Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What would you give Molly for his birthday?

Time to do yourselves a favour, folks, and charge your glasses to Mr Ian Alexander ‘Molly’ Meldrum, who’ll be blowing out a mighty 71 candles today. 

Molly-Meldrum- Faster-Louder
Image: Faster Louder
I think it’s fair to say that Melbourne’s most famous music guru is loved by millions of Australians. Who can forget the mass outpouring of concern from his friends and fans (not to mention the media) when he fell off his ladder in 2011 and was in a coma for a month? He’s been a fixture of this country’s music scene for 50 years — during which time he’s managed to mumble, bumble and charm his way into our collective hearts. 

Whether writing for Go-Set magazine in the 60s or miming to that same era’s hits on teen pop show Kommotion (oh, to have witnessed that spectacle!), hosting Countdown for 13 years or parading as the King of Moomba just a few years ago, Molly’s always made a splash. And in this day and age of interchangeable plastic-fantastic TV cyborgs, his eccentricities and unique personality are more precious than ever.

Image: ABC
Anyway, if I was ever to give him a birthday pressie, I’d get him this…

After all, his record collection’s probably pretty comprehensive by now.

10 random fun facts about Molly 

  • That nickname: we can thank his mate, legendary 60s radio DJ Stan Rofe, for christening him Molly. Apparently he conceived it as a play on the term ‘band moll’.
  • Far-out pharaoh: Molly’s obsession with Egyptology is well documented, but I was intrigued to read that he once appeared on Dancing with the Stars dressed as a pharaoh and dancing to The Bangles’ “Walk like an Egyptian” — then promptly got knocked out. Was anyone lucky enough to see his performance? I can’t find any footage floating around on the interwebs.
  • Scream-queen: In June 1964, Molly and his friend Ronnie Burns got turfed out of The Beatles’ Festival Hall concert by for…wait for it…screaming too much. 
  • He said it: “No-one's above you and no-one's below you and you should treat all people as equal.” (Interview on Enough Rope with Andrew Denton in 2003)
  • Ian-tellectual: Despite his sometimes incoherent TV persona, Molly’s no dill: in fact, he was once a member of Mensa and is one of the few Australians ever to win $500,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (the money went to charity)
  • Iggy’s wig-out: In his famously shambolic Countdown interview (c. 1980), a gleefully wasted Iggy Pop addressed Molly as ‘Dogface’ before proceeding to ping around the studio like an turbo-charged Mexican jumping bean in a lip-synched rendition of “I’m Bored”. While Molly seemed to take Pop’s shenanigans in his stride, impressionable children like myself were left traumatised! 

  • Fridgy-didge: Molly once featured in an ad for Whirlpool fridges with Bert Newton. But this was no ordinary ad: both men were in (very bad, very funny) drag. See it here.
  • Mad hatter: Molly’s famous hat is a Stetson, not an Akubra as often believed
  • The real deal: Even if he’d never done anything else of note, Molly booked his place in Australian music history with the mind-bending job he did producing the Johnny Young-penned psych masterpiece “The Real Thing” for Russell Morris in 1969. Six minutes, 20 seconds of hypnotic bliss, over-dubbed to within an inch of its life, and absolutely ground-breaking for its time.
  • A philosophy for life: “I don't see things in life as challenges. If it's fun to do, you do it.” (Interviewed by Christie Eliezer for High-Voltage Rock’n’Roll, 2007)

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