Friday, June 28, 2013

The Day With O.N.J..

IMAGE : O.N.J FAN WEB | The Day With O.N.J
When I was growing up, it wasn't particularly unusual for me to cross paths with reasonably well - known celebrity types; in fact some of them were regular members of my childhood. At the time, I thought nothing of Guy Pearce appearing on our doorstep, of Dad being away on tour with ABBA or performing with his mate Sammy Davis Jr., or indeed of a phone call from 'Johnny' Farnham (don't judge me please - it was 1980).  I attended my fair share of big name concerts as a shy underage V.I.P and watched on TV as Dad bowed before Prince Charles and 'Lady Di' after the 1983 Gala Concert in Australia. I guess looking back that was pretty special although its significance was somewhat missed on me back then.

My Dad was a Musical Director who worked in television for many years and he would regularly collaborate with musicians and personalities on various large scale TV variety shows or special events. I spent several school holidays hanging out at the TV Station which was his second home and as a sensible eight year old child (without siblings), I basically had free reign of the hallowed hallways because the security was so good and well, it was the 80s. The cafeteria was the best place to hang out as that's where all the famous faces spent their time drinking percolated coffee between sessions in makeup or recording with a live audience.  I could get 'Strop' from the Paul Hogan show to pull his signature face for me or have Don Lane's booming yanky voice acknowledge me from afar and my only competition in the place were the all-singing, all-dancing bloody Newton kids. (Obviously exposure to the TV lifestyle had less effect on me than Matt - no further comment required!). When the TV era abruptly ended in the mid 80s, Dad would only be involved in the special projects of his choosing so the interactions with well known faces became less frequent. Then, in the late 80s we moved away from the hustle and bustle of TV life to the country and suddenly adopted a very different pace.

When I was about fourteen years old, Dad was asked to work on an album with long time friend,  Olivia Newton - John. He would spend hours in his study on the remote country property working away at orchestral arrangements then travel to the city for extended periods to record the various elements. Sometimes he took me with him to observe but I didn't ever get in close contact with the main attraction during any of these city visits because mostly she was in and out of the country. Let it be said, that I don't know one fourteen year old at the time who hadn't watched the movie 'Grease' at least eighty - five times and who didn't have every song committed to memory, and I was no exception. So when Dad casually mentioned that Olivia and her entourage were going to travel up to the farm specifically to have celebratory lunch with our family (namely, Mum, Dad and I!) I recall going into small conniptions of excitement.

A solid schedule of pre-production went into the arrival of our special guest. Mum faffed and fluffed for days leading up to the big day and now that I think about it, I can't imagine the pressure she would have been under as chief faffer and head chef; I'm certain my adult self would not have coped nearly as well as she did (refer to my Overthinkers Anonymous post for some background on me in these situations). The big day arrived and as a typical teen, I was never really known for my patience so that morning seemed to drag on forever as I checked the clock close to a thousand times. Eventually, the convoy of cars rolled up the long winding driveway that was visible from the house and I remember giving a smug thought to all the neighbours who were completely unaware of the presence that was taking in all of their scenery - I'm sure they wouldn't have believed it even if we'd been permitted to tell them.

ONJ was lovely. She was down to earth and still very much an Australian despite her L.A. lifestyle. Given it's now twenty - six years later I don't really remember much about the interactions I had with her that day, but all in all it was just like having a friends' Mum over for lunch. She and Dad took care of a little bit of work stuff, re-arranging orchestral pieces etc. and sometime during that afternoon, God knows why but I fulfilled a commitment to my netball team and left before she did. To this day, I have no idea why I allowed my premature exit to take place - who on earth leaves to play Saturday netball when you have Sandy from Grease in your lounge room?!! Nonetheless, as I left no one seemed to be able to rustle up the $2.00 fee for the netball game so ONJ kindly dipped into her handbag and gave me a $2.00 coin from her purse. No word of a lie but I think I only spent that very same coin about two years ago when I didn't have enough change for the school lunch order. That coin was with me throughout all these years as a reminder of that special day with O.N.J.

Looking back, I'm certain I would have appreciated my musically - exposed upbringing so much more had I have been ten years older, I think. Attending one concert after another often seemed like a drag and I would often be found taking up two seats in the front row, fast asleep or backstage parked upon an amplifier watching my Dad work from backstage while wishing we could just go home, away from the noise. These days, if I get the rare opportunity to take my kids to see my Dad work on one of his special projects I ensure they're aware of how special and privileged they are, being able to get so close to all types of music, creative people and live performance. I'm confident they get that much more than I ever did.


  1. I hope your daughter appreciated that lunch order!

    1. I doubt it, M! When it comes to a lunch order, it's all about the food rather than how it's paid for...;) I could have paid with a golden chalice and she wouldn't have noticed!