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[ biography ]the motown experience ... best kept secret

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supporting Tina Turner 1976

The Motown signing was quite unique, as we were the first all white band signed to the label. The reason behind the signing was that Motown wanted to try and break more white markets, whilst still retaining their sound and integrity.

Glen Wheatley was managing Stylus at the time, he also had L.R.B. Armed with L.R.B's first album, and Stylus's first album, from which both bands had had successful singles released in Australia, he went of to Medam in France, where every year they hold an industry get together. Companies from all around the world met there to try and do a deal for their business or client.

Normally companies pay a fee to set up a stand at this type of music expo. Glen wasn't financial enough to do that, so he did his wheeling and dealings at the hotels where all the major players were staying. This is where he did the deals for both bands, Stylus to Motown and L.R.B to Capital, "not a bad days work."

The president of Motown was a fellow by the name of Barney Allis. He took a particular interest in Stylus, as he had the idea of broadening the Motown market. They set up a label for this purpose, called the 'Prodigal' and so the plan was put into action.

Now Motown didn't want anyone in America to know that Stylus was a white band from Australia, so they released the first album with a mask on the front cover and no photo's of the band anywhere on the album. It was going to be a big surprise when we finally got there in person, 'all would be revealed'.

The album was released, and immediately picked up airplay, particularly in Philadelphia on the black stations. There were also some wonderful reviews in some of the world's major music magazines i.e. Cash Box / Record World & Billboard, things seemed to be going to plan.

Our first tour was being organised; it was to take in the Midwest, a predominantly white market. Glen's brother Paul was over there taking care of the Stylus situation for the company, Paul was finding it more and more frustrating everyday, there were people within Motown who didn't want Stylus on the label as we were white, and not Americans.

The final straw was when Barney Allis left motown to work for Elton John at Rocket records, 'at least that's what we were told'.. Barney was our main ally at Motown so when he left the enthusiasm for the all white Motown band left as well, and we were shelved, 'never officially dropped'.

It was a great honour and thrill to be the first all white band with Motown, and for me personally as the lead singer and songwriter it was pretty spesh'.

I've always had two great musical loves in my life, one being soul music, and the other being white soul or better known as country, and it is those influences that continue to inspire my music.

The albums that Motown came on board for were the last two Stylus albums, 'Best kept Secret' and 'Part of it all'. Those two albums plus 'For the love of music' have been re-mastered and released through Toshiba - EMI in Japan and can be purchased on the net through Tower music in Japan or many other international internet record bars.

To round off the Motown story, it bought Stylus to an end, and Paul Wheatley's departure from the music industry; harbouring several ulcers. The band never officially broke up, we simply disbanded and went our own ways. Paul went to Byron Bay to set up a goat farm 'I guess his experience in the music industry would have held him in good stead for a farm like that' do I sound a little jaded, oh well as Ned Kelly finally said "such is life".


 
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