Toni McCann

English born Toni McCann emigrated to Australia around the age of 15, where immediately she set about forging in her way in the music business. 

After a meeting at a talent contest with beat group The Blue Jays and regularly performing live as their leading lady she scored a regular slot on the Saturday Date music show as well as laying down the shows title theme. The group went on to release two singles, incuding the tracks My Baby, No, Saturday Date and If You Don't Come Back.
Take the case of a young singer named Toni McCann, who released her first single in that same year, 1965, when she was only fifteen years old. Born and raised in London, McCann’s world changed forever after seeing The Rolling Stones live. Inspired to play tough R&B, she was ready to sign a recording contract in the UK when her father announced that the family was immigrating to Brisbane. So McCann pursued a career as an entertainer in Australia instead, a challenging proposition given that she bucked then-current trends of what a female performer was and should be. In her own words, she wasn’t “girly-girly with pretty sounds and pretty dresses”. Instead McCann grew her hair long and wild, wore tight pants or bellbottoms, sang in a lower key than most of her peers with a rough blues-y voice, and played harmonica like Jagger himself (“It tended to mess up your lipstick”, she later laughed, “you could always spot my harps because they had pink stuff all over them”).

Discovered by producer Pat Aulton at a Brisbane talent quest, McCann was introduced to famed promoter Ivan Dayman, who began touring her across the country backed by Melbourne rockers, The Blue Jays (later to find their own fame with singer Tony Worsley). Aulton then took her and the band into the studio to record McCann’s debut 45 for the Sunshine label, a storming garage-rock double punch: ‘My Baby’, backed by ‘No’ on the flipside.  Both songs were frenetic fast-paced originals, with the potent ‘My Baby’ still having the power to set dance floors alight, while the nihilistic sentiments and furious pace of ‘No’ are almost proto-punk.

The single didn’t chart however, nor did her next release, the similarly stupendous ‘Saturday Date’ single, which was the theme song for the music television show of the same name, with its unforgettable refrain of ‘You’ve gotta go, go go go!” How could such catchy, original music fail to find an audience? In a later interview McCann said, “I think the songs weren’t really going to be accepted by the public. People expected women to do cute songs. What I did worked in a live context, but the image didn’t really have anywhere to go in Australia in those days”. 

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