Location: Sydney, New South Wales 1964-1968; Melbourne, Victoria 1968-1975
The Aztecs were formed from the combination of the Vibratones, an instrumental band from Sydney, and vocalist Billy Thorpe. This band didn't remain together for very long, but the entrepreneurial Thorpe quickly formed a new band under the same name.
The second incarnation of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs comprised some of the best session musicians of the time, and played mainly middle-of-the-road rock and ballads.
After the break up of the second band, Thorpe spent some time mastering guitar, and thinking about the musical approach for his next band. In 1968, the Aztecs rose again, this time comprising well known musicians and with a blues/R&B sound. This band endured through numerous line-up changes until finally breaking up when Thorpe left to travel to the USA.
Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs were an Australian pop and rock group dating from the mid-sixties. The group enjoyed huge success in the mid-1960s, but split in 1967. They re-emerged in the early seventies to become one of the most popular Australian hard-rock bands of the period.
Originally a four-piece instrumental group who had put out one surfing instrumental, "Smoke & Stack", they formed in Sydney in 1963. With the advent of the Merseybeat sound, they added a lead singer, Billy Thorpe. His powerful voice and showmanship (which made him one of the most popular and respected rock performers in Australian music), completed the original line-up, which consisted of drummer Col Baigent, bassist John "Bluey" Watson and guitarists Valentine Jones and Vince Maloney (who later played with The Bee Gees).Valentine Jones left the band shortly after Billy Thorpe had joined and was later replaced by Tony Barber.
 Chart success
The group broke through in mid-1964 with a massive nationwide hit, their cover of the Leiber and Stoller classic "Poison Ivy", which famously ousted The Beatles from the #1 spot on the Sydney charts at the very moment that the group was making its first and only tour of Australia -- a feat which resulted in Thorpe being invited to meet the Fab Four at their hotel. Over the next twelve months the band reigned supreme as the most popular 'beat' group in Australia, scoring further hits with the songs "Mashed Potato", "Sick And Tired" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", until they were eclipsed by the emergence of The Easybeats in 1965. The band's recording success confirmed Albert Productions, their recording company, with its worldwide distribution deals through EMI and Parlophone, as one of the most important in Australia's embryonic pop industry.
During 1965 the original Aztecs quit after a financial dispute, so Thorpe put together a new five-piece version consisting of drummer Johnny Dick, pianist Jimmy Taylor, guitarists Col Risby and Mike Downes and NZ-born bassist Teddy Toi. This group performed until 1966, scoring further hits with "Twilight Time", "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "Love Letters" and "Word For Today".
Thorpe went solo in 1967 and for a brief time he hosted his own TV pop show, It's All Happening, but personal problems and a widely publicised bankruptcy brought this phase of his career to an end in 1968. but then as he went solo he became more of an outcast
Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - The Very Best Of
1. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Rock 'n' Roll City (3:20)
2. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Southern Comfort (4:28)
3. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Let Love Show The Way (4:09)
4. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Rock Me Baby (6:54)
5. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy) (4:10)
6. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Sick 'n' Tired (4:43)
7. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Poison Ivy (3:06)
8. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - The Dawn Song (4:08)
9. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Movie Queen (2:52)
10. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Gangster Of Love (14:51)
11. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - It's Almost Summer (3:00)
12. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - CC Rider (4:05)
13. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Be Bop A Lula (3:45)
14. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Ooh Poo Pah Doo (11:21)
15. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Somewhere Over The Rainbow (4:36)
By Stephen Chapman (victoria Australia)
if you were at sunbury or the myer music bowl back in the seventies then you will remember what a dominant force thorpy was.the insane volume and driving blues riffs and thorpy's unmatched vocal power(not forgetting the crowd chanting "suck more piss"). a concert i saw them underground on the corner of spring & flinders street(i think it was) is one of the best live shows ever.the surprise is the first 3 tracks which are all new and are the best on the album.of course over the rainbow, ooh pooh pah doo & and bee bop a luh lah and that massive wall of sound are great memories!
By Ray "fury" (perth west australia)
This was a great band to see live I was lucky enough to see them in the early seventys and many times after that. These cds have most of their live rock and roll tracks so you get a good idea what the group was like on stage. It is the best of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs.
Earlier Thorpe Posts :