Where did it all start? The first evidence of White Elephant Records emerged in the early sixties in a small backroom in West Preston in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. It was 1963.
The small collection comprised scratchy 7 inch singles of instrumental hits and misses – W&G wonder groups, The Phantoms, The Strangers (both imitators of The Shadows, a supergroup from far off London playing guitar based western themes), The Thunderbirds, Rob E G – “55 Days at Peking”, and The Joy Boys – celebrating the new “Southern Aurora” diesel train joining Melbourne and Sydney.
It was the beginning of a golden era of brand new sounds. Starting in July 1960 The Shadows released “Apache” (composed by the urbane former big band player Jerry Lordan), The Ventures (USA) paraded “Walk don’t run” in December 1960. Duane Eddy had already hit the big time with “Peter Gunn” in 1960 (like who is Henry Mancini anyway?) and again with the “Ballad of Paladin” in late 1962. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass strutted out “The Lonely Bull” in December 1962, and The Chantays with the cascading and stuttering “Pipeline” invaded the Hit Charts in January 1963, to be topped by “Bombora” by The Atlantics from Sydney later that year.
The guitar based music was sensational to the completely untrained musical ear and instrumental pop bands sprouted up all over. It sounded dangerous and fun at the same time. The songs of Elvis, other shaking rockers and smooth crooners seemed to have had their day. Elvis was in the Army or seemed to be in endless bad movies. Puff the Magic Dragon was taking over. Where had all the flowers gone? Rockers seemed old hat. Surf and Garage was in. And then it all changed again. It was to be an epic “The Empire fights back” feature and it lasted for two generations.
Check out the Ballad of Paladin from the TV series “Have Gun Will Travel” played by Duane Eddy, but surprisingly not on the “Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel” album.