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The Easybeats mini-series: how migrant band found its rhythm

Mackenzie Fearnly stars as Harry Vanda in the TV mini-series Friday on My Mind.
Mackenzie Fearnly stars as Harry Vanda in the TV mini-series Friday on My Mind. Tony Mott

THEIR songs have stood the test of time, and now the story behind the music of The Easybeats is coming to the small screen.  

The two-part mini-series Friday On My Mind tells the story of five young immigrants who met in a Sydney migrant hostel in the 1960s and formed the band that would take Australian rock 'n' roll to the world.  

"Obviously it's a story of camaraderie and mateship, but a lot of people forget it's an immigrant story," Mackenzie Fearnley tells The Guide.   

"These were five guys from different parts of the world to Australia being persecuted before being accepted as Australia's biggest rock 'n' roll band. It's a celebration of Australia's migrant history."  

Mackenzie Fearnley and Du Toit Bredenkamp in a scene from Friday on My Mind.
Mackenzie Fearnley and Du Toit Bredenkamp in a scene from Friday on My Mind. ABC-TV

Gold Coast native Fearnley makes hits TV debut as legendary guitarist and songwriter Johannes Van Den Berg, aka Harry Vanda.  

"I was back home on the Coast with Mum and Dad and told them about how they're making a TV show about a band called The Easybeats and they both went 'Wow that's from back in our time'," he says.   

"They pulled out all the old DVDs and we went through the history of the band. From that point on I decided I was the only person in Australia who was going to get this role. I wasn't going to let anyone else get it."  

The mini-series traces the band's formation, partnership with Australian music industry pioneer and record producer Ted Albert (played by Ashley Zuckerman), international success and eventual break-up.   

William Rush, Arthur McBain, Mackenzie Fearnley, Du Toit Bredenkamp and Christian Byers in a scene from Friday on My Mind.
William Rush, Arthur McBain, Mackenzie Fearnley, Du Toit Bredenkamp and Christian Byers in a scene from Friday on My Mind. Tony Mott

"Harry was the peacekeeper of the group," Fearnley says.

"He just loved playing and writing music. He didn't so much get involved in the politics or drama surrounding that. I study Shakespeare so I put him as the Benvolio to Romeo. He was just trying to keep everyone on track."  

The five core cast members spent a month rehearsing the band's songs.  

"It was amazing how that rehearsal period informed the shoot with how the five of us interacted with each other," Fearnley says.  

Harry and George would go on to have a much longer songwriting partnership after the break-up of The Easybeats as Vanda & Young, which supplied hits for AC/DC, John Paul Young, former Easybeats front man Stevie Wright, Rose Tattoo and The Angels.   

Mackenzie Fearnley and William Rush in a scene from Friday on My Mind.
Mackenzie Fearnley and William Rush in a scene from Friday on My Mind. Tony Mott

"Apart from the dynamic of a great rhythm guitarist and a great lead guitarist, (their partnership) also taps in to the psychology of the both of them," Fearnley says.  

"George was the driver of the music creation. He was the one throwing out most of the ideas and Harry had the chisel and the hammer, crafting things from what George had given him... They both had that shared goal of wanting to do music."  

Friday On My Mind premieres on Sunday at 8.40pm on ABC-TV.

Topics:  abc tv friday on my mind music television



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