The Party Boys were originally formed by bassist Paul Christie as a one-off cover band for a two-week tour. What followed was an odyssey that lasted for 10 years, with several successful albums that comprised some of Australia’s most accomplished performers.
After leaving the band Mondo Rock in 1982, Christie called up several friends to form a band to perform cover songs on the pub circuit. The first lineup consisted of Christie, guitarist Kevin Borich, Mississippi and Sherbert guitarist Harvey James, Angels drummer Graham Bidstrup, and Australian Crawl singer James Reyne.
The band’s initial shows comprised of cover versions of songs that they chose. These shows were so successful that a live album recorded during their 4th gig was released. It was called “Live At Several 21sts”, and it reached No. 9 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart in March 1983. The band also released their first single, a cover of The Rolling Stones song “Bitch”.
Shortly after the album’s release, James Reyne left the band to continue his work with Australian Crawl. Richard Clapton was brought on as the new lead singer, along with Don Raffaele on saxophone. This new lineup released another live album, “Greatest Hits (Of Other People)”, and the single “I Fought The Law”, a cover of the Bobby Fuller Four song. The live album reached No. 25 in the Australian charts.
In 1984, both Richard Clapton and Harvey James left the band were replaced by Shirley Strachan from Skyhookd on vocals and Robin Riley from Rose Tattoo on guitar. A new live album, “No Song Too Sacred”, was then released along with the their cover of the Led Zeppelin classic “Kashmir”.
In 1985, the Party Boys toured with a new lineup which included Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, Dragon vocalist Marc Hunter, and Richard Harvey of the Divinyls on drums. A fourth live album, “You Need Professional Help”, was released from their sold-out tour. The album included a now legendary guitar duel between Joe Walsh and Kevin Borich on the song “Rocky Mountain Way”.
In 1986, a new lineup of The Party Boys was formed: Angry Anderson of Rose Tattoo took over lead vocals; Paul Christie, now playing second drums; Kevin Borich; Richard Harvey; John Brewster of The Angels on guitar; and Alan Lancaster of Status Quo on bass. No recordings of this new lineup were made.
Swanee aka John Swan replaced Angry Anderson in 1987, which ushered in the band’s most successful phase. The new lineup’s single “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” became their first No. 1 hit in June 1987. Later that year they released their debut album “The Party Boys”, which contained 6 original songs. Their next single “Hold Your Head Up” reached No. 19 on the Australian charts.
At the height of their success, Swanee left to work on a film, Chase the Moon, which was never completed. He was briefly replaced by Graham Bonnett of Rainbow. After 5 shows, however, Bonnett left and Swanee returned as lead singer. The band acted as the support act for AC/DC’s 1988 Australian tour, and Swanee left The Party Boys again once the tour ended.
In late 1988 Joe Walsh joined the band again and appeared on their next studio single, “Follow Your Heart,” released in March 1989 and charting at No. 94. Later that year, U.K. bluesman Eric Burdon became The Party Boys’ 7th lead singer.
In late 1989, Paul Christie put together a new recording lineup: Ross Wilson of Daddy Cool on vocals; Stuart Fraser of Noiseworks on guitar; Dorian West on bass; Adrian Cannon on drums; and Kevin Bennett and Alex Smith providing backing vocals. The group a version of the Manfred Mann song “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” as the next single. Unfortunately, Ross Wilson’s vocals could not be used due to contractual reasons. Vince Contarino from the Led Zeppelin tribute band The Zep Boys stepped to provide vocals to the track. The single reached No. 24 in Australia.
The band continued to tour with various new members, including former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans. The Party Boys released their final single in September 1992, which was a cover of the Billy Preston song “That’s The Way God Planned It”. The single featured the 1987 lineup of Swanee, Paul Christie, John Brewster and Alan Lancaster. Shortly after the release of the single, Paul Christie disbanded The Party Boys.
Paul Christie became a manager for bands such as The Breed after The Party Boys’ end. Several revival performances have occurred in the past 20 years. The most recent shows happened in January 2011 under the name “Kevin Borich’s Party Boyz”, which featured Kevin Borich, Angry Anderson, Swanee, Izzy Osmanovic of The Screaming Jets, Harry Bus and Mick Skelton.
The Party Boys legacy as a great rock band is thanks to its floating roster of legendary musicians and artists. Their live shows have earned them a place in Australian music history, and are rightly recognised as one of the country’s top acts.