Sharing the small confidential stories and insights is enjoyable for both writer and audience … which was the case at our latest An Audience with Jeff Apter on Wednesday night. Jeff came to answer our questions on his biography Johnny O’Keefe: rocker, legend, wild one.
Love him or hate him, O’Keefe was instrumental in kicking off the rock’n’roll era in Australia and his erratic personality traits, on-the-edge lifestyle and concocted media circus certainly made for a fascinating discussion. Jeff was able to disclose a few stories that never made it into his book, entertaining the group with inside knowledge we would not have otherwise been privy to. He proclaimed a personal link to O’Keefe through his father in the early days of what was to become the unstoppable Wild One Train! The majority of us were of an age where we remembered the fledging pop scene in Australia, and O’Keefe’s first real touring show with Lee Gordon’s The Big Show in Wollongong. It brought Little Richard and other top American acts to town, but it was Johnny’s brash and relentless ambition that got him in the line-up and in front of a hostile and demanding Wollongong audience … One which he won over incidentally.
How would Johnny O’Keefe fair in today’s music industry? was one of our questions to Jeff.
He sighted the 24 hour, 7 days a week social media scrutiny as a major stumbling block for someone like O’Keefe (and others of that era) and felt that Johnny lived in a time and place that his talents and aspirations had the most impact. And although he was a somewhat ‘train-wreck’ of a human being, his intentions were admirable for the industry and those who followed in his wake.
No argument there.
We were also interested in Jeff’s research for the book and the support he had from the JOK Trust and family members, in which he sighted Johnny’s late brother Barry and his nephew Andrew in particular. There was then a discussion on writing biographies, both as an author and a ghost writer, which Jeff has done on numerous occasions. Very interesting and enlightening.
As a group we highly recommend reading this book and look forward to the release of Jeff’s next project … the Gibb Brothers.
Thank you for the evening Jeff. It was great and we officially invite you back for another round!