Emerging singer/songwriter Penny Lane chats with Bob Gordon about her debut single, Lavender Dice, and the inspiration and memory of her late father, Richard Lane.

Young Fremantle musician/actor, Penny Lane, has just released her debut single, Lavender Dice.  At 14 years of age that’s a remarkable achievement and is testament to the young singer/songwriter’s creativity, confidence and the belief of all those around her.  

It’s also much more than that. It’s proof that out of tragedy, love and legacy can live on. Penny’s father, renowned Australian musician Richard Lane of The Stems, The Rosebuds and more, took his own life during the worst of Perth’s Covid-19 isolation in May 2020 when she was just 11 years old. It was a shock to the music community who regarded him as a beloved icon and friend.  

For Penny and her mother Cathy Gavranich, the lights had dimmed, and their hearts were broken. 

Fortunately, music and sharing and caring had been hallmarks in Penny’s life ‘til then and they continue to be so. When she was eight months old Richard and Cathy established Penny Lane’s Music Workshop in Fremantle and created a community around teaching music, especially to kids. It wasn’t merely about chords, charts and scales, however, but the joy of music for all.  

A multi-instrumentalist, Penny has grown up in the heart of this, learning all she can and living her best creative life. 

“Growing up inside our music school and being home-schooled has meant that I have been able to spend a lot of my time learning music,” she says. “I ended up having lessons in every instrument that we’ve ever taught at Penny Lane’s. I play piano, drums, guitar, bass, ukulele, violin, cello, flute, saxophone and clarinet. I don’t have one favourite, but the instruments I most enjoy playing are piano, guitar, drums and flute.” 

Penny can’t quite recall when she first became a songwriter per se, because writing and creating in all sorts of forms has been a cornerstone of her life for as long as she can remember. 

“I was raised making up songs and verses with my parents every day,” she notes, so it’s hard to say when I went from making up simple verses with them to writing a full song myself, but I do remember writing a full song on piano at six-years-old. 

“I mostly write with my friends that I have a band with and we really work together well. Once we get started we just bounce off each other and write about all sorts of things so it’s hard to pin it down. I also hope to release a song with my band soon.” 

Penny’s debut single, Lavender Dice, is a slow-burning, keyboard-led song reminiscent of the likes of London Grammar, Sarah Blasko or Fiona Apple, with an accordion-like counter melody that renders it also somewhat Parisian.  

‘Awkward mirror memories shine 

As we dance around this painful clock of time’ 

Lavender Dice was written very differently from the rest of my songs because I decided that I wanted to write the lyrics before the music this time,” Penny explains. “I wasn’t sure where to start so I had this idea to ask people around the music school to give me random words to work with. I put these words together in a way that was meaningful to me and I hope that they can create personal meaning for everyone who listens to the song. 

“I turned the words into images and feelings that I can relate to or have felt at different times in my life.” 

Lavender Dice was recorded with the assistance of father and son team, Shaun and Adrian Hoffmann. Shaun was one of Richard Lane’s oldest friends, and his band No Flowers No Wedding Dress released music via Lane’s Idaho Records label in the ‘90s. Adrian is Richard’s Godson and Penny’s Godfather.  

“So there was a lot of love in the room,” explains Cathy. “It’s been a sensitive process as Penny stepped into the spaces that her Daddy occupied and created in with the people he recorded his music with, using the gear he used. She even wore some of his clothes, which she often does as a comfort thing to feel close to him. 

“Penny took to the recording process like a pro, and it was beautiful to watch her gently unfold all the gifts her Daddy gave her. There was healing in this process, and we felt Richard all around us.” 

Recording with Shaun Hoffmann

For Penny it clearly means the world to be recording her own music now with the tools – both creative and technical – that Richard gifted her. The emotional connection to the Hoffmanns only amplified this.  

“I feel like it’s helping me to stay connected to my Dad,” Penny explains. “Recording this song using the same gear that he used to record his music has been really emotional for me, in a good way. It feels right to be doing this and like my Dad is watching over me. 

“It was great to work with Shaun and Adrian. They are the people that my Dad recorded with for so many years. Because it was my first time recording it was great to be with people I have known my whole life and am so comfortable with.” 

For Adrian Hoffmann, who has emerged as a respected singer/songwriter over the last decade, the experience of working on Penny’s debut song release was profound. 

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Penny since the day she was born,” he says. “It has been an honour to witness her artistic journey and see her become the exceptional and multi-talented artist she is today. 

“Penny grew up in a music-filled environment thanks to her parents. Surrounded by music lessons, she absorbed melodies, rhythms, and lyrics like a sponge. That rich musical upbringing shines through in Lavender Dice… her raw, indie charm and clever chord progressions come together perfectly. 

“Despite the heartbreaking loss of Richard in 2020 when she was just 11 years-old, Penny has shown unwavering courage and determination to pursue her dreams. Knowing Richard as well as I did, I know he would be immensely proud of her, both as an artist and as the wonderful person she has become.” 

Penny also studies drama and the single release is the last leg of a GoFundMe campaign created to help her travel to Universal Studios in Los Angeles to participate in an acting course and industry showcase event for young actors and musicians. Once there she will be joining a group of just 100 performers who have been chosen from thousands of applicants to attend. For her part, Penny has been teaching music to kids up to the age of six as well as busking in Fremantle and crocheting earrings to sell in order to raise money.

The preparation for the course has also been demanding.

“It has been a combination of online classes, rehearsals and auditions that I have been doing since October last year,” Penny says. “I’m just finishing off a five-week bootcamp to prepare for the event in LA which is five days of workshops, classes and interviews with agents, managers and casting directors from all over the world.  

“I am really excited to be able to take part and to have the chance to step outside of the familiar world I know in Fremantle to learn more about how the international film industry works. I hope to get signed by an agent or manager and to start auditioning for some roles and to be able to go as far as I can in the industry, and that this trip to America can help me learn how to be the best actor I can be.  

“I’m especially looking forward to the classes and to meeting the friends I have made from all over the world over the past nine months. I have a scene partner from Hawaii that I have been writing and rehearsing with and I am so excited to perform together in person. I have been writing all my own monologues and scenes and I really enjoy that part of it. I plan to keep up with all that I have been doing and learning and to continue working with the friends I have made through this experience.” 

Penny also plans to record and release the songs she has written with her band, noting that the release of Lavender Dice has helped her grow in confidence across the board.  

Richard, Cathy and Penny in 2019

Throughout all of this and forever as well, Penny thinks of Richard and feels his guiding hand and warmth. He helped so many reach their creative potential during his life, it is destiny that he would do so for his beloved daughter in hers.  

“I think about the way he would always make me smile, no matter what was happening around me,” Penny reflects, “about how we would play music together every single day and how much fun we had together.  

“I miss him so much. It’s hard to find words to describe the mix of memories and feelings, but mostly I feel his love all the time.” 

Lavender Dice is available to purchase at

Penny’s GoFundMe page is at

Nick Mason Of Pink Floyd: TDSOTM50

Nick Mason Of Pink Floyd: TDSOTM50

Here’s the full transcript of my 2011 interview with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.

That sound you can hear is one of Pink Floyd fans rejoicing. The 200 million album-selling band and their label, EMI Music, have embarked on Why Pink Floyd?, a full re-issue of all Pink Floyd albums, re-mastered. These are known as the ‘Discovery’ editions, but for more avid fans there will be staggered ‘Immersion’ releases (CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray /memorabilia box sets) and Experience editions (coupling a classic album with a second disc of related content from that album).

Previously unearthed gems have now been made available simply because it’s possible. The Dark Side Of The Moon ‘Immersion’ box includes a Wembley Stadium live concert from 1974, which Mason says couldn’t have been released 10 years ago. Band-endorsed engineers Andy Jackson and James Guthrie repaired and sorted through various recordings, which were then given the all-clear by the three surviving band members, drummer Nick Mason, vocalist/bassist Roger Waters and guitarist/vocalist Dave Gilmour (keyboardist Rick Wright passed away in 2008 and co-founder Syd Barrett left in 1968 and died in 2006).

The band’s long-charting 1973 LP, The Dark Side Of The Moon, was the first to receive this release treatment late last month. The ‘Immersion’ edition of Wish You Were Here is released on November 4 (along with new best-of, A Foot In The Door), with 1979’s The Wall just over the horizon, scheduled for a February 24 issue.

I want to begin by asking you about the fandom; the listening audience of Pink Floyd. You’ve seen the devotion on tour, saw how Dark Side Of The Moon was in the charts for 15 years; but with these re-issues coming up, does the ongoing love of the music and the curiosity as to the background of it, continue to amaze you?

Yes I think it does. Part of the reason for doing this big re-issue is really to cover a number of bases in one go. There’s what’s known as the Immersion versions, which really just apply to the old fans, but there are other parts that are geared to people who really don’t know very much about it. It’s just to give them a taster of what’s available, really. It’s a lovely thing, particularly to have young audiences discovering something they can get something from. We’re all so brought up with the idea that rock’n’roll is ephemeral and only lasts a few years. It’s quite a change, really.

 It seems amazing that within the claustrophobia of the studio that things so universal and seemingly eternal can be created…

Yes, I think there’s a couple of things there. In the studio the only thing you can do is please yourself. You can’t even begin to second guess what the public are looking for. What you can try and do is get it right as you see it. The common question for Dark Side Of The Moon, is ‘why has it been around so long?’ and the answer is, ‘there is no simple answer’.  It’s a matter of a number of different things which include luck and timing. If there was a simple answer everyone, including us, would have made more records to that formula.

 What’s your relationship with the music of Pink Floyd, over all this time?

It’s an odd one, really, because I think people get a lot of pleasure from it and enjoy it. Whereas when I do listen to it I tend to listen to it rather critically. I’m hearing mistakes or things that could have been done better. It’s very difficult to listen to it and go, ‘God, I’m brilliant’. You don’t tend to listen to it and go, ‘oh, yeah, that was really good’. Maybe it’s, ‘well that worked, it was quite good’. You must remember, I first heard these in the recording studio.

How long was this project in planning? It seems overnight when you read about it in a magazine but clearly there’s much more to it…

There is and in fact it was a very painstaking job. An example is that the Wembley live concert from ’74, we couldn’t have released it 10 years ago. It’s really due to advances in digital editing that have made it possible to repair the tape. There were various microphones that hadn’t picked up a bass drum and things like that. (Project directors) Andy Jackson and James Guthrie, between them, have done a fantastic job of repairing some of these things.

 Has the passing of Syd Barrett and Rick Wright made this series all the more poignant?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, particularly with Rick because Syd, in a way, had been absent for so long, that was sort of less significant. But Rick was at Live8, we’d seen each other on holidays a year before, so it was very sad. I mean, I’ve known the people in the band longer than almost anyone else in my whole life. That includes people I’ve been married to and my children. I mean, the band’s been around longer than that.

 How involved were the band members in the remastering process; was anything remixed, or were the original mixes transferred with updated technology?

Everything that goes out was passed by all of us. James is brilliant in that respect,

we all trust his judgment and we all work very well with him. Whatever James did he would then send out to all of us, take the comments back and he was very good if someone was critical or had a suggestion. James was really capable of judging and taking the advice or perhaps not taking the advice (laughs). It was a very good process, mainly creative rather than critical.

The 14 EMI-released studio albums have all been remastered, as part of the Discovery editions. Some are better known than others in a universal sense; what are the albums you’d tell people to have a go at?

I think Dark Side, is always a good start. It’s shorter than something like The Wall, which is a bit more epic, kind of like Wagner’s Ring Cycle (laughs).  The Discovery compilation is a bit more than a best-of, it’s meant to be a taster of a number of different albums rather than just taking the most popular tracks. What’s nice is when people find something interesting in some of the less-known ones. For instance, I have a great affection for Saucerful Of Secrets, because there’s some interesting ideas there that were carried on all the way through Pink Floyd history. I also think Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun was one of the really great live Pink Floyd songs.

At the time of Dark Side Of The Moon, how did the musical tastes of the various members overlap?  What could they share, and what really set them apart in the music they were each into individually then?

That’s really a fabulous question and I completely unable to answer it (laughs). I’ll try and remember. The answer would be that there was a lot of influences at the time, particularly from what was going on in America. Always one of the great things about going to America was being able to go into American record shops, it was a very different selection of records to the UK.  There was a lot of interesting things coming out of America at the time. There was a guy called Moondog. I think he was New York-based, almost a street vagrant. He recorded a lot of street sounds and used them as the background in a lot of his songs.

          There was a lot of sharing of music. There was always that thing of listening to stuff together, lending each other records and so on, in that period. In ‘71-‘72 we were still very influenced by all the English bands from the period. Clapton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix in particular; that sort of thing. But there was a lot of stuff coming out of America at the time; slightly more off-the-wall things were going on.

What was it like going in to record an album that had been already performed in entirety 12 months before?

It’s not quite like that. In fact what we had been doing is playing four or five of the songs, in different versions, live. Actually, the way it really came together was more in the studio; because it was there that we actually had the big meeting and decided what it was going to be about. We hadn’t actually decided that in advance. We’d done a number of shows where things were continuous and segued together, but the actual idea for Dark Side came very much when we were in the studio and had started making the record; the idea of linking it all together with the sounds and the cross-fades was later in the process.

It was the album that changed so many things. Did you have an inkling?

I think the answer is we knew we’d done the best work to date and we knew it was good. But the fact that you know it is good doesn’t guarantee any sort of sales at all. You can do something that is really good but there’s a lot of brilliant records out there that no one’s ever heard.

Clare Torry provided some amazing, soulful backing vocals for Great Gig In The Sky. It was a collaboration that ended up in court. How does it feel when a guest comes in to do their piece and 30 years later ends up with a co-writing credit?

Yeah, well she came in for one session and was given some sort of advice – and probably conflicting advice by us – on what it should be and came up with her interpretation of our suggestions. I think she only needed three takes and we kept all three. I think there was a bit of mixing between the different takes. As I say, I think we all had different ideas of what should be done and she came up with her version, which was terrific.

1975’ s Wish You Were Here album was released in the aftermath of Dark Side Of The Moon’s popular and iconic success. So many playing fields had changed; what are your memories?

Well, it was hard work because of exactly what you’re talking about. We were now charged with making the follow-up to a very successful album. So I think we spent quite a lot of time casting around trying to decide what we were going to do. It’s quite well known that we started work on something that was known as The Household Objects project, which really went nowhere. It was just sounds without any real ideas as to what the music should be. We actually ended up spending quite a lot of time on something – a couple of aspects of it ended up getting used. That was not a great step forward.

The new re-issue features a version of Wish You Were Here with the celebrated violinist, Stephane Grappelli. Were you so spoilt for riches that it didn’t make the album release?

I absolutely cannot understand why we would have discarded it. It’s terrific. As you say we were spoilt for riches, but even so we were absolutely convinced that we should try and make the album ourselves. We didn’t want the other people… but weirdly, we ended up using Roy Harper (on Have A Cigar), so we were open to using other people. I mean that, to me, is a bit of a mystery.

Syd Barrett visited the studio during those sessions…

Yeah, that was very odd. It was all a bit of a puzzle, I think, for all of us. It was upsetting for all of us, actually. But in a way that became the catalyst to give some real point to the record.

 Is it true that he came in at the very time you were recording Shine On You Crazy Diamond (a song penned in dedication to him)?

No. Well, the answer is no one really knows. Everyone’s got a different version of it. I just cannot remember for the life of me if he did come to that session or whether it was something else. I suspect we were recording something else, partly because I was in the studio at the time and the drum track was laid down early on. I suspect that we were working on some other song at the time.

What are your memories of recording The Wall (1979)? Were things, in every aspect, getting more complex?

Actually most of The Wall recording was quite good. It must have taken a year of recording and most of that was spent with everyone working quite well on it. The politics of working together became difficult, just in the summer, when Rick wanted to go on holiday and CBS had just said they’d give us a lot of extra money if we finished it in time for Christmas. That sort of drove Roger demented. But in general most of The Wall recording was rather good because we were quite spoilt and our accountants – who turned out to be crooked – told us we might be in for a massive tax bill. We were suddenly forced to really concentrate. We left England to record abroad for the tax breaks and there was no more messing about, really. We were there to make the record and that was it. There was no going off and doing something else.

You can possibly make sense of your life and career in a way that many people can’t, what with people throwing it back at you in interviews and all sorts. Do you have it all rather sorted out and in context because of all this re-examination?

The problem is really I can’t answer that; I’ll have to put you onto my psychiatrist to respond on my behalf (laughs). But the answer, like most people who do peculiar things, is that for me it’s normal. It’s what I’ve done for the last 40 years. I remember quite a lot of it, which seems to make some sort of sense. For the most part it’s been great fun and I really enjoy it. There’s the odd moments where you think, ‘God that was pretty dreadful’, but on balance what you do realise is how lucky you are, having a career doing something that you really enjoy, that a lot of people think you’re rather clever for doing. So, no complaints from me (laughs), but also I’ve been lucky with my motor racing and cars and so on. That’s given me a counter- balance for what rock’n’roll is like. So, I’ve had a world outside music.

What’s it like, when at Live8 in 2005, or at Roger Water’s show in May, when you gather to perform? Surreal, or familiar?

I think it’s more that thing of feeling great in familiar territory. That’s what I’ve really enjoyed when playing with Roger, for instance. Coming back and playing with the same bass player I worked with for so long. There’s a source of music that you fall into, and you might like it or you might hate it, whatever, but it’s a source of something natural. It’s the way you feel easiest, I suppose. It’s comfortable. That’s the thing. It’s not actually a sort of high pressure thing at all. It’s more a case of, ‘oh yeah, I know how to do this’.

Now, the most predictable question…

Yes? (laughs).

What are the chances of the three of you going out again as Pink Floyd?

I don’t think it’s very likely, but my own prognosis is that the one thing that could make it happen would not be money. It would be a Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton type figure, and some sort of reason why us playing together would change the world or enhance some peace process. Whether music is capable of doing that, who knows? But for reasons beyond other things, Live8 was like a junior version of that, if you see what I mean. It would be an enhanced version of Live8, I would have thought that Roger and David would find hard to refuse.

Well there’ll possibly be people hoping something will go wrong somewhere…

Oh no we can’t have that (laughs). I can see the mad scientists threatening nuclear holocausts unless the band plays. Dr Evil won’t make this happen. Let’s just go and correct something that’s wrong already.

Speaking of Dr Evil, has the flashing light on your copy of (grandly packaged 1994 live LP)   Pulse gone out yet?

I think, by now, it must have gone, on every copy that everyone’s got. So no one is being tape-recorded anymore. The microphones are gone (laughs)



Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon album turns 50 this week. I interviewed drummer Nick Mason upon the album’s deluxe re-issue for this article in The West Australian, originally published in September 2011.

If ever there was a band to come in for constant re-examination and theorising, it’s Pink Floyd. The band had many trademarks, they made music that circled high and wide, that tripped the universe yet could make biting social comment on the world we live in.  

And it has been analysed to the nth degree, but importantly it also has been oft-celebrated. Drummer, Nick Mason, has written about his life in Pink Floyd and has had a lot of sense-making done on his behalf by both journalists and fans. 

“I’ll have to put you onto my psychiatrist to respond on my behalf,” laughs.” But, like most people who do peculiar things, for me it’s normal. It’s what I’ve done for the last 40 years.” 

Fans of Pink Floyd will be happy to know that shortly there will be a new kind of normal. From September 23 the band and their label, EMI Music, will embark on Why Pink Floyd?, a full re-issue of all Pink Floyd albums, remastered. These will be known as the Discovery editions, but for more avid fans there will be staggered Immersion releases (CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray /memorabilia box sets) and Experience editions (coupling a classic album with a second disc of related content from that album).  

The band’s long-charting 1973 LP, The Dark Side Of The Moon, will be the first to receive this release treatment on the kick-off date. 

“It’s a lovely thing, particularly, to have young audiences discovering something they can get something from,” Mason says. “We’re all so brought up with the idea that rock’n’roll is ephemeral and only lasts a few years. It’s quite a change, really.” 

Technological advancement has been kind to Pink Floyd fans, with previously unearthed gems now being made available simply because it’s possible. The Wish You Were Here box includes a Wembley Stadium live concert from 1974, which Mason says couldn’t have been released 10 years ago. Band-endorsed engineers Andy Jackson and James Guthrie repaired and sorted through various recordings, which were then given the all-clear by the three surviving band members, Mason, vocalist/bassist Roger Waters and guitarist/vocalist Dave Gilmour (keyboardist Rick Wright passed away in 2008). 

Pink Floyd have sold over 200 million albums, but the point that some albums are more iconic and better known to the world at large than others, prompts Mason to offer some listening tips. 

“I think Dark Side Of The Moon is always a good start,” he offers. “It’s shorter than something like The Wall (1979), which is a bit more epic, kind of like Wagner’s Ring Cycle (laughs).   

“What’s nice is when people find something interesting in some of the less-known ones. I have a great affection for Saucerful Of Secrets (1968, Syd Barrett’s final album), because there’s some interesting ideas there that were carried on all the way through Pink Floyd history. I also think the track, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, was one of the really great live Pink Floyd songs.”  

The Wish You Were Here box also contains a version of the album’s title track featuring jazz violinist, Stephane Grapelli. The fact that it wasn’t used on the album suggests that Pink Floyd may have been spoilt for riches. 

“I cannot understand why we would have discarded it,” Mason says, in reflection. “It’s terrific. As you say, we were spoilt for riches, but even so we were absolutely convinced that we should try and make the album ourselves. We didn’t want the other people… but weirdly, we ended up using Roy Harper (on Have A Cigar), so we were open to using other people. I mean that, to me, is a bit of a mystery.”  

Another mystery in the Pink Floyd realm is original singer/guitarist, Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968, as a result of drug excess and psychological strife. Barrett, who died in 2006, turned up unannounced and disoriented at the 1975 sessions for Wish You Were Here. He was overweight, with a shaven head and eyebrows, a scenario referenced in the film version of The Wall. While it was an unsettling day for all concerned, it proved strangely helpful to the album’s strained creative process. 

“That was very odd,” Mason confides. “It was all a bit of a puzzle, I think, for each of us. It was upsetting for all of us, actually. But in a way that became the catalyst to give some real point to the record.” 

The Immersion edition of Wish You Were Here is released on November 4 (along with new best-of, A Foot In The Door), with The Wall just over the horizon, scheduled for a February 24 issue. While Roger Waters will soon hit Australia with his own tour of The Wall, the mega-release of Pink Floyd re-issues does prompt the question if Mason, Waters and Gilmour would consider reforming for a tour, as per their 2005 Live8 appearance? 

“I don’t think it’s very likely,” Mason considers. “But my own prognosis is that the one thing that could make it happen would not be money, it would be a Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton type figure, and some sort of reason why us playing together would change the world or enhance some sort of peace process. Whether music is capable of doing that, who knows?” 



Iconic composer Burt Bacharach has passed away at the age of 94. I was fortunate to interview him for this article in The West Australian, originally published in April, 2012.

On his Farewell To The Symphonies tour, Burt Bacharach will trace through a life of hits and classics, songs such as Walk On By, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, The Look Of Love and, appropriately enough, Always Something There To Remind Me.

It’s not the only reminiscent gesture that Bacharach is in the midst of, however. It seems the notoriously guarded composing great is preparing to spill the beans and is publishing a memoir entitled Anyone Who Had A Heart, in November.

“I’ve not held back,” Bacharach reveals. “I’ve been pretty upfront about not avoiding anything. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with my daughter Nikki’s (2007) death, from suicide. Instead of just having a couple pages, I go deep into it; it’s all been about not holding back. In a way, by the very process of having to do that and having to confront your feelings on something like that, you’re not permitting yourself to abbreviate or short-circuit it. It was pretty cathartic.”

Bacharach has already laid bare his memories on tape, which are now being collated by US writer, Robert Greenfield.

“I didn’t just want this to be about music,” Bacharach says, “I wanted it to be about where I am in my life. He’s spoken to many people in my life, which is very interesting because I’ve found what’s left of my family.

“I like that he’s spoken to people. He’s talked to all four of my wives – my present wife and three ex-wives.”

Paula Stewart, Angie Dickinson, Carole Bayer Sager and Jane Hansen aren’t the only relationships on the table. Bacharach’s also been through tempestuous times with lyricist Hal David, who co-wrote many of the composer’s most iconic hits.

“It’s sort of a marriage that ran into trouble,” Bacharach says of their relationship. “It all exploded because of a (1973) film called Lost Horizon, a musical which should have never been made. It caused a split between all of us; Hal and Dionne (Warwick) and it was a mistake.

“It fractured the relationship. Hal and I didn’t speak for 12 years. There were lawsuits and all sorts. There’s nothing like a disastrous film that affects a studio to break up a relationship, if you know what I mean.”

Time heals, however. After his Australian tour Bacharach returns to the US to receive the prestigious Gershwin Award, along with David.

“We’re fine, fine, fine. Not that we write together anymore. Hal wrote with other people. I wrote with Carole Bayer Sager, Elvis Costello, Dr Dre. Is it to say that Hal and I will never write another song together? No. But it’s a different music business now.”

The man who counts Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Ravel and Debussy as his heroes and first toured Australia with Marlene Dietrich in the late-‘50s, says he’s had moments where he’s been over the whole business, but is always led back.

“The thing about making music and performing your music is that there always will be people who it will make an impact upon. It will make them happy. That’s not a bad thing, is it, to make people happy?     

“You might ask, ‘why is he still performing?’ You’ve got your answer right there.”



Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Upon the 40th anniversary of David Bowie’s ground-breaking fifth album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, co-producer Ken Scott has no problem describing where Bowie was in the popular scheme of things when they went in to record it in late 1971.

“Nowhere,” he says, bluntly. “He’d had success with what at the time was considered a novelty record, which was Space Oddity (1969). He was almost more known for (widely panned 1967 single) The Laughing Gnome than he was for anything else. He was really nowhere, but he knew what he wanted to do.”

Scott had engineered Bowie’s 1969 self-titled and 1970 The Man Who Sold The World albums with producer Tony Visconti, before taking the production duties for Bowie’s 1971 LP, Hunky Dory. While well regarded, the iconic singer had yet to really break through, though Scott has it that Bowie wasn’t too worried about being a nowhere man.

“No, he was very calm about it,” Scott recalls. “He was fine. I think he needed to see if he was going to sink or swim on his own terms, because he’d tried it not on his own terms and it hadn’t worked.

“I had come to realise, at least in my own mind, that one of the reasons he went to work me with rather than Tony Visconti, was that Tony, being a bass player and a member of the band, was so in control of what it was turning out like, musically. I don’t think those first two albums were really David’s albums. They were more Tony’s, and I think David wanted his own voice. He wanted to form his own direction.”

The album famously dances around the tale of Ziggy Stardust, a prophetic rock star in a world that has only five years left to exist. Conjecture has raged for years about the multiple characters Ziggy was allegedly based upon, fuelled by Bowie’s enigmatic musings on the topic. One thing is certain, it seems; Bowie didn’t sit around conceptualising it in the studio.

“It was much looser than that,” Scott says. “It was never discussed upfront; the only comment that was made between Hunky Dory and Ziggy was David saying, ‘I don’t think you’re gonna like the next album because it’s more rock’n’roll’. He was proved completely incorrect because I did love it.

“One of the interesting things, that must have had an effect on all of us in the studio and our relationship, was that Ziggy was done so soon after Hunky Dory. Normally there’s a six-month span where you all go off and do different things and you come back and almost start your relationship afresh. Whereas because Ziggy was done a month after we completed Hunky Dory we didn’t have time to get involved in other things.

“So we came back in as the exactly same team and we were almost thinking along the same lines. We didn’t have to say anything to each other; we knew what we had to do because we’d already started that thing with Hunky Dory.”

Recorded at Trident Studios, London, The Rise And Fall… contains its fair share of Bowie classics, including Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Rock’n’Roll Suicide. Arrangements were handled by Bowie and his longstanding ‘70s guitarist and foil, Mick Ronson.

“I don’t think David would have achieved the success he did without Ronno,” he says. “Ronno was exceedingly important. But for those early records, so were Woody (Mick Woodmansey, drums) and Trevor (Bolder, bass). It was that typical thing of the whole being more than the individual pieces.”

Ken Scott, David Bowie and Mick Ronson in the studio

Scott went on to co-produce Bowie’s 1973 albums, Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, in a portfolio that includes work with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Sir Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Duran Duran and Devo. He keeps in touch via occasional email with Bowie, who once referred to Scott as his ‘own George Martin’.

“As a vocal performer I’ve never worked with anyone, since or before, who was as good,” Scott says. “95 per cent of David’s vocals would be recorded in the first take. It was amazing. He’s an exceedingly talented singer/songwriter/musician and a really nice guy.”

Since his last world tour for the Reality album in 2003-04, the 65 year-old Bowie (married to former Somalian model Iman, with whom he has an 11 year-old daughter, Alexandria) has rarely been seen in public and not released any new material, leading to constant speculation about the state of his health. Scott offers another take.

“I don’t know about all that,” he says. “But remember, when David Bowie would change character he would change it 100 per cent. I think he’s changed into the character of a doting father. And he’s done it 100 per cent.”

The remastered 40th Anniversary Editions (CD/vinyl/DVD) of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars are out now. Ken Scott’s book, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust, is available through Alfred Publishing.



West Australian polymath Ben Frichot has, for several decades now, motioned his way around all points of pop cultural expression.

Combining elements of old and new, obscure and commercial, rock and/or roll, Frichot has excelled in artistic fields ranging from music (bands such as Storytime, The Hot Rod Sinners and Day Of The Dead), concert tour poster art (from Motorhead and Shihad to The Hives and Nick Cave), fashion design (Knucklehead Shipping Co.), web design (Knucklehead TV), commercial graphics (The Design Factory), a high-end sunglasses brand (Dillinger Optics) and a new avenue under the nom de plume, Lucky Amour.

The highly-respected Lyons Gallery represents Lucky Amour (AKA Frichot) amidst a stable of artists such as Banksy, Chet Ferry, E$cobar, Pino Ambrosino, Masayoshii Sukita and the estates of Roy Lichtenstein, Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol and others.

The ‘Lucky Amour’ moniker harks back to the ‘90s when Frichot was staging his first exhibitions. “I came up with that and was using it a long time ago,” he recalls. “I don’t remember why I was doing it at the time, but the gallery people really liked it and that’s what they’ve run with.”

Quite simply, the name fits. “It’s a whole fantasy world created by that art and it is all very much in a theme. 

“It’s funny when it gets to signing stuff and you have to sign another signature. I hadn’t invented a signature since I was nine years old,” he laughs.

‘Power To The People’ – Lucky Amour

At nine-years-old the young Frichot would come home from school and do his homework. There was no television allowed in the household by his father, so he would retire to the sanctuary of his bedroom where he began to create the kinds of fantasy worlds that he shares with the real world to this day.

“I was always drawing as a kid,” Frichot recalls. “From when I was little, I was always the cartoon kid… through primary school and high school I was always into that.

“In my room, I had a table with drawing stuff and a guitar. They were the two things I would spend every night doing – trying to learn how to play blues licks and creating comic book characters. I really liked comics, and I still do.”

The Cartoon Kid was making headway on guitar having taken a few lessons. That was okay and all, but it was an archetypal rock’n’roll scenario that got him totally hooked on six-strings.

“When I was 14, I met this girl who was 16 who played guitar and was all about it,” he says. “I thought she was the coolest chick in the world, so all of a sudden I was trying to play guitar and I was all about it.”

The dual/duel love-affair of art and music was set in stone. Frichot teamed up with some friends at school who had been jamming and soon evolved his presence from an outside guest to the creative driving force, as the (frankly average) singer was ushered aside and Frichot began to create original guitar riffs for them to jam on. It was instrumental music and an extension of the ‘theatre of the mind’ stuff that Frichot had already been creating for some years in his bedroom.

“Much like the drawing, I’d be figuring out shapes that I thought sounded good in my bedroom which became riffs,” he says, of the band that came to become known as Storytime. “Then I’d go and jam them with the guys.

“That’s what Storytime was, an endless collection of riffs.”

As the members left school and channelled their energies into the band and playing gigs, Storytime took off. They won the National Campus Band Grand Final in 1991, which set them touring nationally almost from the get-go. They played hundreds of shows and released several EPs and albums.

Storytime was a very physical band in every sense, as Frichot came to recall when they reformed for a few shows in 2016. John Lydon’s prescription for energy held true.

“I think that was partly an expression of a lot of anger,” Frichot concurs. “At the time I was young, and my father had died suddenly in a car accident when I was 17. I was basically homeless after that. Then I was basically a young parent with a barmaid that I met when I was working regionally, and life really spiralled. I felt as if I was in the driver’s seat, but I wasn’t, and I don’t think I was very aware, and I didn’t really have any good guidance around me.

“So I made a lot of mistakes, and I was more and more drawn to that anger stuff, musically. When I was younger, I thought that strength was like a rock. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that strength is like water. But it’s been a long road to get to that and lots of bad things happened along the way.”

‘Robo Coin’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot’s ability to face emotional hardship and learn from it is admirable. He was particularly tested in 1999, when his former partner abducted their children.

“That was really hard,” he says, “but it was in so many ways a turning point because I got so angry and disturbed during that time, I had to begin to understand about letting go of things.”

By this time Frichot had become ensconced in the national touring scene, but his artistic work had not let up. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as he went from doing poster art for local gigs to becoming a go-to artist for national and international artists touring Australia. 

On breaks from touring, he would not only be working on poster designs for upcoming concert tours, but, as an artist without any formal training, create opportunities to be able to refine his approach and learn new techniques from the best artists he could find.

“When I was 18, I didn’t have a home. I had no money, and I was keen to try and figure any which way I could to learn whatever skills that I could so that I could do something with my life that I was interested in, as opposed to just being trapped. That has actually become a bit of a habit… trying to learn on the run.

“I would beg, borrow or steal any opportunity I got to learn from anyone.”

During these early years, Frichot shared a house with an illustrator who worked at Perth’s daily newspaper, The West Australian, where there were 20 full-time artists in the artroom.

“Every night someone had to be in the studio on call in case there was a late-breaking story that they needed an illustration for,” Frichot explains. “So there’d be a rotation with this crowd where every night someone would do the 7-12 shift.

“He had introduced me to these guys so that I could go in there at night while they were sitting around doing nothing and I could use one of the workstations. So I’d be there going, ‘how do you do this? How do you do that?’ I’d be there two or three nights a week, just trying to extract as much information out of all these different artists as I could. They gave me some technical points although I’m sure they kept much of their special sauce for themselves.”

Nonetheless, it opened things up for Frichot, as he was seeing first-hand how artists operated in what was, at that time, the best commercial illustration studio in WA.

“It was much better than what you could get taught in an institution,” he says, “these were the professionals. I did that for about a year, and I was really lucky to have gotten that exposure.”

‘Lucky Sailor’ – Lucky Amour

The learning on the run approach and the eternal thirst for popular culture continued from 1999-2001 when Frichot formed the rockabilly-inspired The Hot Rod Sinners with drummer Eddie Fury (Fireballs) and Andy Burnaway (The Convertibles). He revelled in yet another new and interesting cultural experience.

“I think a lot of my really interesting exposure to a lot of retro culture was from my time with Eddie and Andy,” he says. “They were absolute connoisseurs of everything vintage. They were those guys that had the old cars and the old clothes, and a million records and they knew every artist from this, that and the other. Andy used to collect all these postcards and stickers and this stuff that I thought was so cool. All of it, I just loved and got really interested in all of those things.”

It was through Fury that Frichot met acclaimed US graphic/poster artist Frank Kozik in 1998 at his San Francisco studio. It was to be another revelation.

“I was looking around at a lot of the work that was going on,” Frichot recalls. “I went out to Frank’s studio and it was incredible. His factory set-up was amazing and what he was doing with silk-screening posters was super cool. At the time I was 25 and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and it fitted in with everything that I had dreamed about doing, because I was already doing a lot of poster stuff and I couldn’t get enough of opportunities of doing posters for bands. That was another bit of nitro in the engine – the inspiration of visiting him and seeing where it could go.”

Suitably inspired, Frichot returned home with the intention of stepping things up, in terms of both artistry and making a living from art. He started Frichot Design Factory…

“It’s just this never-ending series of steps from then on where you just keep trying to push and improve and push and improve.”

As the 2000s motored along, Design Factory was followed by Knucklehead TV, which (in name) begat a fashion label Knucklehead Shipping Co., which Frichot co-founded with several music-and-style-minded cohorts. Frichot’s music clients included the likes of Nick Cave, Foo Fighters, The Hives and more. Meanwhile he formed the surf-guitar-meets-desert-highway outfit Day Of The Dead, a band whose very existence echoes his own overall artistic development.

“Ironically, I feel I’ve gone full circle and I have an appreciation for the simple, pure idea that isn’t encumbered by all these contrived technical layers,” he says. “It’s like that old gag – good taste is knowing how to play the piano accordion but choosing not to.

“I think musically I’ve ended up going more in that way. Day Of The Dead is a good example of that, just good tones and really melodic stuff that was fun to play, as opposed to ‘look how tricky we are’.”

Frichot also maintained a steady line in commercial work for the likes of Brookfield Multiplex, SAS and Australian Army regiments, Barbagallo Motors, Homesmith and a multitude of liquor brands, venues, promoters and… hospitals.

“I’ve always loved art, illustration and graphic design,” Frichot says. “For me the lines between them are very blurred.”

The unleashed creativity of poster art (which feeds into the fantasy worlds of Lucky Amour) is where he truly saddles up.

“When you get a brief to do a poster for someone and you’ve got a lot of creative license over making some sort of a giant robot elephant or a space station in the shape of a skull or whatever it is, that represents to me not only a great opportunity to explore imagination and creativity, but there would always be a technical challenge in how I would achieve the outcome that I was after.

“And again, in not being trained I think there’s something of a clumsiness to my work. Which ends up giving it character in some ways, or perhaps childishness is a better word (laughs).”

Dillinger Optics

Then there’s the sunglasses. Looking for a creative outlet of his own during a long stretch of commercial work and having long been forced to wear glasses due to eye problems, Frichot brought the old-school, classic aesthetics he loved to eyewear. Enter Dillinger Optics – over-engineered, high-end and handmade in Japan by masters of the craft.    

“I thought, ‘what a great product!’. One size fits all; at least that’s what I thought at the time, but it isn’t true. ‘It’s small and you can ship to the world and how hard could it be?’

“Turns out it’s really hard. So that was a long and self-taught journey on how to design a pair of glasses, what they’re made of, what the difference is in terms of where they’re made. That was a long journey. To eventually get to the point of the product that we have now, I’m really proud of it all. They are beautiful, but far out, it was hard to get there.

“And it’s only really just begun, to be honest. If that’s an idea that started five or six years ago, I’d say that’s four years of very expensive trial and error and research and a year of actually getting stuff that we’re really proud of and can sell. But that was a big investment and of time as well. I mean if I was charging someone that would be a very expensive job!”

It’s looking like it’s worth it. Dillinger Optics was recently showcased in The Telegraph (UK) on the front page and inside-spread of its men’s fashion lift-out, Luxury. It made for incredible exposure.

Telegraph (UK) Luxury September 2021 Cover

Similarly, the international interest now shown in the art of Lucky Amour is what Frichot good-naturedly describes as “a 30-year overnight success.” His sign-up to the Lyons Gallery, who operate three main galleries in Australia – Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas – and have affiliations with galleries around the world, particularly in the UK – is a significant moment in his career as an artist.

“Lots of different good things have always happened which have kept me going and I’ve got lots to be grateful for,” he notes. “There have been lots of people who’ve been really supportive and lots of good things that have happened, but at the moment there’s a nexus of really exciting international, purely artistic opportunities which is literally a dream come true for me. Simple as that.”

‘Milk Bar’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot looks up and around the walls of his Fremantle home. They’re adorned with Lucky Amour originals, a rogues-and-roses gallery that mashes and mixes and twists timelines with beautiful, fanciful evocations of Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Lee Marvin and Bridget Bardot among assorted cars, skulls and robots from the 1950’s. It’s post-modern, past-gloried and future-storied; reduxed, refit and remodelled for the new now.

An endless collection of riffs. They’re selling well, too.

“I’m mixed between extreme gratitude, extreme excitement and a little bit of nervousness that I hope that nothing goes wrong,” Frichot admits.

“Or that anything interrupts it. Even then I need to push that thinking aside, because it is what it is and it’ll be what it’ll be and all you can do is the best you can do. The other thing is I actually really love doing it all and what’s really exciting about that is if you can achieve some success around doing something like that which I’m so invested in and passionate about, then every day is exciting.

“There’s every reason to bounce out of bed every morning just to make more.”

The Works Of Lucky Amour, AKA Ben Frichot, Available From The Lyons Gallery