In February 1982, we landed a gig at a club called Ciro's. We had to play from Mondays to Sundays. The job also required us to play on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5pm to 7pm and Saturday afternoons from 12pm to 2pm. It was a very difficult time for me as I was writing examinations. I did feel though that this was what I wanted to do and we all got through the gig without too much trouble. We did realise that the end of the gig was in sight and we had nowhere to go, so it was back to the rehearsal room for the first time in a very long time.
It was at this stage that Bernie Millar (ex-Circus) and Glenda Millar (ex-Clout) approached the band to work together at a club in Pretoria. The gig was confirmed and the band started rehearsing in earnest.
The gig turned out to be a most enjoyable experience but at the end, an offer was made to Tony and I to join Bernie and Glenda to form a band to tour around the country. I refused but Tony accepted the offer.
Our gig came to an end and Tony, Bernie and Glenda left Johannesburg with the band "Top Dog". Top Dog started their work in Cape Town at the Libertas Hotel. I lost contact with Tony at this stage and only heard reports from friends who still lived in Cape Town. Top Dog consisted of Bernie, Glenda, Tony, Mike Rowe and Patrick van Rensburg.
Boss, however were now convinced that the band would not survive this latest shock. We were without a gig and without a bass player. The thought did cross our minds to just give up and move on because we really didn't want to go through the hassle of finding someone else who would fit in and then to teach them all of our songs.
Enter Grant Fisher...
Read Grant's own story here...
Grant and I had played together briefly in Cape Town for a band called "Wildeside". The band's future was cut short when Grant went for national service and then I left for Johannesburg. We had decided to stay in contact and at one stage Grant flew to Johannesburg to audition as a keyboard player for Boss. The audition didn't work out but when he left again for Cape Town he made it clear that if we ever needed a bass player
Robert phoned Grant in Cape Town on the Monday and on that Wednesday, May 1982, Grant arrived in Johannesburg. He had also left a band in Cape Town called "Dr Jive and the Bluenotes".
The annual Tarlton Raceway festival was about to take place. All of the top Johannesburg bands were to be featured and we were given a good time slot on the program to perform between Hotline and Ballyhoo. This was to be Grant's debut in Boss.
Fortunately Grant stepped into the band without a problem and rehearsals went well. We had actually finished rehearsing our set for the concert one night early.
At the festival there were many people in the business who were keen to see the band without Tony. The performance lived up to expectations and we started to receive attention from the management of other successful bands.
The new line-up seemed to be stable and a number of new songs were written in that period.
Enter Dirk Ackerman......
Dirk Ackerman was an attorney and the manager for the band "Flash Harry". He had seen the band perform at the Tarlton Festival and The Jolly Roger and was very impressed with what he saw. He wanted to take over the management of Boss and give the band our first recording contract. The band was split in half over this decision. Robert and I felt that we didn't need Dirk. Grant couldn't decide and Garth and Colin wanted to go ahead and sign with Dirk.
It was eventually agreed that Dirk would take over management and Robert could stay on. (I still don't know what Robert was supposed to do.
I think that the whole thing would have worked out if things had run the way that Dirk had intended then to.
The first change came with the name of the band.
Dirk had felt that the image that Boss had portrayed did not go along with his plans. The name was changed to Streetalk and the image changed to a cleaner look.
The next decision was to record a single under Dirk's label. After much deliberation, two songs were chosen and were improved upon. The first song was a song originally written by Grant but was changed considerably for the single. The song was entitled "High and Dry" and in all fairness to Grant was not the ideal song for the single but everybody went along with the decision. The B-side was entitled "Pass me by", written by the band before Grant had joined.
High and Dry - Streetalk
a single released in 1982 by SA band Streetalk (previously known as Boss).
Raw rock guitar mixed with smooth harmony vocals and a bouncy beat - an
interesting and powerful combination. The guitarist, Peter Hanmer, later
went on to form Off The Edge.
- SA Rock Digest Issue #41, December 1999
The two songs were recorded at "Universal Studios" in Johannesburg and the band was happy with the outcome.
Streetalk was now performing at venues organised by Dirk and Progressive Productions. The most
noteworthy venue was at the Sun City Superbowl. Sun City were having local bands performing in the Superbowl for weekends and on the 12th July 1982, it was our turn. At that stage I think it was safe to say that that was the high point of our careers.
The next shock that the band had to endure was the resignation of Colin.
Colin had always made it clear that money was a major issue as regards playing in the band and it was no secret that at this stage Streetalk was not a great financial investment. He had received an offer from "The Mattisson Brothers" and decided to accept. This came as a huge blow to the band and the timing couldn't have been worse. The single was about to be released and we had lost one of the most integral members of the band.
I can safely say that the rejoining of Wayne was one of sheer desperation and although we'd got through the launch of the single it was clear that the band was not the same. Dirk lost all interest in the band over the signing of Wayne and before we realised it, we were on our own again.
We sat down and made the decision to start performing as a cover band with no more original songwriting. Wayne then told us that he wasn't happy in this situation and he handed in his notice. Everything seemed to be falling apart around us and we were struggling to hold the band together.
Enter Merco and Fred.
The launch of the single was at Plumb Crazy and we definitely didn't live up to expectations. We realised that Colin had given us something that no other drummer could replace. After the launch, I was approached by Merco Kesic and was told that we needed him. I was quite surprised at this but told the rest of the band. It was agreed that we would try him out and so we invited him to our next rehearsal. He arrived at the audition full of confidence and it showed in his playing. We felt that we had a similar kind of drummer to Colin and so we asked him to join. He told us of a keyboard player who was also keen to join and so Fred Woods arrived and we were now a five-piece band.
We started on our cover repertoire and soon had three full sets of cover songs. Robert arranged a gig at "The Castle Inn" in Hillbrow over Christmas and New Year.
It was now Robert's turn to get out of the situation as he had nothing left to do. The band was now a full-on cover band and there was no room left for him. The gig at the Castle Inn had come to an end and there was nowhere left to go, so relationships started becoming strained. Fred had just bought a new PA system for the band and to test out the system we moved back to the King's Hotel in Boksburg. Fred and I battled night after night on the system to get it working, only to have the rest of the band come in the following night and complain about this and that. I had had about three hours sleep in the last few nights and was so sick and tired of the whole thing that I decided that I'd had enough. I informed Garth that I'd be leaving the band. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I did not regret my decision.
... on to 1983 and the formation of Off The Edge.
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