Little Boy Sad – (W Walker) and Lonely Boy (P Anka) – MPD Ltd. 1965

Mike Brady (1948) and Peter Watson (1944) were British migrants who first met at the Fishermens Bend Migrant Hostel (Melbourne) and subsequently teamed up with local drummer Danny Finley (1949). Migrant hostels had proven to be fertile breeding grounds for new beat groups in Sydney and Adelaide, the Easybeats, the Throb, The Twilights, had all coalesced around a love of beat music and the inspiration of the Beatles, to pursue a dream of success in the emerging Australian pop music scene. Brady abandoned an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker, and formed a garage band unpromisingly named the Hearsemen, Watson was older and had already secured a guitarist position with respected Melbourne band The Phantoms, which Brady would later join. Danny Finley (1949) was a talented drummer with local band The Saxons, and once Brady and Watson decided that there was little future in playing Shadows and Tornados covers, they departed The Phantoms in 1965 and formed a new beat group. Drummer Finley was recruited, and a dynamic trio was formed that would briefly, but spectacularly, bring their brilliant live act and thundering beat songs to public notice and become an integral part of the local beat music phenomena sweeping the country.  

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MPD Ltd. was an acronym of the first names of the members of the trio, Mike Brady (guitar/vocals), Pete Watson (bass/vocals), and Danny Finley (drums), they were inspired by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and The Who, local DJ Stan Rofe assisted them to get gigs and to sign a deal with Go!! Records, and before the end of 1965 they were touring Australia in support of the Dave Clark Five, and would release their debut hit Little Boy Sad, soon after.

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The band enjoyed a meteoric rise at a time when there was a niche in the market that had appeared, for although The Easybeats were certainly  sweeping all before them, former beat sensations Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs (above) had hit a rut following the defection of the original lineup, as they continued to record sedate beat covers of MOR ballads, Ray Brown and the Whispers (below) were stagnating and had their last top ten hit in Jan.1966 with a cover of the less-than-hip Tennessee Waltz Song, and exciting, innovative new bands like The Twilights, Master Apprentices, The Groop and The Loved Ones, had yet to hit the charts.

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MPD Ltd. would feature in one of the first local package show tours when in 1965 they supported The Easybeats along with fellow labelmates Bobby and Laurie and The Rondells on a national tour, their music, stage outfits, gymnastically-choreographed performances, and Finlay’s stick-twirling drum pyrotechnics, were riveting, and the release of their debut single was much-anticipated. The signature MPD Ltd. sound was full-bodied, and the interplay between Finley and Watson, ensured that the rhythm section was loud and propulsive. Brady’s lead guitar riffs, whether electric or acoustic, sliced through the backbeat impressively, and their harmony vocals were complex and well-executed, often doused in reverb, that added to the drama and appeal of their hit songs, which still sound fresh and vibrant 50 years later. Below – L-R Roger Savage, Bill Armstrong. 


The trio quickly moved onto recording beat versions of existing songs, initially at the Telefil Studios in St. Kilda (Melb) with studio legends Roger Savage and Bill Armstrong, and later at Armstrong’s new studios in South Melbourne. Their debut hit would be a brooding cover of Johnny Burnett’s 1961 charter Little Boy Sad. The song was written by Wayne Walker, an experienced US songwriter who had also penned Cut Across Shorty (for Eddie Cochrane), The Cajun Queen for Jimmy Dean, (the answer song to Big John) as well as tracks for Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley.

MPD were experienced musicians who adapted the beat music playbook to perfection.

A resonant bass riff from Watson opened proceedings as Finley’s drums arrived in support, Brady’s vocals were authoritative and his melisma on the word bay-ya-aby was perfect, the trio took this song to a national #5 for their debut hit. The band were touring the cities and towns continuously, their manager Ron Blackmore ensured that they got exposure on the TV pop shows of the day – Saturday Date in Sydney and the Go!!Show in Melbourne, and they performed regularly around Melbourne’s disco heartland at such venues as the Thumpin’ Tum, Biting Eye, Sebastians, Catcher, Garrison, Opus and Powerhouse, with little more support than one roadie and a station wagon. L-R Below Thumpin’ Tum, Catcher, Berties (aka Albert and Victoria)

Mike Brady recalled these times “It was very exciting. But there was no emphasis on music at all — we didn’t even care if it was in tune. It was totally visual, there was no staging at all. We didn’t have our own lights, we didn’t have our own PA, we didn’t have our own road crew. All we had was one roadie and a station wagon. For 110,000 people at the Myer Music Bowl we had one 4-speaker Fender concert amplifier with no mic on it!”


The band quickly followed up with another reverb-heavy, swaggering beat cover of Lonely Boy, with Danny Finlay driving the song along with a Keith Moon-like sustained, pounding, echo-inflected, drum pattern. It was a rave up rendition of a 1959 hit for US teen heartthrob Paul Anka (#3 Aust), and MPD Ltd took this to #18.

Another teen idol hit resurrected with the trademark booming MPD sound.

In 1966 the group released a convincing cover of the original Shadow Morton-produced, Shangri-Las teen epic (Remember) Walkin’ In the Sand, which was notable for its eerie echo effects, and peaked at #24, for their last top 40 hit.


The band also released No Regrets, an original power-pop beat composition which stalled at #61 due to the fact that the band had departed to try their luck in Swinging London and could not promote the song locally, but like many who would go to the UK after them, success proved to be elusive, and Mike, Pete, and Danny disbanded soon after in 1967.

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Danny Finley would marry and subsequently divorce singer Colleen Hewett (above), and pursue a career as a VFL player agent (Tommy Hafey, Robert DiPierdomenico, Kevin Bartlett), while Mike Brady would subsequently form the Two Man Band and write and produce the epic AFL anthem Up Their Cazaly and produce one of the biggest- selling local records in Australian history – 6 million copies worldwide – Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce Music Theatre. Pete Watson (below) sadly passed away in 1972 at the age of 28, after contracting an illness while performing in Vietnam.

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