Ray De Motte and Black Sun – A Classmate Reminisces
by Robert R Klemm
My memories of Black Sun are very vague, and filtered through a bottle of Stone’s Green Ginger Wine (50 cents a bottle once you’d mustered the courage to go into Godiva’s Wine Bar in Attadale.)
Ray came to Melville High in about 4th Year (1973) and despite the fact that he had REALLY LONG hair and was American, my recollection is that he fitted in pretty well with our group of typical footy-head pseudo surfies. Whatever sport we were playing during PE, Ray’s team was always called The Stooges. At the end of every match, we’d hustle into a circle and chant “Stooges, Stooges, Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,nyuk.” There was some confusion between The Stooges and the Three Stooges!
I think Ray was a bit entrepreneurial back then, and I think he used to promote his own gigs. He had a couple of Melville High bands in his stable, called Structural Pig and Dr Fock, led by two local guys called Stephen and Rodney Thomas. I seem to recall some gigs at the Foss St Hall in Bicton or the Gas Chambers in Stock Road, but that could be wrong. Ray almost caused a student strike at Melville High when he put up posters for one of these gigs around the school, and JAV Moore, the Principal, tore them all down because “Dr Fock” looked a bit obscene. Black Sun definitely played in one Battle of the Bands, and were dismissed scathingly by the radio station that promoted it – “Black Sun, whoever they are”. I have a feeling that they played a gig at Tomkins Park – this may or may not have been the Battle of the Bands gig – and that a guy called Mark Ewen Whitmarsh-Knight took a lot of photos of that event for Ray.
From what I recall of Black Sun, I’d say they sounded pretty much like the proto-punk garage band that they were. I don’t remember any songs that they played – lots of that stuff was unfamiliar anyway, although there was certainly an awareness of The Stooges, Grand Funk, early Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and New York Dolls among my mates that was perhaps ahead of its time and place, and I think could be attributed to Ray’s influence.
For a pretty middle-class suburb, Melville had its share of musicians. David Eamus from The Boys & Loaded Dice went to Melville High, and Andrew (Bored) Baird of Quick and the Dead, was one of my best mates at primary school, until he went to Scotch College and became a skinhead.
I didn’t know James Baker had been in Black Sun, but I do recall that a bit later on, someone grafitti’d “Cheap Nasties” on a historic limestone wall in Freo near the old gaol, and it stayed there for years. I went to Hernando’s a few times over the years, but the only band that I’m certain I saw there was Secret Service, about whom I know nothing more.
That’s about it for my recollections – I’d be interested to see if they trigger any memories for Ray. The Thomas boys are still around the Melville area – I saw them a few years ago at a footy club reunion. Mark Ewen Whitmarsh-Knight should be an easy enough name to track down if he is still about – he’s the sort of bloke who would be likely to still have copies of those photos!
Robert R Klemm,
Emailed response from Ray De Motte:
hi rob, your email certainly brings back some memories. i do remember the thomas brothers.
as far as black sun is concerned, we certainly played various gigs though i do not remember the name of most of the places. after perth i went to indonesia, and then europe and was lucky enough to spend some time around the 1976-1977 london scene (though looking at perthpunk.com wish i had been in perth at that time).
i have remained a stooges fan throughout. for a few years as a sideline i shipped via mail-order stooges’ cds to european collectors. black sun had a “video” on old tape reels and a cassette but i have a copy no longer (but as i mentioned earlier i did see bootleg copies floating around earl’s court in london in the late 1970’s) . got to admit perth was a great place to be, though for someone into the stooges, we were considered rather odd.
high school was something else. first i was hassled for being a yank, then for being a brit (on my mother’s side – a geordie), and that darn principal seemed to think i was destroying his school through music. funny though, i remember playing bass for a school play – why they had me of all people i dont know.
internet is amazing. i was always impressed with how dennis james played purple haze – and lo and behold i actually found a video of him playing on youtube. if i remember there was bar somewhere in downtown perth that charged for glasses and we brought in green ginger wine and a flagon of some sort of red stuff (i hesitate to call it wine). after a few drinks jim and i would stand and sing “no fun” from the stooges. needless to say we didn’t have a lot of fans there.
in any case jim baker had style, his own particular mod style tempered by exposure to the stooges, the dolls, troggs, mc5. the progressive fans of the time hounded us but we kept on regardless. in any case when i listen to james’ later work, i can remember his playing very well. not many people could love the small faces, play the stooges, and contrary to every other drummer i remember in perth look down on the very idea of drum solos. one gig we decided to walk off the stage and jim was so drunk he keep drumming thinking we were still there playing. we then returned to the stage and his comment later was we better check the speakers as they cut out during the song !
Ray De Motte