══════════════════════════ Valhalla & Co. ═════════════════════════

════════════ Roc Nest / Nightride (1974 - 1975) ════════════

WELL, HERE IT is, my first real band.

Luckily it was some guys that had just left high school like I had so we were all at the same level of experience ... none ... perfect!!

 

Valhalla & Co. 
Wayne Bergen – Lead Vocals
Steve O’Brien – Guitar
Kevin Beazley – Bass
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

 

They were all from Kogarah Marist Brothers High School and I answered an ad in the paper, I guess there mustn't have been any drummers at the school? I remember at the audition one of the songs we were doing was the Daddy Cool song Eagle Rock* and it was getting close to the lead break. I was wondering what the guitarist would do with it. It's not a hard lead break by any means but I hadn't heard it played properly by another guitarist. I was happy to hear it was the same as on the record. It was all sounding pretty good to me and I was more than interested in being part of the band if they asked me and as it turns out they did.

We went through 3 name changes and two line-ups. The first line-up was called Valhalla & Co. I have no idea where the name came from but we needed a name quick as we had a gig coming up. It was a school dance for Kogarah Marist Brothers High School at Rockdale Town Hall. Unfortunately the singer wasn't that good, in fact he was pretty bad, a lovely guy but he just couldn't sing and there was no time to replace him. Consequently, this gig would be the first time I was on stage performing and would end up being very important to me. Not just because it would be my first gig but because of what someone would say to me that night just before I went on.

That someone was Bob Spencer, he was the Lead Guitarist for the band we were supporting, Finch. Bob would go on to be in Skyhooks and then The Angels, he's one of the best guitarists in Australia and a really nice guy.

We had finished setting up and I was hanging around the front of the stage with my friend Mark just soaking up the atmosphere as people were coming in. Bob came over and started talking to us. I told him it was my first ever gig and he asked me what sort of stuff did the band do and was I looking forward to playing etc. I basically told him I didn't think we were going to be that good and I wasn't sure if we should actually get up and play. He said to me something that has stuck with me to this day "Just get up there and have fun". Simple and it put me at ease. I did just that and when I got off the stage everyone asked me what I was smiling about, it seems I had a smile on my face from the first note to the last. Unfortunately I have no real recollection of how we went but that doesn't matter now but I did know I was where I wanted to be. Since that first gig thanks to Bob I've never suffered from nerves about getting up and playing, not once!

 

Wayne was asked to leave and he was replaced by Dom Turner another school friend. Dom hadn't ever sung before but they asked him if he'd like to give it a go and he took to it like the proverbial duck to water. In fact he has done very well for himself over the years with bands like The Backsliders & Dom Turner & Supro. He has won many awards and also had ARIA nominations!!

Roc Nest / Nightride 
Dom Turner - Lead Vocals
Steve O’Brien – Guitar 
Kevin Beazley – Bass 
Greg Morris – Drums/Vocals

We decided Valhalla & Co. wasn't the best of names so I came up with Roc Nest, although I'm pretty sure I had some help from Mark!!

 

Roc is a mythological bird of prey and I thought the play on words to use for a band name was pretty cool.

It didn't stick for long though and we then went with Nightride which was funnily enough taken from a song called Nightride** by Status Quo!

The band lasted about 18 months and we did a number of gigs at Heathcote Inn (now called Heathcote Hotel) and others I can't quite remember now.

Some more school dances for Kogarah Marist Brothers High School, see right image of Flyer for one of them. As you can see, unfortunately they spelt the name wrong .... although Rock Nest looks alright too!

As is always the case it was to come to an end, I can't recall why now but I'm sure it was the usual reasons all bands come to an end. I do recall being pretty upset it finished, I was still just a kid really and being my first band it was hard to take.

N.B. The two signs above for Roc Nest and Nightride were proudly displayed in the back window of my car as way of advertising. I just knew as I was driving around people would be saying "Wow, he must be in a band".

Oh to be that young and naive again!

But, moving on it was time to look for another band, enter Relay.

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*Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool
Label: Sparmac Records
Record Company: Sparmac Productions Pty Ltd - Melbourne
Release Date: May 1971

**Nightride - Status Quo 
Label: Vertigo 
Record Company: Vertigo Records (UK) 
Release Date: 26th April 1974