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Radio Birdman : Retaliate First - Murray Engleheart

Radio Birdman

Retaliate First

By: Murray Engleheart

Paperback | 2 July 2024

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The first-ever in-depth biography of iconoclastic Sydney punk band Radio Birdman.

Sydney's legendary Radio Birdman were a stake through the satin and scarfed hearts of the early seventies' music scene, revolutionising the conservative Australian industry in the process.

Regarded as one of the earliest punk bands of the seventies - before the world had heard of the Sex Pistols or The Saints - Radio Birdman were feared and loathed by many, but adored by fiercely loyal fans.

Tales of Radio Birdman will be handed down through generations. Singer Rob Younger drinking from a human skull filled with sheep brains; fans unknowingly breaking limbs while dancing wildly at gigs; fighting venue bouncers with microphone stands, and having publicans cut the power in a desperate bid to halt their force-of-nature-like performances. Their riotous appearance at Paddington Town Hall in December 1977 drew an overflowing crowd of thousands, eclipsing the audience for AC/DC's triumphant return to Sydney after the Youngs had conquered Europe a year earlier.

While Birdman split after a disastrous UK and European tour in 1978, hunger for a reunion grew by the day, and their eventual regrouping was met with wild acclaim. In a series of electrifying shows at the 1996 Big Day Out, they overshadowed the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Rage Against the Machine and The Prodigy. Birdman continued to play sell-out gigs to devoted crowds both in Australia and across the globe. In 2007, the group were inducted into the ARIA Australian Music Hall of Fame.

With 2024 marking their half century of existence, Radio Birdman are internationally worshipped, their mysterious logo - once a sign of a secret society around a little-known rock group from Sydney - now proudly emblazoned on skin all over the planet.

The Radio Birdman story is one of inspiration, confrontation and commitment, as well as the creation of a subculture that continues to this day.

However, their story has never been told - in depth - until now. Engleheart's Radio Birdman: Retaliate First is drawn from more than 130 interviews with the band members, their closest associates and fans.

About the Author

Sydney-based journalist and author Murray Engleheart has written millions of words about music over more than four decades with his work published from Moscow to São Paulo, Japan to New York. From first doing album reviews in a high school magazine in 1974, he has interviewed a virtual who's who of rock and roll from Keith Richards, Lou Reed and Patti Smith to Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker and David Bowie. His first book was the global best seller AC/DC Maximum Rock & Roll with Arnaud Durieux (2006) and his second, Blood Sweat and Beers - Oz Rock from The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo (2010).

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