"By and large, symphonic rock has not flourished in Australia. Sebastian Hardie was the country's first and foremost symphonic rock band. During the mid-1970's, the band enjoyed considerable success with the album Four Moments, but since that time has been largely forgotten on home turf. Yet in European, Japanese and American progressive rock circles, the highly revered Four Moments and its follow up Windchase are considered to be classics of the genre."
Ian McFarlane 'Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop
SEBASTIAN HARDIE - HISTORY
Sebastian Hardie by the mid seventies became known as Australia’s first symphonic rock band and by the time they disbanded in 1976 their two albums, Four Moments and Windchase, left a profound impression on the Australian music scene and both albums are now considered to be classics in the genre.
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Taught to play the guitar by Peter’s father, former Cabramatta High school students, Graham Ford and Peter Plavsic formed the band ‘The Interns’ along with Richard Lilico (drums), Tony Williams (bass guitar) and Gene Pierson (vocals)...circa 1965/6.
A year or so later Graham Ford formed ‘The Sebastian Hardie Blues Band’ featuring John Bellamy on bass guitar, Richard Lillico on drums Graham Ford on lead guitar, Dave Waddington on vocals and Neil Williamson on organ.
This incarnation lasted only a short time and in 1967/8 Peter and Graham joined forces with Peter’s brother Alex on drums, Anatol Kononowsky on keyboards and Jon English on vocals...all fellow Cabramatta High students...the ‘Blues’ was dropped and the beginnings of ‘Sebastian Hardie’ started to take shape.
A year later Anatol left the group to continue studies and the band remained as a four piece outfit.
During the next few years the band built a strong reputation in the local music scene and along with playing at all the Sydney rock venues they were also the backing band for Australia’s rock and roll legend Johnny O’keefe.
In 1971 Jon was offered the role as Judas in Australia’s exceptional stage presentation of Jesus Christ Superstar.
At this time the other members decide to have a break and continue with their studies as all were at university at the time.
Drummer Alex was then asked to join the Sydney based band Tapestry with Dave Haley (bass), Glenn Bowker (guitar) and Steve Dunne (keyboards).
This venture lasted about one year after which Alex brought along Tapestry’s keyboard player, Steve Dunne, for another reformation of Sebastian Hardie...with Peter on bass and Graham on guitar. This time they started to dabble in some more experimental and progressive music while still primarily remaining a cover band.
Things really began to take shape over the next few years...with the band working and touring throughout Australia, however Graham, a wonderful blues player, decided to go back to his playing roots and continue in the blues tradition. After a tour in Perth Graeme decided to leave the band. When Graeme decided to take on a different direction, Mario Millo (formerly with ‘Clik” was invited to join the band and the momentum picked up for another change of direction for Sebastian Hardie.
The catalyst in the bands transformation from an accomplished blues/rock band to a fully fledged symphonic rock band was the decision to play a 20 minute arrangement of Mike Oldield’s “Tubular Bells’ and the introduction of original material into the repertoire.
A year later Toivo Pilt (formerly with Forever) replaced Steve Dunne and Sebastian Hardie had completed its metamorphosis and this combination heralded a most original and creative sound with a solid musical direction.
Together, the band created a unique musical force and it was with this line up they became Australia’s first successful, internationally recognised progressive ‘symphonic’ rock band captivating audiences with powerful dynamics and haunting melodies.In 1975, a little over a year after this final line up had been together, they signed with Polygram records and released their debut album “Four Moments” to strong critical acclaim.
During this period the Sebastian Hardie toured with international artists including Lou Reed, Osibisa, and Focus.
In February1976 the band released its second album “Windchase” to coincide with another national tour as support to Santana. Like its predecessor Windchase received critical acclaim and displayed yet again superb playing and well-crafted ‘progressive/symphonic’ rock.
Due to a number of reasons, including inept management, musical differences and lack of record company support to enable the band to continue their momentum in Europe, Japan and America...all in all the many factors that create frustration and disharmony contributed to the band breaking up and going their separate ways in the latter part of 1976.
In 1994, the organisers of the annual US progressive rock gathering Progfest invited Sebastian Hardie to reform and headline the bill.
Although both Sebastian Hardie albums were released in Japan, France and the US the band had never had the opportunity to perform overseas.
Quite surprised by the offer and unaware that they had built a strong international following since their break up, the band, not having played together since 1976, flew to Los Angeles in November and delivered a great set to which the audience responded with a standing ovation.
Following Progfest ’94 the album “Live in LA” was released which featured a combination of tracks from both the “Four Moments” and “Windchase” albums.
The enthusiasm was there to reform the band, however, due to personal and business commitments of each of the members and time slipping by it was becoming more and more difficult to get together.
Again, many years later in July 2003, the band was invited to reform once again for three performances in Japan.
Also, later that year, in September they were invited to be special guests at two concerts featuring English band Yes in Sydney and Melbourne.
After these performances the band was determined to record another album...this in itself proved to be a difficult task as all were committed to other projects and living thousands of kilometers apart.
At any given opportunity, over a long period of time the band got together to jam, write and rehearse new material. The result being a new album entitled “Blueprint”
Sebastian Hardie Blues Band
John Bellamy – bass guitar (1967-1968)
Graham Ford – lead guitar (1967-1973)
Richard Lillico – drums (1967-1968)
Dave Waddington – vocals (1967-1968)
Neil Williamson – organ (1967-1968)
Jon English - rhythm guitar, vocals, (1968 -1971), producer (1975)
Graham Ford – lead guitar (1967-1973)
Anatole Kononewsky – keyboards (1968 -1972)
Alex Plavsic – drums, percussion(1968 -1976)
Peter Plavsic – bass guitar (1968 -1976)
Mario Millo – lead guitar, vocals, mandolin (1973 -1976)
Steve Dunne – keyboards, vocals (1971-1974)
Toivo Plit – keyboards (1974-1976)
Windchase. (Polydor / Mercury / Avalon, 1976)
Rock Legends. (compilation, 1980)
Four Moments of the Windchase. (compilation, Polydor / Mercury, 1990)
Sebastian Hardie — Live in L.A. (Recorded in 1994)
Blueprint - (released 2012)Singles "All Right Now" (1973)
"Day After Day" (1974)