A popular question among pub quizzmasters is: "Who wrote lyrics to Led Zeppelin's legendary anthem, 'Stairway To Heaven' and turned it into a chart hit?". It's popular because the answer still manages to surprise the followers of heavy metal bands, and always proves interesting to everybody else. The answer, "Rolf Harris" shouldn't really surprise anyone because it is only one tiny item in a huge list of achievements by this much loved Antipodean. Rolf astonished Led Zeppelin fans when he turned the well known Robert Plant/ Jimmy Page masterpiece into a UK #7 hit for himself during 1993. His other achievements even include becoming Australian national junior backstroke champion!
Rolf Harris arrived in England from Australia during 1952 full of artistic ambitions, and soon began training at a London art school. It was there that he met his future wife, Alwen- a fellow artist- which doubtless gave him an additional reason to settle in the UK. He had already developed most of his entertainment abilities while still in his hometown, Perth, though his efforts there were mostly on an amateur or semi-professional basis.
Although his early ambitions were in painting, the draw of the entertainment world was too strong for Rolf and he found himself hosting a show on children's TV, from which he soon widened his audience. He was such a good all round entertainer that he might not have been noticed for anything in particular. He was a skilled comedian, musician and cartoonist. He managed to combine the comedy with music on his records and added these to his artistic abilities in his TV shows to become one of Britain's most revered broadcasters. Despite the fact that Rolf has been resident in the UK for almost 50 years, he has always kept strong links with his first home, Australia. He was one of the first performers at the new Sydney Opera House in 1973 and Rolf is just about as well known 'down under' as he is in Britain- and that is fame, indeed.
Rolf exploited his Australian background to good effect and his early 1960s singles all had an exaggeratedly strong Australian flavour. Most of his material he wrote himself including his hit with the novelty; 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down'. He has also exploited unusual musical instruments to make all his work very distinctive. These included the 'wobble board', which he invented himself, and the digeridoo.
By the late 1960s it looked as though Rolf's hit making days were probably behind him. However he managed to produce the last UK #1 of the decade with the sentimental 'Two Little Boys' which marked a considerable deviation from his previous Australian oriented output Although he is no longer regularly producing singles, he is still a familiar and popular figure on UK television, and his regular appearances at Glastonbury demonstrate that he has lost none of his musical abilities.
|Columbia DB4483||1960||Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport/ Nick Teen And Al K. Hall||#9|
|Columbia DB4556||1960||Tame Eagle/ Uncomfortable Yogi|
|Columbia DB4740||1961||Six White Boomers|
|Columbia DB4888||1962||Sun Arise/ Someone's Pinched Me Winkles||#3|
|Columbia DB4979||1963||Johnny Day/ In The Wet||#44|
|Columbia DB7064||1963||I Know A Man/ Living It Up|
|Columbia DB7166||1963||I've Lost My Mummy/ Six White Boomers|
|Columbia DB7349||1964||Ringo For President/ Head Hunter|
|Columbia DB7450||1965||The Court Of King Caractacus/ The Five Young Apprentices|
|Columbia DB7554||1965||Iko Iko/ Sydney|
|Columbia DB7669||1965||War Canoe/ Linda|
|Columbia DB7803||1966||Jake The Peg/ Big Dog|
|Columbia DB8014||1966||Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy/ Animals Pop Party|
|Columbia DB8168||1967||Fijian Girl/ You Got What It Takes|
|Columbia DB8191||1967||If I Were A Rich Man/ Fijian Girl|
|Columbia DB8285||1967||I've Never Seen Anything Like It/ Willy Willy|
|Columbia DB8314||1967||Pukka Chicken/ Here Come The Bees|
|Columbia DB8349||1968||Hurry Home/ Paris With You|
|Columbia DB8475||1968||Have A Beer/ The Bloke Who Invented beer|
|Columbia DB8553||1969||Bluer Than Blue/ The Monster||#30|
|Columbia DB8630||1969||Two Little Boys/ I Love My Love||#1|
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