Harry Vanda and George Young are without question one of the most successful writer-producer teams of our time. Since the mid 60's, they have written, performed and produced more hit singles and albums than anyone else in Australia.
The story began in 1964 at an austere migrant hostel in Sydney. It was there that George Young made friends with Harry Vanda. They were misfits, no doubt about it (Harry barely spoke a word of English, George's Glasgow brogue was so thick barely anyone understood him) but they formed a friendship that was to last through the decades
That meeting resulted in the formation of a great rock ‘n’ roll band. The Easybeats created a string of classic hit records including “Friday On My Mind”.
The Easys stormed to number one in Australia in May 1965 and the ferocious phenomenon of 'Easyfever' spiraled. Airports, TV stations, theatres and hire cars were reduced to rubble, fans were hospitalised and general mayhem reigned wherever they turned up. With their vital, urgent sound The Easybeats gave Australian music a new identity and confidence. The hits came in ceaseless cascade and overnight Australian pop and rock shifted from derivation and imitation to innovation. The stakes had been raised and Oz Rock would never look back.
The song that still stands as the team's most admired, acclaimed and recorded piece, the working class anthem, Friday On My Mind - a global hit for them. As Harry once put it, "Being hostel boys that's what you dream about all week - Friday."
Friday On My Mind gave them the clout to begin writing and recording songs of sometimes extraordinary grandeur. "We were fumbling, groping around for hit tunes that were different" George explained "The ultimate, as far as we were concerned, was to be totally original and get hits. Original in the sense of finding new drumbeats, new guitar styles, new melodies, new chord changes, that sort of thing." The standouts were many – Heaven & Hell, Hello How Are You?, The Music Goes ‘Round My Head, Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia and Falling Off The Edge Of The World which Lou Reed declared to be "one of the most beautiful records ever made".
Returning to Australia they put to use all they had learned from eight years of making music in London. In a new state of the art recording studio in King Street, Sydney they began a blitzkrieg of Australian popular music in a manner that had not been experienced since ... well, the heyday of the Easybeats, Swiftly they captivated radio programmers with their song writing and production prowess sending Stevie Wright to number one with a three-part 11 minute plus single, Evie (Let Your Hair Hang Down / Evie / I’m Losing You).
Harry and George also branched out as producers working with AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and the Angels creating the blueprint for a generation of contemporary rock ‘n’ roll bands and with John Paul Young (Love is in The Air, Yesterday’s Hero, Standing in the Rain), William Shakespeare (My Little Angel, Can’t Stop Myself from Loving You) and Mark Williams (Show No Mercy) writing and producing hit after international hit.
Alongside this body of work they maintained recording Flash and The Pan. Formed as a creative release Flash and The Pan were never meant to last beyond their self-titled debut album which featured singles like "Hey St. Peter", "Down Among the Dead Men" and "Walking In The Rain" there's been Lights in the Night, Headlines (including "Waiting for a Train"), Early Morning Wakeup Call (an immense hit in Europe) and Nights in France (including two European Top 10 hits with "Money Don't Lie" and "Ayla".
The list of artists who have sung a Vanda / Young composition is staggering: from David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Gary Moore to INXS and Grace Jones (not to mention John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, The Divinyls and Meatloaf), their influence has crossed virtually every geographical and stylistic border.
In 2005 the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) voted Friday On My Mind as the most important Australian song written in the past 75 years.