Singer/guitarist/songwriter Keith Glass is one of the unsung legends of Australian rock music. He was prominent in several bands during the 1960s: The Rising Sons, Eighteenth Century Quartet and Cam-Pact. Glass has also made his mark on the Australian country music scene. Some of his songs, like `This Country of Mine', `When Stan was the Man', `Outback (in Our Backyard)' and the satirical `Victoria Bitter (She Made Me that Way)' have attracted considerable interest.
When Glass left Cam-Pact in 1969, after three years and four singles, he took the role of Berger in the original Australian stage production of the American `tribal love-rock musical' Hair directed by Jim Sharman (later acclaimed as the director of the feature film version of The Rocky Horror Show). Hair had its Australian premier on 5 June 1969. Glass was heard on the Hair Australian Cast album issued by Spin at the end of 1969. His version of `Donna' from the musical was the flipside to Sharon Redd's rendition of `Easy to be Hard'. The single came out in October 1969.
Under the influence of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and Gram Parsons, Glass formed pioneering country-rock band Sundown in 1970. The original Sundown line-up was Glass, Mark Barnes (bass; ex-Moppa Blues, Delta Set, Roadrunners, Cam-Pact), Broderick Smith (vocals, harmonica; ex-Adderley Smith Blues Band), Kerryn Tolhurst (guitar; ex-Adderley Smith Blues Band) and Barry Windley (drums; ex-Chessmen, Cherokees, Quinn). Later members included Mike Edwards (pedal steel), Steve Edwards (bass), David Green (guitar), Dave Redapple (guitar) and Richard Wright (drums; ex-Groop). Sundown issued one single on Image, `This Country of Mine'/`Outback Dan' (June 1972), before breaking up. Country legend Slim Dusty later recorded `This Country of Mine'.
Glass then went into record retail and pioneered the import record boom in the early 1970s with his shop Archie & Jughead's. By the late 1970s, as well as playing in the Keith Glass Band (KGB) and The Living Legends, Glass was running the Missing Link retail outlet and independent record label. As with Cam-Pact during the 1960s, Missing Link was a cornerstone organisation on Melbourne's independent scene of the late 1970s.
As a record shop, Missing Link was one of the first in Australia to stock independent punk and new wave records. As a record label, it provided an important outlet for the recordings of The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party, Whirlywirld, Laughing Clowns, La Femme, The Go-Betweens and others. The first two releases on Missing Link were actually 1960s R&B; band The Union's Ultimate Garage Band EP (The Union had been fronted by respected 1970s rock journalist David `Dr Pepper' Pepperell) and Cam-Pact's Living in the `60s EP.
As manager of The Birthday Party, Glass did much to foster the band's growth and independence. It was with his assistance (financial and morale-wise) that the band got to England in the first place. Glass should be recognised as one of the grand patrons of the Australian new wave movement.
In 1977, the Keith Glass Band (KGB) comprised Glass, Wayne Duncan (bass; ex-Daddy Cool), Robert Souter (drums; ex-Lizard) and Les Stacpool (guitar; ex-Chessmen, Merv Benton and the Tamlas, Doug Parkinson In Focus, Aesop's Fables). The band played R&B; and country-tinged rock. With the arrival of Wayne Burt (guitar; ex-Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons) during October 1977, KGB became The Living Legends. Huk Treloar (drums; ex-Pantha, Bleeding Hearts) replaced Souter, who went to The Dynamic Hepnotics. The Living Legends had two tracks, `Hopeless Case' and `Baby Doll', included on the Various Artists album The Melbourne Club on Missing Link.
After a stint songwriting in Nashville, Tennessee, Glass returned to Melbourne and opened the country record store Deep South. In 1986 he issued a mini-album, God, Guns and Guts, on Au-go-go under the pseudonym Onie J. Holy. By the late 1980s, Glass was again exploring urban Australian themes over country/blues rhythms with the Keith Glass Honky Tonk Band and Keith Glass and the Tumblers. In 1988, Glass signed a solo deal with Virgin Records and issued two well-received country albums, Going Over Old Ground and Living Down My Past, plus a series of singles, `When Stan Was the Man', `Home and Away Game', `Victoria Bitter (She Made Me that Way)', `Going Over Old Ground' and `Walking Off the Land'.
Backing on the albums was by The Tumblers: Mark Mealin (guitar), Peter Scholz (pedal steel), Nick Pitman (bass) and Noel Herridge (drums; ex-Sid Rumpo), plus guests like Glass's songwriting collaborator Mick Hamilton (guitar), Broderick Smith (vocals, harp) and former Asleep at the Wheel steel-player Lucky Oceans. Keith Glass and the Tumblers made several appearances at the Tamworth Country Music Festival during the early 1990s. Glass also co-hosted the country music show High in the Saddle with Dave Dawson on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR-FM. In 1988 he contributed songs to the soundtrack for the film Rikky & Pete.
Glass recorded three albums with the Hamilton Glass and Young trio (comprising Glass, Mick Hamilton and Gary Young) in the mid-1990s. He released a new solo album, Smoke and Mirrors, in 1997.