Colin ‘Smiley’ Petersen is returning to where his musical career began on the Peninsula, with a special performance at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre.
The Bee Gees’ first drummer got his start in the industry as a pupil at Humpybong State School, where he joined the marching band.
“It’s one thing to learn the pattern, it’s another to learn while you’re marching around in time with a deep snare drum strapped around your shoulder,” he recalls.
“During the week I played in the marching band and at night we had a little cubby house just big enough for an adult to stand in, but it had room for a kit of drums and a wind-up gramophone on a platform so it was really close to my ear.”
With records being expensive in the 1950s, Petersen’s collection only contained about 20, each with just one song with which to practice his drumming.
“What that taught me was to analyse every last bit of the record – I had about three hours of music on record, and as a result I knew every note and every instrument.
“I was taking lessons from a jazz drummer – rock and roll was a year or two away, hence it was a world of jazz.”
While Petersen and the Gibb brothers all attended Humpybong State School, he had already moved to Brisbane when they made their journey from England as 10-pound Poms.
But he discovered years later after meeting Maurice Gibb and his sister Lesley at a Sydney venue that the iconic 1956 movie Smiley, in which he played the title role alongside legendary Australian actors Chips Rafferty and Charles “Bud” Tingwell, had influenced the Gibbs’ move to Australia.
It was that chance meeting that eventually led to Petersen joining the Bee Gees some years later.
The story of a mischievous young boy in a rural community who finds himself accidentally caught up in an opium trafficking scam as he strives to save up for a shiny bike, Smiley is set in a small town filled with fascinating – and mostly cheerful – characters.
Young Smiley and his cheeky mate Joey spend their time between adventures running barefoot through the fields and catching crayfish while dreaming up ways to make money – which Petersen says would likely have held huge appeal to the Gibbs living in Manchester.
“They were planning to emigrate and it was a toss-up between Canada and Australia,” Petersen says.
“(Smiley) maybe was a factor – the family went to a cinema in Manchester and they were chatting in the car on the way home and they decided Australia was the place to go.”
Petersen and his mother spent time in London after filming Smiley in a bid to secure an agent, and he recalls the bleakness of a city where war-time rationing had just ended, bombsites still featured and attending school involved walking there and back in the dark of an icy winter.
“You can imagine Manchester would have been the same,” he says.
“In Australia at the time you would walk down the street – people had their problems – but generally speaking everyone was upbeat and there were smiling faces.
“In a way, I was like Smiley – there were a lot of Smileys on the Redcliffe Peninsula.”
Petersen is looking forward to performing in Redcliffe with a tribute show that takes the audience through the highlights of the Bee Gees interspersed with anecdotes from his own time with the band – and says he’s suffered stage fright just twice in his life.
The first time was as a four-year-old tap dancer in Kingaroy, where he spent his early life.
The second was during the first take for one of the opening scenes in Smiley and he was up a tree pretending to be Captain Cook discovering Australia, complete with a telescope made from a stick!
The Best of the Bee Gees Show is at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre on September 3 at 8pm.
Find tickets here.
Tim Morris’s connection with bingo goes back to his teens when he would make coffee and sandwiches while the game was being played at a local club. He’s now the Bingo Manager at Norths Leagues and Services Club, where there will be plenty of bingo action this long weekend.…
Celebrity chef Manu Feildel is visiting the Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival for the first time - and he was blown away by its scale and setting when he arrived for the first day today. Find out why...…
Don’t expect any friendly pleasantries from the waiters and bar staff at the Petrie Hotel next month, with staff set to unleash their inner ‘Karen’ for one night only. The Petrie Hotel is using this unique dining experience as a way to raise much-needed funds to help sick and injured animals. Find out more here …
Laceys Hill Distilling Co will be making magic at the Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival next week. Find out what distiller John Bradbury's up to...…
The opening's a year away, but The Belvedere Hotel plans to start recruiting new staff while transforming the venue. Find out what's staying open during the renovations...…
The magic of Sharon Alback Dance Centre has drawn generations of dancers to the iconic Redcliffe school where its masterful namesake has taught more than dance steps. She describes the school community as a family and they’re about to celebrate a special milestone…
The team at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival is celebrating the International Day of Friendship this Saturday by offering two tickets for the price of one to this year’s event. Tag your bestie! Here’s the details…