Library Rock's Backpages

Clinton Walker

Clinton Walker

Clinton Walker is an art school dropout and recovering rock critic, a Sydney writer the Sun-Herald has called "our best chronicler of Australian grass-roots culture."

Since starting out in student newspapers and his own punk fanzines in Brisbane in 1977, he's published nine books, worked extensively in television, written millions of words as a journalist, produced and/or annotated a score of anthology CDs and been record-shop jockey, a DJ, and even a cook to the stars! After his first book Inner City Sound was published in 1981, Walker spent the rest of the decade on the freelance treadmill, as a star contributor to Australia’s two leading rock rags, RAM and Rolling Stone, and to all the leading local newspapers and magazines. His hillbilly-grunge band the Killer Sheep got run out of the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1987, before posthumously releasing the single 'Wild Down Home' on Au-Go-Go Records in 1988.

Pulling back from journalism, he wrote four books in the 1990s, including Highway to Hell (his acclaimed, best-selling biography of Bon Scott), Stranded and Buried Country (a history of Aboriginal C&W). Going into the 2000s he moved into television, working on the film version of Buried Country plus, for the ABC, a number of programs, including the hit rockumentary series Long Way to the Top, the late-night live music show Studio 22, and Rare Grooves; plus he produced their soundtrack albums.

More recently, he's written more books outside music topics, but forged a relationship with US publisher Verse Chorus Press to keep in print for the world Highway to Hell and Inner City Sound. In 2012, he published History is Made at Night, a polemic in defense of Australia's besieged live music circuit, and in 2015, VCP published an updated new edition of Buried Country, which led the production of a stageshow version of the story, which Walker directs as it still tours the Australian festival circuit.

After producing the CD Silver Roads in 2016, an anthology of early '70s Australian country-rock/singer-songwriters, in 2018 Walker released his tenth book, Deadly Woman Blues, a graphic history of black women in Australian music. The publisher, however, quickly withdrew the book from sale and pulped it after it was accused of crimes against identity politics.

2019 sees the publication of Walker’s eleventh tome, The Suburban Songbook: Writing Hits in post-war/pre-Countdown Australia, and the very belated release of his legendary ‘lost’ album, the Banana Lounge anthology of Australian exotica, rare grooves, and semi-soul jazz.

Clinton Walker online

44 articles

List of articles in the library

By date | By artist | Most recently added

The Go-Betweens: Go-Betweens

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, Roadrunner, December 1979

IT WAS ABOUT two years ago. In Brisbane, at Baroona Hall, the Survivors and the Leftovers were playing... ...

The Boys Next Door: Last Hee-Haw from the Boys Next Door

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, RAM, February 1980

THE BOYS NEXT DOOR'S career has been a turbulent one. In just two short years, they've recorded for three different labels: Suicide, Mushroom and now ...

The Birthday Party: Mick Harvey speaks

Interview by Clinton Walker, RAM, November 1980

Nine months ago, the Boys Next Door packed their ambition and what little equipment they possessed and beaded for London. They left Australia simply because ...

Laughing Clowns: Intensely original

Preview by Clinton Walker, The Adelaide Advertiser, 1981

One of Australia's most innovative and exciting new progressive bands, Laughing Clowns, arrives in Adelaide today for the first of four gigs, at the Tivoli ...

The Cassette Revolution

Report by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 1982

"ATTITUDES TO CASSETTES are changing," says Andy Maine, co-producer of Fast Forward cassette magazine. "For so long they've been the little brother or sister of ...

The Scientists: Grunge Going Global

Report and Interview by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 1983

THE NEWS THAT the Scientists are about to leave Australia — as permanently as is possible — will doubtless barely cause a ripple in Oz-rocks ...

Chris Bailey, The Saints: Chris Bailey: Saint in Search of Earthiness

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 25 November 1983

CHRIS BAILEY — troubador. That may be a new tag to stick on the Saints' front-man, but it's a reasonably accurate one, at least at ...

Laughing Clowns: Neo-Realism and the Zeitgeist

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 1984

IT'S AN OLD ADAGE that worthwhile art only arises out of conflict. Friction, after all, is what generates the sparks that light the fire. ...

Sunnyboys: Get Some Fun (Mushroom)

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone, 1984

THE SUNNYBOYS are a group who had success — or near-success, at least — thrust upon them at an early age, and although it's to ...

The Triffids: Irony and Distance

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Next Thing, 1984

THE TRIFFIDS fairly well defy convention; their seeming contradictions only make them stronger. They come from Perth, capital of raunch'n'roll and birthplace of the Scientists ...

The Birthday Party: Mutiny

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), January 1984

AND SO THE Birthday Party finally — well what? ... "break up" seems an inadequate term. Implode? OD? Burn-out? It's a difficult task to do ...

The Triffids: Self-Sufficient and Surviving

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 6 January 1984

THE TITLE of the Triffids' debut album, Treeless Plain, refers, of course, to the Nullarbor. That it also suggests the mood of the album itself, ...

INXS — a Group in Search of Identity

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 13 January 1984

IF AUSTRALIAN pop music really equals that anywhere in the world, it must follow that that it can be equally as bad. ...

The Birthday Party, Nick Cave: Nick Cave: Sad Nick

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, Stiletto, February 1984

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY are probably the most important rock band Australia has ever produced. They made music that was blatantly rock at a time when ...

The Celibate Rifles: The Celibate Rifles

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), May 1984

IF NOTHING ELSE, the Celibate Rifles' eponymously-titled second album makes it quite plain that it is no longer possible to dismiss this Sydney group as ...

The Hoodoo Gurus: Hoodoo Gurus, Beating the Trodden Path

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 8 June 1984

THE HOODOO Gurus don't beat around the bush. Right from the very outset, with the first track on their debut album, Stoneage Romeos, they stake ...

The Flaming Hands: Don't try to keep yonder Flaming Hands to yourself: they're too good

Profile by Clinton Walker, The Age, 10 August 1984

IN A PARTNERSHIP lasting over four years, singer extraordinaire Julie Mostyn and guitarist /songwriter Jeff Sullivan have made the name Flaming Hands synonymous with a ...

Severed Heads: Since the Accident (Ink/Virgin)

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 1 October 1984

I USED TO be an advocate of the "electro" revolution in rock, but somewhere along the way I became disenchanted. It's developed a reliance on ...

Sam & Dave: Hold On, They're Coming

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 15 February 1985

THE READERS of Smash Hits may not know it, but it's a fact that so many of their idols — today's transient pin-up popsters, Wham, ...

The Hoodoo Gurus: Hoodoo Gurus: Surprise For The Gurus

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 19 July 1985

SURELY THE most surprising result at the recent "Countdown" awards was for the best debut album of last year, which went to the Hoodoo Gurus, ...

Nico: The Girl With The Faraway Eyes

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Age, 21 February 1986

THERE IS PERHAPS no world quite so cruel as rock and roll, where youth is everything, and with age comes not maturity but redundancy. Unless ...

Guy Clark, Bap Kennedy, Conway Savage, Steve Young: Guy Clark: Cold Dog Soup, Steve Young: Primal Young, Conway Savage: Nothing Broken, Bap Kennedy: Lonely Street

Review by Clinton Walker, HQ, 1990

"JOHNNY CASH DIES": It's a headline that some of us, with more than a tinge of sadness, have been dreading to see for some time ...

Kylie Minogue: Kylie: Taking Charge

Interview by Clinton Walker, The Edge, January 1990

It was always easy to make fun of Kylie Minogue. But now, having turned 21, she's started to take more control of her career and ...

The Go-Betweens: The Go-Betweens – 1978-1990 (Beggars Banquet)

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), January 1991

IT WAS PROPHETIC that the Go-Betweens should have prepared this album, a double compilation of their greatest "hits and misses", or rather "misses and outtakes", ...

The Go-Betweens: The Go-Betweens: 1978-1990

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), January 1991

IT WAS PROPHETIC that the Go-Betweens should have prepared this album, a double compilation of their greatest "hits and misses", or rather "misses and outtakes", ...

The Beasts Of Bourbon: The Ugliest Band On Earth

Book Excerpt by Clinton Walker, Ten Years Behind Bars (Music Sales), 1993

Preface to the Beasts of Bourbon songbook, Ten Years Behind Bars: From The Belly Of The Beasts ...

Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground: What Goes On

Sleeve notes by Clinton Walker, Raven Records, 1993

AT A TIME in the late '60s when the hippies were preaching peace and love – as they would have it, in short, a whole ...

The's: Japanese Rockers in Australia

Profile and Interview by Clinton Walker, Juice, June 1994

UPSTAIRS AT the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney, Japanese all-girl psychobilly band the's are geeing up in anticipation of a performance. They change into matching ...

John Coltrane, Miles Davis: Miles Davis: Complete Columbia Recordings #3, 1955-'60, with John Coltrane

Review by Clinton Walker, HQ, 2000

IN 1955 WHEN John Coltrane replaced Sonny Rollins in the new quintet Miles Davis was getting together, jazz was at a turning point – and ...

Robert Milliken: Lillian Roxon, Mother Of Rock

Book Review by Clinton Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, the, 2002

ROCK JOURNALISM is, of course, the lowest of the low. Trust me, I know. It has recently enjoyed improved profile with films like High Fidelty ...

Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence, Johnny O'Keefe, Paul Kelly (singer-songwriter): Co-Dependent: A Potted History of Drugs and Australian Music

Essay by Clinton Walker, Meanjin, 1 June 2002

I CAN STILL remember my first joint. All the usual jibes notwithstanding (memory loss, not inhaling, whatever), I remember it vividly: It was at the ...

Deep Purple, george: Worst Idea in the History of Music: Concerto for Jon Lord and george

Comment by Clinton Walker, Limelight, 2003

AN EMAIL ARRIVED for me a little while back, just after the program for the 2003 Sydney Festival was released. Titled THE WORST IDEA IN ...

Iain McIntyre: Tomorrow is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966-1970

Book Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 2006

IAIN MCINTYRE'S first book, 2004's Wild About You!, was unfortunately a very limited edition, published by – of all people – the Community Radio Federation ...

Ian Rilen, Rose Tattoo, X (Australia): Ian Rilen, 1947-2006

Obituary by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 2006

I play rock'n'roll for a livin', I ain't doin' all that well, I play rock'n'roll for a livin', as if you couldn't tell. I'm a ...

AC/DC, The Easybeats, The Loved Ones, Johnny O'Keefe, The Saints, Les Welch: Overcoming the Cringe: A Potted History of Australian Rock and Pop

Overview by Clinton Walker, Sunday Mail (Australia), 2006

WHEN ROCK 'N' ROLL exploded by that name in the mid-1950s, it wasn't as if there hadn't been any warning. For the some time [sic ...

The Vinyl Age

Essay by Clinton Walker, Sociology: Place, Time and Division (OUP), 2006

I GREW UP in a house without music. In suburban Melbourne in the 1960s, we had a spindly-legged (black and white) TV whose blonde-wood finish ...

Alan Dale, Johnny O'Keefe, Vic Sabrino, Les Welch: What was the First Australian Rock 'n' Roll Record?

Retrospective by Clinton Walker, Meanjin, 2006

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Extracted from the Meanjin Anthology, edited by Sally Heath and published by Melbourne University Press in 2012, after it was first published in Meanjin magazine in ...

AC/DC: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Retrospective by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), January 2006

EVERYONE AGREED that Peter Head had chosen his name well. The erstwhile Peter Beagley took his new name around the same time, in the early ...

Countdown Spectacular

Retrospective by Clinton Walker, The Australian, 2007

I USED TO have this attempted joke I'd pull out at sagging Sunday afternoon barbeques when I wanted to leave. Oh well, I'd say, I ...

Mental as Anything: Murray Waldren: The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa

Book Review by Clinton Walker, unpublished, 2007

Note: This piece never got published. It was commissioned by Australian Book Review magazine but not run, for reasons never given, and certainly wasn't paid for.  I ...

The Go-Betweens, The Saints: Brisbane's Pig City Festival

Report by Clinton Walker, Brisbane Courier-Mail, July 2007

THE QUEENSLAND Music Festival, which is launched next Friday with a dawn concert in Winton and runs for a fortnight till July 29, is an ...

The Birthday Party, Nick Cave: Nick Cave: Back to the Ballroom

Book Excerpt by Clinton Walker, 'Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave', 2009

I FIRST MET Nick Cave in Melbourne in early 1978 when we were both, I daresay, players in a new music underground that was still ...

The Bee Gees: Barry Gibb: Three-Minute Genius

Book Excerpt by Clinton Walker, 'Rock Country', ed. Christian Ryan (Hardie Grant), 2013

IN 1961 THE Gibb family – parents Hugh and Barbara and kids Lesley, Barry, twins Robin and Maurice, baby Andy – were living on Queensland's ...

Anthony O'Grady R.I.P.

Obituary by Clinton Walker, Rock's Backpages, December 2018

ANTHONY O'GRADY, who died on 19 December, was the Godfather here in Australia. He was the writer/editor/publisher who transformed Australian rock journalism and music magazines, ...

back to LIBRARY