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Sunnyboys are an Australian power pop/post-punk band formed in Sydney in 1980. Fronted by singer-songwriter, guitarist Jeremy Oxley, the band "breathed some freshness and vitality into the divergent Sydney scene". Their first two albums, Sunnyboys and Individuals both appeared in the Top 30 of the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.
Sunnyboys first formed in 1979 and broke up in June 1984. Jeremy Oxley formed various incarnations of the band throughout the 1980s and into 1991, as the only original member. The original line-up (without Burgman) reunited for a one-off show in 1998 for the Mushroom 25 Concert. In 2012 the original line-up reunited for a surprise show in Sydney as part of the Dig It Up concert series, billed as "Kids In Dust". The original line-up of Sunnyboys later played sporadic shows in 2013 and also undertook national headline tours in March 2014 and March 2015. The band will be playing as part of the 'A Day On The Green' concert series in March 2016.
Brothers Jeremy and Peter Oxley and Bil Bilson came from the northern New South Wales town of Kingscliff where they played in a garage band called Wooden Horse. Richard Burgman (Kamikaze Kids) came from Wagga Wagga. Peter Oxley, Bil Bilson and Richard Burgman met in Sydney in 1979 and formed a band with Penny Ward, Shy Imposters, which broke up in early 1980. (Phantom Records released a posthumous single "At The Barrier" (PH-6) in 1981). Joined by Jeremy Oxley, they formed a new band, Sunnyboys. The band's name came from a Sunnyboy, an orange-flavoured water ice in a tetrahedron shaped 'tetra-pack', once popular with children in Australia. According to Richard Burgman, the band chose the name because it represented 'bright, happy, young, fun'. The band's first public performance was on 15 August 1980, supporting The Lipstick Killers and Me 262, and it quickly became popular in the Sydney band scene.
In October 1980 Sunnyboys recorded four songs produced by Lobby Loyde. These tracks, "Love To Rule", "The Seeker", "What You Need" and "Alone With You", appeared on the band's self-titled and independently released 4-track 7" EP on Phantom Records (PH-7) in December 1980. The initial pressing of 1,000 copies sold out in two weeks. The EP was later remixed and reissued as a 12" EP (PH-11).
Sunnyboys signed to Mushroom Records in February 1981, becoming the first Sydney-based band on the label. Their first release was a single, "Happy Man" (Mushroom, K8335), which reached number 26 on the national singles chart. The same month they made an independent EP entitled Happy Birthday, containing the tracks "What You Need", "Why Do I Cry?", "I Want To Be Alone" and "Let You Go". This was given away at gigs.
Sunnyboys' eponymous debut album was recorded at Alberts Studio in Sydney between May and July 1981 with producer/mentor Lobby Loyde. The album (with an initial print run of 2,000 on yellow vinyl) reached number 13 on the national album charts in October 1981, establishing them as a headline attraction. A second single was taken from the album, a rerecorded version of "Alone With You", which also reached number 26 on the national singles chart.
The band recorded their second album, Individuals, in the midst of their heavy touring schedule. Individuals was released in May 1982, peaking at number 19. Two singles taken from the album, "You Need A Friend" and "This Is Real", also charted briefly.
Sunnyboys released a fifth single, "Show Me Some Discipline", in June 1983, which charted in Sydney only. Sunnyboys went to the United Kingdom to record their third album at Ridgefarm Studios, Surrey, before which they played two sold out shows at the famous Marquee Club. The resultant album, Get Some Fun, was produced by Nick Garvey. The album was released in April 1984 in conjunction with another national Australian tour. Neither the album or the singles from the album ("Love In A Box" and "Comes As No Surprise") charted. Internal dissent plagued the band; Jeremy Oxley was battling mental illness and drinking heavily as a result. Sunnyboys announced their break-up in June 1984. Their farewell tour produced the album Real Live, recorded over two nights in Sydney (29 and 30 June), which was released in November 1984.
Post original line-ups
In 1985, the French label Closer combined Sunnyboys' first two albums as a double set entitled Days Are Gone for the European market.
Following the demise of Sunnyboys, Jeremy Oxley launched a new band called Chinless Elite. Shortly thereafter he formed another (and more successful) group, called Fishermen. This band released one single entitled "Can't You Stop?" on the Waterfront label.
Richard Burgman meanwhile joined The Saints and ultimately Weddings Parties Anything. He later emigrated to Canada. Peter Oxley and Bil Bilson formed the soul band The Sparklers with another Oxley sibling, Melanie.
In late 1987, Jeremy Oxley attempted to revive Sunnyboys with a new line-up. The new band signed a deal with RCA and released an album entitled Wildcat (produced by ex-Sherbet keyboard player, Garth Porter). This incarnation of the band broke up in 1990.
In July 1991, Mushroom released the compilation album Plays The Best and the original line-up reunited for a national tour. Following this, Jeremy Oxley played further solo shows. At the same time, Sydney promoter John Denison (later of Fat As Butter, Soulfest etc) assembled yet another lineup of Sunnyboys, with Jeremy Oxley as the sole original member.
This line-up played only a few gigs as Sunnyboys, after widespread audience discontent, and a dispute over the right to use the name. The group then played a handful of gigs as the "Jeremy Oxley Band", performing Sunnyboys songs, and the songs that later appeared on an EP credited to Jeremy "Ponytail" Oxley, titled "A Little Bit Of You In Me". Oxley's management replaced the musicians in the "live" Jeremy Oxley Band for the recording of the EP.
In November 1998 the band reformed for the Mushroom 25 Concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mushroom Records, organised by Michael Gudinski. For the concert Burgman was replaced by Jeremy and Peter's younger brother Tim Oxley on guitar. Sunnyboys appeared on the original VHS release of the concert and the 2002 re-release CD and DVD. In October 2010, their 1981 debut album, Sunnyboys, was listed in the top 40 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.
On 22 April 2012 the original line-up of the band played as part of the Dig It Up concert series organised by the Hoodoo Gurus, at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Australia. The band was listed on the bill as "Kids In Dust". They played a 45-minute set that featured songs drawn mostly from the first self-titled album. An audio-visual recording of the performance was later released on DVD, Sunnyboys: Dig It Up! Live at the Enmore Theatre 22.4.12 (Feel DVD002).
On 18 July 2012 it was announced that the original line-up of Sunnyboys would be playing at the 2012 Meredith Music Festival on 7 December. The following night they played a show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, which sold out in under an hour. In late January and early February 2013, they supported Elvis Costello and the Imposters on their Australian tour. The band played at the Coolangatta Hotel on 24 and 25 May 2013. On 2 June they played a sold out performance at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.
On 6 December 2013, Our Best Of, a 16-track retrospective featuring remastered songs and rarities, was released by Warner Music Australia. On 14 March 2014, Sunnyboys re-released their debut eponymous album on CD with an additional CD featuring 17 complete and unreleased pre-album demo sessions, as well as notes and photos in the booklet contributed by band members and fans. The band undertook a national headline tour in March 2014.
Another national headline tour was undertaken in March 2015. The tour was accompanied by the rerelease of "Individuals" (Feel 013) and "Get Some Fun" (Feel 014), remixed and remastered with additional material including live performances and other rarities.
The band will be playing as part of the 'A Day On The Green' concert series in March 2016, with Hoodoo Gurus, Violent Femmes, Died Pretty and Ratcat.
Bil Bilson — drums (1980–84, 1991, 1998, 2012—current)
Richard Burgman — guitar (1980–84, 1991, 2012—current)
Nick Freedman — guitar (1987–89)
Peter Hincenbergs — drums (1987–89)
Jeremy Oxley — guitar, vocals (1980–84, 1987–89, 1991, 1998, 2012—current)
Peter Oxley — bass (1980–84, 1991, 1998, 2012—current)
Tim Oxley — guitar (1998)
Phil Smith — bass (1987–89)
Jeremy Oxley Band (briefly also billed as Sunnyboys)
Jeremy Oxley — lead vocals, guitar
Tony "Scarlett" Luvara — guitar, vocals (occasional)
Matt Cuneo - guitar
Graham Robbins — bass, vocals
Tim Williams — drums