Photograph: Karl Schwerdtfeger
Clockwise from top: Alan Gaunt, Shirley Barrett, Karen Dixon, Joe Bogdanov, Nick Norris.
The Fruit Pastilles
The year was 1982. We were not long out of high school. Karen (my co-singer), Joe (go-go dancer) and I had gone to Camberwell High School together. Being the sort that liked to drunkenly sing at parties, we entered a garage band competition run by 3XY, and – long story short – we won it and ended up on Countdown. This was a thrill beyond our wildest dreams – being huge Skyhooks fans, we’d grown up with that show. So of course, we bought a big bottle of vodka en route to the studio and partook of it freely during rehearsals. By the time the show was recorded, we were pretty smashed. Consequently, my memories of the experience are a tad hazy, but I do recall that the ABC song "The Look of Love" was on just before us. Even now when I hear that song, I feel a wave of woozy excitement.
That canary yellow dress with appliqued daisies came from the op-shop. There were two of them - they'd been bridesmaids dresses, so I shortened them, and I really wanted Karen to wear one too. But Karen didn't share my passion for early ‘70s fashion - she was a Mod. I remember feeling a bit disgruntled about that at the time, but of course now it seems entirely reasonable.
I should also mention that the Fruit Pastilles included Alan Gaunt (keyboards), Nick Norris (drums), Gordon Ealey (guitar) and Nino Blake (bass). They were the ones with musical ability.
We went to no.26 (with a bullet!) in the 3XY Top 40, before plummeting out, never to be heard from again.