Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) 1967

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“Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)” was Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham’s first solo single. The novelty song was released in November 1967 and was No. 1 on the Go-Set National Singles Charts for five weeks in early 1968 (six weeks on the Australian charts in 1968 based on the Kent Music Report). It was the largest selling single in Australia by an Australian artist in the 1960s. The single, “Sadie” sold approximately 180,000 copies in Australia, and was also released in New Zealand, Denmark and Germany. The B-side, “In My Room” was written by Farnham. The A-side’s label includes the acknowledgement “Vacuum cleaner solo: Mr. Jolly”.

Farnham’s follow-up single, “Friday Kind of Monday”, was released in March as a double-A side with “Underneath the Arches” (non-album track), which peaked at No. 6 on the Go-Set singles charts. Both “Sadie” and “Friday Kind of Monday” featured on Farnham’s debut album, Sadie, released in April 1968.

Farnham’s manager, Darryl Sambell, had disliked “Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)” because the lyrics were so persistent. However, EMI’s inhouse producer, David Mackay, insisted so the single was released in November 1967. The song had been written by United States writers Ray Gilmore, Johnny Madara and Dave White. Sambell approached the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV program This Day Tonight to do a “day in the life of” segment where they followed Farnham around to radio studios to promote the single. Sambell also arranged for a local store, Godfrey’s, to supply a vacuum cleaner salesman, a Mr Jolly, to be on hand. By arrangement with Sambell, Melbourne radio DJ Stan Rofe pretended that he disliked “Sadie” before playing it. Rofe continued the ploy on TV’s Uptight and viewers responded with calls to play the song. Rofe was also a writer for Go-Set, a teen-oriented pop magazine. Another writer for the magazine, Ian Meldrum, praised Farnham’s efforts. “Sadie” hit No. 1 on the Go-Set National Singles Charts in January 1968 and remained there for five weeks. Selling 180,000 copies in Australia, “Sadie” was the highest selling single by an Australian artist of the decade. The B-side, “In My Room”, was written by Farnham. Farnham’s second single, released in March, was the double A-sided “Underneath the Arches” (non-album track) / “Friday Kind of Monday”, which peaked at No. 6. The album, Sadie, also produced by Mackay, was released in April.

According to author Jeff Jenkins, another local pop performer, Mike Furber, had the first option on recording “Sadie” but declined; Furber later told Sambell that due to this mistake he was not destined for success. (Furber died in 1973, aged 25, allegedly by hanging himself—this is disputed by his family and friends, who believe he was murdered.

Track listing

“Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) (Ray Gilmore, Johnny Madara, Dave White) — 3:13
“In My Room” (Johnny Farnham) — 2:17