I was part of a struggling four piece harmony group in 1972 when we were told that the iconic Crawford Productions was searching for up and coming singers to appear in a new variety television show they planned to produce. With nothing to lose we applied, secured an audition, and were thrilled to be offered a six month contract to be "trained up" for this new TV show.
Under the direction of producer and drama teacher Natalie Raine, the four of us fronted up to the Crawford Productions office in Abbottsford five days each week to learn how to ‘put on a show’. In short, Natalie taught us stagecraft - how to walk on and off, entertain an audience with ‘patter’ and how to build to an encore. She was a hard task master but Crawford’s had a reputation for excellence and Hector, (or Mr Crawford as we knew him) would not cop anything second rate.
Next thing we know, we were to perform with Hector Crawford and his Orchestra at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl during one of his ‘Music for the People’ concerts. Well, we could hardly contain ourselves with excitement; although some of the gloss came off when we were told that we would be performing as "What’s their Name?" The idea was that the people would be invited to write in with name suggestions.
Our first major concert performance with Hector and his Orchestra was so well received that we were invited to do more - but this time, under our new name of "The Pied Pipers".
Unfortunately the new variety show that Crawford’s was planning never eventuated, so our contract was not renewed, although the following year we were invited back to compete on its national Showcase television show for the 9 Network.
Winning our heat, we went on to tour Australia with Gordon Boyd and the likes of John Lidgerwood and a young girl from Adelaide named Lisa Edwards who sang in a group called "Harmonie" who subsequently went on to sing with John Farnham.
The bottom line for me was that the training and opportunities provided by Crawford Productions afforded me a career in music for which I’m incredibly grateful - and everything that I learnt while at Crawfords I’ve passed onto my own two daughters who now successfully tour the world performing as "The Little Stevies".
So thank you Hector Crawford, Natalie Raine, Jean Gair and Nick McMahon.