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Wendy's years with the Rockmelons

By Vince Dale

Rockmelons poster I have just come across your Wendy Matthews page. My name is Vince Dale, and I played keyboards for the Rockmelons from 1983 to 1990, during which time Wendy played live and recorded with the group. I have prepared a lot of material for a Rockmelons web site (to be published sometime in the future), so I can share with you and your visitors some of the details about this period.

According to my records, Wendy first participated in the group for the recording of the Rockmelon's first album, "Tales of the City", around September 1987. Wendy was a busy session singer in this period. Her voice was most noticable on a version of "Nobody does it better..." for Real Estate Agent L.J.Hooker's TV advertisement.

Wendy sang backing vocals on several tracks, along with other session singers, including Mary Azopardi. Her work is recognizable especially on the backing to "New Groove". The album was produced by Englishman, Robin Smith. As money for the album became short, the remaining tracks were produced by the creative core of the group - brothers Bryon and Jonathon Jones, and Ray Medhurst. They approached Wendy about performing a cover of Curtis Mayfield's song "Jump", which was included on the album.

My next recollection of Wendy is for the video to "New Groove", around November 1987. This took place over a couple of days at McDonaldtown rail station (just outside Sydney) and parts of inner-city Redfern. She appeared with Mary as backing singer.

Rehearsals for the first live shows after the album took place in December and a series of dates were booked. The line-up at that time was: John Kenny (vocal), Wendy, Mary, Ray (Keyboards/effects), Jonathon (Dulcimer/Programming), Bryon (Bass/Vocoder), and myself on keyboards. The group appeared at the RAT New Years Eve party at the Hordern Pavilion, and appeared on the "Countdown" TV program.

After a series of shows around Sydney, the group scored a support on a national tour by James Brown (1988) including Sydney's Hordern Pavilion, the Apollo in Adelaide, the Metro in Melbourne, and finally Perth. Wendy and Mary got on famously with Maceo Parker, JB's sax player, and I believe the two girls sang briefly on stage with James Brown (a rare tribute).

The group continued to tour Melbourne and returned to Sydney. By this time the single "New Groove" was beginning to make an impact nationally, reaching number one in many cities. A video to the first follow-up single was made, but did not feature Wendy. After a break from touring, the video to the next single, "Thief", was recorded. This was filmed around the Regent Hotel near Sydney's Rocks area on a stormy night. Both Wendy and Mary are briefly featured singing backing vocals. A tour to Adelaide and Melbourne followed in June/July 1988.

It was decided to release "Jump" as a single in September '88. There was no video made, but it was featured on "Hey Hey it's Saturday". There was a 12" and a 7" vinyl version available, with cartoon artwork. The single did not reach the charts. Another quick tour to Adelaide an Melbourne took palce in September, followed by Sydney gigs. The last live show featuring Wendy was at the Dee Why Hotel.

Wendy was a cheerful and talented woman. Always professional, she made others at ease around her. She was in a relationship with Sean Kelly from the Models during this period. Sean was an intense fellow, whose music had a darker edge than the sunnier pop/funk of the Rockmelons. Wendy got on well with Mary, and with our sound engineer, native american Jim Blackfoot. She had a healthy appetite, but it never showed. She wore ethnic silver jewelry, including home-made stuff.




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The Netherlands, Europe
you can E-mail me at: jad @ bart.nl