The ABC’s Tom Peterson from Talking Hats interviews Hung One On the bass player and founding member of Head Cleaner whose one and only self titled album swept the world in the early 1970’s and turned a bunch of western suburbs drinkers at a hotel called the Pigs Arms into world stars.
TP: Well Mr On
HOO: Tom, please call me Hung
TP: Thanks Hung, Your album, Head Cleaner, dominated sales in the early seventies and changed your life forever, can you run through the members and how this whole concept came about?
HOO: Well Tom, we all used to meet at the pub after work like, you know, for a few pints of Trotters Ale at the Window Dressers Arms, Pig and Whistle which we affectionately call the Pigs Arms. We all played a bit and Merv the owner used to say “If youse boys ever want a gig I give youse a start, no money but youse can have a few pints on the ‘ouse”. So one weekend we got together in Emmjay’s shed and after some funny cigarettes and a few pints we got started. So it was Emmjay and me on guitars, Jimbo on drums, Keefy was the singer and Skinny Steve on bass. Emmjay was good but he was studying science at uni and moved to Bayer Island, somethink to do with asthma. [cough, cough], sorry Tom, mild dose of Swine flu.
TP: So who replaced Emmjay on guitar?
HOO: A bloke called Joe Chips, he is Skinny’s ex brother in law
TP: You all had nick names, how did they come about?
HOO: Well Joe joined the band and wanted to cover Hey Joe by Hendrix, so we just called him Joe from then on and he was always eating chips, so he became Joe Chips. Jimbo’s real name was James Bonnet and Steve was a thin sort of bloke who always had a cigarette in his mouth. Keefy never said what his last name was but his old man was a high ranking copper in the Victorian police so it wasn’t a good idea to press the bloke if you know what I mean. Anyway Keefy was always pissed or stoned or both so he didn’t make any sense anyway. My nickname was Whitey, damned if I know why. Skinny and me swapped from guitar to bass after I was walking down Porcine Ave and I just tripped over this bass guitar lying on the footpath so I took up bass. Chipsy was a gun so he played lead.
TP: So what about the Pigs Arms?
HOO: When I was at the Sow West High School for Boys with Criminal Records I used to walk past the Pigs on my way home from school. I used to dream about being in a band playing at the Pig’s. Anyway Merv gave us that gig. Granny cooked up a storm and Manne did the counting as only Manne can do. Gez and Helvi came along and Glenda came back stage to gee us up and give encouragement. Thesesustoo did the mixing and Mr and Mrs A rocked up even though they didn’t like that sort of music, Glenda’s little sister, Belinda (soggy sombrero and all), brought all her mates from work, yeah, great night. Never forget it, 30th February 1971, and the look on their faces, stunned.
TP: Yes I’m sure they were somewhat bewildered, so one night was all it took?
HOO: Yep, just one night. Merv called in a couple of talent scouts, some tall bloke with blond hair that kept carping on about tax and some other bloke with a hat who said he went for the Saints who ever they are. The bloke with the hat got a bit lispy after half a dozen of Merv’s pink drinks and wanted to meet you in the Men’s but before you knew it we had offers on the table. I swear this is true Peter, almost everyone in the seventies had Head Cleaner in their collection.
TP: But Hung, I have my copy here and there is no track listing or in fact any other information about who played on this album?
HOO: Yeah you see Tom, we were trying to be a bit controversial like, we were up against Zeppelin, Tull and Yes, we had to have an edge.
TP: Hung I have a 10 second sound byte here, I’ll play it for our listeners unfamiliar with your work, [click]
HOO: Yeah, brilliant my favourite part of the album, thanks Tom.
TP: Well thanks Hung, that’s all we have time for
HOO: A pleasure, er, um, couldn’t lend us a fiver could you?