So who is Rick Turk anyway?
RICK TURK: THE 'OFFICIAL' BIOGRAPHY By Rick Turk
(If it gets too boring just go to the Jukebox page!).
THE EARLY YEARS:
I started playing the piano when I was 5. My Dad was a wonderful pianist and organist (he was made to play the church organ by his parents on Sundays - twice even! - never went to church again after he left home!)
When I was 8, he found me a piano teacher - she was 80 in the shade and used to hit me over the hands with a ruler if I made a mistake. That lasted for about all of 6 weeks. I decided to teach myself, with a little help from Dad. Leant all those great Fats Waller tunes and a few Duke Ellington numbers thrown in.
At 12, I asked my parents for a guitar for Xmas. Little did I know, but this was to be the beginning of a new life as they say. I dropped the piano and did not take it up again till I was 18.
I joined a band at 14 and we were doing school dances within a year or so. We ended up doing supports for a few of the well-known bands around Sydney and as I was still underage - the rest of the guys were older than me and had driving licenses - Dad had to drive me to the gigs, drop me around the corner and I would walk in with my guitar and amp pretending I had driven myself, till I got caught being picked up one night by my mother!
The singer in the band, 'The Blue Feelings' - I know, don't say anything - went on to change his name and became a famous pop singer in OZ called Marty Rhone. The rest of us went our own ways and ended up in different bands.
I was sent off to Uni to do a degree so that I'd have "something to fall back on." My parents and most of their friends thought music was a great 'hobby', but certainly not a career. "Yes but what do you do for a real job?" I remember one of my parent's friends asking me. At Uni, I met a couple of guys through a mutual friend, Jeremy and Richard to give them names, who played bass and piano respectively. We found a great drummer named John Proud and 'a group was born'. We started off by being the backing group for a singer who had a recording contract - he shall remain nameless - and we ended up with a recording contract with Alberts/EMI ourselves. Don't know whatever happened to the poor singer! We couldn't think of a name for the group, but we were playing a kind of soft rock style of music, for restaurants, clubs and piano bars etc, so what did this really creative 4-some do - we called it 'Soffrok'. No points for originality but heaps for stating the bleeding obvious. No one ever got the spelling right. (see photo - aaarrrk!).
We recorded 5 of my songs and one, 'Set Me Free', actually made it to #14 on the charts with the help of Simon Napier-Bell (the guy that signed WHAM and ripped them off - but he was a great producer!). We were off - or so we thought - with dreams of tours around the world and platinum album sales. Not to be. We split up 2 years later.
I completed a B.A. and five sixths of a law degree at Sydney Uni, and at the age of 22, decided to try my luck with music in the U.K. This was to be, I think, the best decision I ever made. I would have made a crap lawyer anyway.
THE FIRST UK STINT:
I got a job in an advertising agency in London writing jingles for TV commercials. (Thanks Phil). It was a fantastic job and I got to work with some very talented people, but it wasn't really what I wanted to be doing. So I applied to go to Cambridge Polytech to do a Diploma of Music and amazingly I was accepted.
To pay for food and lodging, I got gigs in pubs around Cambridge playing guitar (usually) or piano, and singing all the big hits of the time that are now affectionately called 'golden oldies'. That was a wonderful era for the one-out- singer-guitarist, with songwriters like James Taylor, Don McLean, Cat Stevens and Paul Simon, to name but a few, from whom you could draw material.
About this time I got an offer from EMI to do a solo album back in OZ. (Thanks Ted) I couldn't turn this down so I returned home with half the material written and finished the rest of the songs there. We spent 3 months recording it with Bruce Brown at Albert's Studios in Sydney, and called the album "Jasmindeen".
I then returned to England, much to the chagrin of the record company who wanted me to do a promotional tour of Australia to support the release of the album.
This was fair enough, but if I stayed away any longer I would forfeit my place at Cambridge Poly, so I convinced them to let me go back to England and to release the album in the UK and I would promote it there. This of course never happened. They released two singles from the album in OZ. The first one, the title track 'Jasmindeen' made it into the charts, but the second one didn't. The album then died a slow death. 'Twas my fault and it was, in hindsight, a silly decision - but you do these things when you're young and stupid. (You can hear excerpts of some of the songs from the album on the 'Jukebox' page.)
While working in the pubs in Cambridge, I met and joined forces with some local musicians to form a band called 'Saffron Jack' . The members included Bill Sharpe, who went on to become the well-known songwriter and keyboard player for the group 'Shakatak', and guitarist Mark McEntee who I later worked with in Australia to launch the group 'The Divinyls'.
After returning to Australia in 1978, I decided to borrow some money from the bank and build a recording studio. I called it 'Honeyfarm'. It was situated on a 5-acre farm on the outskirts of Sydney. The name is taken from the fact that there were beehives on the property - really original eh? Over the next 10 years I wrote over 150 television and radio advertising music tracks, whilst also recording and producing albums for bands and soloists.
In 1981,the Australian vocal group 'The Seekers' was reformed and I was asked to join as the third male member. The group comprised Keith Potger (one of the original Seekers) on 12-string guitar and vocals, Peter Robinson on bass and vocals, Cheryl Webb on lead vocals (a great talent) and myself on guitar and vocals. We toured extensively and it was a great experience. Unfortunately, work commitments with the studio and writing TV themes meant I had to leave the group in 1986. But we sure had a lot of fun in those 5 years!
In the early eighties I launched my own record label called "Luxury" Records which was distributed through RCA (now BMG). We signed 4 very good local bands and had some minor successes. BUT... I had this great idea to create a character called Vee-U-Meter and record an album of very silly songs that I had written over the years. One of them was entitled "Lonesome In The Saddle" which some crazy fool at RCA loved, so it came out as a single. The best part was doing the film clip where 3 people actually got injured (not seriously) from various accidents - being in the wrong place when a piano fell over, coming off a horse, and getting burnt trying to start a fire!
In the mid-80's I made the move into television theme composing, and wrote lots of themes for Australian television shows including 'Four Corners', 'Foreign Correspondent', '7.30 Report', 'Hypotheticals', and 'Gardening Australia' for the ABC, (thanks Jonathon).
A friend's wife was working at Grundy Television at the time, and asked me if I could come in to meet 'The Boss'. The rest is history. (Thanks Fran).
I wrote over 20 themes for Grundy Television programs (thanks Bill M.) including 'Perfect Match', 'It's a Knockout', 'Celebrity Squares', 'Family Feud', and many others for Southern Star and Concept TV including 'Candid Camera' and 'Face The Music' (thanks Michael). (You can hear samples of some of these themes on the 'Jukebox' page.)
In 1985-86 I wrote and recorded the material for a new solo album entitled 'All In The Game'.The following year whilst promoting the album overseas, I was asked by my old and best friend Bill Sharpe from the British group Shakatak, to do the support for their 'Down on the Street' tour of the UK and Europe. That was great fun and boy could those guys party. That poor hotel dining room in Berlin never recovered after the food-fight on the last night! (Thanks Willy.) (You can hear some excerpts from this album on the 'Jukebox' page.)
In 1990 I sold 'Honeyfarm' and moved to an area known as Byron Bay ( a picturesque town on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia, and a favourite haven for global backpackers). The area is famous for the large number of artists, writers and musicians who have taken up residence there, (and the copious amounts of soft drugs available!). I built a small recording studio near the house mainly for my own television work, but recorded many local musicians and singers as well.
It was around this time that I became interested in writing books and musicals for children. The first was a collaboration with Sydney playwright Warwick Moss, entitled 'Lizard Gully', the first version of which was released as a book and cassette through ABC for Kids in 1993. (It has since been revised and re-recorded with a new cast and is available as a book and CD through the CCP website: (www.c-c-p.com.au)
In 1994 I moved back to England to take up a position with Grundy Television as an 'in-house' writer of television themes and general music. I composed around 20 themes for them over the next 4 years, including 'Small Talk', 'Celebrity Squares' (UK), 'Fluke' and 'The 100% Show'.
In 1997 I was asked to join Pearson Television as Musical Director for Channel 5 in London, where I stayed for the next 3 years writing themes for 'soapies' such as 'Family Affairs', a host of game and quiz shows, and acting as composer and M.D. for their live TV variety shows including 'Man o' Man' and 'Saturday Night Fever'. This was great fun and I got to work with some of the finest talent from the UK and the USA. (Thanks Richard.) (You can hear some of these themes on the Jukebox page).
Whilst working in London, I began writing 'Salamora-The Adventures of Captain P.J.' and completed it in 1999, at the same time starting up a children's book and music company called 'Creative Children's Productions' or 'CCP' as it is better known. 'Salamora' was released through CCP the following year and a new revised version is now available from the CCP website. (www.c-c-p.com.au)
In September 2003, a live stage production of 'Salamora' was produced at the DAPA Theatre in Newcastle, Australia. It received excellent reviews and in January 2004 was nominated for 5 CONDA awards, and won the 'Best New Play' award. (Thanks Mark)
THE YEAR 2000 AND BEYOND:
In 2000, I began work on a zany Christmas musical called'Mind The Gap!'. We recorded the first version in 2001 with some fine actors and singers from some of the popular 'soapies' in the UK. It was released as an audio-CD in May 2002 and the show was due to be performed in London later that year. However family commitments meant I had to return to Australia, and the show had to be postponed. We have recorded a new revised version which is available from the CCP website. You can find out more about Mind The Gap! by going to www.creativechildrensproductions.com or clicking on the link HERE.
Oh by the way-You can purchase copies of the CD's of all the kids musicals by going to the 'OnLine Store' page. Had to put that in !
In 2001, I began work on an edutainment CD-Rom game called 'The Marvels of Man'. This involved a whirlwind trip around the world filming some of the most famous constructions that have been built over the last 5,000 years, including The Pyramids, The Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China. It includes puzzles, games and lots of music of course. Little did I know what a task I had taken on. It took four years to complete and was finally released in January 2005. (You can read more about this on its website - www.marvelsofman.com
In 2004 I started work on designing a new recording studio to be built on the property where I live on the Central Coast of N.S.W. It took six months to build, but worked out extremely well.
In 2006, I decided I was missing playing 'live', so I asked Cheryl Webb, the highly talented singer/composer who replaced Judith Durham in The Seekers, if she would be interested in putting together a tribute to 'The Carpenters'. I had been a big fan of this brother/sister duo in the 70's, particularly because of Richard Carpenter's superb arrangements of their songs, and Karen's extraordinary voice.
We recorded a CD of 12 of their biggest hits, and are now doing live shows utilising a video display and backing tracks we recorded ourselves. The show is called 'Yesterday Once More' after one of their best known songs. (Please go to the website: www.yesterdayoncemore.com.au for music samples and the gig-guide).
In 2008, I recorded an album of songs (dedicated to my Mum and Dad) from the 'Great American Songbook'....I called it "Put A Little Swing In Your Life". These are the songs I grew up with as a small child listening to our old stereo system, and many of which my father taught me to play on the piano. The album includes songs by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and many others. (You can hear samples of the CD on the 'Jukebox' page).
People ask me all the time if they can have a copy of a theme from a TV show, or a piece of music that I have composed for a documentary, film, or musical. So I decided to put together 2 CD’s that have most of the music they ask for.
The first CD is called "The TV Themes Sample CD". It has 30 of what I believe are some of the best TV themes that I have written over the past 25 years for Australia, the UK, and New Zealand. You can find, and listen to, a few of them on the ‘Jukebox’ page, but if you would like a copy of the CD, just go to the
'OnLine Store' page.
The second CD is comprised of pieces of instrumental music that I have composed for documentaries, film, and musicals. It ended up sounding like a Chillout album, so I decided to call it 'On The Rocks- A Chillout Cocktail'. It has 14 tracks of, again, what I think is some of the best music that I have written as instrumental/orchestral pieces. You can listen to some samples of these tracks on the ‘Jukebox’ page. Remember though that these are only short segments of the whole track. If you would like a copy of the CD, just go to the 'OnLine Store' page.
In September 2010, it was time for a revamp of the recording studio in Bucketty where I live. This has all been done, and the studio is now open to the public. I decided to call it "Big Ears Music" as I have a tractor called 'Noddy' and it seemed appropriate for some reason.
I have also started a website called "YourSong" , with 7 other songwriters and we write songs for special occasions such as weddings etc. Its great fun and going well.
So that's about it.
Thanks for reading this (if you managed to get this far without falling asleep!) and please get in touch if you have any questions via the 'Contact' page.
Or just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bye for now.
All the very best,