| ||Albums: Against the Wind (television miniseries soundtrack with Jon English, Polydor, 1978), Epic III (Polydor, 1979), Human Games (EMI/Wheatley, 1983), World Safari II (film soundtrack, Powder-works/BMG, 1984), A Fortunate Life (television soundtrack, Polydor, 1986), The Lighthorsemen (film soundtrack, Festival, 1989), Brides of Christ (television soundtrack, ABC, 1991).|
Acclaimed guitarist/songwriter/composer Mario Millo (b. 1955) was something of a child prodigy. He learned to play the mandolin at age five, the guitar at eight and by 12 was fronting his first band, The Menu, formed with friends from Mitchell High School in Sydney's Western suburbs. By the time he was 14, Millo's band, then renamed The Clik, had issued its first, bubblegum single `La De Da'/`Yes Sir' (November 1969) on Festival Records.
The contract with Festival was part of the prize awarded to the band for taking out first place in the 1969 2SM Pepsi Battle of the Bands held at the Sydney Stadium. The Menu's line-up was Millo (vocals, guitar), Brian Nicholls (organ), Vince Moult (bass) and Mark Friedland (drums). The Menu also scored a $5000 contract with the Cordon Bleu booking agency. The agency renamed the band The Clik, decked them out in cute, matching uniforms, and lined up work on the lucrative suburban dance circuit. Festival issued the band's second single, `Mary Mary'/`Uptight Basil', in March 1970. Coca-Cola/McCann-Ericksons then chose the band to promote Fanta soft drink. As part of the advertising campaign, the band became The Fantasy, recorded a series of television commercials (`Fancy Nancy') and toured Australia and New Zealand.
Millo soon tired of the exploitation, and broke up The Fantasy in 1971. He travelled to Europe for six months, and then on his return in early 1972 re-formed The Clik as a more serious, rock-oriented venture. The line-up comprised Millo, Garry Adams (lead guitar; ex-Galadriel), Phil Cogan (bass) and Doug Bligh (drums; ex-Galadriel). By 1973, Justin McCoy had replaced Adams, but Millo broke up the band in October 1973 when he received an offer to join up-and-coming dance band Sebastian Hardie.
Sebastian Hardie eventually established a reputation as Australia's first symphonic rock band. Millo stayed with the band until the end of 1976. He then formed Windchase with Sebastian Hardie keyboards player Toivo Pilt, but that band only lasted for a year. Millo then joined Jon English's backing band, Baxter Funt. At that stage, English was one of Australia's most popular solo singers. In 1978 English starred in the television miniseries Against the Wind. He and Millo composed, recorded and produced the Against the Wind soundtrack album, which went on to become the best-selling MOR album for 1979. The single `Six Ribbons'/ `Mary's Theme' (#5 in January 1979) was the best-selling male pop single for the year. Against the Wind later became a hit series when screened on UK and Scandinavian television.
Millo and English toured Scandinavia to great acclaim; Against the Wind went on to sell over 500000 copies worldwide. In 1979, Millo contributed the track `Rebecca' to the Various Artists Australian Guitar Album (Razzle/Festival) which also featured Kevin Borich, Ian Moss, Lobby Loyde, Phil Manning, Rockwell T. James, Russell Smith, Mick Elliott, Ian Miller, Chris Turner and Harvey James. `Rebecca' was issued as a single backed with Harvey James' `Let It Go'.
Flushed with the success of his venture with Jon English, Millo produced, composed, engineered and arranged his own album, Epic III, which came out in September 1979. It was a highly orchestrated work, brimming with classical themes and overtones that showcased Millo's characteristic soaring guitar technique. Master bass player Jackie Orszaczky and drummer Mark Kennedy helped out on the sessions. Neither the album nor its single, `Life in Our Hands'/`Sogno D'Amore' (August 1979), reached the charts. It was a fate that befell Millo's next two singles, `You'/`People Like Us' (October 1982) and `Breaking Away'/`People Like Us' (February 1983), plus his second album, Human Games (May 1983).
By 1984, Millo had embarked on a successful career in soundtrack composition and production. Millo has scored the soundtracks to film and television productions like World Safari II, Joh's Jury, Brides of Christ, The Lighthorsemen, Shame, Tanamera: The Lion of Singapore, A Fortunate Life, Bullwinkle, Lola Montes, The High Country, People Like Us, The Body Business, Shame and G.P. Millo won the 1991 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Award for Best Australian Soundtrack and APRA Awards for Best Television Theme and Best Television Score for Brides of Christ. The Lighthorsemen won an AFI Award for Best Original Music Score.