Back when I was 4 years old I remember seeing and hearing Noeleen Batley on the TV show Bandstand in glorious black and white. She was a little cutie.

Her debut "Starry Eyes" was released in February 1960 on Festival's 'try-out' label Rex, but it was not a success. The breakthrough came with her winsome version of "Barefoot Boy " on which she was backed by Festival's 'house' band, The R'Jays, and written by 16-year-old Helen Grover, who had won a talent contest a year earlier with her own performance of the song.

Noeleen's version was released in October and it made the top 5 in all mainland capitals in November 1960, thereby making Noeleen the first Australian female pop singer to score a national hit (there was no national Oz chart until 1966).

Her first big hit "
Barefoot Boy" was shrouded in controversy and nearly cost her recording company a big lawsuit but luckily Festival got away without having to pay...here is the short version of the story by one of The R'Jay backing band members:

...One of our favourites was Noeleen Batley, whose first song was Starry Eyed, which we recorded with her on February 11, 1960. This was later followed by Barefoot Boy (July 13, 1960) written by her girlfriend, Helen Grover, who was later sued by the publishers of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" because they said it sounded too similar!? Barefoot Boy was the only recording on the Rex label to go to No.1 on the Top Forty and the first national hit by a local female singer in the rock era. When Rex/Festival realised it was starting to get airplay, they immediately got Ray Swinfield to race into the studio and overdub a million flutes and bongos so it wouldn't sound too cheap and issued a second rare mix using the exact same catologue number. The result was really terrible but luckily for Noeleen the flutes were too late and the first version became a hit despite the efforts of Rex Records to substitute and replace it...

There was an additional version of "
Barefoot Boy" done in 1962 for television. There has never been a commercial release for the "flute version" but the other two mixes were released on a CD (cover picture above).

My friend Jim B. recently asked for the "flute version" to be fixed up from his old 7" vinyl for one of his projects and he sent me a scanned copy of the record label too. Thanks Jim for the scan and your continued support of old Oz songs not yet on CD.

Instead of fixing up Jim's record I sent him a bootleg CD copy of the "flute version" which I got from another friend from Melbourne. Thank you to Mike in Melbourne, it's good to have friends in "low places"...(lol).

For download is the second issue of the single of "
Barefoot Boy":


1 comment:

  1. There was a later re-recording of "Barefoot Boy" for the Living Legends of Six O'Clock Rock LP/CD (Starlite Records)