The Angels thank Wollongong for supporting 40 years of rock

Wollongong was a strong advocate for Australian rock and roll in the 1970s and The Angels were – and still are – forever grateful for the Illawarra fans who supported them in their early years and throughout.

“Wollongong and Newcastle - the satellite cities of Sydney - in those formative years for us were massive,” recalls John Brewster.

“We used to drive up and [play at] Collegians and then drive back in the wee hours of the morning.

“We were bigger in both of those cities than we were in Sydney in the mid-70s; both are great rock and roll towns.”

This year the group celebrates four decades of pub gigs, international tours, band break-ups, infighting and the thing that’s held it all together – the music.

John and his brother Rick (who started the band with the late Bernard “Doc” Neeson) have released a band memoir with the help of writer Bob Yates and a greatest hits compilation.

Earlier in the year the brothers stopped by Wollongong’s Centro CBD restaurant to chat with fans over dinner about their lives with some quirky questions.

“One guy said ‘tell me about the EH Holden station wagon you used to drive around in’, back when we first started the 1964 EH – which never missed a beat by the way – it was a great car,” he said.

Brewster believed the most interesting parts of their book were the early years of the “junk band”, forming into a proper rock band and getting noticed by AC/DC.

“We did three shows with them [in South Australia] and they in a way really launched our whole career because they went back to Sydney and told Harry Vanda and George Young about us,” he said.

“People like to think it’s a “tell all” or a “warts and all” but we don’t get into too much of that. Obviously there’s been a roller-coaster we’ve ridden but it’s a bit smoother these days I must say.”

He admitted the group have had their ups and downs but they’ve never “put anyone down” nor sensationalised legal issues from over the years.

“I respect everybody that ever played in the band as everyone played their part,” Brewster said.

FLASHBACK: The Angels in 1986 Rick Brewster, Brent Eccles, Doc Neeson, Jim Hilbun, Bob Spencer. Picture: Festival Records

FLASHBACK: The Angels in 1986 Rick Brewster, Brent Eccles, Doc Neeson, Jim Hilbun, Bob Spencer. Picture: Festival Records

These days you will find Screaming Jets singer Dave Gleeson on lead vocals and another Brewster, John’s son Sam on bass (after the death of original member Chris Bailey) and Nick Norton on drums.

But the sound is essentially the same, Australian rock and roll, just how the fans like it.

“It’s a funny sort of band really these days,” Brewster laughed. “We’re playing great, I don’t think you go backwards in terms of ability.”

The Angels with guests Rose Tattoo and Hitmen DTK, Waves in Towradgi, Saturday November 25.