Posts Tagged ‘Leeno Dee’

002Over the recent holiday break I took the opportunity to continue on with the seemingly never ending task of digitalising my collection of bootleg audio cassettes. Never ending cos I never seem to finish it – but I will this year – I made it a resolution! Anyway, so in the box are bootleg cassettes. Live recordings of predominantly Sydney bands, recorded from different gigs over a period of several years.  One band whom I bootlegged about a dozen times was the Candy Harlots. For a brief moment there, (in around late 1988, early 89) their star was on the ascent, and as far as their chances of ‘making it’, they were the short priced favourite. Mr Rockbrat and I saw them a stack of times during this period. Fans of the world wide glam / metal scene dug them too, for they were creating distinctive, original heavy rock with melody aplenty. Word on the street spread like wild fire around Sydney and Melbourne and in hard rock circles, they were the name on everyone’s lips as the ones who would go to the next level. History has shown that yes, they did sign to, and release an album with Virgin Records (although this was in 92 when they’d lost all sense of their original Gary Glitter stompisms and tongue in cheek delivery and had morphed into garden variety LA style cock-rock shtick), and the Mark 2 version of the band (sans the original Mark out front) did score a support lot with AC/DC, but that was about it. For mine, they never fully capitalized on the momentum they built early on, particularly from say 6/88 to 6/89 – which really, is when they peaked. Word had it they were offered a deal with Virgin after only their first or second gig – but their astute Manager knocked it on the head with a “Wait boys, if one major label come a knocking, there’003s sure to be more to follow”. That wait was 4 years, and by then, the global glam / hair metal scene was about to change rudder and sail  into a collision course head on with Seattle. Yet anyway, I digress. One cassette I pick up is dated 6 January, 1989, and it’s from Banjos, Gladesville. I listen to it, and it’s pretty good. It sends me down memory lane. So, here is a song for you from that nite, 24 years ago! Sheesh! I have included a gig ad I also found for that gig as well. Interesting to note that the awesome Kings Cross had the support (Hi Jed), and Tommy Emmanuel was on the night before!  Let me tell you, the last two times I’ve seen him have not been in pubs, that’s for sure! The classic line up of the Candy Harlots with Barrett (RIP), De Hugar, Cardinal, Leeno and Easton were, on their day,  as good as any band I’ve seen. Listening to their set reminded me how much of a musical influence Gary Glitter was, particularly with the big thumping drum parts and the lyrical delivery. Anyway, here’s the band playing their debut single ‘Red Hot Rocket”, from Banjos, Gladesville, 24 years ago today!! I’ve also dug up a gig review for this show, which appeared in On The Street magazine, Sydney. Click on it to read it. Enjoy!



...memories from the late 80's

Here is a flier from mid-1989 for the debut single from Sydney’s Candy Harlots. These A4 pink fliers were pasted around the streets of the CBD and it is an interesting time piece. Maybe you have one ! There is a story behind this. I know because I designed it. Do devout fans still make fliers ? I guess, though it ain’t quite the same. With modern technology, every kid seems to know their way around Photoshop so whipping up a flier would be a sinch ! My brother and I were heavily hooked on this band. I wanted them to success. Those shows, especially in 1988 – just after Leeno Dee joined were magic. They coulda been right at home on any big stage, yet here there were – shaking the walls of tiny, stinking, shitty pubs like the Lansdowne in Broadway ! For only a select few, they were a great secret – or “Sydney’s Biggest Live Secret” as was once written.  I can remember making this flier like it was yesterday. The band logo I hand drew and coloured in from their gig adverts I would see in OTS mag. The stars were stickers pasted on, and the letters were those ‘rub off’ kind you could buy at newsagents. A friend of mine knew a cartoonist, whom I supplied with a band photograph. I would later enlist her skills whilst working with Melbourne’s Girl Monstar. I was very happy with her finished sketch. So with my original A4 sheet all glued down, I purchased an amount of ‘glam’ pink paper, then risked my job by keeping the phoocopier hot ! My brother and I walked around   all the record stores, including the 2nd hand ones in the city and handed these fliers out. From memory the band were playing a gig at the Sydney Cove Tavern later that evening, and I recall putting one under the wiper of Easton’s red FJ. My favorite memory from all this is when guitarist Ron Barret gave me some merch later that evening to show their thanks. He was a sweet guy. I interviewed vocalist Mark Easton some time back on Rockbrat Radio where he talks about much of this time period. Great days !!! Great memories !!! There you have it. So if you think the passion for rock n roll runs deep in my veins via this blog, clearly, the signs of rock n roll adoration were pulsating around me long before this !

Marc Lee De Hugar of The Candy Harlots lets it rip.....1988

If the Kardomah Cafe in Kings Cross was the spiritual home for Sydney’s Candy Harlots – then the St. James Tavern in Castlereagh Street must have come a close second. The St. James Tavern had a long flight of stairs at the entrance, and looking back, must surely have been a bit of a fire trap risk. In 1988/89, I saw a stack of bands there, including bands like the Screaming Tribesmen, Psychotic Turnbuckles and Celibate Rifles, and I  must have seen the Candy Harlots there about 10 times – and it was always good. They often were supported by the underrated all girl band the Rum Babas, who had a distinctive and original tribal beat. I remember seeing Angry Anderson there one night – he’s come to check out the Candy Harlots.  Some of the live footage for their ‘Red Hot Rocket’ video was filmed there. In 1988, Mr. Rockbrat and Cowboy Col travelled all over Sydney to see the Candy Harlots, the ‘next biggest thing’, who came so close to inking with a major label it wasn’t funny. In 88, they were the best kept secret on Sydney’s live scene – and had an amazing young guitar player who had fast fingers, flash, and hair as big as Steve Stevens. His name was Marc Lee De Hugar, and he was part of the Candy Harlots line up that I remember most fondly – along with Mark Easton, Tony Cardinal, Leeno Dee and Ron Barratt (RIP). Here’s a photo taken by Mr. Rockbrat of De Hugar in action at the St. James Tavern in July, 1988. Great days my friends…….it only seems like yesterday! (If you have a look at the photo of Mr. Rockbrat at page left, you will see he is wearing a Candy Harlots Tee Shirt – the first ones the band ever made)

Dee in the Rockbrat lens: Melbourne 3 June 1989

Leeno Dee has been plugging his heavy-sounding bass into the Australian rock n roll scene for sometime now and is a true survivor. From his earliest days with Vandal, Wizard and Roxx…to the notorious Candy Harlots…then Jerk, Ink and now with Melody Black – his life of loud rock n roll has been a fascinating journey with no signs of slowing down….time for a Rockbrat Chat ! (interview conducted 2-Aug-2010)

Rockbrat: How did Leeno Dee get into rock n roll ?
Leeno Dee: First tune that I remember being fascinated by was The Sweet’s ‘Wig Wam Bam’- obviously I’d heard stuff before – my parents had old Rolling Stones records etc – but Sweet just floored me – and when I saw what they looked like that was it ! It’s like they were from outer-space or something!

RB: What was the first record you bought ?
LD: That would be ‘Wig Wam Bam’.

RB: What was the first concert you attended ?
LD: First real concert was Thin Lizzy on the Sydney Opera House steps…that was free and all ages…

RB: Who were your bass playing heroes ?
LD: Once I saw Gene Simmons on the cover of ‘Kiss Alive!’ I was hooked…then came Geezer Butler and Tom Petersson…

RB: I know you’re a Kiss nut…were you at the Sydney Showground in November of 1980 ?
LD: November 21st to be exact…on Gene’s side…got there 9am!

RB: Is it true that you were at one time a member of mid-80’s Sydney outfits Roxx and Wizard (also featuring Campbell from Mortal Sin) – can you tell me about these bands ? Were there demo’s recorded ?
LD: Yes. Wizard featured myself and Wayne plus Sean Bosco on vox (later of Who’s Guilty) and Sean Williams and Keith Krstin on guitars. I am still in touch with Bosco and Wayne. That band was kinda Iron Maiden-y. No demos were recorded. Roxx grew out of a band I started called Vandal and was more like Ratt/Dokken – that kinda thing. My involvement was minimal but yes, some demos were recorded and the guitarists in that band were awesome: Jon Ford (now with Black Label) and Shane Grovak (now with BB Steal). The style wasn’t quite right for me. But it was good fun and good people.

RB: Your first show with the Candy Harlots was at Bankstown – correct ?
Yep, Bankstown RSL with the Radiators – it was a Wednesday night

RB: Had you witnessed the Candy Harlots live before auditioning for the bass position ?
LD: Sure had…saw them at the Caringbah Inn supporting Boss…EVERYONE said they were shit! That whole crowd didn’t get them and though they were pretty rough they had that something special and since I’d been a fan of the Pistols and New York Dolls, Stooges and the whole early 70s glitter scene – I thought they were cool. But I remember thinking “I should be the bassplayer!”

RB: I can recall one of your earliest shows – at the Sydney Cove Tavern – where the set was kicked off with Easton using his cigarette to systematically pop the balloons a bikini clad babe was ‘wearing’. In retrospect the band had some innovative ideas…lollipops, roses – David Rose’s ‘The Stripper’ as an intro etc. I also remember a time in 1988 when the band would kick off with ‘Kiss Kiss’ with just you and Tony, then Ron and DeHugar would plug in…with Easton making a grand entrance in time to sing the first lyrics. Very impressive and great entertainment. Whose ideas were all these ?
LD: I have to say, especially early on Mark Easton was a goldmine of great ideas. We may have all pitched in but Mark was always thinking ahead to the next ‘wow’ moment.

RB: My favourite Candy Harlots tunes were ‘The Calling’, ‘Can’t We Just Sleep Together’ and ‘I’m A Lover’….yours ?
LD: Shit. So many…’Open Your Eyes’, Fantasies’, Take Me Or Leave Me’, ‘She’s Got It’, ‘I’m a Lover’ definitely.

RB: What are your memories of the much-missed Ron Barrett ? Any fond stories to share ?
LD: Ah Ron…when I first met Ron I didn’t take to him immediately. He was real brash. Really smart guy. We ended up pretty close and started sharing rooms on the road. I remember the last tour before he passed away we were in QLD on the Gold Coast about 10 floors up sharing some beers and him saying how much he wanted to achieve and how happy he was with the line-up after Phil Bowley joined on guitar. Shortly after we did our first sold out show at the General Bourke and around 4am he called out to me ‘see ya next week Leens – good show!’. That was the last time I saw him. He died about a day later. We really miss him.

RB: Where does 2010 find drummer Tony Cardinal ? Is he still performing ?
LD: Tony is doing fine. He’s a good guy. He was really happy to do the recent reunion shows. Not sure if he’s playing right now though.

RB: You’ve had an extensive musical career – can you name some of your highlights ?
LD: Hopefully the best is still to come. JERK was definitely something I was and still am proud to have done. We made a great album, and I guess doing shows with Insane Clown Posse, Killing Joke and Marilyn Manson are highlights. Being guests at Ozzfest was a highlight and also doing the red carpet at the ARIAs. Lots of great moments. The chemistry was great Lamar Louder was a brilliant musician/producer/ writer, Johnathan Devoy the best singer/frontman you could hope for and Charles not only a fantastic player but also an awesome guitar builder!

RB: You’ve performed at many Sydney venues over the years – many long gone – what are your favourites ?
LD: Sydney Entertainment Centre…now THAT was a buzz! Kardomah obviously. Bar Broadway was a good one. Give me a room with a PA and a stage!

RB: Tell me about your current outfit Melody Black ?
LD: Melody Black is something I’m proud and excited about. With Johnathan (ex Jerk)on vox, my old Harlots guitar bud Phil Bowley and my longtime fave drummer Tubby Wadsworth it’s the cream…we’re like the Jerky Harlots! Melodic glam punk pop metal for 2010.We’re doing the debut album in the next month and are locking in shows with the first one at the Sando in Newtown on Friday August 20th

RB: What excites you musically these days ? Who have you been listening to ?
Really digging A7X, AFI, AMEN, plus lots of other stuff.

RB: Name your five ‘Desert Island Discs’ ?
LD: Kiss Alive !, Slade’s Greatest Hits, Sweet’s Greatest Hits, A7X ‘City Of Evil’, Monty Python’s Holy Grail soundtrack

Helter Skelter: Cry For Love (1993)

A great pairing of tunes here by a Sydney band called Helter Skelter. Not sure how they got away with using that name, as I would’ve assumed someone Beatle related or even author Bugliosi would’ve had the phrase all tied up. Anyway Cry For Love is an Iggy cover – and a great one at that. This band formed from the ashes of the Candy Harlots – with a young singer named Hayden Watt. The B-Side is called Baby, Drives Me Crazy is average hard rock fodder. Get this for the Iggy cover alone and you won’t be disappointed….

In the late 80’s, the Sydney music scene was being whipped into a frenzy by a notorious bunch of brats calling themselves The Candy Harlots. This article is focusing only on the period of time, when the band were once tagged ‘Sydney’s biggest live secret’, and in the process cut two burning singles. Forming in mid ’87, the band were led by Mark Easton (ex-Suicide Squad, Kelpies, Soggy Porridge) one of the most charismatic, flamboyant and visually exciting performers to ever grace a stage. Pounding the skins was Mark’s old Soggy Porridge band mate – Tony Cardinal. Rhythm guitarist Ron Barrett joined via The Glam Savages, and the lead guitarist was a young guitar maestro – Marc Lee De Hugar. Solid bass player Leeno Dee (ex-Roxx) completed this explosive line-up, joining in August of 1988. Although The Kardomah Cafe in Kings Cross was their regular haunt, they trekked all over the city, emerging from a haze of dry ice and pyro, decked out in leather, cowboy boots and jewellery, and unleashing their unique style of sleaze rock onto unsuspecting audiences. The girls loved ’em though most of their jealous boyfriends didn’t. The front rows of their audiences were made up of scantily clad, adoring women, who fondled their beloved blonde front man, and were in turn, handed roses and lollipops during the show. They boasted a stage show that complimented their pulsating set, and was relished by the inner city crowds, but a real eye opener for those North and West of the Harbour Bridge ! These bad boys of Australian rock broke a lot of new ground, hurling forth their sexually orientated melodic tones to an ever growing audience. With Easton’s often outrageous stage antics, some venues weren’t too keen to have the Candy’s back in a hurry, and the boys were even hauled off stage one night at the Caringbah Inn by the local constabulary. Love ’em or hate ’em – you couldn’t ignore ’em. Supports were numerous: The Cult, Angels, Cheap Trick, Divinyls, Kings Of The Sun, The Sunnyboys and D.A.D among others. Their debut single (released in April 1989 on Melbourne’s Au Go Go label) ‘Red Hot Rocket’ shot straight to the top of the local chart, and the first pressing sold out in under three hours. This limited edition run of 1000 copies were pressed on red vinyl, and included a sticker and came snugly wrapped in a pair of customised knickers (white, green or pink). A second pressing also sold out within four days later. Once all copies disappeared, a picture sleeve issue then appeared. Engineered by TMG drummer Herm Kovac and produced by Mick Cocks from Rose Tattoo, this Easton penned song is indicative of everything the band stood for. A thumping, humorous effort, that captures Easton’s unique vocal style. This guy could sing, and also possessed a frightening scream that made their live shows all the more memorable (hunt down the 1985 Soggy Porridge single ‘Call My Name / Rip This Soul Apart’ and I’m sure you’ll agree with me). Sections of the video for ‘Red Hot Rocket’ were filmed at the ‘Harlots Ball’ – a gala evening held at the Coogee Bay Hotel on 19 November 1988, although the majority was filmed at Sydney’s St James Tavern. The Candy Harlots appeared as cover stars for On The Street mag, and in early June ’89 with word quickly spreading, headed south to set Melbourne’s stages alight. They played two memorable debut shows, the first at Geelong’s Barwon Club (my memory of some local red necks watching Mark Easton with his performing can of foam is a treasured one !) and then the following night, playing to a packed house at Richmond’s Corner Hotel. With major label interest the future appeared bright, and this particular line-up seemed destined for stardom, and it’s a mystery as to why they never attained it. The continual gigging carried on, and the band released their second single ‘Danger’ in 1990 on the Timberyard label, but by now the buzz around town was beginning to fade. This song was penned by Dee, and his songwriting prowess shines through. An incredibly catchy chorus, mixed with some memorable lead guitar work, coil themselves around Easton’s distinctive vocals, and this song manages to capture some of their raw live power. It’s one of my all time favourite singles. This version is far superior to the Aiz Lynch / Virgin backed effort that was to emerge two years later. Ron Barrett’s ‘Wrap 2 Arms’ was a mainstay in their live set, and this crunching effort loses none of it’s bite on disc either (Lee De Hugar’s blitzing solo deserves mention also). Unfortunately ‘Danger’ lacked the hype and promotion of it’s predecessor and was generally ignored. Tragically on 2 October 1990, Ron Barrett passed away – apparantly choking to death after vomiting during an asthma attack. Ron was only 26 years old, and I found him to be one of the nicest people I’ve met in this industry. His love and enthusiasm for his music was felt by all who knew him, and he is still greatly missed. The Candy Harlots soldiered on, with ex-Rags n Riches guitarist Phil Bowley replacing Lee De Hugar, and ex-Flying Tiger Peter Masi replacing Ron Barrett. More gigging ensued, but on Friday 22 March, 1991 at their old stomping ground – The Kardomah Cafe, Mark Easton, after several years on the Sydney circuit – gave his final performance and left the music scene. This line-up of The Candy Harlots etched forever a permant mark, unleashing their unique brand of hot, heavy, sexual, explosive, and pulsating style of rock n roll. They deserve their place in the annals of Australian rock, and I’m sure many hold fond memories of a time when this exciting band were dubbed ‘Sydney’s biggest live secret’.

by Denis Gray

Easton and DeHugar at Dee Why Hotel (photo: Denis Gray)