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Encyclopedia entry for 'The Ferrets' LETTER:

Formed in 1975
StylePop
 Original line-up: Billy Miller (guitar, vocals), Dave Springfield (guitar), Ken Firth (bass; ex-Tully)
 Albums: Dreams of a Love (Mushroom/Festival, 1977), Fame at Any Price (Mushroom/Festival, 1978); Billy Miller albums: Yarraville (1993), Victoria (1998), Elsternwick ’69 (2000)

History
As Noel McGrath put it, The Ferrets came to the nation's attention in a blaze of publicity for the 1977 single `Don't Fall in Love' and album Dreams of a Love. Under the patronage of Countdown compere and talent coordinator Ian `Molly' Meldrum (who produced the album), it seemed inevitable The Ferrets would find long-term success, but due to line-up changes and a general lack of acceptance the band split in 1979.

The Ferrets came together in Sydney during early 1975. Billy Miller, Ken Firth and Dave Springfield then put the band on hold while they joined the final version of Buster Brown (July to November 1975). When Buster Brown dissolved, Philip Eisenberg (guitar) joined Miller, Firth and Springfield and The Ferrets relocated to Melbourne. Miller, Firth and Eisenberg had previously worked together in the Jesus Christ Superstar stage production. The band came to the attention of Meldrum and he introduced them to Rick Brewer (drums; ex-Zoot, I'Tambu, Jim Keays' Southern Cross) who joined in April 1976. Meldrum was also instrumental in getting the band signed to Mushroom Records. He took the band into the studio in July 1976 to start work on an album. (When the album finally appeared, Meldrum's credit read `Producer: Willie Everfinish'.) Meanwhile, Miller's sisters Pam and Jane had joined as back-up singers.

The Ferrets' first single, `Robin Hood'/`The Lemming Song' (April 1977) was not successful, but `Don't Fall in Love'/`Lies' (June 1977) made #1 in Melbourne and #3 nationally. The band's long-awaited debut album was eventually `rush-released' in October. Initial copies of the album were issued in a plain white cardboard sleeve only bearing The Ferrets' name, because the artwork had not been finalised. The release was deemed necessary in order to satisfy buyer demand. When the proper sleeves were made available, the purchaser could make the swap. As it transpired, Dreams of a Love climbed no higher than #20 on the album charts. The band's third single, `Janie May'/`Just Like the Stars', reached # 25 in November.

In December, Pam and Eisenberg left and Jane switched to keyboards. Following the release of the unsuccessful `Are You Looking at Me?'/`Holloway' single (April 1978), Jane and Firth both left. George Cross (bass; ex-Jim Keays' Band) replaced Firth, giving a line-up of Miller, Springfield, Brewer and Cross. That line-up recorded `This Night'/`Tait's Run' (September 1978) and Fame at Any Price (October 1978). Neither record was successful. Cross was replaced by Ric Petropolis (ex-Last Chance Café) in September. In late 1978, Charisma Records issued Dreams of a Love and `Don't Fall in Love' in the UK and Europe.

The Ferrets' last single, `Tripsville'/`It's Not Over', came out in January 1979 and two months later the band broke up. Miller and Firth formed The Great Blokes; Springfield, Petropolis and Brewer joined Miller's younger brother Kenny in The Motivators. That band issued the album The Motivators and the singles `So Scared', `Kicks' (shared with the Jukes' `Let You Know' and `We All Know By Now') (July 1980), `After the Fall'/ `Slipping', `Coming Up' (October 1980), `Summer'/ `Just Don't Care' (January 1981) and `New Blood'/ `At This Point in Time' (May 1981) on the Result label.

Eisenberg formed Mighty Guys. In 1983, Billy Miller formed The Spaniards with Mick Pealing (vocals; ex-Stars, Ideals) and Mark Mannock (keyboards; ex-Ideals). The Spaniards utilised other players as required, including Dave Springfield (guitar), Kevin Purcell (keyboards), Russell Brown (bass) and John Annas (drums; ex-Kevin Borich Express). The Spaniards issued three singles, `God is a Shield' (1984), `Angel' (1985) and `What Can I Do?' (1985), plus the mini-album Locked in a Dance (EMI, 1986). Miller has continued to work with various bands ever since.

Billy Miller recorded two solo albums, Yarraville (1993) and Victoria (1998). In early 1999, he joined The Dave Graney Show as guitarist. In March 2000, Miller issued his new, solo CD, Elsternwick ’69. Self-financed and self-produced, the album comprised recent recordings (1999) of songs Miller wrote between 1969 and 1972 with his friend from Caulfield High School, Martin Fells. Naturally enough, the album featured a nostalgic feel, with hints of psychedelia and Beatlesque pure pop. Guest players on the album included Dave Graney (vocals, guitar), Clare Moore (drums), Rebecca Barnard (vocals), Sean Kelly (guitar, vocals), Andrew Duffield (keyboards) and Miller’s son Eddie (guitar).



Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane 1999
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd

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