Johnny Dole & The Scabs were one of the first punk rock bands in Australia; they played live and recorded in Sydney, during 1977–78.
The band mutated out of the Strays, a typical cover band, who were looking for a new drummer to complete the line-up. After finding the right one, the band consisted of Terry Walsh (lead vocals), Peter Mullany (guitar), Mark Wong See (guitar), Dave Berry (bass / vocals), and Greg Morris (drums / vocals).
After a few rehearsals the Strays played their first gig on Thursday, 24 February 1977 at the Stagecoach Tavern in Sydney. After more rehearsals the band realised that the style of music was different to what they expected it to be, faster and dirtier. With punk rock bursting onto the scene this is exactly what the Strays had become, a punk rock band. This didn't sit well with guitarist Mark Wong See, who decided to leave the band. The four remaining members chose a new name and Johnny Dole & The Scabs was born.
It was obvious that this new style of music was not going to suit the 'normal' venues of the time, so they approached venues that supported punk rock. George Kringus, the manager of Radio Birdman, booked the bands at the legendary Oxford Funhouse at Taylor Square, giving the band their first 'real' gig on Friday, 15 April 1977.
Ray Walsh, Johnny Dole's brother, agreed to manage the band. He had gathered many contacts during his time as a professional wrestler under the stage name Butcher Brown, and was able to secure many interviews with all the major newspapers of the time, including The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald. A recording session with Sydney radio station 2JJ's producer Keith Walker led to a number of interviews and songs regularly played on 2JJ. An interview on Channel 9's A Current Affair program with Mike Carlton which aired in January 1978 and supporting The Saints at the Refectory at Sydney University were just some of the highlights of Ray's achievements.
Peita Letchford, a student at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS), had approached the band with the proposal of making a film clip (video) for one of the band's songs as part of her studies. The song "Aggro" (Dole/Mullany) was chosen and the shoot was at Woolloomooloo in some old factories that were being demolished. This film clip was never shown publicly. Letchford died of cancer in the late 1990s, but the clip was located 30 years after it was made, in the AFTRS archives (see below for YouTube link).
The closure of the Oxford Funhouse left a hole for any punk band to get gigs, as there weren't many venues at the time. Johnny Dole & The Scabs approached the publicans at many pubs around Sydney hoping to find one that would be prepared to put on this new style of music. The Grand Hotel - Broadway in Sydney was the only one that would listen, and publican Dennis agreed for the band to use the back room, which wasn't being used. On Friday, 16 September 1977, Johnny Dole & The Scabs opened the doors to the Grand Hotel, which would go on to be known as 'the' place to play in Sydney.
Many bands played at the Grand Hotel, including Rocks, Tommy & The Dipsticks, Blackrunner (with Danny Rumour who would go on to Sekret Sekret and then The Cruel Sea), Shock Treatment, Society Blitz, Subversion, Psychosurgeons, The Press, Mental As Anything, The Mangrove Boogie Kings, and World War IV.
Johnny Dole & The Scabs' last gig with this line-up was at the Bondi Lifesaver, in Bondi Junction on Thursday, 9 February 1978, supporting Cold Chisel. Not long after this Greg Morris was asked to leave, and Dave Berry followed not long after. The band didn't last much longer but did do a few gigs with new personnel. Johnny Dole and Peter Mullany later joined forces with Tommy & The Dipsticks to form the Crooked Hearts. After the Crooked Hearts ended Peter Mullany formed the band Sekret Sekret with David Virgin and released a number of singles. He is no longer involved in Punk rock and is living up the north coast. Dave Berry disappeared back to the mountains for some time and more recently has moved down the south coast and is now playing in the cover band The Nashberries. After his last gig with Johnny Dole & The Scabs Greg Morris joined another Punk band called Rocks and soon after recorded the EP You'r So Boring, which has gone on to be a much-sought-after collectors' item. He is now playing in the Sydney cover band Krazy Kat.
With the release of the documentary Distorted: Reflections on Early Sydney Punk by Des Devlin of Sekret Sekret fame, the surviving members of the original line-up, Peter Mullany, Dave Berry and Greg Morris, reformed for a one off show in 2013.
Billed as 'A Grand Night of Original Punk', Friday 19 April 2013 at the Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Leichhardt N.S.W. marked the first time they had appeared together on stage since 1978.
Also performing that night were other bands that used to play at the Grand Hotel in the late 70s. Also re-forming to help celebrate were Tommy & The Dipsticks, Rejex, the Urban Guerillas, the Crooked Hearts and Rocks (see below for YouTube link of the Scabs' reunion performance).
Terry Walsh (Johnny Dole) - Lead Vocals
Peter Mullany - Guitar
Dave Berry - Bass/Vocals
Greg Morris - Drums/Vocals
WHY MARCH WHEN YOU CAN RIOT?! An Aberrant Collection
Label: ABERRANT RECORDS - release date: 1985 - compilation album including "Living Like An Animal", "Psycho Analyst" and "Stuff Your Rules"
SCAB ANIMAL 1977
Label: Buckwheat Headlock Productions BHP 03 - release date: 1997
WHERE BIRDMEN FLEW Revisited Vol. 1: A History Of Australian Punk 1977 – 1982
Label: Unknown BIRD 771 - release date: 1999 - compilation album including "Little Lord Punk", "Lucky Country" and "All That's Going On"
SCAB ANIMAL 1977
Label: Brain Salad Surgery BSS05 - release date: 1996
GO AND DO IT The Aberrant Compilations
Label: SMALL AXE SA-03 - release date: 1996 - compilation album including "Living Like An Animal", "Psycho Analyst" and "Stuff Your Rules"
DO THE POP! REDUX PART ONE
Label: Shock DTO-RE1 - release date: 2007 - compilation album including "Living Like An Animal"Aggro* (Dole/Mullany)
All That's Going On* (Dole/Mullany)
Blow My Nose* (Berry)
Halfwit Rock 'N' Roll (Dole/Mullany)
Hurts My Brain (Dole/Mullany)
I Don't Wanna Work (Dole/Mullany/Berry/Morris)
Little Lord Punk* (Dole/Mullany)
Living Like An Animal* (Dole/Mullany)
Lucky Country* (Dole/Mullany)
Psycho Analyst* (Dole/Mullany)
Stuff Your Rules* (Dole/Mullany)
(*Recorded at ABC Studio 201 produced and engineered by Keith Walker - released on both SCAB ANIMAL 1977 LP and CD)Bondi Lifesaver - Bondi Junction - 1 gig supporting Cold Chisel
Chequers Night Club – Town Hall – 1 gig as Johnny Dole & The Strays, asked to leave after one set
Journey's End Wine Bar – Woolloomooloo – 1 gig
Manly Vale Hotel - Manly Vale – 1 gig
Refectory - Sydney University – 1 gig supporting The Saints
Stage Door Tavern – Central – 1 gig
Stagecoach Tavern – Sydney – 3 gigs as The Strays
The Grand Hotel – Broadway – 20 gigs
The Oxford Funhouse – Taylor Square – 4 gigs
The Paris Theatre – Sydney – 5 gigs