December 2010 - January 2011

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Harry Vanda & George Young

Illustration: Chris Grosz
Illustration: Chris Grosz

At 13, Johannes Hendricus Jacob van den Berg began teaching himself guitar in the basement of the tenement where his family lived in The Hague. But no sooner had he formed a youth-club band than his parents announced they were emigrating to Australia. Their only son dutifully packed his solid-body Hofner and homemade amplifier and boarded the boat.

In 1964, life in Villawood Migrant Hostel in outer western Sydney was tough. Families lived in Nissen huts, cold in winter and fly-ridden in summer. Toilets and laundry were communal and the tall 18-year-old Dutch boy was an obvious target for the welcoming committee of local toughs. But the hostel’s teenagers, fresh from Britain and Europe, had an edge on the native-born. They had brought with them the latest trends in fashion and music and they didn’t have to look far for a jam. Hendricus soon teamed up with Dingeman Ariaan Henry van der Sluijs, son of the hostel cook. The boys anglicised their names to Harry and Dick and set about putting a band together.

Leeds-born Stevie Wright lived in an army house across the road. A “cheeky little bugger” and a natural showman, Stevie was already in demand as a vocalist at local pubs. The trio started rehearsing Hollies covers and Shadows numbers. By then, Harry was hearing whispers about a Scottish kid who played a mean guitar.

The Young family were Glasgow’s gift to music. All seven brothers played instruments. Their sister, Margaret, didn’t – but she turned the youngsters, George, Malcolm and Angus, onto rock ’n’ roll. They arrived, en masse, assisted passage, in 1964. Villawood, “old tin shacks” surrounded by mud and snakes, didn’t suit them. Within a few weeks, the clan had moved into a big rental house in Burwood. But the diminutive 16-year-old George fancied a girl he’d met at Villawood and often returned.

The four long-haired lads practised in the laundry. The acoustics weren’t bad and it was a fair distance from the dormitories. “Sometimes there was a line of smalls hanging out to dry but at least the tubs weren’t used at night,” Harry recalled. They were pretty raw. Harry played lead. George played rhythm. Stevie drew the girls. At the East Hills Migrant Hostel further south, they found a drummer from Liverpool. They called themselves The Easybeats.

Harry and George’s breakthough collaboration was ‘Friday on My Mind’. By then, 1966, the Easys were playing in London to audiences that included Beatles and Rolling Stones. When the band broke up, Harry and George maintained their writing and producing partnership, crafting a string of hit albums for the younger Young boys’ band, AC/DC. Harry is still in the business. George has retired to Portugal. Love is in the air.

Postscript: George Young passed away in October 2017, aged 70.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

From the front page

Image of Anthony Albanese

How to be a prime minister

The task ahead for Anthony Albanese in restoring the idea that governments should seek to make the country better

Image of the Kiama Blowhole, New South Wales

The edge of their seats

Lessons from Gilmore, Australia’s most marginal electorate

Image of Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley

The future of the Liberal Party

Peter Dutton doesn’t just have a talent problem on his hands

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

In This Issue

'Photograph #03' from Marco Fusinato's 'Sun Series'. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

A touch of the sun

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Fat of the land

Pablo Neruda's collection of bottle ships at his house in Isla Negra, Chile. © Magnum Photos / Snapper Media

The voyage

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Archive this


More in Arts & Letters

Still from ‘Men’

Fear as folk: ‘Men’

Writer/director Alex Garland’s latest film is an unsubtle but ambitious pastoral horror, mixing the Christian with the classical

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Altona

Image of Fonofono o le nuanua: Patches of the rainbow (After Gauguin), 2020. Image courtesy of Yuki Kihara and Milford Galleries, Aotearoa New Zealand

The dream machine: The 59th Venice Biennale

Curator Cecilia Alemani’s long overdue Biennale overwhelmingly features female artists and champions indigenous voices and other minorities

Image of Daniel Boyd, ‘Untitled (TBOMB)’, 2020

Mission statement: Daniel Boyd’s ‘Treasure Island’

An AGNSW exhibition traces the development of the Indigenous artist’s idiosyncratic technique, which questions ideas of perception


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Online exclusives

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

Composite image showing John Hughes (image via Giramondo Publishing) and the cover of his novel The Dogs (Upswell Publishing)

A dog’s breakfast

Notes on John Hughes’s plagiarism scandal

Image of Erin Doherty as Becky Green in Chloe. Image supplied

App trap: ‘Chloe’

‘Sex Education’ writer Alice Seabright’s new psychological thriller probing social media leads this month’s streaming highlights

Pablo Picasso, Figures by the sea (Figures au bord de la mer), January 12, 1931, oil on canvas, 130.0 × 195.0 cm, Musée national Picasso-Paris. © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo: © RMN - Grand Palais - Mathieu Rabeau

‘The Picasso Century’ at the NGV

The NGV’s exhibition offers a fascinating history of the avant-garde across the Spanish artist’s lifetime