In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.
In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #23: Skyhooks (by Mitch Galbraith of Ocean Alley)
The music of Skyhooks and their members alike represent an Australian psyche that champions good times, free thought and the challenging of stereotypes. They so accurately detailed the social issues and experiences pertaining to young Aussies in the Seventies, and in doing so helped create a quintessential Australian sound that was hard not to tap your foot to. Skyhooks first proved themselves as a support band who often stole the show, and stayed true to their original style that gathered them growing attention by fans and record labels alike.
Combining a wildly flamboyant aesthetic, eccentric stage personas and frank lyrical depictions, the band had little regard for what was deemed acceptable by the mainstream at that time. It was because of that, the path they forged for Australian rock‘n’roll allowed artists to find success writing about their own everyday experiences in this great southern land.
“Skyhooks’ music is so deeply rooted in local Aussie culture.”
Growing up, there was always music playing at home. My brother Lach and I were hugely influenced by what our parents listened to. It was a similar experience for the rest of our bandmates, and since our very first jam sessions in our garage, subconsciously or not, Ocean Alley is built upon the foundations of Seventies rock music. There is so much to take in when it comes to Skyhooks – their music is distinctive, cheeky, unapologetic and oozes with groove… and these are all elements that we hope come through in our own music.
As musicians and songwriters, we’re always looking to experiment with our instruments and push the limits of what we can achieve. So there’s no denying that a band such as Skyhooks – a true cultural phenomenon – has inspired the way we treat music as more than just an aural experience. From the trippy videos to the outrageous costumes and stage theatrics (not to mention the infamous mushroom-shaped phallus), Skyhooks irreverently made rock music fun.
I think because Skyhooks’ music is so deeply rooted in local Aussie culture, their music is just as popular today as it was amongst their diverse and often motley crowds in the Seventies and Eighties. Despite all the irony in their social commentary, nearly 50 years later, songs about identity, sex, drugs and police states are still as relevant now as they were then.
Skyhooks’ honest and genuine contribution to Australian music has given us timeless music, live shows to remember, and many good times to come.