Hoadley’s National Battle of the Sounds started in 1966 and attracted many of Australia’s top groups and bands from all around the country. It was a true a national competition with heats organised by local radio stations. The heats were held in the capital cities and country towns and bands worked their way up through semi-finals to one penultimate grand-final, held in either Melbourne or Sydney.
The valuable first prize was a full return passage to England, two booked concerts in London and $1000 prize money, later upped to $2000 and return flights to Los Angeles (early winners did not get the concerts).
Radio 5KA organised the heats in South Australia in Adelaide and through it’s regional stations of 5AU in Port Augusta and 5RM in the Riverland. Jim Slade was the compere of those early Battle of the Sounds concerts, usually staged at the Thebarton Town Hall.
That first year of the competition, 1966, was a most significant year for South Australia with The Twilights and lead singer Glen Shorrock taking out not just the state semi final but also the grand final, which was held in Melbourne’s Festival Hall. Masters Apprentices, another young Adelaide band came second in the South Australian competition and were runners up in the 1968 grand final.
Every year from April to June the family garage would be turned into a place for serious rehearsal along with local church halls and anywhere else available and would echo to the sounds of would be rock stars. Go Set Magazine got right behind the cometition and would print with great excitement the details of when and where the Battles would take place, and who were the hot favourites. Readers would then wait with great anticiption to see who had won the latest heat for the week.
By 1968 the 1st prize was up to $2000 spending money to go with the return trip to the UK, and in 1969 the competition peaked with around 1000 bands and groups entering from all around the country. That year’s battle was also different for another reason, with a separate section for vocal groups, as well as the usual type of band. The new section was to allow groups that concentrated on vocals and bands that focused on close harmony. From a local point of view, the interest was in the new vocal section with The Valentines from Adelaide, a 6 member band coming in third. The band went on to have a hit or two and national fame for the lead singer, Bon Scott, who later achieved noteriety and international fame as lead singer with AC/DC.
Adelaide’s last successful group was Fraternity who won the grand final in 1971, but according to Terence J Stacey, writing in “Who’s Who of Australian Rock” the final years proved somewhat disappointing with Go Set magazine eventually losing interest and the grand final in 1972 was a rather lacklustre affair.
It was an exiting time for local bands and for their fans though, through those years from 1966 to 1972. What are your memories of Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds when it was in full swing in Adelaide?