“That was then, this is now … Don’t make the past your sacred cow.”– James Reyne,
‘A Little Ol’ Town South Of Bakersfield’
1957: James Reyne is born in Lagos, Nigeria (May 19).
1977: James forms the band Spiff Rouch with Simon Binks, Robert Walker and brothers Bill and Guy McDonough.
1978: Spiff Rouch split, and James forms Australian Crawl with Simon Binks, Paul Williams, Brad Robinson, and brother David Reyne on drums. The band plays its first gig in October.
1979: David Reyne leaves Australian Crawl and is replaced by Bill McDonough.
Australian Crawl release their debut single, ‘Beautiful People’.
1980: Australian Crawl release their debut album, The Boys Light Up. Produced by LRB’s David Briggs, the album stays in the charts for two years, peaks at number four, and goes four times platinum. The album features three singles: ‘Beautiful People’, ‘The Boys Light Up’ and ‘Downhearted’.
Guitarist and singer Guy McDonough joins Australian Crawl.
1981: James wins Most Popular Male Performer at the Countdown Rock Awards.
Australian Crawl’s second album, Sirocco – named after Errol Flynn’s yacht – is the band’s first number one album, spending six weeks on top. Produced by Peter Dawkins, three singles are released: ‘Things Don’t Seem’, ‘Errol’ and ‘Oh No Not You Again’.
1982: Australian Crawl win Most Popular Group at the Countdown Rock Awards, while James wins Most Popular Male Performer for the second year running. He gets Phillip Adams, from Amnesty International, to accept the award. “And this year,” Phillip says, “James is insisting that Amnesty work to get Molly Meldrum released from a rock show.”
Australian Crawl’s third album, Sons of Beaches, becomes the band’s second number one album, spending five weeks on top. Produced by Mike Chapman, the album features three singles: ‘Shut Down’, ‘Daughters Of The Northern Coast’ and ‘Runaway Girls’.
1983: The Party Boys, featuring James Reyne on vocals, release a live album, Live At Several 21st’s, which reaches number nine.
James stars as the tennis-playing playboy Greg Marsden in the TV mini-series Return To Eden.
Australian Crawl release the Semantics EP featuring ‘Reckless’. Produced by Mark Opitz, the EP goes to number one. The band also re-records six songs for the international release of the Semantics album – ‘The Boys Light Up’, ‘Errol’, ‘Indisposed’, ‘Lakeside’, ‘Things Don’t Seem’ and ‘Unpublished Critics’.
Australian Crawl release their first live album, Phalanx, featuring cover artwork by Michael Leunig and a cover of ‘Louie Louie’. The album reaches number four.
Australian Crawl tour the UK with Duran Duran, where Geffen Records release Phalanx as Australian Crawl: Live.
1984: Australian Crawl sponsor the Bells Beach Surf Classic. It’s the Rip Curl/Australian Crawl Bells Beach Surf Classic.
James wins a Logie for Most Popular New Talent at the TV Week Logie Awards.
Australian Crawl win Most Popular Group at the Countdown Rock Awards.
Guy McDonough dies of viral pneumonia, and the band cancels a planned US tour.
The first Australian Crawl best-of, Crawl File, is released and peaks at number two.
1985: James and Brad Robinson help organise the EAT Concert, at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl, which raises money for East Africa.
James and Electric Pandas singer Lin Buckfield release a duet, a cover of Garland Jeffreys’ ‘R.O.C.K’.
Australian Crawl release their final studio album, Between A Rock And A Hard Place, on the band’s own label, Freestyle Records. Produced by Adam Kidron, the album features the singles ‘Two Can Play’, ‘If This Is Love’, ‘Trouble Spot Rock’ and ‘Two Hearts’, and peaks at number 11.
1986: Australian Crawl play their final Melbourne show, at the Myer Music Bowl on January 27. The band’s final show is at the Perth Entertainment Centre on February 1. A live album, The Final Wave, is released in October. Ed St John provides the postscript in the liner notes: “They had a distinctively Melbourne twang that recalled the sounds of many of that city’s great bands – Skyhooks, Jo Jo Zep and The Sports – whilst also stating a youthful, sexy confidence that was all their own.”
1987: James premieres his debut solo single, ‘Fall Of Rome’, on the final Countdown.
James’ self-titled debut album is released. Produced by Davitt Sigerson, the album hits number four and features the Top 10 hits ‘Fall Of Rome’ and ‘Hammerhead’, as well as the Top 40 hits ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘Heaven On A Stick’. A third Top 10 single, ‘Motor’s Too Fast’, is later added to the album.
1988: James tours Australia with Tina Turner. Capitol Records releases James Reyne in the US and Europe.
1989: James releases his second solo album, Hard Reyne. Produced by Simon Hussey, the album peaks at number seven and features ‘House of Cards’, ‘One More River’, ‘Trouble In Paradise’ and ‘Harvest Moon’.
Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls cover ‘Reckless’ for the Dumb Things EP.
1991: James releases his third solo album, Electric Digger Dandy, his first for Virgin Records. Produced by Simon Hussey, the album peaks at number three, and features the Top 10 hit ‘Slave’, as well as ‘Any Day Above Ground’, ‘Some People’, a new version of ‘Reckless’ and a cover of John Hiatt’s ‘Stood Up’.
Melbourne band Mr Floppy cover ‘Reckless’ as ‘Breakfast’.
1992: James is part of a studio project with Daryl Braithwaite, Simon Hussey and Jef Scott. The project takes its name from one of the Electric Digger Dandy tracks, ‘Company of Strangers’. The Company of Strangers album features three Top 40 hits: ‘Motor City (I Get Lost)’, ‘Sweet Love’ and ‘Daddy’s Gonna Make You A Star’, as well as a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’.
James and James Blundell’s cover of The Dingoes’ ‘Way Out West’ reaches number two.
Paul Kelly’s cover of ‘Reckless’ is included on the Paul Kelly & The Messengers album Hidden Things.
The first solo best-of, The Best of James Reyne, reaches number 16.
1993: James plays Tina Turner’s manager, Roger Davies, in the movie What’s Love Got To Do With It.
James composes the music for the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Blabbermouth.
1994: James signs to rooArt and releases his fourth solo album, The Whiff of Bedlam. Produced by Stewart Levine, the album hits number 20 and features ‘Red Light Avenue’, ‘Day In The Sun’ and ‘It’s Only Natural’.
1996: James releases his first solo live album, Live In Rio.
Australian Crawl are inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Founding member and James’ best friend, Brad Robinson, is too unwell to attend. He dies of cancer two weeks later. James performs ‘Stood Up’, one of Brad’s favourite songs, at Brad’s memorial service. James also speaks at the service: “Australian Crawl went for about seven years – that was just seven years of our lives. His life encapsulated so much more than just that.”
James stars in David Atkins’ production of Little Shop of Horrors.
1998: A second Australian Crawl best-of, More Wharf, is released. The album is dedicated to Brad Robinson.
James appears in the TV series State Coroner, playing Liam Pearce in 12 episodes.
James is part of Sir George Martin’s “All You Need Is Beatles” tour.
1999: James releases his fifth solo studio album, Design For Living, featuring ‘Not Waving, Drowning’.
James is part of John Farnham’s “I Can’t Believe He’s 50 Tour”. Their duet, ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’, appears on Farnham’s Live At The Regent Theatre album. The album also includes James covering Farnham’s 1970 hit ‘Comic Conversation’.
2000: Raven Records release a compilation album, Reckless: 1979-1995, gathering songs from Australian Crawl and James’ solo career.
2002: The Definitive Collection is released, including Australian Crawl and solo material.
2003: James appears as himself in the TV movie The Postcard Bandit and composes the movie’s music with Scott Kingman.
2004: Liberation Music releases James’ sixth solo studio album, Speedboats For Breakfast. Produced with Scott Kingman, the album includes the singles ‘Bug’ and ‘The Rainbow’s Dead End’, and a cover of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’.
James composes the score for the Bell Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night.
Mick Thomas covers Australian Crawl’s ‘Man Crazy’ for his Liberation Blue album, Anythings, Sure Things, Other Things.
2005: Smash ’n’ Grab have a Top 40 hit with ‘She Don’t Like That’, a dance remix of ‘Reckless’.
James releases the Liberation Blue album … And The Horse You Rode In On, featuring acoustic re-workings of some of his hits, plus covers of ‘How To Make Gravy’ and ‘To Live’s To Fly’.
John Farnham covers ‘Reckless’ and ‘Downhearted’ for his album I Remember When I Was Young, The Great Australian Songbook.
2006: James co-hosts Dig, a music show on ABC2.
James collaborates with illustrator Wendy Straw on the children’s book Mr Froggy Went A-Courtin’. It is followed soon after by a second book, Save The Bones For Henry Jones.
James is part of the Countdown Spectacular tour.
James appears on RocKwiz, doing a duet with Mia Dyson (a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’).
2007: James releases Every Man A King, produced by Scott Kingman, and featuring the singles ‘Light In The Tunnel’ and ‘Little Man You’ve Had A Busy Day’.
James releases a second Liberation Blue album, Ghost Ships.
James does a 90-date joint national tour with Mark Seymour.
James and Wendy Straw release a third children’s book, The Little Engine That Could.
James releases the live CD/DVD, One Night In Melbourne.
2009: Frente’s Angie Hart covers ‘Reckless’ on her solo album Eat My Shadow.
2010: James releases TCB, an album of Elvis covers, produced by Charles Fisher. It debuts at number 32.
The Boys Light Up is featured in the book The 100 Best Australian Albums.
2012: James releases his 13th solo album, Thirteen (11 studio albums and two live collections). Produced with Scott Kingman, the album features the singles ‘English Girls’, ‘Capsize’, ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It?’ and ‘Good Clean Fun’. Ed Nimmervoll’s review states: “He’s a better singer today than ever, better songwriter, better lyricist. Every track on Thirteen tells you how important all three of those aspects of his craft are to him.”
James appears on RocKwiz, doing a duet with Amaya Laucirica (a cover of Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Woody Guthrie song ‘California Stars’),
2013: James joins the MAX music channel to present a range of programs.
James does the “Time Of My Life” tour with Daryl Braithwaite, Ross Wilson and Joe Camilleri.
2014: The Australian Crawl catalogue is released digitally for the first time, and a new Australian Crawl Greatest Hits album is released. It goes straight to number one on the iTunes chart. It’s the week’s highest new entry on the ARIA charts, debuting at number four, to become Australian Crawl’s first Top 5 album in 30 years. Two singles also re-enter the ARIA charts – ‘Reckless’ (#71) and ‘The Boys Light Up’ (#86).
James receives an Order of Australia Medal, recognising his work as the chairman of the Leukaemia Foundation, as well as his work with young artists.
Indigenous actor and musician Tom E. Lewis covers ‘Reckless’ on his album Beneath The Sun.
A two-CD solo retrospective, The Anthology, is released.
James launches the “James Reyne Plays Australian Crawl” tour – the closest thing fans will get to an Australian Crawl reunion.
2015: James does The Red Hot Summer Tour.
A live album, Live 99, recorded in 1999, is released.
James tours Australia and New Zealand with Rod Stewart.
James Reyne and the Magnificent Few release a self-titled EP, featuring ‘What A Pain In The Arse It Is …’ and a duet with Mia Dyson, ‘I’d Still Be In Love With You’.
James embarks on a summer tour with Moving Pictures, which will feature more than 30 dates.
A new double live album, All The Hits Live, is released, featuring solo hits and songs from every Australian Crawl album.
2016: James does a solo tour of New Zealand.
James tours Australia with Chris Isaak.
James goes back on the road with Mark Seymour, for the tour “And The Rest Is History”.
The vinyl box set Australian Crawl – The Album Collection is released. The 7LP set includes the international version of the Semantics album.
America’s Ryan Adams tweets a link to ‘Reckless’ and exclaims, “HOLY CRAP – consider me obsessed.”
2017: James does The Red Hot Summer Tour.
James celebrates the 30th anniversary of his self-titled debut solo album with the “Solo Album Anniversary Shows”. The album is also reissued on vinyl.
2018: James does a national tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of ‘Reckless’.
2019: James does a year-long residency at The Palms at Crown, playing the first Saturday of every month.
James releases a new single, ‘Fearless’, which is featured in the movie Palm Beach, starring Bryan Brown. It is James’ first recording with producer Dorian West.
James announces 2020’s “The Boys Light Up 40th Anniversary Tour”.
2020: James does The Red Hot Summer anniversary tour, celebrating “10 years of Red Hot Rock”.
James joins his good friend Mark Seymour for the Music From The Home Front concert, performing ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Reckless’. Both songs are later included on the Music From The Home Front album, which debuts at number one.
The opening track on Mark Seymour & The Undertow’s Slow Dawn album is ‘Night Driving’, a song that Mark wrote with James.
James launches Red Hot Summer’s livestream series, Red Hot Sundays, playing an acoustic set at the Corner Hotel in Richmond.
James releases his 12th solo studio album, Toon Town Lullaby, produced by Dorian West.
The Australian Road Crew Association releases Australian Crawl Live At Billboard 1981 as part of its Desk Tape Series raising money for Support Act’s Roadies Fund.
2021: James is part of the Sounds Better Together concert at Mallacoota in Victoria. He is introduced by Kylie Minogue, who joins him on stage when he performs ‘The Boys Light Up’.
Covid sees “The Boys Light Up 40th Anniversary Tour” become “The Boys Light Up 41”. “Boys Lights Up turned 40 last year,” James says. “Boy, that’s the year that wasn’t. We had a tour all planned and booked that became the tour that couldn’t.”
James releases an acoustic cover of Rose Tattoo’s ‘Bad Boys For Love’ on Reckless Records.
2022: James releases a new acoustic version of ‘Reckless’ as well as an acoustic version of ‘What A Pain In The Arse It Is’.
James announces the “Songs of Beaches” national tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Australian Crawl’s third album, Sons of Beaches.
Originally scheduled for 2020 and then 2021, James finally gets to do the “Never Again” tour with Mark Seymour.
After more than two years, the Red Hot Summer 10th anniversary tour – renamed “Unfinished Business” – finally concludes, after being delayed by Covid and floods.