ARGUABLY one of Australia’s greatest soul voices, Doug Parkinson, PICTURED, will bring his “ultimate tribute” to Joe Cocker to Mildura next week.
Performing at the Mildura Arts Centre on Friday, September 1, the tribute will see Doug perform soul and rock classics alongside an eight-piece band, featuring some of Australia’s most admired musicians.
“Joe Cocker was an irresistible force that combined a love of American soul music with standout interpretations and depth of feeling,” Doug said.
Terms, it should be pointed out, have also been used to describe Doug over his 40-year career.
Joe Cocker is most famous for what he did with other people’s songs, including ‘Hitchcock Railway’, ‘Delta Lady’, ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’, ‘She Came in through the Bathroom Window’, ‘The Letter’, ‘You Are So Beautiful’, ‘Up Where We Belong’ and ‘Cry Me A River’.
Doug will perform his own take on some of these classics as part of next week’s performance, while also including his own hit records, including ‘Dear Prudence’, and his interpretations of other legendary artists like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael McDonald, The Beatles and The Great American Song Book, just to name a few.
Doug first began singing while still at school, and his first band ‘Strings and Things’, formed with the children of legendary test cricketer Sid Barnes, made a minor impact around Sydney in 1966.
By 1967, however, he had teamed up with some of Sydney’s best musical minds to form ‘The Questions’. Their first recordings established them as one of the more innovative and interesting acts in Australian music.
In 1967 the band supported ‘The Who’ on their Small Faces tour, and were placed second in the finals of the prestigious Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds.
A year later Doug formed ‘Doug Parkinson in Focus’, which was considered the musician’s musicians outfit of the time. With this group, Doug recorded the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ in 1969, and it topped the charts. He followed it up with another chart-topper ‘Without You’.
In Focus recorded a third single ‘Baby Blue Eyes’, which immediately entered the charts but the single died soon after – a casualty of the notorious ‘Record Ban’ which denied Australian artists airplay.
In 1970 he moved to London with a new band ‘Fanny Adams’ and recorded an album, but returned a year later and formed a new ‘In Focus’. After a two-year hard slog with no prospects of recording, Doug made the decision to go solo.
In 1973 he took on his first major stage role in the concert production of The Who’s rock opera ‘Tommy’. He recorded an album ‘No Regrets’, and was involved in a media storm over a political commercial.
From 1975 to 1976 Doug appeared in two shows ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Ned Kelly’.
In 1978 he teamed up again with old friend Duncan McGuire to form the ‘Southern Star Band’. The group included guitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel, drum prodigy Mark Kennedy and pianist Frank EslerSmith, who later went on to record and arrange the lush string arrangements for ‘Air Supply’.
During his career Doug has appeared alongside many international stars including The Who, The Small Faces, Paul Jones, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Pointer Sisters, Thelma Huston, Bob Marley and The Wailers, and Randy Crawford.
In 1989, Parkinson cemented his reputation as an exceptional actor/singer by landing the role of Pap Finn in the musical ‘Big River’. The production ran for 18 months.
His stage and screen career continued throughout the 1990s and 2000s, culminating in winning the role of the ‘Cowardly Lion’ in the multi-million dollar production of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’.
After more than 30 years in the industry, Doug was acknowledged at the prestigious Mo Awards with the Classic Rock Performer of the Year for 2001, and has continued to perform.
More information about the Mildura performance, or to secure tickets, is available by visiting www.milduraartscentre.com.au.