Ray Thompson

Birth name: Raymond George Thompson
Born: 25 August 1946
Location: Colchester, England
Lives in Australia

Rock and roll, rockabilly, country blues

Ray Thomson at 15 his mother entered him into the TV talent show Stairway to the stars, much to his surprise. He had only been in Australia for four years and as he had been singing in church choirs in the UK and touring with school choirs she decided that he should have a go on TV.

He turned up for the audition at channel seven with the sheet music to Cliff Richards “I only have eyes for you” The audition was done by piano only and when he finished the guy said, good job and we can put you on but you won’t win it as there are professionals like Wally Carr who are also competing. I should have persevered and gone on the show but his words didn’t give me much confidence so I declined and passed up a great opportunity.

A few years later he started to attend dances in the Northern areas watching bands like Blues Rags and Hollers, the Outlaws and the best band in the north, the Vectormen which featured brothers Frank and Allan Tarney, Bob Harris and Sticks on drums. And with whom the Twilights (As a three piece harmony group, Glenn Shorrock, Paddy McCartney and Mike Sykes) performed at venues such as the Matelot club and the various football,rugbyand soccer clubs in the northern areas.

Seeing these groups made him determined to start my music career so he approached the lead guitarist of the Outlaws, John Hipkiss for guitar lessons and he bought a Hofner acoustic guitar and I was off and running. Unfortunately lacking the discipline to practice regularly as he was really only interested in singing so he gave it away after six months only to take it up again many times over the years but I was only an average rhythm player.

His first band was The Lonnie Downs Trio and Ray in 1964, and it consisted of John on lead guitar, Butch on drums, Laurie– on keyboards and himself on vocals. Music was basically 50s and 60s style with a few oldies thrown in. He didn’t have a PA so he used to sing through the guitarists amplifier.

The band lasted for twelve months and music was put on hold for a few years due to studying and my love of playing soccer.

Finally in the early seventies Ray joined a band called the Marksmen. Consisting of Tim Pulsford on lead guitar, Bill— on keyboards, Geoff Parham on drums and myself on vocals. Their previous singer was John McKay.

This band lasted for five or six years and we had tons of work.

In the early 80s he answered an Advert in the News Newspaper for a band called McCarthur and joined them for 4 years. Members were John Rose drums, Ron Mcardle Guitar Derek Manning Bass. We used click tracks and backing tracks (Probably the first to use the technology in SA) that were recorded on reel to reel tape recordings by Roy Clayton(The singer he replaced) and transferred to cassette for playback. This was a very popular group and we had that many bookings we had to give some away as we couldn’t fit them in.

After 4 years we called it a day and went our separate ways. Ron put together a duet called the little big ban, John went to the Smarty Boys and the five sided circle, Derek went to Tux Deluxe and Ross joined Combination with John Englehardt lead guitar,Rod Wills bass Terry Jones Sax Rosemarie Englehardt Keyboards and Andy Smiles Drums. Another very popular band that lasted five years playing corporate gigs and singles clubs. A few months down the track an agent put him in touch with a group of players and we reformed Mcarthur once again. The players were Brian Barell(Was the lead guitarist for the Taymen in the 60s) David Williams(Rhythm guitarist for the Taymen),
Wayne Cherry bass guitar and Roger— on drums. Playing mainly Cliff Richard and The Shadows and lasted for five great years. Sadly Davy passed away 20 years ago and I believe that Brian died recently. Probably one of the best impersonators of the Hank Marvin style. Had all the original echo chambers and effects.

Six months on another version of Mcarthur was formed lasting twelve months. Greg Hat guitar and vocals, Ray Timms Drums,John—Guitar and Derek Manning Bass.

In 1989 Ross was approached by Marina–, an agent to have an audition with a Band called Harmony plus. Ross met Dean Semmens drums, Shane Baldwin Guitar and a midifile player.


Above: Harry and The Hit men.

A coincidence. Roy Clayton was the singer Ray replaced and he had set up the rep through a midi system. We changed the name to Harry and the Hitmen and added Derek Manning as the Bass player. Three years we lasted. In 1994 Ray gave it all away due to pressure of work. Around this time he was organising SA’s Bicentennial event Opera in the Outback , starring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and he just couldn’t fit everything in. Not playing again until 2008 when He joined a band playing covers and performing concerts. Jock was on Bass, Nat Giancasprou (Chunky Custard) Lead Guitar, Gary Cailles Drums, Rick Phillips Keyboards. Doing two years then putting together Harry and the Hitmen again plus I was playing rock and Roll every week with the Blue Comets Band.

In 2014 Ross had a heart bypass and took off caravaning to present day. Ross has been doing a one man show for three years appearing mostly in caravan parks for performing 60s 70s and 80s music with the aid of fantastic backing tracks.

Back tracking the times we played together.

Ray was working in the Railways with Geoff Solly of Steelmen fame and he suggested that we come down to a practice with the Steelmen. I recall Henry was the guitarist and we learnt when the saints come marching in, please mr postman and Glad all over and we appeared at show in Prospect close to Regency Road.

I always remember those concerts we did as Harry and the Hitmen for the late John Mcavany when Bob Gardiner appeared as the floor show with your guitar. Fond memories.

30th October, 2017