IAN B. MACLEOD
THE ROCKABILLY COWBOY
Born of a Scottish father and an English mother, more years ago than he cares to remember, Ian left Scotland when two years old and headed for Ipswich where he spent the next fifteen years in the beautiful countryside of East Anglia, surrounded by farms and forests. At school he did well in science, art and social studies and when he wasn't singing in the local church choir, he spent his spare time sketching and listening to the armed forces radio from Luxemburg which featured a lot of Country and early Rockabilly music. Every Saturday morning he was at the Odeon cinema with all the local kids to see his idol Roy Rogers singin' and shootin' his way across the silver screen and decided that one day he'd be a cowboy singer too.
At fifteen, he started work as a Commercial Artist but soon became very restless and joined the Merchant Navy, starting as a kitchen boy peeling spuds on old cargo ships, and eventually ending up as a first class waiter on P. & O. travelling the world on such luxury liners as the Arcadia, Iberia, Himalaya and Stratheden. It was on these ships that he formed his first group after buying a guitar in Spain. They practised every night in the mess nearly driving the crew mad, and whilst in Sydney on one of their trips, Ian and "The Bop St. Boys" appeared on 2UW's "Amateur Hour" and won it with Boppin The Blues, but had to be disqualified as they weren't residents.
This was all the incentive Ian needed. When he got back home, he packed his guitar and bags and set sail for Australia, but this time as a first class passenger on the Strathmore, and did he give those waiters hell!
At the Great Northern Hotel in Chatswood he won his first talent quest and headed straight for the A.B.C. and Johnny O'Keefe who, after hearing him sing "Honey Don't" and "Move It", booked him for A.B.C. radio's "Rockville Junction" and "Six O'Clock Rock". It was now 1960 and a forty-four year career in Country music was about to begin.
Johnny O'Keefe was not impressed with the young singer's name, saying that it sounded like a Scottish piper, and promptly decided in true O'Keefe style that henceforth he would be known as ADAM. And so for the next four years Ian B. MacLeod was put into mothballs and "ADAM" was seen on "Six O'Clock Rock", "Bandstand", "Teen Time", "The Youth Show", "Woody's Teen Time" and "Adelaide Tonight". He was "ADAM" - Teenage Idol, a product of Australia's early rock era and probably the first true Rockabilly artist to emerge.
From 1960-1964, he enjoyed the fleeting success of all the artists of that era. Over a hundred T.V. shows, national tours and guest spots at every teenage dance in town, and one rather dreadful single on the Teen label backed by Johnny Devlin's "Devils".
In 1964 the bubble burst as a new style of music was heralded in by "The Beatles" and similar groups. He formed a group called "The Nashville Five" and started from the bottom again as an unknown singer with a band that played Country and Rockabilly; not the most popular music at that time.
Then the groups line-up changed to a six piece and "The Major Six" was born. They worked clubs, pubs and teenage dances and in June, 1964, they were approached by David Gibson of Top Spot Records. Over the next twelve months they recorded about twenty tracks on a Rola two-track tape machine in a disused warehouse in Redfern. Shortly after these recordings had been completed, Top Spot Records folded and the tapes were presumed lost.
Twenty years later, at Ian's sister's house in Warragamba, Ian was sorting through an old trunk and found a box of tape marked "The Johnny Cash Show". Upon playing it he discovered the missing Top Spot recording sessions from 1964. They were promptly taken to Roy Cooper of Soundlab Studios and carefully transferred onto a new master tape. Twelve of these tracks were subsequently released in April, 1984 on an album entitled "Return To Six O'Clock Rock".
In 1967, Ian decided it was time to go solo again as he could now sing in tune and had improved his guitar pickin' 100%. By 1968 he was appearing on T.V. shows such as "Ernie Sigley", "I.M.T.", "The Bob Roger's Show", "The Club Show", "Travellin' Out West", "Reg Lindsay's Country Homestead" and The Lee Conway Show. Club dates started pouring in, and country tours for George Hilder and Ted Quigg, who managed Ian for a couple of years.
In the early 70's, Ian starting cruising with Sitmar, taking Country music to the cruising public for the first time and lasting right up until 1978 when he stopped cruising so he could be in Sydney more to concentrate on his record company which had started to take off.
Over the intervening years, Ian has toured from Perth to Mt. Isa and back again, worked the Club circuit in all States and still found the time to record fourteen albums and seven singles, and produce sixty albums and eighty singles for the artists on his labels. He was part of the official opening of the Sydney Opera House, performing alongside such Country stars as Jimmy Little and Nola Hirst and has hundreds of awards from Charity Organisations acknowledging his unselfish support of their various causes.
Ian's tribute album "Thankyou Mr. Perkins" was released in 1988 to rave reviews in national papers and magazines and received a personal letter from the legendary "King of Rockabilly" - Carl Perkins, saying how much he appreciated the tribute from Ian. Following Carl's untimely death in January, 1998, Ian rereleased the album on CD & with the support of his band, "Rockabilly Express" & "The Living Dolls" & has put together "Blue Suede Shoes" a wonderful tribute show to Carl Perkins - The Godfather of Rockabilly.
Another of Ian's shows, "A Tribute to Slim Whitman" showcases Ian at his best with a fabulous array of Whitman classics, demonstrating his three octave range & featuring all the great hits from one of country music best-loved icons.
In June, 2000, Ian was inducted into the "Hall of Fame" at the Wintersun Festival on the Gold Coast & in October, 2000 into the "International Rockabilly Hall of Fame" on the recommendation of Jerry Lee Merritt, Gene Vincents MD/Guitarist/Songwriter - more great milestones in a country music career that has spanned four decades.
2001 saw Ian return to the road after many years away from touring & he made several personal appearances at Country Music Festivals, as well as major Clubs. Ian's current album "Waterfall" received rave revues when it was released in September, 2001 at the World's largest Independent Country Music Festival in Mildura, Vic. In 2002, two singles were lifted from the album, "Waterfall" & "Mountain Lowry Call", and they are currently enjoying airplay on numerous radio stations throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the UK, Canada & the US.
In September, 2002, Ian released Songwriter, a compilation of songs that he has either written or co-written with other artists. It covers the whole spectrum of Ians music from traditional country through to rockabilly. One of the tracks Pickin Like Perkins was released in Canada through darkHorse Records in Ontario as a prelude to what proved to be a very successful European Tour for Ian in March/April 2003.
Ians pace has not let up in 2004, with very successful tours to New Zealand, Victoria & Queensland, along with his popular Sydney dates. In between he has found the time to write & select tracks for a forthcoming album which he hopes to have released by the end of the year. Asked when The Rockabilly Cowboy is going to slow down, he replies with a wry grin I guess Ill slow down when the moon turns square!
Carl Perkins; Gene Vincent; Eddie Cochran; Slim Whitman; Frank Ifield
Ian proudly plays Ovation guitars & uses DR handmade strings.
The Hands of Fame Park, Tamworth - January, 1997
Wintersun Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame - June, 2000
International Rockabilly Hall of Fame - October, 2000