Australian hard rock band The Choirboys kicked off in 1978 and mainly played the pub circuit for years, clocking up a string of minor hits. They were an
extremely popular live act. They played the Narara Festival, along with Divinyls, Cold Chisel and a host of other Aussie greats, in 1983 to an audience
of some 50,000. Paul Young uncovers more, behind the scenes with Choirboys' drummer Lindsay Tebbutt.
first big hit, for which they’ve been remembered ever since, is 1987’s ‘Run to Paradise’. It’s incredibly catchy, though the dark lyrics tell a harrowing
tale of heroin addiction. It was a number 3 hit nationally and stayed in the top 10 for an incredibly long time. It also hit number 13 in New Zealand
and reached 33 on the U.S. charts. The band were ready to release their next song, but their company, Mushroom Records, said, ‘No we can’t release
it, because the radio stations still want to play 'Run to Paradise’.
The story of the song’s rise to success gives an intriguing insight into the music industry back then. It was important to ensure that a song’s rise up
the charts did not lose momentum, and this needed to be coordinated at a national level. If a track didn’t keep climbing the charts the stations would
soon lose interest. ‘Paradise’ was number one in Sydney and Melbourne, but the owner of the big radio station in Adelaide didn’t like the song and
had decided not to play it.
Back in ‘87 the Kent Music Report, compiled by enthusiast David Kent, was the weekly record sales chart. Kent and his staff would collect sales data from
certain record shops, known as ‘charting stores’. Friends and fans of The Choirboys visited these stores to purchase multiple copies of the record.
Michael Gudinski, who ran both Mushroom Records and Frontier Touring, flexed his ‘marketing muscle’, also helping to keep the song ‘alive’ in the charts.
band’s drummer, Lindsay Tebbutt, believes Gudinski told the owner of the Adelaide radio station he’d keep the big overseas acts out of Adelaide venues
if the song wasn’t played. It soon went to number one in that town.
Though the band never again reached the heady heights of ‘Paradise’, they’re still rocking hard and pulling crowds whenever they perform. If you get the
chance, check out these seasoned rock ‘n’ rollers for yourself.
Boys just wanna have fun: (from top) filming the Run to Paradise clip at the Hordern Pavilion in 1987, Lindsay with boombox in 1989, and
performing at Winton Raceway in Vic 2017