Graeham George Goble (born 15 May 1947 in Adelaide, Australia) is a musician, singer/songwriter and record producer, best known as a founding member of Australian rock group Little River Band (LRB).
As a performer, Goble was responsible for the vocal arrangements and high harmonies on eleven studio albums and numerous Top 10 singles with LRB. As a songwriter he penned songs like "Reminiscing", "Lady", "Take It Easy on Me" and "The Other Guy" each played millions of times on radio. As a producer, Goble's credits include John Farnham's Uncovered album in 1980 and his own catalog of recordings.
Goble is a keen student of concepts such as spirituality; he changed his first name from Graham to Graeham as a consequence of his interest in numerology and feng shui.
Goble was drawn to music, in particular its harmonies, at an early age. "My early influences were bands like The Beatles, The Hollies, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Bread and I always wanted to be in a band with harmonies. ... From my very first band we had 3 part harmonies"
Starting out as a drummer, Goble quickly progressed to the banjo. "As soon as I had a stringed instrument in my hands I suddenly had all these melodies." Thereafter came the transition to guitar.
A number of bands followed in quick succession: The Silence (1966-67), Travis Wellington Hedge (1968), Allison Gros (1969-71) and Drummond (1971). Each of these bands was recorded, and Goble fans are always keen to hunt down the vinyl.
Allison Gros recorded their first single ("Naturally") on the Gamba label. Record producer David Mackay, impressed with this record, brought the band to the attention of Ron Tudor, owner of the Fable label. Tudor arranged for Allison Gros to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne where the band recorded two singles, "If I Ask You" and "All The Days".
The members of Allison Gros were recruited to record the song "Daddy Cool" but their Chipmunk version was so atypical that they recorded under the fictitious name Drummond. Drummond would provide Goble with his first Number 1 hit single, albeit through unusual circumstances. The Australian band Daddy Cool released their debut album in July 1971. That album contained the eponymous song "Daddy Cool", however, the song was overshadowed by the monster hit "Eagle Rock". The website milesago.com reports their achievement thus: "Drummond's dopey Chipmunks-style assault on the vintage rocker Daddy Cool was a blatant cash-in on the success of Daddy Cool the group, who had covered it on their first LP and had taken their name from it. Incomprehensibly, Drummond's version became one of the biggest Australian hits of the year, knocking Daddy Cool's Eagle Rock off the #1 spot." "Daddy Cool" would remain on top of the charts for seven weeks from 6 September. The song is available for listening here:
The success of the hit song "Daddy Cool" brought about greater awareness of Allison Gros/Drummond and led to a recording contract with the new independent record label Bootleg. The band morphed yet again, this time adopting the name Mississippi. Still consisting of Goble, Russ Johnson and John Mower, the band was augmented by session musicians for the recording of their first, self-titled album.
The first single released by Mississippi would provide Goble with his first chart success as a songwriter, the song "Kings of the World" climbing to the Top 5. The album Mississippi would attract further success, receiving the ARIA Award for Best Group Album of 1972, with "Kings of the World" awarded Best Group Single.
With a successful album and single behind them, Mississippi decided to hit the road. To fill out their live sound, the band was enhanced by the addition of top musicians including Beeb Birtles (an ex-member of the band Zoot, he had emigrated as a child from The Netherlands to Goble's home town of Adelaide) and drummer Derek Pellicci. The first appearance of the expanded Mississippi took place on 28 October 1972 at Corbould Hall, Ballarat. With various personnel changes, but always including Goble, Birtles and Pellicci, Mississippi would go on to notch up over 400 live performances in 1972-74.
England was still the proving ground for aspiring Australian bands in the seventies. Mississippi decided to try their luck overseas on the back of encouraging interest in their album. So, in April 1974, the band sailed off as the resident band on the Fairsky, playing 28 nights during the voyage.
Prior to their departure, Mississippi recorded a single consisting of the songs "Will I" and "Where In The World". The latter song marked the first co-written song for Goble and Birtles, and Birtles recalls that "it's still one of my favourites to this day." The song is available for listening here:
The British venture proved to be disastrous. As Beeb Birtles recalls, "our management booked us to play the absolute worst disco gigs in and around London and it wasn't too long before we all knew the writing was on the wall. Mississippi fell apart in a matter of months. While the band members took temporary jobs and Goble headed off for a belated honeymoon, the core members Goble, Birtles and Pellicci still believed that the band had a future. They enlisted ex-Masters Apprentices bassist Glenn Wheatley as manager and recruited the very experienced Glenn Shorrock (formerly with The Twilights and Axiom) as lead singer and frontman. It was agreed that the nucleus of the new band would meet in Melbourne in January 1975.
Little River Band:
The nucleus of Goble, Birtles, Pellicci, new boy Shorrock and manager Wheatley kicked off the revitalised venture. Guitarists Ric Formosa and Roger McLachlan were recruited to complete the sound of the band. The new group performed in public for the first time in March 1975, still known as Mississippi. The new name Little River Band followed soon after, taken from a road sign to the town of Little River as the band travelled to a performance in Geelong.
As principal composer, vocal arranger and co-producer, and with strong interest in the band's on-stage performance and day-to-day administration, Goble would soon come to be known as the "father figure" of the band. Glenn Shorrock put it less kindly, stating that "it's like having a policeman onstage with you every night". The creative tension, competition and differing personalities within the band would also fuel its subsequent rise to international stardom. As George Martin would later remark, "That's what makes these acts what they are. It's a matter of harnessing this energy they have."
Contributing three of the nine songs on the band's eponymous first album, Goble was pipped for the first two Australian singles, those being Birtles' "Curiosity Killed The Cat" and Shorrock's "Emma". His epic eight-and-a-half minute "It's A Long Way There" was edited for American radio and garnered much interest and airplay. With a gold album, an opening set for Queen in Hyde Park and a European tour, the band was off to a remarkable start. Guitarist Formosa and bassist McLachlan were replaced by David Briggs and George McArdle on the eve of the band's departure.
Goble and Little River Band continued a hectic combination of writing, recording and touring as the band built a solid international reputation, now headlining large concerts in their own right. Further hit songs flowed from Goble's pen, such as "Reminiscing" and "Lady". Glenn Wheatley acknowledged his overall contribution to the band:
"Graham was meticulous in every detail. He drove people crazy with his fanaticism but you had to respect and admire him for his absolute perseverance and his ability to write a good song. Without such songs we had nothing. Graham wrote some classics. He is also very intelligent, as I discovered in our many late-night discussions. Through all his quirks he is a very interesting human being."
As Wheatley diversified into other management and radio interests, Goble stepped up his influence in Little River Band. He recruited bassist Wayne Nelson to replace the departing McArdle and to undertake some lead vocal work. Beatles producer George Martin agreed to produce the next album Time Exposure. The recording sessions in Montserrat were tumultuous as internal friction rended the band. Yet the resulting album was a huge success, reaching the Top 10 and gold record status in the USA. Subsequently, Stephen Housden replaced Briggs on lead guitar.
It was Goble who acted as spokesman for the others in moving to have foundation lead vocalist Shorrock replaced by John Farnham. The next US single, Goble's "The Other Guy", reached the Top 10 and a greatest hits compilation achieved platinum status. By the end of 1983 Billboard magazine reported that Little River Band was the only act to reach the Top 10 every year for the previous five years.
As the band slowly began to slip from its glory days, Goble fought to keep it fresh and innovative. Original drummer Pellicci left and was replaced by Steve Prestwich from Cold Chisel, David Hirschfelder joined as the band's first permanent keyboard player and Beeb Birtles, Goble's team mate for more than a decade, left the band. The album Playing To Win featured a more raunchy sound from the band, now known simply as LRB. According to Goble, "that lineup Goble, Nelson, Housden, Farnham, Prestwich and Hirschfelder was the most talented LRB lineup that I had ever played in." "The live performances were so inspiring that I enjoyed playing live as much as recording. I count myself privileged to have experienced playing and singing with this line-up." The sales and the audiences diminished, however, and after the album No Reins Capitol did not renew the band's recording contract. Farnham left to pursue a solo career, later saying:
"There were some strong personalities in that band, Graham especially, and very strongly self-motivated. The membership changes down the line had something to do with the failure. The way we approached it was always very safe - never very adventurous. We never stuck our necks out."
Remarkably, Goble convinced Shorrock and Pellicci to rejoin the band. A recording contract with MCA produced two underrated albums, Monsoon and Get Lucky (plus an international compilation of these known as Worldwide Love). Past success was not forthcoming, however, and Goble retired from the band, first as a touring member and subsequently altogether. He would make his last appearance with LRB at the Brisbane Hilton Hotel on 21 April 1989. Goble would later say:
"Little River Band no longer had a recording contract and there was no immediate possibility of recording. I always preferred recording to 'live work' and when the future of the band appeared to be just playing the greatest hits for the rest of its life, then I knew it was time for me to leave."
Goble sums up the LRB experience thus:
"There's been six bands from Australia that have made an impact in America. How incredible was our destiny to be one of the very few out of all these incredible bands. Think about the thousands of acts that tried - it's an extraordinary achievement."
Goble has been seriously writing songs since he was 16:
"I still write my songs the same way as when I first began. Usually an idea comes while I'm playing my acoustic guitar, but songs often come to me at any time of the day when I'm not playing my guitar. I sometimes dream complete compositions." Graham Goble (1997)
"I hear everything at once - melody, lyrics, it just comes in. There's a feeling that comes over me and I know that there's a song trying to come through. It's sort of like I'm taken over or someone's trying to contact me; I really believe very much that I'm in some ways channeling this thing. Because when I write a song it's always done very quickly, completed in 20 minutes or maybe half an hour. I never labour anything, or very rarely. The only labouring I've ever done in songwriting might be when I've completed a work, a song, and there might be a couple of lyrics I don't like, so sometimes I might sit with those and really put some brain power in how to fix up the lines. But for the most part it comes to me, it comes in and I can hear the whole thing finished with harmonies and everything." Graeham Goble (2001)
By 1976 Goble was in the American Top 30 with his ""It's A Long Way There", the first international hit for Little River Band. Two years later, he was in the Billboard chart at Number 3 with the memorable "Reminiscing".
Just as Cole Porter will always be remembered for "Night and Day" and Paul McCartney for "Yesterday", Graeham Goble will forever be associated with his most popular song "Reminiscing". First appearing on the album Sleeper Catcher in 1978, Goble had to fight to have it included:
"I loved watching old black and white movies, and I always also loved the music of Glenn Miller and Cole Porter, that whole era of writing, and it was my attempt to write a song to depict the romantic era. It came out very quickly, I wrote it in about half an hour. Even though a lot of people think it sounds complicated, on the guitar it's very simple to play. It nearly never got recorded - when the time came to record it, the keyboard player I wanted to use, Peter Jones, was out of town, so we cut the band track with a different keyboard player. It didn't work. A few days later when we tried it again with a different keyboard player, again it didn't work, and the band was losing interest in the song. Just before the album was finished, Peter Jones came back into town, the band and I had an argument because I wanted to give Reminiscing a third chance. Peter played on it, we cut it, and finished it, and sent the album to Capitol. Capitol said that they couldn't hear any singles on the album, and didn't know what to release. Five weeks later, someone at Capitol's New York office said 'You're all crazy, Reminiscing is a smash.' Capitol put it out, and it just immediately caught on fire, and became our highest chart hit."
"It's quite staggering; you don't realise you've written something like that until it happens, until it's history."
In her autobiography, John Lennon's erstwhile lover May Pang describes how much Lennon enjoyed the song. "We spent the whole afternoon in bed, getting up only to play Reminiscing again and again. We must have listened to the song eight or nine times."
The legendary Frank Sinatra also regarded the song very highly, saying that it was "the best 1970s song in the world".
Over the years, "Reminiscing" would appear regularly on AOR and oldies radio stations. On February 3, 2014, Goble received a Five Million-Air Award for five million airplays of "Reminiscing" in the United States.
"Reminiscing" has been interpreted by a variety of artists over the years. Some examples follow, with links to a sample of that interpretation:
Barry Manilow (1996) included a traditional version on his Summer of '78 album ,
John O'Banion (1997) covered the song on his CD entitled Hearts ,
Tommy Emmanuel (1998) has a jazz version (with Glenn Shorrock vocals) on the album Collaboration,
Steve Veale (2000) features an instrumental version on Urban Oasis ,
Madison Avenue (2001) released a dance music version that went to Number 9 on the Australian singles chart,
Biz Markie (2003) heavily samples "Reminiscing" on his hip hop song Throw Back on the album Weekend Warrior ,
Mark Ham (2004) has a jazzy take on his album Growing Up ,
Glenn Shorrock (2007) re-recorded a bluesy solo version on his album Meanwhile ,
Ben Stiller (2007) sang a humorous, off-key version during an American Idol charity show,
Patton Leather Rhythm (2007) included an instrumental version on their eponymous album ,
Carl Riseley (2008) finished third in Australian Idol (season 5) where he performed "Reminiscing", subsequently recording it for his debut album The Rise,
k.d. lang (2011) included "Reminiscing" on her album Sing It Loud,
Jazz Nouveau (2012) released Reminiscing which is a collection of Little River Band songs with a jazz/Latin twist,
The entire original Little River Band version on Sleeper Catcher (1978) may be heard here: and compared with samples of their live versions on:
Backstage Pass (1980) ,
Full Circle (2003, Birtles Shorrock Goble) ,
The complete original video clip is available for viewing here:
Here are Goble's thoughts on other songs that he has written:
"It's a Long Way There": "I wrote that song about how I moved to another state and I missed Adelaide a lot. I used to drive home 8-10 hours each month to visit my family. That's where the title came from. And then as we used to play 7 nights a week, we were battling for material, we'd go for very long jams on that song, sometimes 20 minutes at a time. And during the long outros, I would hear and come up with different passages, so I would often jot them down and rehearse them and add or take out a bit here and there. Today, I believe that the lyric is about a personal journey, a journey through lifetimes to your soul evolution."
"Mistress of Mine": "I thought that was the best thing we'd ever recorded. It was Glenn Shorrock's best vocal." "We found it to be a favourite song of lots of people and surprisingly Glenn's father who has now passed away and my father who has also passed away, Glenn and I have both learnt that it was their favourite song." The lyrics of this song were inspired by some Humphrey Bogart movie dialogue.
"The Night Owls": "I felt a lot of my songs were being passed over because Glenn didn't feel a connection with them. When Wayne Nelson joined the band, I wrote The Night Owls for his higher voice range."
"We Two": "There's one lyric in We Two that's just about my favourite. We make it so hard to find love, to feel free, to be fresh out of school. I wrote that while watching a movie, too. The movie was Bobby Deerfield. It was in Europe, he was a racing car driver and this girl was dying of cancer. He loved her, but she wouldn't tell him that she was dying. One time she left and went on a balloon ride."
Altogether, 58 of Goble's songs have had airplay in the United States with total airplay of 12 million.
Despite his busy schedule recording and touring with LRB, and his commitment to writing songs, Goble found time for a number of side projects.
The Last Romance:
By 1978 the prolific writers, Goble and Birtles, had amassed many songs that had missed the cut for LRB albums.
"We had an eight album contract with Capitol but there was also the option to do duo albums or solo albums. We really wanted to do a duo album because we had a lot of material, particularly songs that didn't suit LRB because Glenn (Shorrock) didn't feel comfortable with some of the songs." Graeham Goble (2003)
A deal was struck with EMI Australia whereby the duo went into the studio and recorded the album The Last Romance as Birtles & Goble. Released in 1979, the album's first single "I'm Coming Home" was a Top 10 hit in Australia. A video may be seen here:
The second single "Lonely Lives" (view video here:) did not fare as well. Birtles & Goble did not record as a duo again. Goble believes the album would have performed better with more promotion:
"If The Last Romance album had been successful, I expect that Beeb and I would have left Little River Band and recorded as a duo, e.g. Hall & Oates. Our record company (Capitol) were concerned about this possibility and so our album received little support. It was a great experience to record The Last Romance and it remains one of my favorite recordings."
Australian singer and soon-to-be LRB frontman John Farnham chose Graeham Goble to produce his 1980 album Uncovered. Aside from production and vocal arrangement, Goble also wrote or co-wrote nine of the ten songs on the album. The album reached Number 20 in the Australian album chart. One song, the Goble-written "Please Don't Ask Me" was subsequently considered for the LRB album The Net but failed to make the cut. It was released instead on the LRB rarities album Too Late to Load. The LRB version of the song was also used during the opening titles of their 1983 HBO television program Live in Melbourne. The song would be given a third outing on Goble's 1995 album Stop, this time sung by Steve Wade. That version may be heard here:
Goble rates this song as his best: "Please Don't Ask Me is one of the songs I've written that really could become a world standard."
Freed of his commitment to LRB (and touring in particular), Goble was able to indulge his passion for carefully crafted and meticulous studio recordings. His first offering was the 1990 album Broken Voices for which he was composer, producer, vocal arranger, harmony vocalist and acoustic guitarist. Goble recruited Susie Ahern to provide lead vocals.
On his next two offerings Goble again eschewed the role of lead vocalist, offering that responsibility to Steve Wade on the albums Nautilus (1993) and Stop (1995). (Ironically, Wade would go on to take over lead vocals for Little River Band when Shorrock left for the second time in 1996.)
A chance meeting between Goble and Glenn Shorrock in 2001 (and a subsequent telephone call to Beeb Birtles) would lead to these three original members of LRB reforming as a group. Frustrated by their inability to refer directly to their Little River Band antecedence (another band member now owns the rights to the name), the trio perform as Birtles Shorrock Goble (BSG). They have undertaken a number of Australian tours, released a live CD Full Circle and scored a gold award for the live DVD of the same name. To date, the chance to join the lucrative classic rock arena tours in Europe and the USA has eluded BSG.
A Goble composition ("Praise") was included on the 2003 Boots and All album by singer Peter Brocklehurst. The song reinforced Goble's reputation for creating powerful emotive lyrics. At the requiem mass for Bishop John Heaps of Sydney it was noted that the lyrics of "Praise" evoked a deep response in him and brought him to tears.
In 2006 Goble finally released an album as lead singer. The Days Ahead is an optimistic collection of songs that is characteristic of the Goble style. The CD includes the bitter-sweet song "Someone's Taken Our History" that reflects on the history and legacy of Little River Band. That song (and a music video) have prompted considerable discussion and controversy.
Goble released a further solo album Let It Rain in 2008. A featured track is the complex "Initiation Suite" which Goble describes as follows:
"From a very young age I had a "sense" that I was meant to write an important piece of music. When I commenced writing my "Initiation Suite", I knew the moment had arrived.
Using the fairytale as inspiration, I've tried to tell the story of a person's life, from beginning to end & beyond, with all the stages (ups & downs, trial & tribulations) in between.
It's the universal story of mankind. The story has been told many times before, but this may be the first time it's been put into musical form, particularly the rock/popular music form.
Like the fairytale, my "Initiation Suite" has 12 sections (or periods) of a person's life experience on earth."
Of the eleven tracks on the CD, two have been heard previously (albeit in different contexts). "Heart & Soul" appeared on the Birtles Shorrock Goble live DVD Full Circle (with Glenn Shorrock singing lead). "Let It Rain" was performed at the Farmhand Concert for Drought Relief and also popped up at some Birtles Shorrock Goble concerts in 2002. As he has done before, Goble recruited former Little River Band musicians to contribute to the album, including David Briggs, George McArdle, Roger McLachlan, Kevin Murphy and James Roche.
Among Graeham Goble's numerous career awards, his four Million-Air Awards are arguably the most impressive. Presented by BMI for American radio airplay in excess of one million, Goble's tally currently stands at five million plays for "Reminiscing", three million for "Lady" and one million each for "Take It Easy On Me" and "The Other Guy".
Goble has achieved more than 50 awards across four decades for songwriting, recording and performing, including:
ARIA Awards for Best Album and Best Single (Mississippi),
ARIA Awards for Best Group Performance and Album of the Year (Little River Band),
Gold and Platinum Albums for Little River Band, After Hours, Diamantina Cocktail, Sleeper Catcher, It's A Long Way There and First Under The Wire,
Grammy Award nomination for "Lonesome Loser",
Gold or Platinum Albums for Backstage Pass, Uncovered, Time Exposure, Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2, The Net and Monsoon,
APRA Gold Music Award for "Reminiscing" and "The Other Guy",
Advance Australia Award for outstanding contribution,
Platinum Album for The Classic Collection,
Gold Award for Full Circle DVD,
Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame (Little River Band),
Australian Entertainment Award for Classic Rock Performers of the Year (Birtles Shorrock Goble),
Inducted into the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame (with Birtles and Shorrock),
Goble's many awards are detailed on his website.
Graeham Goble has spent much of his adult life in the study of spirituality and related concepts:
"I believe very much in Spiritual Realms. I've undertaken a lot of Spiritual study - not religious study, but Spiritual study. There's a big difference. I believe in Guardian Angels and Higher Realms. My studies have taught me that when we sleep our soul leaves our body and has interaction with the Spiritual Realms. I've moved through lots of different beliefs and arrived at Rudolf Steiner."
Goble currently lives in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. "I think the quality of what I'm doing is very high and the songs are very meaningful because I've lived a lot now. I've written from the point of view of somebody who's been through the mill and come out the other side."
In 2008 Goble's son Joshua won the first NAB Songwriting Competition with his song "It's Our Time".
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license