It seems that Doug has been involved with Australian bluegrass ever since it was first played here back in the early 1960’s. Having emigrated to Australia from England as a teenager in 1958, and born into a very musical family, he wasted no time learning the guitar to accompany his Lonnie Donnegan Skiffle songs.
An involvement in folk, jazz and country music soon followed, and then bluegrass after listening to recordings by Earl Scruggs, Stanley Bros, Bill Monroe and other legends of the music.
Under the influence of Doc Watson and Clarence White, Doug caught the ‘flat pick’ guitar bug! He soon mastered the style, and became well known and admired for his abilities. At the same time, he also mastered finger picking, and his playing of ‘Doc’s Guitar’ on the Adelaide TV show Country Style, in 1968 left the compere Roger Cardwell in awe!
Doug also joined the Hayes Brothers bluegrass band in 1968. This group was the leading Australian bluegrass band until the band leader, Mike Hayes was transferred interstate in the early 70’s. During this time, they recorded several LP records, performed at many folk clubs, concerts and featured on television variety shows such as IMT on GTV9 Melbourne.
Doug then joined “The Promised Band”, a new group led by Peter Hayes. By then, Doug had added Resonator guitar and fiddle to his repertoire. He and Peter also worked as studio musicians, doing commercial ads for all sorts of products, as well as tracks for films including ‘The Man From Snowy River’.
Other bands followed, including “Homestead”, a country rock band, and “The Blue Grass Souls”. In 1994 Doug became a foundation member of the hugely popular and unique “Coolgrass” with Jim Golding and Peter Hisco. “Coolgrass” still performs after all these years and the current line-up is Doug and Jim, Jim’s son Angus, and Bruce Packard.
While “Coolgrass” is in semi-retirement, Doug performs with “The Four Jimmy’s” at certain Festivals, and was until recently, a member of “Nine Mile Creek” bluegrass band.
Despite Doug’s exceptional musical abilities, he remains a very modest person. Not one to grab the limelight on stage, he plays his role so well, whether it’s adding vocal harmony, a rock solid guitar rhythm, or an amazing lead break, he is the person everyone wants in their band!
Our thanks go out to Doug, for the contribution he has made to our music over many years.
Thank you to Ian Fisk for the images.