Flying Circus

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In mid-1968, Doug Rowe (b. New Zealand; guitar) teamed up with several Australians, Colin Walker (vocals/percussion), Greg Grace (vocals), Terry Wilkins (bass) and James Wynne (guitar) in Sydney to form…
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In mid-1968, Doug Rowe (b. New Zealand; guitar) teamed up with several Australians, Colin Walker (vocals/percussion), Greg Grace (vocals), Terry Wilkins (bass) and James Wynne (guitar) in Sydney to form a group that played country rock. The band signed with EMI Records and at their behest recorded two singles in the then popular bubblegum pop style, ‘Hay Ride’ and ‘La La’ both of which were Australian hits in 1969. The band was leading a schizophrenic existence; known for its teenybopper hits but with a live set of US country rockers, with their own originals gradually being added. The first album reflected this; it was a mix of the singles, several Byrds songs, a couple of Rowe originals and rounded off with some oddities such as ‘Hair’. Most of the second half of 1969 was a write-off for the band as they lost their equipment in a road accident and a fire.

In 1970 they had their third hit single, acquired guitarist Red McKelvie (b. New Zealand) and recorded a second album of all-originals. The band won the 1970 Australian National Battle of the Bands amid controversy. Heavy guitar music similar to Cream was popular at this time in Australia and Flying Circus certainly did not fit this mould! To toughen up the sound Rowe sacked McKelvie and the band took on Sam See from Sherbet, and recorded their third album before departing for North America. After six months they returned for a brief visit in mid-1971, only to lose See to Fraternity. Back in Canada they recorded Gypsy Road for Warner Brothers. Sam See returned to the fold in 1973 for the recording of Last Laugh. The band toured as support for Lighthouse, but when See and Terry Wilkins quit to join the headliners, the rest disbanded. Rowe played with Greg Quill’s band (as did See) before returning to Australia to play with various Sydney country rock groups. McKelvie led several bands in Sydney before returning to New Zealand and session work.