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AUSTRALIAN BAND CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY

owenTHE COUNTDOWNS  1966

L to R: Owen Ray, Len Richardson, Denis Hutchinson (dec.) and Barry Bernoth. Taken 1966

I wonder how many musicians worldwide can claim that they’ve played in the same band continuously for fifty years? Local music product industry identity Owen Ray is one that can lay claim to such an honour with his band The Countdowns.

Owen founded Royce Music House in the late ‘60’s and the International Music in Toowoomba from 1992 – 2011

Fifty years ago, as a young Toowoomba teenager, Owen Ray formed a band with a bunch of mates with stars in their eyes. Mainstream success may have eluded them, but The Countdowns are still gigging today and in July will mark the milestone with a 50th anniversary gig at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Queensland.

“We named ourselves ‘The  Countdowns’  due to all the sputnik and  space  satellite  furore at the time,” said Owen, the only remaining original member of the band. “The TV  show  Countdown did not start until  nine years later.”

There have only been a few line up changes in the band and the drummer has now been in the group for 35 years, the bass player has spent 33 years with them. From the moment The Countdowns started, they had no shortage of work, acquiring a four nights a week residency at Lennons, a local club. Soon the band was backing some of the top artists of the day and in 1969, they were the backing band for one of the biggest events in Queensland’s music history. It was a Christmas bonanza held at Festival Hall in Brisbane, where over 6,000 people saw them perform and back artists such as Ronnie Burns, Bobby and Laurie, Jamie Redfern, Ross De Wylie and more. Ronnie Burns had just come out of the studio from recording his soon-to-become smash hit ‘Smiley’ and he performed it for the first  time ever with The Countdowns,  The band went on to open up the newest and biggest venue on the Gold Coast, The Broadbeach International Hotel and performed there six nights a week with artists such as Ricky May, The Four Kinsmen, Lionel Rose and many others. What band today can brag about a six night residency?

The band is still getting work all over south east Queensland and have performed on many shows like Wintersun,  Rockstock with Johnny Young, the Delltones, Russell Morris, Tony Worsley, Normie Rowe, and Little Patti.

Pic from Hoadley's Battle of the Bands 1968

L to R: Len Richardson, Roger Hill, Denis Hutchinson (dec), Owen Ray. Taken 1968

The band loves to celebrate a milestone. They have presented 30th, 40th, and 45 anniversary shows and now the big  50 is nearly here. The 50th Bash and is being held in July 25th at  Rumours  International, Toowoomba, featuring an array of artists who have worked closely with The Countdowns throughout their long career.

For more information on The Countdowns or the 50th anniversary gig, visit http://thecountdowns.com.au/ or call Owen: 0439832143 or 0746976210. You can also say hi to Owen at the Melbourne Guitar Show, where he’ll be displaying some rare, collectable guitars.

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