Benefit For Blackie
Wild stalwart of the Australian punk scene and pal to underground musicians all over, Blackie (Peter Black) from the Hard Ons has been one of our most spirited and industrious independent musicians for 30 years. In some sad news, he was recently attacked while at work driving a cab – his second job, which helps keep the beloved Hard Ons afloat. Having sustained head injuries and now unable to work for a time, some muso mates including The Spazzys, Regurgitator, The Meanies and Dead have come together to turn the remaining shows of the Hard Ons tour – which would otherwise have been cancelled – into benefit gigs for the recovering guitarist. We spoke to Ben Ely, (Regurgitator - pictured), Jem (Dead), and Wally Meanie (The Meanies) about Blackie’s passion, camaraderie, and why they thought it important to get aboard the tour.
Why did you personally want to get involved with the Benefit For Blackie?
Ben: 'Cause he’s a legend, and figures very prominently in the early musical history of our band. And of course Peter (our drummer) played with his band for some time so we’ve always felt intimately connected to him and the Hard Ons.
Jem: His talents (especially in Nunchukka Superfly) have always been frustratingly underappreciated. I look up to him and Ray for their relentless output, genuine love and passion for what they do and never showing compromise. After being involved in a scene like this for long enough people like Blackie become like family. When family need help, you help. Like a lot of people I feel I owe him something back for years of great songs and live shows and advice along the way.
Wally: ‘Cause he’s a bloody top bloke and certainly didn’t deserve to cop it like he did. Hard Ons and The Meanies have a long history. Apart from being a big influence on us, the Hard Ons have given us the good old leg-up on numerous occasions, and been very generous with great tour support slots both here and in Europe. There’s a mutual admiration society going on for sure, and Blackie still comes to see us play whenever we’re in Sydney: still showing that support.
What has the response been so far?
Ben: Response to what? If you mean the incident, it’s been outrage. If you mean the event, I’ll have to wait 'til it happens!
Jem: The response has been huge. Overwhelming. While it’s not surprising, it is absolutely heart-warming. It sucks that something this shit had to happen to bring this out, but it makes me feel lucky to be a part of this scene where no one ever gets paid properly, everyone is struggling and yet the solidarity is through the roof. It feels like Blackie and Hard Ons are getting some compensation for what I believe to be a lack of recognition in this country. It has been especially cool to see people like Steve (Too Far Gone screen printing) and Tym Guitars donating their talents and hard work to the cause. Steve is a great artist and screen printer and has made a shirt especially to sell and donate all profits. Tym has auctioned and raffled off some of his handmade pedals, which fetch a mint on ebay.
Wally: The overall response has been “what the fuck”, ‘cause I mean, who does that shit, fuck me? But because it happened to such a good dude who wouldn’t hurt a fly it’s even worse. Response to his plight has been terrific with benefit gigs popping up all over the place. Blackie (and Ray Ahn, Hard Ons) do a lot for a lot of people, so a lot of folks haven’t been backward in coming forward to offer assistance, which says a lot about the guy.
Tell us about one of your fondest memories of Blackie.
Ben: I remember first thinking of Blackie (as I thought of most of the Hard Ons) as a mysterious, almost exotic character, shrouded in the glamour and filth of punk rock royalty. Then I found out he was a rather fastidious, particular person, slightly mismatched to his musical passion and persona. I guess I identified with that.
Jem: I’d need a whole book! Fire Witch played a show with Hard Ons in Geelong once. We were big Nunchukka fans but had not come round to Hard Ons yet. There were about ten people in the audience when we started. Five minutes into our set it was down to two people including Blackie who then got on stage to play guitar with us for the rest of the set. The other person left and we played the next 20 minutes to an empty room and Ray behind the merch desk. Blackie was stoked; thought it went pretty well! Then during the Hard Ons set, most of the very small crowd were fighting each other, unaware of the gig happening in front of them. I remember Blackie putting down his guitar and pulling out cheerleading moves with a couple of t-shirts for pom poms. It was just absurd: the joy on his face was incredible.
Wally: They’re all fond; you haven’t got the space.
Will you be doing anything special on the day? What can punters look forward to?
Ben: I think there’ll be tears and blood and quite a bit of sweat; possibly some embarrassing collabs. It’s going to be old school, that’s for sure.
Wally: Being The Meanies is pretty special: punters can look forward to that.
The BENEFIT FOR BLACKIE will run over three shows in the coming week: Thursday June 7 at The Nash in Geelong with Townhall, DEAD and Kremlings, Friday June 8 at Karova Lounge in Ballarat with The Yard Apes, DEAD and NOUS, and Saturday June 9 at The Tote in Collingwood with Regurgitator, The Meanies, The Spazzys, DEAD and Bat Piss. For Tote tickets, check out thetotehotel.oztix.com.au.