The first thing you hear when the stylus drops on Radio Birdman’s “What Gives?”, “Aloha Steve & Danno”, ”Descent Into The Maelstrom”, “Do The Moving Change” or The Visitors’ “Hell Yes” are the drums.
Solid, to the point, perfectly simple, lots of swing and dead on the money, That drummer’s name is Ron Keeley, who also played with Radio Birdman precursor The Rats (with Warwick Gilbert and Rob Younger), The Other Side (with Rob Younger) , The Hitmen (with Chris Masuak and Warwick Gilbert) and Comrades of War.
I wanted to hear Ron’s story first-hand and have a beer or three with him in his adopted home of Woking, Surrey,l just outside of London. It's only a short, 17,000-mile trip from Sydney, Australia. We met in The Crown, a wonderful old-style “wet pub” (no food, no gambling, no TV - just drink, so what’s not to like?) in July 2023.
Read on at your own peril.
Time to get your skates on if you're cashed up and in need of a piece of Australian rock and roll history. Ex-Radio Birdman drummer Ron Keeley is parting with his infamous "Radios Disappear" drumface on eBay in the UKand it has only days to run.
Designed by bassist Warwick Gilbert, it was created but never used on the band's ill-fated tour of Europe in 1978 and has been in storage ever since.
Foundation Radio Birdman drummer Ron Keeley is offering a rare piece of memorabilia for sale on the UK eBay site, taken from his own collection.
This item is a 24 inch (61cm) diameter painted bass drumhead from his white Rodgers kit. It was hand-painted by the band’s long-serving bass player and their artist, Warwick Gilbert. It saw action from 1976-78. It was re-used by Ron after Birdman broke up and he joined The Visitors, at that point being covered by a cardboard fascia with that band’s logo.
“It was on the kit for ALL the Radio Birdman gigs we played during that time, including all those at the Funhouse, the famous live session at 2JJ Studios, both of the legendary 1977 Paddington Town Hall gigs and many others,” Ron said.
“Condition is pretty good considering its age and the number of ‘skirmishes’ it was involved in…although it’s a bit battle-scarred (and stained in places with splashes of beer and other unidentified liquids.)” The item comes with a personally signed Certificate of Authenticity stating that the drum face is a contemporaneous item from Ron’s personal collection, and describing its provenance.
Many people have tried to make a Radio Birdman documentary. For a variety of reasons, only one has succeeded.
And it would have been so easy for Jonathan Sequeira to fuck it up.
Don’t worry. He hasn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
“Descent Into The Maelstrom” was screened to a select audience of band members, followers, media and other hangers-on in Sydney last night. The venue was the Chauvel Cinema, deep inside – ironically enough – Paddington Town Hall, the scene of the definitive Radio Birdman line-up’s last Australian stand.