Wake up Jeff, it's an ARIA
IT'S a long road from last place in a Lismore band competition to the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, but one Casino boy achieved just that on Sunday night.
Jeff Fatt, the sleepiest of the four Wiggles, who picked up Best Children's Album of the Year before being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame along with Kylie Minogue, played his first gig at Lismore City Hall with older brother Hilton in 1966.
"Jeff was 13 and played bass - I played drums but was pretty hopeless," a bemused Hilton Fatt recalled yesterday.
"That was Jeffrey's first gig playing with the Brass Knobs in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds at Lismore City Hall.
"We came last."
Hilton, a Casino businessman, began his career in the music industry as a musician and sound engineer, inspiring his younger brother to follow suit.
And it was through supplying PA equipment to popular Sydney band The Cockroaches - the now famous precursor to the Wiggles - that the connection was made.
"We both grew up and went to school in Casino," he said.
"The two of us used to jam in a blues band and play at the Metropole Hotel (in Lismore) and even did a tour of the North Coast in 1971.
"Then I had the PA business in Sydney in the '70s, but I came back in 1980 and Jeff took it on.
"The reason he was in The Cockroaches was that instead of coming back after the gigs to pick up the gear, they asked him to stay and play keyboards with them."
The rest is history.
"We used to go to Sydney a lot in the '60s and '70s. Mum had a house at Chatswood and I was playing in bands with Jeff - a band called the Ravens, and another called The Roadmasters," he said.
While the ARIA induction and a recent Order of Australia have impressed the Fatt family, Hilton explained they had become used to the constant string of awards.
"I remember when Jeffrey got his first gold album with The Cockroaches back in the '80s, that was a big buzz - Mum's still got it somewhere," he said.
Apart from the obvious talent and their interest in children, Hilton said the secret to the Wiggles' success was based in solid songwriting.
"There was a grounding in writing catchy tunes with The Cockroaches - you know, just good riffs, melodies and words," he said.
"Jeff's been fortunate to make a living playing music for 30 years - he's a trained industrial designer who never used his degree."