Feb 282007

Bannerman is in mourning today, suffering the reminders of mortality that the ageing process delivers from time to time. The catalyst for this day of mourning and wallowing in the memories of times past is, of course, the passing of Australian rock pioneer and legend, Billy Thorpe.

Thorpie would have been sixty-one this year, which is not old by any stretch. His heart gave out just after 1:00am this morning after he suffered chest pains an hour or so earlier. He passed through the exit of this life quickly, and hopefully, painlessly, peacefully.

Born in 1946 in Blackpool, England, Thorpie immigrated to Australia with his parents in the mid-fifties. The family lived at Moorooka on Brisbane’s south side, where ten-year old William made his first performance on guitar, later appearing on television talent shows and alongside the likes of Johhny O’Keefe and Col Joye. Thorpie would admit that fate dealt him a hand and he played it to the hilt. Can you just imagine, a fresh-faced new band – Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs – drawing a bigger crowd at the Melbourne Myer Music Bowl on one night in 1964, than the Beatles drew in two? Such was the power of the music.

Sadly, Bannerman was too young for Sunbury, in 1972. At fifteen years of age, one simply wasn’t permitted to attend the Australian Woodstock and rub shoulders with the wild and inebriated while those on stage exhorted the crowds to "Suck More Piss!". He really does wish, at times, that he’d been born just a few years earlier than he was.

Goodbye, Billy Thorpe. Australia loves you and always will. When you get to where you’re going…..suck a few for the Bannerman, will you?

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