"Eagle Rock" is a classic Australian rock song, released by Daddy Cool in May 1971 on the Sparmac Record Label. It went on to become the best selling Australian single of the year, achieving gold status in eleven weeks, and remaining at #1 on the national charts for a (then) record ten weeks. "Eagle Rock" also spent 17 weeks at the #1 spot on the Melbourne Top 40 Singles Chart. The song was re-released by Wizard Records in 1982, and reached #17 on the Australian singles charts.
In New Zealand the song has charted three times. In 1971 it reached #17, in 1986 it was in the charts for ten weeks reaching #19, and in 1990 it was #1 for four weeks, staying in the charts for 15 weeks and achieving gold status.
Guitarist, vocalist and the song's writer Ross Wilson was living and performing in London when he wrote the song. He explained his inspiration for the song:
It came from a Sunday Times liftout magazine A-Z on music. In the before blues section there was an evocative photo of rural black Americans dancing in a dirt poor juke joint - the caption was along the lines of "some negroes 'cut the pigeon wing' and 'do the eagle rock'".
"Eagle Rock" was a popular 1920s black dance performed with the arms outstretched and the body rocking from side to side, 'Doing the eagle rock' is also a metaphor for sexual intercourse. The 1913 popular song "Ballin' the Jack" has the line "Stretch your lovin' arms straight out in space / Then do the Eagle Rock with style and grace".
The accompanying promotional video, directed by Chris Löfvén, was "put together quickly for $300 and shows the band in some old Melbourne haunts including the Dolphin Café in Clarendon St., South Melbourne, St. Kilda's Aussie Burger Bar opposite Luna Park and live shots from the 1971 Myponga Festival held in South Australia."
In May 2001, Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) celebrated its 75th anniversary by naming the Best Australian Songs of all time, as decided by a 100 strong industry panel, "Eagle Rock" was declared second behind the Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind".
In 2010 'Eagle Rock' was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry.
English performer, Elton John toured Australia during 1972 and was so inspired by Daddy Cool's hit single "Eagle Rock" that, with Bernie Taupin, he wrote "Crocodile Rock". The cover of John's 1973 album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, which featured "Crocodile Rock", has a photo of lyricist Taupin wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge. Bernie is also seen wearing "Daddy Cool" memorabilia on albums "Tumbleweed Connection" and "Honky Chateau"
In 1998 Australia Post issued a special edition set of twelve stamps celebrating the early years of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll, featuring Australian hit songs of the late 50s, the 60s and the early 70s. One of the songs featured in the collection was 'Eagle Rock'.
The song was covered by the Australian children's group The Wiggles on their 2002 video Space Dancing with Wilson himself singing lead (as part of his portrayal of character King Mundo) and later on in their 2003 Australian tour, with Captain Feathersword (played by Paul Paddick) singing lead. It appears on the DVD "Live Hot Potatoes."
In 2005, it appeared as backing music on commercials for "Victoria - The Place to Be". It was also used in the opening scenes of the 2005 horror movie Wolf Creek in the 2011 Australian film Red Dog and in the television series Dossa and Joe.
Since the early 1990s "Eagle Rock" has been played at home games for the Sydney-based Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles rugby league team and is unofficially the club's theme song. The song was also played to the crowd after Manly's Grand Final wins in 2008 and 2011. Ross Wilson actually performed the song as part of the pre-game entertainment at the 1996 ARL Grand Final in which Manly won their 6th rugby league premiership.
The song is also played at West Coast Eagles games at Subiaco Oval in the Australian Football League and the Eagles' Rick The Rock Eagle mascot character is also named after the song.
The song is also the basis of a peculiar tradition practiced among Australians for decades. Whenever the song is played at an event or a public bar, those present (particularly the males) congregate together on the dance floor where they unstrap their belts and hobble around singing the song with their trousers around their ankles. Australians have been known to request the song in bars while travelling abroad for the purpose of locating fellow countrymen. Ross Wilson of Daddy Cool, although perplexed about the origin of the practice has observed,'... I suppose it's got the silliness that was part of the charm of Daddy Cool.'
It is commonly attributed to a group of mining engineering students, who at the time were residents of St Johns College within the University of Queensland campus after they visited Western Australia where it originated in small country town pubs in the Great Southern Region. St John's has had the eagle as its mascot since its founding in the early 20th Century which lends support to their claim that they began the practice. In "St Leo's, the memory" (1992) by Michael A. Head, the author comments on the heated confrontations that occurred during his time at St Leo's college (a neighbouring residential college) between the residents of each college relating to this issue.
The Clubs and Societies manual for the University of Queensland, has "Founders of the Eagle Rock Tradition" noted with the information for the UQ Mining and Metallurgy Association (MAMA).
In 2010, Ross Wilson played at the UQ Union Oktoberfest event and prior to performing the Eagle Rock, thanked "UQ Engineers" for coming up with the tradition. In 2011, in a pre-recorded video message to the attendees of the UQ Engineering Undergraduate Society Ball, he also credited "UQ Engineering Students" as founding the tradition.
The policy of the University of Queensland's Student Union states no individual can be removed from the University pub, the Red Room, for dropping their pants whilst Eagle Rock is being played.
Currently the official song of the UNSW Mining Society.
The iconic promotional film clip for ‘Eagle Rock’ was shot on 16mm black and white film in 1971 by 23-year-old Melbourne filmmaker Chris Löfvén. It was put together quickly and produced for $300; the clip shows the band in some old Melbourne haunts including the Dolphin Café in Clarendon St., South Melbourne, St. Kilda's Aussie Burger Bar opposite Luna Park and live shots from the 1971 Myponga Festival held in South Australia.
A rarely seen experimental colourised version of the film clip was found and restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) in 2013.
The newly discovered version features a 37-second section using colour filters printed onto colour film stock. This particular print, though never intended for screening, was possibly seen by teenage audiences of 0-10 Network (now Network Ten) pop music program Happening 71 throughout 1971.
Australian comedian and singer/songwriter Kevin Bloody Wilson wrote a parody of this song for his 2009 album Excess All Areas, titled, "Me Beer's Cut Off."
All tracks written by Ross Wilson unless otherwise indicated.
- "Eagle Rock" - 4:09
- "Bom Bom" (Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford) - 2:33
Wayne Duncan — bass guitar, backing vocals
Ross Hannaford — lead guitar, backing vocals
Ross Wilson — lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
Gary Young — drums, backing vocals
Robie Porter — piano, steel guitar
Jeremy Noone — saxophone (later became a member of Daddy Cool)
Dave Brown — horn
Robie Porter — producer
Roger Savage — engineer
- "Eagle Rock - 4:07
- "Daddy Rocks Off" - 4:34
- "Bom Bom" (Wilson, Hannaford) - 2:34