Tags: Singers, Bands. Music. Local entertainers. Brisbane. Bribie Island. Musician
Entertainers of the Island – Peter Orr
Wow, how quick do the months go by?. I have just realised that I have been featuring our locally based entertainers for over twelve months and I am beginning to form the opinion that, as well as the many younger talented artists that we have in the area, there is a myriad of musicians within the community who, as well as having been in the industry for a few decades, can claim to have played with some of the most well-known artists in the country. Someone who certainly fits into that category is our April ‘Entertainer of the Island,” Peter Orr.
Peter can best be described as a guitarist who adept with a diversity of styles and genres. He grew up in Sydney and began his musical career playing in bands such Cold Cash along with Johnny O’Connor, Jimmy Lyris and Reverend Ted Knox’s son, David. ‘When I was about eighteen, we used to play with a lot of the guys who were not famous yet,’ said Peter. ‘A lot of us came from around the Cronulla area, people from bands like Sherbet and others,’ he explained. Having started to be aware of who the bands of Peter’s early career were, it came as no surprise when he mentioned that in 1976, he joined with Ol’ 55 and The Skyhooks on their national tour.
‘They rang me one afternoon to say that I had to be at the airport straight away for a flight that departed at 4.30 pm and this presented one big problem,’ Peter told me. ‘I had left my guitar at a studio in town and so I rang them with a request for it to be sent to the airport in a taxi.
When I got to the airport, there were about two hundred cabs there and I had no hope of working out which one had my guitar so I had to borrow a guitar from one of the other band members and all during the tour I worried about where mine would end up. After the tour, I had a great surprise when I found out that the taxi driver had returned it to the studio,’ he added.
As seems to be the case with quite a number of professional artists, Peter spent a number of years passing on his skills to others and he said that at one point, he began to ponder about whether he would still be playing Rock ‘N’ Roll when he was in his sixties. ‘This motivated me to attend the Conservatorium to increase my knowledge of other genres, especially Jazz,’ said Peter.
‘I thought I could play until I heard how good some of the people there were and I didn’t realise just how much I didn’t know. Peter commented that, before musicians such as Don Burrows came to that Conservatorium, jazz was off limits there. Another three years of Peter’s time as a teacher was spent at the Sacred Heart College in Adelaide where he was once again amazed by the talent of some of the other musicians, many of whom had a Master’s Degree in music.
Peter has also travelled around, playing gigs in various places including North Queensland and he did point out that, whilst a musician works in his chosen field whenever possible, there are times when other employment has to be sought and one of these times resulted in him being employed in an aircraft factory.
‘I was going around knocking on a few doors and I came to a building that carried a sign which read, “Aerospace, and I thought I may as well ask so I got to see the boss who said, ‘What do you do?” I told him that I normally play the guitar and he replied, ‘I play the guitar.”
Well I ended up being employed as the storeman and was there for quite a while. It was the factory that produced the Thruster ultralight,’ explained Peter. ‘He was a good boss and because he knew that I played whenever I could, he didn’t mind if I needed time off,’ peter recalled. It only stands to reason that, when an artist is known to have the ability such as Peter Orr has, they get to play some very popular gigs at some very well known venues and also get to back some Nationally famous artists.
Peter’s musical talent has been responsible for him performing at various venues that he refers to as hallowed ground, having been stages where bands including the Beatles have performed. He has backed a range of recording artists including Normie Rowe and others from that era. Since moving to Queensland some thirty-six years ago, Peter has worked as a solo artist as well as with bands and he did point out that he always prefers to play as a member of a band.
When “Locals Only” founder Alby Lincoln had the music shop at Woorim, Peter spent a while teaching budding musicians at the premises along with continuing to perform at various venues. ‘In my opinion, Peter Orr is arguably one of the best guitarists in South East Queensland,’ said Alby. ‘He is so good with so many different styles,’ he added. He moved to the local area about three years ago from the Sunshine Coast and has quite often teamed up with another well-known performer, Michael Early, adding the great sound of his guitar to Michael’s band, ‘The Doodads.”
During the time that I spent talking to Peter about his life, his music and his preferred genres, he told me that over the years he has been called on to play everything from to rock to jazz, funk and country. He commented that at the moment, he has teamed up with another musi for a few country type gigs and he said that this involves what he refers to as “Chick’n Pick’n” which is a very unique part of the country genre. Once he had said this, he produced from his collection of more than ten guitars (some of them Fenders), a guitar which he referred to as a B-Bender which he explained is the one that he uses for this style of country.
When I asked Peter about who he would regard as having the main influence on his music, he listed artists such as Larry Carlton, The Doobie Brothers and Wishbone Ash as the main ones. Apparently, Peter is performing a few gigs with Michael Early at the reasonably new and very popular new eating establishment on First Avenue, “Sticky Fingers” so I would definitely recommend a visit to that venue for what I can promise would be an unmissable evening of great music.