Recently the Sunnyboys played at the Torquay Hotel. It was probably the first time they had played on our coast in over 30 years. The band room was packed to the rafters as young and old (mostly old) came out to see one of Australia’s great bands.
I first came across the Sunnyboys back in 1982. Jack McCoy and Dick Hoole were touring their surf film Storm Riders around Australia. Storm Riders was huge at the time. 90 minutes of the world’s best surfers riding massive waves in Hawaii, Bells Beach and Bali accompanied by one of the best surf film soundtracks in years featuring The Church, Australian Crawl, Mondo Rock, The Models and a new young band from Sydney’s northern beaches who had just started making a name for themselves… the Sunnyboys.
As surfer after surfer pulled into barrel after barrel on the big screen to the blistering sound of ‘Tunnel Of Love’ blasting out in the theatre, we were blown away. What was this song, who was this band… I want MORE!
Not long after, I bought my first Sunnyboys album and was immediately hooked. Packed with hard and fast rock classics like ‘Happy Man’, ‘I’m Shakin’, ‘Trouble In My Brain’ and the chart-topping ‘Alone With You’, it was one of the great rock albums of the eighties. 12 hard and fast tracks featured screaming guitars, thumping drums and Jeremy Oxley’s deep vocals. For a short period, they played to packed crowds around Australia and then… they were gone.
Decades later the truth about lead singer Jeremy Oxley’s battle with schizophrenia would come out. Oxley was brave enough to tell his story and the impact of mental illness on the band and his life in the documentary THE SUNNYBOY.
It seemed like we would never see or hear the band live again….
I was pretty surprised to read that the band were touring again this summer; even more surprised when I found out they were doing a gig locally at the Torquay Hotel.
It was a hot steamy summer night when the band hit the stage in front of a very enthusiastic audience. Like I said there were quite a few old crew in the audience… it seemed like every surfer in town from the old days had come out to see the band and they didn’t disappoint.
For two hours they blasted out the classics from a tiny stage in the corner of the pub. Hit after hit from ‘It’s Not Me’ to ‘I Can’t Talk To You’. Things just got hotter and steamier as the audience fired up and Jeremy looked like he was going to pass out a few times but the band soldiered on in one of the best gigs at the pub ever.
40 years on, there is still life in the Sunnyboys and on one hot summer night in Torquay they showed they could still rock out with the best.
Written by John Foss