24 January 2024 @ 5:30 pm
Brian Cadd with The Long & Short Of it – Tamworth Country Music Festival 2024
Radio announcers Brian Nankervis and Jacinta Parsons have an expression they use when something serendipitous happens or a bizarre coincidence occurs on their show on the ABC in Melbourne.
They call it Cadd Magic.
It seems appropriate, because it’s certainly been a magical journey for this Australian singer and songwriter. “Whatever the forces in the universe are that determine our earthly journeys, they have been particularly kind and generous to me,” Brian Cadd wrote in his autobiography, From This Side Of Things. “I have led about three lifetimes.”
The story starts in Perth and it’s taken Brian all around the world, including stints with The Flying Burrito Brothers and as the musical director for the “French Elvis”, Johnny Hallyday. He arranged and played on ‘The Real Thing’ and wrote and sang the theme for the Alvin Purple movie. He wrote for and performed on the soundtrack for the iconic surf movie Morning Of The Earth. He wrote ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’, which won Most Outstanding Composition at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo. He signed Tina Arena and produced her debut single. He also wrote a song for Return Of The Living Dead Part II, auditioned for the piano player’s role in This Is Spinal Tap and was asked to join the Bee Gees band.
It’s been a long, strange trip. Along the way, Brian Cadd – who was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007 – has earned the love and respect of his peers. Jimmy Barnes says: “Brian Cadd is one of my heroes. He has a body of work like Ray Charles and Hank Williams.”
“Brian Cadd is one of the finest songwriters Australia has ever produced,” adds Ian “Molly” Meldrum, whose first job in the music industry was as a roadie for The Groop, Brian’s band in the ’60s. Molly once introduced the artist to Elton John by saying: “Brian is probably to Australia what you are to England.”
As well as thousands of live shows – “It’s a real addiction, I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t do it; I can’t play golf, I can’t fish” – Brian has made his mark as a songwriter. His songs have been recorded by Ringo Starr, Joe Cocker, Glen Campbell, The Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Tyler, Yvonne Elliman, Charlie Daniels, Dobie Gray, Cilla Black and Gene Pitney. And Brian has been responsible for writing a swag of Aussie classics, including The Groop’s ‘Woman You’re Breaking Me’, The Masters Apprentices’ ‘Elevator Driver’, Robin Jolley’s ‘Marshall’s Portable Music Machine’, Axiom’s ‘A Little Ray Of Sunshine’ and ‘Arkansas Grass’, John Farnham’s ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’, as well as his own solo smashes ‘Ginger Man’ and ‘Let Go’. Brian Cadd’s songs have been signposts for Australian lives. ‘A Little Ray Of Sunshine’, for example, is just as popular today as when it became a Top 5 hit in 1970. “It means so much to so many people,” Brian says. “If I had a dollar for every person who has said to me, ‘I left the maternity hospital and I swear A Little Ray Of Sunshine came on the radio’ … I secretly believe that there is some kind of radio network that broadcasts right outside hospitals and only plays ‘Little Ray Of Sunshine’.” The accolades stretch back to 1973 when Brian was awarded Best Songwriter and Most Popular Australian Musician at the King of Pop Awards.
He was inducted into the Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007, the same year he entered the ARIA Hall of Fame. Accepting the honour, Brian said: “I can’t really imagine how it could have been much better or any more fun.” In 2018, Brian became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to the music industry as a singer, songwriter, performer, mentor and producer, and to professional associations. Brian has given much back to the music industry, serving on the Music Industry Advisory Council, the Australian Music Foundation, and as a board member of Support Act. Nearly six decades into his remarkable career, Brian remains entranced by the power of a great song. “Everyone is immediately 15 again,” he smiles. “It’s amazing how powerful music can be, taking you back.”
But Brian Cadd is not on a never-ending nostalgia trip. He’s still making great new music. In 2016, he released the album Bulletproof with The Bootleg Family Band. “These songs have a spirit that can’t be denied,” Stack magazine stated. “Not bad for a bloke who’s just turned 70. Bulletproof, indeed.”
“I’m just an ordinary guy,” Cadd sang in the title track. But he’s led an extraordinary life. “I’ve realised how complex and crammed full of action and adventure my life has been,” he says. “As I often say, I can’t ask for any change, I’ve had much more than my dollar’s worth.”