Gerry Humphrys (above) had emigrated from the UK to Australia in 1957 and quickly emerged as a talented clarinet player with the Red Onions Jazz Band on the Melbourne coffee club circuit, performing at such venues as Reata and the Fat Black Pussycat and suburban jazz destinations at the Ormond RSL and the Beaumaris Yacht Club.But the times were a’changing, R&B and psychedelia were looming large on the musical landscape, and the blues roots of jazz aficionados were now becoming more aligned with the new beat music of the British Invasion bands, and as a result one of the most revered Australian bands was set to emerge.Ex- Red Onion Jazz Band alumni Gerry Humphrys (vocals), Ian Clyne (keyboards), and Kim Lynch (bass) joined with Rob Lovett (guitar) and Gavin Anderson (drums) from the jazz/R&B band The Wild Cherries, to form the Loved Ones. Gerry Humphrys had forsaken his clarinet for a harmonica and quickly emerged as a dynamic front man, in him the band possessed a dimpled demonic doyen, with remarkable flair and vitality whose growling blues baritone and keening vocals set standards his contemporaries could not match, the inspiration for the band’s name was the darkly satirical Evelyn Waugh novel the Loved One.The Loved Ones were an exciting, erratic, and musically inventive ensemble with a sound somewhere between the Rolling Stones and the Animals, they performed mostly R&B covers until the time came for them to cut their first record at the W&G studios (Melb). Rob Lovett had been noodling with a three chord song, nine beats to the bar, but decided to add a two – beat drum pattern behind it to replicate the big chord sound of Pete Townshend’s recent hits for the Who – My Generation and Substitute.
Humphry’s asked about the melody to which Lovett replied, “sort of rave…you know, no melody.” ( Welcome Strangers-The Love Ones Magic Box – Chris Hollow), Gerry was getting enthused, Clyne came up with a bass line and lead guitar line, Gerry felt that it needed a real sing-a-long chorus and came up with “Oh baby I love you so/ I need you now/ I want you bad/ I can’t go on..”. At this time the song had a complex double rhythm which Clyne felt needed something to guide the listener through the song, some musical signposts to heighten both the drama and accessibility of the song. He invited a fellow keyboard player from the Winston Charles disco to run through the song with the band in the studio, he suggested the use of percussive hand claps to achieve the desired effect, it was a brilliant suggestion, the hand claps ultimately became more dominant than the two- beat drum pattern in the final mix. To the original hooks and catchy chorus, the hand claps had added suspense, excitement, and a sense of immediacy to the song, particularly when Gerry Humphrys released his opening carnal howl “Yonder she’s walking…”. Few rock songs of the era began so dramatically and emphatically by using the word “yonder”, but Humphreys was a unique singer who could imbue the most unusual and quirky lyrics with a bluesy resonance, that was cool and vibrant, he deliberately mispronounced “comes” as “kerms” and got away with it.The Loved One was at once engagingly simple and artfully beguiling, the dramatic use of a Hohner Pianet electric piano by Clyne, was reminiscent of recent hits by the Zombies (She’s Not There), the Kingsmen (Louie, Louie) and the Lovin’ Spoonful (Summer in the City), and hand claps at the intro engaged the listener from the outset. The verses built on the bass and drums of Lynch and Anderson, Lovett delivered emphatic lead guitar lines with his Eko 12-string guitar, to be enveloped in Humphry’s vocals and the rousing chorus, the lyrics possessed great emotional intensity and crackled with electricity “Helpless baby/Evil child/ I’ve known you well and if you wanna stay that’s all right.”
The song reveals the influences of such UK performers as Van Morrison and Eric Burdon, but there was a uniquely engaging and original feel to the Loved Ones music, they were equally adept at playing rough R&B, garage punk or mesmerizing pop, and after they burst onto the local scene with this debut self-penned bona fide classic and hit #11 nationally, it was acknowledged that the next big thing had arrived. Their early success was even more remarkable given that their recording company W&G, were more focused on jazz, and their big name act The Seekers, the Loved Ones were allowed only minimal studio time to record, had no producer to assist them, and were basically ignored by Go Set journos like Ian Meldrum and Lily Brett, but appearances on Kommotion, and at the Thumping Tum, Mad Hatter and Garrison discos, enabled them to plug their records and build a fan base.In 1966 the Loved Ones would write and release a trilogy of bona fide classic hits, following the breakthrough success of The Loved One, they released the primal, bluesy, and carnal top ten hit Everlovin’ Man, and the cryptic, Dylanesque, Sad Dark Eyes. In 1967 they would release their debut album Magic Box, which has become a treasured collectible, and the singles A Love Like Ours and Love Song. The band was touring incessantly, writing and recording songs at the same time, in an era when band management was less than completely professional, and record companies failed to coordinate marketing and promotion with record releases and live touring. As the pressure built, and the anticipated financial rewards did not materialize, the group was destined to fall apart, but their recorded legacy was impressive, and the band always demanded the collective attention of the record-buying public, throughout their brief (two years) but glorious career.
The Loved One was covered by INXS in 1981 and returned to the charts again at #20, INXS subsequently re-arranged the song and included it on their Kick album. APRA subsequently rated The Loved One at #6 on the list of all-time great Australian songs in the period 1926-2001. In 2010 the Loved Ones were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame along with the Church, John Williamson, the Models and Johnny Young, Gerry Humphrys sadly passed away in 2005.