Up until 1971 in Australia, if a local album sold anywhere near the 10 000 mark there was almost cause for national celebration. That mark was shattered in fine style when Daddy Cool issued its bold, exuberant debut album Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! The album set a new yardstick by which Australian rock success could be measured by selling an unprecedented 60 000 copies.
Ross Wilson launched Daddy Cool as a bit of a joke. Daddy Cool was basically a rock'n'roll revival outfit, a humorous and entertaining diversion from the serious business of advancing the horizons of rock music. Wilson took the band's name from The Rays' 1957 hit, and it was a chance for him to indulge his passion for vintage Los Angeles rock'n'roll. The public caught on quickly and Daddy Cool soon became Australia's top group. Wilson and his partner Ross Hannaford first worked together in teenage R&B outfit The Pink Finks, before moving on to The Party Machine. Wilson was a member of Procession in England between March 1969 and early 1970. In the interim, Hannaford formed country-rock band Quinn.
It was while they were attempting to get their esoteric, special occasion progressive band Sons of the Vegetal Mother off the ground during 1970, that Wilson and Hannaford decided to play around with the rollicking, good-time Daddy Cool concept. Gary Young and Wayne Duncan completed the line-up. Daddy Cool's first gigs were in November 1970, at such notorious `head' venues of the day as Melbourne's T.F. Much Ballroom. The Vegetal Mother concept was abandoned when Daddy Cool became a hit at the Odyssey Pop Festival, Wallacia in January 1971. By June Daddy Cool was #1 on the singles chart with the Australian dance classic `Eagle Rock'/`Bom Bom'. Two months later, the band topped the album charts with Daddy Who? Daddy Cool!
The Wilson-penned `Eagle Rock' was promoted by one of the first Australian rock film clips (made by Chris Löfven). It became the best-selling Australian single for 1971. `Eagle Rock' has been reissued several times since, reaching the national Top 20 (#19) again in 1982 as a 12-inch EP (with `Daddy Rocks Off' and `Bom Bom' on the flip). `Eagle Rock' reputedly inspired Elton John to write `Crocodile Rock'. Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! has likewise been repackaged innumerable times, most recently on CD as part of the 1992 Daddy Cool box set Totally Cool. The box set was issued to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the release of Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! `Eagle Rock' (1992 Dance Mix) came out as a CD single (July 1992).
In August 1971, Wilson took Daddy Cool to the US West Coast to tour, which included a week of dates at Los Angeles' famed Whisky A-go-go club. The band undertook two further USA tours -(October 1971 and March to May 1972), playing with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Captain Beef-heart, Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, Little Feat and Fleetwood Mac. While well received in certain regional pockets, the band did not make a national breakthrough. The American versions of Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! and Teenage Heaven on Warner/Reprise, plus a handful of singles, sold to a cult following.
In September 1971, `Come Back Again'/`Just as Long as We're Together' reached #2 in Australia. That same month, Jeremy Noone (ex-Company Caine) joined. With Noone on board, Wilson was able to steer the band down a more progressive rock path. Noone contributed to the delightful five-track D.C.E.P. (#11 in December) and the single `Hi Honey Ho'/`Don't Ever Leave Me' (#13 in December). The heavier sounding `Hi Honey Ho' was a taster for the band's more adventurous second album.
By 1972, only Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs rivalled Daddy Cool in overall popularity. Daddy Cool's controversial Sex, Dope, Rock'n'Roll: Teenage Heaven album made the Top 10 in January 1972. Church and government leaders took offence at the album's title, plus the tracks `Baby Let Me Bang Your Box' and `Sixty Minute Man'. Interestingly, both songs had been hits in the USA during the 1950s for The Penguins and Billy Ward and the Dominoes respectively. Sex, Dope, Rock'n'Roll: Teenage Heaven possessed a more progressive rock edge, as displayed on material like the Teen Love extravaganza (`Teen Love', `Drive in Movie' and `Love in an F.J.') and `Make Your Stash'. Reissue specialists Raven included `Make Your Stash' on the essential Various Artists compilation Golden Miles: Australian Progressive Rock 1969–1974 (1994).
Noone left in March 1972, and Ian Winter (guitar; ex-Pig Face, Carson) joined just in time for the third American tour. Winter gave the band a heavier, more blues-based sound which was heard on `Teenage Blues'/`At the Rockhouse' (September 1972). The single had been recorded at Warner Studios in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, `I'll Never Smile Again'/`Daddy Rocks Off' reached #27 in July. Then, in August, Wilson announced the band's break-up. Daddy Cool played its final concert at the Much More Ballroom on 13 August 1972. The band's final single for 1972 was `Rock'n'Roll Lady'/`Cadillacin''(October 1972). The songs had been written by Gary Young and he also sang lead vocals. The single was credited to Gary Young with Daddy Cool. Gary Young and Wayne Duncan formed rockabilly/country outfit Hot Dog and issued two singles, `Rock-A-Billy Beating Boogie Band'/`You Can't Shake the Boogie in Worn Down Rockin' Shoes' (April 1973) and `The Saga of the Three Pigs'/`With You Tonight' (October 1973).
Rosses Wilson and Hannaford formed Mighty Kong, which lasted until December 1973. In September 1973, Wizard issued the double live album Daddy Cool Live! The Last Drive-in Movie Show, which had been recorded at the farewell concert a year before. It reached #20 on the national charts. Wizard also issued three singles from the album, `One Night'/`Cadillacin'' (February 1973), `Flash in My Head'/`Little Darlin'', `Boy You're Paranoid' (June) and `Duke of Earl'/`Jambalaya' (September). The heavier tracks like `Flash in My Head' and `Boy You're Paranoid' were an indication of where Wilson and Hannaford would head with Mighty Kong.
Following a `one-off' re-formation for Sunbury 1974, Wilson decided to re-form Daddy Cool permanently. The band issued two singles on Wizard, `All I Wanna Do is Rock Part I'/`All I Wanna Do is Rock Part II' (March 1974) and `The Boogie Man'/`I Was a Teenage Creature' (July). Wizard also issued the D.C. Hits EP. By early 1975, new bands like Skyhooks and AC/DC were stealing Daddy Cool's thunder. Wilson had already produced Skyhooks' debut album, Living in the 70's. Daddy Cool's days were numbered. In April 1975, Wilson added Ian `Gunther' Gorman (guitar; ex-Home) in an attempt to revitalise the band's sound. In June 1975, a car accident put Wayne Duncan out of action, so Hannaford switched to bass while Wayne Burt (ex-Rock Granite and the Profiles) joined on guitar. The band made its final Melbourne appearance at Reefer Cabaret on 13 September 1975 and, following two weeks of gigs in Sydney, called it quits.
The Daddy Cool legend has lived on with the release of several `Best of' collections over the years, including the popular Daddy's Coolest (#10 in October 1982) and the Totally Cool box set (September 1992). One of the most interesting posthumous albums was the The Missing Masters compilation (March 1981), which drew together one side of rare studio selections with a side of previously unissued live recordings.
With the break-up of Daddy Cool, Wilson set up the Oz Records label with Glenn Wheatley. Wilson launched his solo career with the single `Living in the Land of Oz'/`Who's Gonna Love You Tonight?' (from the soundtrack to the Chris Löfven film Oz). He formed Mondo Rock in 1976 and has continued to record as a solo artist since. Ross Hannaford attempted to form a new band with Joe Camilleri (ex-Pelaco Brothers) before the singer went off to join Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons. Hannaford went on to work with Billy T, One -Foundation, Bambu, Lucky Dog, The Rocking Emus, Goanna, Dianna Kiss and many others. Gary Young became a long-term member of Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons before fronting The Rocking Emus. Since then he has played with Rock Doctors, the Phil Manning Trio, Dancehall Racketeers, The Black Sorrows, Andy Baylor's Cajun Combo, etc. Wayne Duncan went to Gulliver's Travels, TheLiving Legends, Bambu, The Rocking Emus, The Gentle-men, Wilbur Wilde's Blowout etc.
In 1994 Daddy Cool re-formed in order to record two new songs for the `Ballad of Oz' CD single. When combined with Skyhooks' `Happy Hippy Hut', it reached #35 nationally (August 1994). In 1996, Hannaford and Duncan joined forces with Frankie J. Holden and Wilbur Wilde (both ex-Ol'55), Bongo Starkie and Freddy Strauks (both ex-Skyhooks) as Ol' Skydaddys to play the cabaret circuit.