New book to tell the story of Gold Coast’s live music history

Sounds of Paradise book, Gold Coast

‘Sounds of Paradise’ will tell the tales of Gold Coast’s colourful and controversial live music history.

Covering the city’s musical heyday of the 70s, 80s and 90s, the new book, ‘Sounds of Paradise’ will for the first time, provide a historical snapshot of the venues, bands and personalities who shaped the city’s cultural heart.

Samantha Morris, one of two authors partly funded by City of Gold Coast, through its Regional Arts Development Fund to write the book said it was a story “screaming” to be told.

Sounds of Paradise book, Gold Coast music history and venues

Sounds of Paradise a book about Gold Coast’s music history and live venues of the 1970s, 80s and 90s

More than just The Playroon

While The Playroom played an important part in the city’s live music and venue history, Samantha says a much broader story will be told.

“Anyone my age who grew up on the Gold Coast fondly remembers Fisherman’s Wharf and The Playroom and The Patch,” she said. “But there are a tonne of venues and big name touring acts that helped set the scene of that era and we feel it’s time for someone to piece the city’s musical history together.”

Samantha said the number of global superstars who stopped in at the Gold Coast over those decades is “mind-boggling.”

“We’re talking Frank Sinatra, The Ramones, AC/DC (who performed at Miami High School), Nirvana, The Saints, The Divinyls, Shirley Bassey, BB King, Jeff Buckley, ZZ Top, Iggy Pop, Rollins and Bo Diddley,” Sam said.

“And at the same time, hundreds of Australian and Gold Coast bands found their feet during this time; touring relentlessly, sometimes playing multiple Gold Coast venues in one week.”

And it seems more stories are coming out of the wood-work day by day.

“What’s fascinating is that many people who are still working in the city’s cultural space found their feet as performers, venue and event managers and of course music fans in those venues,” Samantha said.

“We’re slowly working our way through decades of archives, social media groups and memorabilia to tell a rollicking tale about the sounds that helped to put the Gold Coast on a rather unique cultural path,” she said.

The book is due for publication in 2021, but Samantha and her co-author Anthony Gebhardt are keen to hear from anyone with posters, ticket stubs, photos, videos and most importantly recollections of that era.

Sam, a graduate of Keebra Park State High School, and Anthony, who studied at Merrimac, met at Griffith University Gold Coast in 1992 where they immediately connected over their love of music. Sam went on to write professionally (read: reports and ministerial briefings) for a number of organisations before founding Blank Gold Coast in 2013 and the Gold Coast Music Awards in 2015. As well as writing for and editing her own magazine (which has engaged hundreds of writers in its seven year history), she’s also been a freelance writer for a number of arts and tourism organisations. She also teaches people how to write grants and media releases, but that’s nowhere near as exciting as writing a book about music.

Anthony has also had jobs which required him to create content for decades before he made the switch to music. He has interviewed some of the world’s quirkiest bands and performers for Blank Gold Coast before embarking on this book.

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Sounds of Paradise: Gold Coast’s live music venues of the 1970s, 80s and 90s by Samantha Morris and Anthony Gebhardt is due for publishing in December 2021. The book has been supported by City of Gold Coast’s Regional Arts Development Fund.

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