arts & cultureCairns QueenslandEFFINCUEfar north Queensland

THE FIREFLIES – ROCKING FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND SINCE 1958

the-fireflies-in-the-day
The Fireflies performing in the early 1960s

There’s a rock & roll band playing at Atherton this Saturday night that must hold a record for musical industry longevity. The Fireflies played their first gig at Gordonvale, south of Cairns, in 1958. Rock & roll was brand new in Australia back then, and The Fireflies were a brand new band. So new that they only had two songs in their repertoire. They played those two tunes over and over, all night – but no-one seemed to mind. The Fireflies had the NOW sound – they went on to become one of far north Queensland’s best known & best loved bands.

The Fireflies were the first all-electric guitar band in Cairns. This was in a time before pubs & clubs offered live music. Bands put on dances at venues around Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands, as far south as Ingham. It was not unusual for The Fireflies to pull a crowd of 700 to their gigs. Their biggest crowd was 1700 at the Johnstone Shire Hall at Innisfail. And the band knew a lot more songs by then.

By the mid 60s, The Fireflies were a very big deal. They were regional winners three years in a row in Australia’s most prestigious rock band competition – Hoadley’s Battle of The Sounds. On the day Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon, The Fireflies were walking on air – having won the Battle of The Sounds regional final in Rockhampton. They went on to perform in front of 7500 people at the Queensland final in Brisbane, where a young bloke called Johnny Farnham brought the house down with his new song – Sadie The Cleaning Lady.

The Fireflies toured throughout Queensland and northern NSW backing many famous artists of that era – Johnny O’Keefe, Normie Rowe, Ted Mulry, Dinah Lee, Lucky Starr, Frankie Davidson, Kamahl and more. They’ve kept playing through the years, and held a triumphant 50th anniversary concert in 2008 – when 900 people filled the Merrilands Hall at Atherton – another 650 had to be turned away.

Two original members of the band will be in the line-up at the Atherton International Club this Saturday night. One of them is drummer Tom Duffy.

 

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4 thoughts on “THE FIREFLIES – ROCKING FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND SINCE 1958

  1. Hi my name is Laurianne Harris I sent an email two for nights ago I was wondering if you could call me on XXXXXXX I’m having a SURPRISE PARTY FOR EDGAR HARRIS ON THE 21ST OF JULY 2018 so if you could call me PLEASE REGARDS LAURIANNE HARRIS THANKS

    1. Hi Laurrianne

      I’m not connected with the Fireflies – I’m a radio journalist who wrote this story about them a few years ago. I don’t know if the band is still active – but you could ask Ray Elias at Entertainment Cairns – he knows the scene inside out and would be able to point you in the right direction. He’s on info@entertainmentcairns.com

    1. Hi Paul
      I’m not connected with the Fireflies – I’m a radio journalist who wrote this story about them a few years ago. I don’t know if the band is still active – but you could ask Ray Elias at Entertainment Cairns – he knows the scene inside out and would be able to point you in the right direction. He’s on info@entertainmentcairns.com

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