In Australia of the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties rock music was a virtual religion for him; he sacrificed his youth on the altar of electric euphoria, chasing his favorite musicians from one end of New South Wales to the other, bands like “Died Pretty”, “Hunters and Collectors”, “Dragon”, “XL Capris”, “The Saints”, “The Angels”, “Box the Jesuit”, “The Nerve”, “Monroe’s Fur” and “Lubricated Goat”. But of them all, his biggest lust was for "The Divinyls", Chrissie Amphlet turning him on as no other woman ever could; he swirled his head and a fountain of joy spouted from his crown every time he danced with her and Mark McInty’s scintillating performance upon the stage. Musicians and he went together like honey and oats, like sex and love, they exploded at gigs like powder kegs, and sometimes he did the graphix to light the fuse.
When Punk hit Sydney in 1976/77 it had already blown itself out in London, like a hot wind, but in the antipodes it still smacked of the fresh breath of rebellion. With an irreverent iconoclasm towards the status quo Punks had the middle-classes wincing upon their comfortable sofas. Photos of the Queen with a safety pin through her nose declaring, “God save the Queen, she ain’t no human being”, at first horrified Arthur who was still hung up on the pseudo-love of the ‘Sixties peaceniks and he berated every Punk he met for their negative, violent approach to existence. But he was an Aussie Republican and soon saw the value of demystifying royalty, he resented the Queen as distant ruler of Australia, plus what quickly swung him over to Punks' bad-arse attitude was their radically déclassé, eye-clashing dress code, the subversive satire underpinning their outrageous promo imagery and the raw, explosive music, the Sex Pistols providing the knock-out punch. (The British connection with Auz was strong so it was Brit Punk Rock Artie fell for, the Americans such as The Stooges, Iggy Pop, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Ramones, Patti Smith et al came later in his musical thrill addiction.
|Art by Stu Spasm.|
|The Punk Poofy Cat.|
|The Hopetoun Hotel|
|No Fixed Address.|
Of course “Cold Chisel” came into their own from hard touring and living experience with classics such as “Breakfast at Sweethearts” and “Cheap Wine.” Their sound had become slicker with virtuoso performances from the guitarist, Ian Moss and the genius of pianist Don Walker, whose edgy song-writing caught the public’s fervid imagination. Even though Barnesy screeched like a cat thrown on the barbie they were attractive to big label record executives, whereas the Punks’ garage thrash went nowhere except into small indie labels such as Redeye and Blackeye, if they were lucky.
|The Trade Union Club.|
But at the original, ultimate Punk pubs, “The Grand” at Central Railway and The Civic up the road in Pitt Street, Arthur truly got lobotomized by “The Rejex”, “Urban Guerillas”, “Suicide Squad”, “Bedhogs”, “The Kelpies” and “Soggy Porridge”, teenage garage bands that went nowhere except into Sydney Punk mythology and Artie's electro-heart.
|Urban Guerillas at the Grand Hotel.|
Some of the bands he first saw in this town of tough titties went on to get international renown, like ‘AC/DC’ at the Haymarket, ‘Severed Heads’ at the Phoenician Club, ‘Nick Cave and the Birthday Party’ at the Cell-block Theatre and ‘SPK’ at Sydney University. The jumping crowds were made delirious by guitar-static searing the eardrums and thrilling the brain, setting afire nerve-endings so that the dancer got stomped into atoms on the dance-floor, then snatched back up by a brotherly hand and thrown around in the meat-grinder music for yet more joyful bruising.
He enraged the ignorant mob further by responding to their sneers with the information that the original meaning of the term “punk” was jail-house slang for someone who took it up the arse. He rarely met any 'gays' in the "rock'n roll scene", homophobia ruled; he was never closeted about his sexuality and copped lots of shit for it, often barred from 'straight' pubs, (such as The Civic whose manager took an instant dislike to him), excluded from inner circles, wiped from the record. For all the liberal lip-service, especially nowadays, back then fags just weren't liked, it was a supreme Het, macho scene, but he didn't give a shit, he was a warrior and he demanded respect by his very nerve.
He would run seven hundred miles for a hot, chaotic electric-music show, dash his brains against his own skull head-banging up a white-light orgasm to match the band’s ecstatic musical smash-up, the keening mob swaying, seething, jumping, pulsating like a monstrous blob of mindless protoplasm with a thousand squirming limbs. He rarely had money for the entrance fee to these gigs but as a die-hard Punk he figured "where there was a craving there was a hole in the wall" and no venue was able to keep him out, he would find the unlocked back-door, the break in the cyclone fence or the design for the door pass and forge a copy.
|The Gunnery Squat - art by Jonno Driscoll.|
On another night, leaving yet another scene of musical electrocution, he must’ve given the sleazy eyeball to a Punk loitering in the street, for the drunken bastard unexpectedly jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground where they rolled for several minutes in a veritable fight to the death. Cars cruised past with yobs hanging out the window yelling, “Give it to the cunt!” while Arthur was being throttled in the gutter. The rabid Punk took pleasure in biting, scratching and trying to gouge his eyes out and Arthur had to call forth the last ounce of his strength to beat the lout off and stagger to his feet. Still the idiot clung to him, punching and tearing at his flesh, declaring he wanted to kill all poofters and would only be satisfied with Arthur’s total annihilation.