Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla rockstar reunited with band

Benalla's Peter Carroll performed with his band mates from Normie Rowe and the Playboys, at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

MONIQUE FREER March 20, 2014 9:34am

Half-century celebrations: Peter Carroll performed with Normie Rowe and the Playboys at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

Peter Carroll is a quiet man who prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

Which is why many Benalla residents may not realise their fellow community member was part of one of Australia’s biggest rock bands in the 1960s.

Mr Carroll was a bass player for popular rock band Normie Rowe and the Playboys, who recently reunited and thrilled audiences at Geelong, Malvern and the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

‘‘It was one of the biggest bands in Australia, and rock historians have described us as arguably the best Australian rock band in the 1960s,’’ Mr Carroll said.

Fifty years since they released their first album It Ain’t Necessarily So, the original band members have come together and are playing a reunion tour across the country.

‘‘All of a sudden nearly 50 years later it’s all been brought up again,’’ Mr Carroll said.

‘‘We’re just older blokes having a bit of fun ... we take them along a musical journey and the receptions we get are enormous.’’

Mr Carroll was hooked on music when he was about 15 years old, inspired by Buddy Holly and The Shadows.

‘‘After a few years I left school and started work, but I still wanted to be in a rock band,’’ he said.

After playing in several local bands, Mr Carroll was approached in 1964 to join Normie Rowe and the Playboys at the beginning of their rise through the Australian music scene.

‘‘The bass player was leaving for family reasons and the band was about to go pro,’’ he said.

‘‘It all just exploded from there.’’

The year Mr Carroll joined the band they recorded It Ain’t Necessarily So and in 1965 the hit singles Que Sera Sera and Shakin’ All Over became national number one Australian hits within their first week of release.

‘‘We knocked off people like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones ... we smashed them and took top spot,’’ he said.

After a year touring with the group Mr Carroll finished up with the Playboys, and by 1970 he had removed himself from the music scene altogether.

‘‘A point came up towards the end where it was starting to become a hard-working job. I felt like it might be time to move on, plus the original Playboys bass player wanted to come back in,’’ he said.

‘‘The whole scene is one that very, very few people in the world ever experience, and I was lucky. It was a fabulous part of my life.’’

Mr Carroll was born in Benalla but relocated to Melbourne when he was about three years old.

‘‘I always had a close affinity with the town, it’s my roots,’’ he said.

When given the opportunity to return to his birthplace for his job as a salesman, Mr Carroll did not hesitate, and moved to Benalla about four years ago.

Since retiring three years ago he chose to give back to the Benalla community, joining the Australia Day and Benalla Festival committees, and becoming a trustee of the Benalla Young Sportpersons Trust.

‘‘When I finished work I had to sit down and decide what I wanted to do with my time,’’ he said.

‘‘I wanted to do something on a non-paid basis that the community at large could benefit from.’’

Mr Carroll is also a qualified pilot — fulfilling his lifelong dream in his 50s — however he said he no longer flew due to the large financial commitment involved.

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