Heavy Lifting: vintage t-shirts and roadie reunions captures a mere portion of the stories and t-shirts Adrian accumulated in his years on the road, but brings together two of his key passions, t-shirts and the well-being of his colleagues.
Adrian was the original stage-manager for each of the legendary Sunbury Music Festivals which ran annually between 1972 – 1975. Adrian did not deliberately choose this work, rather he drifted into it through a series of chance encounters that followed the dances he ran out of an Elsternwick Church Hall. He landed the position with Sunbury Music Festival when the booking company he found himself managing bands through as a side-hustle to his day job, Australian Entertainment Exchange (AAEE) shared an office building with the festival founders, Odessa Productions. He overheard some tantalising conversations coming from their office. Adrian joined the conversation, got involved in bringing the festival to life and the rest is history!
Adrian went on to run various booking companies, roadie, as well as manage tours with popular Australian and overseas acts including Tangerine Dream, B.B King, Air supply, Goanna, The Cobbers Bush Band and the Ted Mulrey Gang.
Adrian accumulated many t-shirts of these bands along the way. The t-shirts on display only scratch the surface of the bulging storage bags that contain his collection, but they each spark vivid memories that prompt transporting tales of professional and personal challenges, near-misses, anecdotes of colourful, often difficult characters and endless candid behind the scenes moments that aren’t always captured in the glamourised annals of rock-music history.
Spanning from the 1970’s this selection encompasses some significant highlights drawn from the decades of his life spent backstage and on the road in an industry that relies on the expertise, innovation and labour of countless faceless people to set a stage for entertainment that appears effortless to an excited crowd anticipating the spell-binding magic of live performance.
Roadies are the backbone of the music industry. However, during Adrian’s time they have often worked under poor conditions with no financial support for retirement or injury, and after years of nomadic living, more often than not, they lack social supports that prevent isolation and poor health from taking hold. Following a roadie reunion in 2012 instigated by Ian ‘Piggy’ Peel, he and Adrian co-founded ARCA - The Australian Road Crew Association of Australia who provide financial, health, counselling and well-being services for roadies and crew in crisis.
Adrian is deeply invested in the lives of roadies and the work ARCA do to support them. This exhibition tells an important story of camaraderie, commitment and the invisible connections held in what could otherwise be dismissed as a frivolous souvenirs from one person’s career. The history of live music owes a debt to the roadies who would give the shirts of their backs for the show to go on.