit called the Party Boys. This was a band which featured a revolving group of well known musicians. The line-up of 1986-88 however featured Alan on bass, ex-Divinyl Richard Harvey on drums – Paul Christie (on a 2nd drum kit), the legendary Kevin Borich and guitar and John Swan on vocals. John Brewster from the Angels shared guitar duties with KB. I saw the Party Boys live and they were great. It
was great to see Lancaster on a sweaty small stage, only having previously seen him on big stages with Quo on video. This line-up of the Party Boys cut a killer, thumping self titled album which you should hear before you die. Swannie’s take on AC/DC’s High Voltage is top quality, and you can bet his old mate Bon would’ve
loved it. Co-incidentally, The Party Boys supported AC/DC on the 1988 Aussie dates – with Borich, Brewster and Swann, no doubt happy to open the shows for some old friends. The last time I saw the Party Boys was at a free outdoor concert in a park at Kitchener Park in Mona Vale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in early 1988. Ex-Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet did guest vocals during that show…..
Later in 1988, Alan and John broke away from the Party Boys to form The Bombers – was it a play on word ? (Lancaster Bomber) – I never did ask Alan. They settled on Tyrone Coates who hailed from Western Australia on vocals, formerly of an outfit called Boys Downunder – where Alan and John had witnessed him during a Party Boys support. He was an exceptional find and a good name to file away. Lead guitarist was a guy named Angelo Salter – an axe whiz who’d studied
at the Conservatorium of Music. Who better to fill the drum stool than John Coghlan – Alan’s rhythm pal from Quo ? and that was the line-up.
The first time I saw them was in support of Cheap Trick on Fri December 1988 at Sydney’s Coogee Bay Hotel. Talk about being blown away – they were electric. They supported the following night as well. Then, The Bombers played two shows in Crows Nest in Sydney’s North Shore. For free ! No cover charge if you can believe it ! To see a line-up of that calibre, playing for free – I often think back and have to pinch myself ! I attended both shows and stood in awe. They were very loud, very very loud. They were tight and Alan looked damn hungry ! Well chosen covers with some sizzling original tunes, these are some of my best ever live gigs which I will cherish forever. I had an 8×10 signed and chatted with both Alan and John mid-set. Alan even asked my mate Robin ‘how was the sound ?’. I’ve always found Alan Lancaster to be very genuine and down to earth – no ego, and a question like that is proof. As my mate commented later “the man opens up Live Aid and he asks ME how the sound is ?!’
I would go on to see the band many times at different Sydney venues – (even a show where the stage overlooked Manly Beach) but the run of shows they did at Crows Nest in late 1988 and early 1989 were my best memories. The into track of AC/DC’s ‘Long Way To The Top’ would blast out – Bon’s shrilling voice cutting through the beer and smoke filled air with an abundance of genuine excitement – no one knew better than Coghlan, Lancaster and Brewster, just how hard that rock n roll road is. Second song into the set was always ‘Roll Over Lay Down’ and the place just rattled and thumped ! To hear Lancaster growl his way though Roadhouse Blues or the band take on the Angels tune Marseilles – was to hear rock n roll in it’s stripped down – purest form. Coates was a wonderful front man who was a top notch saxophonist to boot. His soaring vocals range was ear shattering – and suited the tunes perfectly. The flashy Salter would not see the distance with the band and was replaced by the no-nonsense blues-rock sounding guitarist in Steve Crofts.
There was talk of an album being recorded – with major labels expressing interest. Coghlan would also return to the UK with his drum stool filled by Peter Heckenberg, who I’d seen drum with HM outfit Boss. The first single released was popular live track ‘Running In The Shadows’ – with some live-tracks on the flip side recorded at Crows Nest ! Listen carefully and you can hear me yell during Marseilles. The album was called Aim High and whether the label did not get behind it, or whether the kids were looking elsewhere – I do not know. It’s a great rock n roll album – read my review elsewhere in this blog. It was released in Europe with a different sleeve (a purple sky). They supported Alice Cooper and New Jersey outfit Skid Row, but by 1991 it was pretty much all over.
If ever a band should’ve tasted success it was The Bombers. Go chase the album down – watch the videos on YouTube and judge for yourself. Good music remains timeless – and memories last forever. My memories of some great rock n roll night with Alan Lancaster, John Brewster and Tyrone Coates will last forever – and if they ever invent a working time machine – I am setting the thing to December 1988 and strapping myself in !
Lancaster’s set-list from 4/4/89 Crows Nest, Sydney gig (above)
Flier from In-Store appearance at HMV, Parramatta (above)
Fan Club Kit from 1990 (above)

Australian (pink) and European (purple) vinyl copies of ‘Aim High’.

Relevant Bombers Info:
There are some Bombers video clips on YouTube.

Angelo Salter currently works as a guitar instructor

Tyrone Coates currently lives in the UK pursuing his lifelong study of karate
John Brewster currently performs with The Angels
Alan Lancaster is apparently releasing his autobiography soon
John Coghlan is living and performing in the UK
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Comments
  1. Wow so great to see the Bombers get a mention..! They were a world class act and it’s such a crying shame they just didn’t get to where they should have!!!! Sadly Steve Crofts (my husband) has been suffering from Huntington’s Disease since 2001 and is now in a nursing home due to the ravages of this incredibly horrible illness

    • rockbrat says:

      Christina, very sad to hear of Steve’s health issues. Agreed…the Bombers were world class, and to see a band of that calibre in some of those tiny Sydney venues was amazing. Steve and the Bombers are remembered fondly – we send our best wishes….

  2. Greg Waddington says:

    Hey Rockbrat, me and 2 of my mates must have been rubbing shoulders at some of the Bombers gigs mate. Like yourself, I was a big Quo fan as a kid growing up in the 70’s. We followed the Partyboys around, but when they set up the Bombers, well we were right across them as well. We must have seen 20+ gigs around Sydney, sometimes midweek like Feathers at Crows Nest. I also saw them out at Marayong, and also the General Bourke. They were the best live local gigs I’ve ever seen. With plenty of energy, they never disappointed. The line-up, as you say, was incredible. Tyrone…wow, what a voice he had. Brewster and Steve were awesome too. So sorry to hear of Steve’s health problems. One of my other mates was actually taught guitar by Steve. Small world. Massive pity that they didn’t go on with it. There was talk back in the day, when they signed with A&M records, of doing stadiums gigs in the states. Oh well, the good thing was we had them for ourselves. Cheers, Greg

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