Doug Parkinson is one of Australia's most recognizable and distinctive performers and has had a diverse career in music and theatre over three decades.
Parkinson's first high school band, the "A" Sound, released a folk single in 1966 titled "Talk About That" before breaking up at the end of the year. Parkinson then joined the Questions in 1967, who had released their debut album, What Is a Question?, in 1966 to little success. Parkinson's soul and blues style brought the Questions into the upper echelons of Australia's mid-'60s pop bands. In July 1967, the Questions placed second to the Groop in Australia's premier pop competition, the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final. The Questions toured as support band to the Who, the Small Faces, and Paul Jones, but by February 1968, had disbanded and Parkinson formed Doug Parkinson in Focus.
They issued the single "I Had a Dream" in May 1968 and then came third at the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final behind the Groove and the Master's Apprentices. Doug Parkinson in Focus became one of the most popular bands in Melbourne and signed a deal with EMI/Columbia. Their cover of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" peaked at number five on the Australian national charts, and in July 1969, Doug Parkinson in Focus won the Hoadley's National Battle of the Sounds final. Their next single, "Today (I Feel No Pain)," was withdrawn from release by EMI, who thought it wasn't commercial enough, and later appeared on the rare Doug Parkinson in Focus EP. This also contained "Dear Prudence" as well as their next single, "Without You," which peaked at number five in October. They later appeared at Australia's first rock festival, Pilgrimage for Pop at Ourimbah, before breaking up in 1971.
Parkinson began his solo career with the single "So Lonely" in August 1972 and in March 1973, appeared in the Australian stage version of the Who's rock opera Tommy with Billy Thorpe, Daryl Braithwaite, Colleen Hewett, Broderick Smith, Jim Keays, and Keith Moon. His debut solo album, No Regrets, was released in May 1973 and he also formed the band Life Organisation to play '40s big band jazz. Parkinson also worked as A&R manager for WEA during this time. In 1974, Parkinson contributed vocals to two songs for the cult Australian biker film Stone and toured Australia.
In 1977, Parkinson appeared in the stage version of Ned Kelly and in 1978 formed the Southern Star Band, which played a mix of jazz and R&B. They released several singles, "I'll Be Around," the most successful, charting nationally at number 22, as well as the album I'll Be Around. In 1980, Parkinson released two solo singles, "Arcade" and "Under the Influence of Love," before signing to CBS. In 1981, the Southern Star Band broke up and Parkinson formed a new Doug Parkinson Band in March.
One solo album followed, Heartbeat to Heartbeat, in 1983, as well as several singles. In late 1983, he performed in the stage production Jesus Christ Superstar. Roles in Big River, The Hunting of the Snark, and as the Big Bopper in the highly successful Buddy followed.