Fozzie bear are Jamie Latimer, Paul Martin, Dave Fitzpatrick and Lee Simons.
Fozzie bear are Jamie Latimer, Paul Martin, Dave Fitzpatrick and Lee Simons. Contributed

Fozzy Bear ends the gig on a high note

NORTHERN Rivers band Fozzy Bear will perform its last two shows in January as artist Lee Simons retires from music.

The covers band became a popular one amongst music lovers for their on-stage humour and music set.

We had a chat to bassists Jamie Scene about the end of the band.

What sort of gig is Fozzy Bear preparing for their last ever show?

We always focus on the entertainment side of things, you know, costumes and exaggerated movement with a healthy dose of stage banter, although lately it's been a bit overheated throwing on the ZZ top beards.

As always, there will be the usual western gun fight in Wild Wild West, some audience participation in YMCA and Shake Your Tailfeather, letting your hair out in We're Not Gonna Take It.

All our songs are special. We make them that way because we're unique individuals pressed from a different mold to others. As a bass player , I don't play any covers song identical to the original, they always have my own spin to make them interesting , otherwise they may as well listen to a jukebox.

Why is the band finishing?

Everything must come to an end.

We all have families and when you think about the toll it takes on the body, the set up and performing, I can understand why Lee is retiring.

We are old school, so we still have the huge speakers that you almost need a trained elephant to carry.

I first met Lee in the late 1980s. He had just left the band I had joined.

He continued on until now in some of the best known local bands: Loose Change, Straight Aces, Risky Business, 3 Blind Mice, Big Generator, The Milkmen and One 2 Many Band, while I went from In Command to Mangroovies, until 1992.

When the Mangroovies' recording contract with EMI records fell through, I retired from music and didn't play again until 2007, but every time I run into Lee, I think we both knew that we would play music together at some point.

In 2015, I was playing with Punk icons World War XXXIV and Lee had just finished with One 2 Many Band. I got a phone call from Lee to form this new covers band with himself and two other local legends Dave Fitzpatrick and Paulie Martin.

The only condition was that we would only play one weekend a month.

I knew it was the last opportunity to play with Lee so I was easily convinced, now we can both rest easy knowing we performed together in the Fozzy Bear show.

The band is well-known for happy retro pop covers. After so many years playing, what were the songs you loved as a band and those you get asked to play and were not your cup of tea?

We gave it a lot of thought in the beginning, the idea was to make it a show more than just another gig.

Being four of us means we all have our different musical influences but there was pretty much always an understanding of the niche we needed to find.

The mash ups were fun: Leo Sayers' More Than I Can Say into The Police's Every Breath You Take, ending with Nina's 99 Red Balloons.  

It was always a buzz with the audience telling us how much they loved what we do.

We usually start with the Muppet's Manamana, so people would give us the gee up on the lug in, throwing out a 'Manamana' every time we passed by.

Why was the white shirt and black tie the band's uniform?

It wasn't something I was into as I have a rack full of cool stage gear but Lee was the driver so he wanted us to stand out and have more stage presence I guess.

I believe the sweaty white shirts may be auctioned off at the final show along with the rest of the props that were used.

  • At Brunswick Hotel, Brunswick Heads, on Saturday, January 12, and at the Shaws Bay Hotel, Ballina, on Saturday, January 26.

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