BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Marty Rhone has been reborn as a Country music singer more than 40 years after he made it big as a pop star.
BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Marty Rhone has been reborn as a Country music singer more than 40 years after he made it big as a pop star.

Mid ‘70s pop star back in the spotlight

IF YOU or your kids were growing up in the mid-1970s, you will remember the name Marty Rhone.

But no one, least of all Marty, could have foreseen you would be hearing so much about him in 2020.

The voice of pop chart-toppers Denim and Lace (1975) and Mean Pair of Jeans (1977) has just notched three No.1s on the Australian Country Music charts, released his first album in decades and is about to tour.

His acting career, which in the '70s included Number 96 and Class of '75, has also taken off again.

 

Marty Rhone as the prison priest in the Seth Rogen-produced TV series Preacher.
Marty Rhone as the prison priest in the Seth Rogen-produced TV series Preacher.

 

Since 2016 he has had a string of guest roles on popular Australian and American TV series, and has completed a number of short films that are making their way onto prestigious festival line-ups.

"It's quite surreal, and in the case of the music, completely unexpected," Marty said.

Inspired by Jackie Weaver's award-winning success in 2010's Animal Kingdom, followed by Silver Linings Playbook, Marty had decided that it was now or never to get serious about his acting.

"I was blown away by her performance," he said of the actor, with whom he worked in an ensemble with John Waters and Rowena Wallace in his early 20s.

"We are the same age and grew up together - as a matter of fact I had a crush on her as a teenager … so seeing Animal Kingdom was the real catalyst."

In early 2017, just as Marty was heading to the US to further his acting career, Johnny Young and John St Peeters approached him with the song Graceland on the Line to mark the 40th anniversary of Elvis's death.

 

Marty Rhone had top-10 hits in 1975 and '77 with Denim and Lace and Mean Pair of Jeans.
Marty Rhone had top-10 hits in 1975 and '77 with Denim and Lace and Mean Pair of Jeans.

 

An Elvis fan since he was eight, Marty loved the song as soon as he heard it and, 40 years on from his last single, Marty Rhone had a new worldwide release.

It hit No.1 on the world independent country music and Australian charts and caught the ear of renowned US producer David J Holman, who offered him a record deal with Cactus Studios.

The only catch was he had to write or co-write some of the songs.

"I hadn't written in decades, let alone written a country song," Marty said, so he called in more familiar names, Garth Porter (Sherbet) and country stars Rod McCormack and Gina Jeffreys.

Together they created We Had a Good Thing Going and Jealous of the Sky respectively, both of which topped the Australian Country Music Single Charts. The album Jealous of the Sky was released early last month.

"Things go in circles in this industry, and you just have to hope things keep turning," Marty said of his renewed success, although he admits it does get harder as you get older.

"It's very challenging for people in their 'senior years' to make yourself relevant to the world at large.

 

Marty Rhone belts out one of his hits.
Marty Rhone belts out one of his hits.

"There are so many instances of people wanting to write you off.

"You are fighting a system that believes you have a use-by date."

He believes everyone, regardless of age, should be defined by who they are, their abilities and what they have achieved.

"If you keep focusing on someone's age, as we do in Australia, you are putting a time limit on them."

And while it is perhaps a little more physically challenging to keep up the pace required, Marty said he had kept in good shape and never been afraid of hard work.

"I wasn't an overnight success," he said of his seeming catapult to fame when Denim and Lace was released simultaneously, showing on Reg Grundy's hit Class of '75 and Molly Meldrum's Countdown.

"I had already been around quite a few years and released a number of songs that didn't set the world on fire."

Marty supported the Rolling Stones at 17.

Also on his resume are appearances with John Denver, Christopher Cross and the Bee Gees, as well as four years on London's West End stage with Yul Brynner in The King and I from 1979.

But his first song on TV was Cliff Richard's Bachelor Boy at just 13, and it is Sir Cliff and I, featuring a combination of his own and Cliff Richard's best music, that Marty is touring Australian capitals with in May-July, including Sydney's State Theatre on May 22 and Brisbane's QPAC on May 28.

It has been eight years since his last tour, and staged by the people behind the mega-production Elvis: King of the World, he said the coming one would be the most spectacular he had ever done.

For more, go to martyrhonemusic.com and for a Countdown flashback, head to https://www.you tube.com/watch?v=BagIaF6HFeg.


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