The Formative Years 1968 - 1974

FREEWHEELERS 1968

John Armstrong

Bob Bedford

Ron Howard

Johnny Rodgers

FREEWHEELERS 1970

Back: Chris Armstrong

Pat Formston

Front: Mark "Blossom" Brown

John Armstrong

Freewheelers were popular around the pubs and coffee lounges of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They even won the National New Faces on Channel Nine. It didn’t do them any good but it was a lot of fun and showed them a world outside the “twenty cents a head” coffee lounges (which were also good fun) In those days we believed that if you could sing loudly and long enough you could change the world.

The Draft, Vietnam, marriages and migrations led to changes over those formative years. When Mark Brown left, Chris and John were approached by Matt and Christy who were trying to form a band. They hated the name Freewheelers and so with this line-up came the new name. The band had a mixed start with one of the proposed musicians leaving because it was too commercial – we expected him to have six strings on his guitar and worse than that, Chris played bar chords and liked the Rolling Stones.

THE LONGFORD STREET BAND 1972 -3

Chris Armstrong

John Armstrong

Christy Cooney

Matt Dickie

Inge Da Costa

COBBLERS 1973 - 4

John Armstrong

Chris Armstrong

Christy Cooney

Matt Dickie

It became increasingly difficult for Inge to keep up her commitment to the band but loyalty prevented her from quitting. To solve the problem, the others all quit but this meant that they needed a new name. John worked in a record shop and somebody got the bright idea that perhaps, some bands were more successful because their name had the right sound. Records were catalogued alphabetically and we decided to see which letter was the start of the name for the greatest number of bands. It turned out to be “C”.

We were contemplating this when John's boss, John Robinson, asked what we were doing. When we explained it drew the response,” What a load of Cobblers”. Well, it began with a C didn’t it?

The band was doing well enough that we discussed giving up our day jobs and going full-time. Matt decided not to do this and was replaced by Maitland Swallow. Chris and John had really missed having a bass in the band and as Mark had left because he wanted to find a full time band, he was approached and rejoined.

A full time band needed posters, letterheads and all the other trimmings that show that things are really happening. Also at that time it was the fashion to stencil your name all over everything, speaker boxes, guitar cases, etc. so we had a stencil made saying “COBBLERS Melbourne Australia” and spent an afternoon spray painting everything that we could find, even the doors on the van. We had often discussed how we should have a more Australian name to reflect the nature of the music we were now playing and as we finished the mammoth job of labeling everything, Chris leaned back and said, “You know, if we just took out the “L” we’d have a really Australian name. Despite the size of the job we’d just completed, we changed the name on the spot and this time the name lasted for another 24 years. We still have heaps of old posters and letterheads if anyone knows of a band called Cobblers. We could let them go cheap!