The music, written by Leonetti and Bobby Troup (who additionally gave the world the R&B customary Route 66) was broadcast nicely into the 1980s previous to the station closing down round midnight or 1am. As a child, should you have been awake to listen to it and see the white kangaroo pull down the blind which mentioned goodnight, it meant you have been up manner too late and your mother and father doubtless did not know.
Leonetti’s late-night Sydney TV selection present, The Tommy Leonetti Present, which ran from 1969 to 1970, got here on simply earlier than the signature music. The reside present introduced collectively a number of the finest musicians within the enterprise, enjoying reside on the tv station’s Mobbs Lane, Epping studios.
In accordance with Garry McDonald, the Norman Gunston Present was initially devised as a parody of this present. The music had such a cult following that punk band the XL Capris launched a canopy of it in 1979.
The band chief on the late night time Leonetti present was Billy Burton, and was on the unique recording of the music again in 1969. Now 87, for years he’d been telling Sydney-born, US-based singer Gregg Arthur about it for years, encouraging him to report a brand new model.
Quick ahead to Changi Airport in March this 12 months, when Arthur, 56, had a load of labor cancelled stateside and in Singapore. After 25 years of dwelling in Los Angeles, singing as all the good crooners have executed in nearly each membership on the Las Vegas strip, he headed house to Sydney after 1 / 4 century away. He settled at Carss Park, close to the place he spent a few of his childhood, close to Oatley on the Georges River.
Like many in lockdown the world over, he turned nostalgic for town of his childhood, and located My Metropolis of Sydney had a brand new resonance.
“The lyrics … My metropolis of Sydney, I miss the heat of you, miss the center of your individuals, that little church steeple of Woolloomooloo, struck a chord,” he says.
The unique 1969 lyrics – “miss the Opera Home lights from the bridge, or the nights in a quiet Hyde Park” –all of a sudden did not appear so corny. He really had missed them whereas dwelling abroad, in the identical manner Peter Allen sang in I Nonetheless Name Australia Residence.
He started singing some Wednesday nights on the Avalon Bowling Membership with Billy Burton on trumpet, and so they started reminiscing concerning the historical past of this music.
“Billy’s daughter Julie jogged my memory about her father’s want for me to report it – so we labored out a manner to do this in lockdown,” Arthur says.
Arthur utilized for Metropolis of Sydney’s Artistic Fellowships Fund and acquired it (in addition to a bit of notice from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who had fond recollections of the music as a younger lady rising up at Gordon on the North Shore).
The swinging new version was recorded – socially distanced with just a few musos within the studio at a time – to have a good time town coming again to life after COVID-19. Organized by sax participant Andrew Robertson, he introduced strings and an enormous brassy sound to the music, with a number of the metropolis’s most interesting performers together with the Conservatorium of Music’s chair of jazz research Craig Scott on the bass. And, after all, Billy Burton on the trumpet, 51 years after he first recorded the music.
The recording classes additionally offered a lifeline for the members of John Morrison’s Swing Metropolis Large Band, lots of whom haven’t been capable of carry out reside because the metropolis’s live performance halls have been shut in March. “A few of the guys actually hadn’t labored in six months, so I used to be very proud to deliver everybody collectively,” says Arthur.
“I used to be requested by a buddy in Melbourne, why a music about Sydney? However everybody all over the world is aware of New York, New York – this music is a celebration of our metropolis, however you’ll be able to have a good time your metropolis or house, wherever you might be.”
Arthur would love the band to carry out the music on the steps of the Sydney Opera Home for the midnight fireworks on December 31. To suggest the top of 2020; the identical manner the music was used to log out on TV each night time. Let’s hope he pulls it off. All of us want one thing to sing about.
Helen Pitt is a journalist on the The Sydney Morning Herald.