Things happened very quickly for The Sunnyboys, who went from playing inner-city venues to scoring hit singles for the prestigious Mushroom label all within a year of formation. What set the band apart in many ways was Oxley's song writing ability. The chemistry between the four members was perfect too.
The Oxley brothers, Jeremy and Peter, and Bill Bilson hailed from the northern New South Wales town of Kingscliff where they played in a garage band called Wooden Horse. The band gained early experience when the students of Tweed River High School were obliged to attend a compulsory concert in school hours arranged by the Oxley's father, who was an art teacher at the school. Anyone who failed to applaud or was in any way unsupportive was awarded detention. Richard Burgman (Kamikaze Kids) came from Wagga Wagga, and they all met in Sydney in 1979, forming The Sunnyboys.
The band's name was based on an orange flavoured frozen ice treat of the same name. It came in a triangular pyramid shaped ‘tetra-pack’. These ice confections were very popular as a cheap summer treat all over Australia. According to Richard Burgman the band chose the name because it represented ‘bright, happy, young, fun’.
On 15 August 1980, they played their first gig, supporting The Lipstick Killers, and Me 262. In October of that year the band recorded four songs with Lobby Loyde who also acted as their manager. The tracks, "Love To Rule", "The Seeker", "What You Need" and "Alone With You", all appeared on the band's self-titled and independently released 4-track 7" EP on Phantom Records. The initial pressing of 1,000 copies sold out in two weeks.It was later remixed and reissued as a 12".
The Sunnyboys signed to Mushroom Records in February 1981, becoming the first Sydney-based band on the label, and by July that year had cracked the mainstream charts with the single "Happy Man". The same month they released their own independent EP which was given away at gigs, entitled Happy Birthday containing the tracks "What You Need", "Why Do I Cry?", "I Want To Be Alone" and "Let You Go". Their eponymous debut LP was recorded at Alberts Studio during May, June and July 1981 with producer/mentor Lobby Loyde. The album had an initial print run of 2,000 on yellow vinyl, reached number 13 on the national album charts in October 1981 and remains an Australian classic. The album produced a second hit single, a new version of "Alone With You", which reached number 15 on the national singles chart, establishing The Sunnyboys as a bona fide headline attraction.
In the midst of their heavy touring schedule the band recorded their second album, Individuals (issued May 1982). The album peaked at number 19 and two singles from the record charted briefly: "You Need A Friend" and "This Is Real".
Their fifth single, "Show Me Some Discipline" charted in Sydney only. The band meanwhile travelled to the United Kingdom where they played two sold out shows at the famous Marquee Club before recording their 3rd album at Ridgefarm Studios, Surrey. The resultant album, Get Some Fun displayed a greater diversity and more confident musicianship. To coincide with the album's release, the band embarked on their first national Australian tour since May 1983. Neither the LP or the singles from the album ("Love In A Box" and "Comes As No Surprise") charted.
Internal dissent plagued the band; Jeremy Oxley was battling mental illness and drinking heavily as a result. The Sunnyboys announced their break-up in June 1984. Their farewell tour produced the album Real Live which was recorded over two nights in Sydney (29 and 30 June).
In 1985, the French label Closer combined The Sunnyboys' first two albums as a double set entitled Days Are Gone for the European market. Following the demise of The Sunnyboys, Jeremy Oxley launched a new band called Chinless Elite. Shortly thereafter he formed another (and more successful) group, called The Fishermen. This band released one single entitled "Can't You Stop?" on the Waterfront label.
Richard Burgman meanwhile joined The Saints and ultimately Weddings Parties Anything. He later emigrated to Canada. Peter Oxley and Bill Bilson formed the soul band The Sparklers with another Oxley sibling, Melanie.
In late 1987, Jeremy Oxley attempted to revive The Sunnyboys with a new line-up. The new band signed a deal with RCA and released an album entitled Wildcat (produced by ex-Sherbert keyboard player, Garth Porter). This incarnation of the band broke up in 1990.
In July 1991, Mushroom released the compilation album Plays The Best and the original line-up reunited for a national tour. Following this, Jeremy Oxley played further shows and also assembled yet another incarnation of "The Sunnyboys", with Jeremy Oxley as the sole original member. This group played only a few gigs as The Sunnyboys, after widespread audience discontent and a dispute over the right to use the name. The group then played a handful of gigs as the "Jeremy Oxley Band", performing the songs that later appeared on an EP credited to Jeremy "Ponytail" Oxley, titled "A Little Bit Of You In Me". The musicians in the "live" Jeremy Oxley band were replaced for the recording of the EP.
In November 1998 the band reformed for the Mushroom 25 Concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mushroom Records, organised by Michael Gudinski. For the concert Burgman was replaced by Jeremy and Peter's younger brother Tim Oxley on guitar. The Sunnyboys appeared on the original VHS release of the concert and the 2002 re-release CD and DVD. In October 2010, their 1981 debut album, Sunnyboys, was listed in the top 40 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.
On 22 April 2012 the original line-up of the band played as part of Dig It Up. the Hoodoo Gurus' Invitational concert, at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Australia. The band was listed on the bill as "Kids In Dust". They played a 45 minute set that opened with a song from Wildcat and featured songs drawn mostly from the first self-titled album ("Happy Man", "Alone With You", "Tunnel Of Love", "Let You Go", "I'm Shakin'", "My Only Friend", "Liar") and their first EP ("What You Need", "Love To Rule") as well as "Show Me Some Discipline".
On 18 July 2012 it was announced that the original line-up of The Sunnyboys would be headlining the 2012 Meredith Music Festival.
Read more about this topic: The Sunnyboys
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