We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Peter Staben, aka The Brat, influential and much loved presenter of Technicolour Dreaming and Obscured by… and member of the Brats and Rashamra. Peter passed away Thursday, July 16 surrounded by his family. Rest in peace our friend, you will be sorely missed. The Cat has put together a fantastic bio for you to read below.
Peter’s first band on keyboards (well one that had a name, anyway) was when he was still at high school, Clarke and the Opus 5 (mainly surf covers and hits of the day, with vocals by the lovely 60’s model Christine Cassebohm). The next notable band was Rashamra, where he was the baby of the band at 19 years old, but had a couple of Adelaide Top 5 chart hits with “Antelope” and “Mr Timekeeper” (the b-side of which “Paradise Found (With Apologies to Milton)” was his first real songwriting effort). An album was recorded but the master tape was re-used by their manager before it could be released, lost forever. After Rashamra broke up, he played in the short-lived Hard Rock Theatre (with Jim Keays), then in Queen (with Sue Barker).
After a couple of months living on the beach and surfing at Cactus (he helped build, according to him, the worst constructed grain silo in the country! That’s what you get for employing surfies to pour concrete), it was time to travel the world for a few years, visiting, and living in (in no particular order) Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, India, Nepal, the Czech Republic (Prague), France (Paris, in a proper artists garret at the top of 5 flights of stairs!), Crete (in a fishing village during the off-season), and then finally London.
It was in London that Peter discovered punk, shaved his beard and cut his hair, lived in squats in some fantastic old buildings, taught remedial students at a local high school, and joined his first punk band, an embryonic version of GBH (the Brat had vivid memories of playing on the back of a truck during a CND rally). His musical outlook changed forever, he travelled back to Australia (via Perth and Darwin) to spread the word.
This is when The Brats were born, a short-lived band who made a huge impact on the Adelaide music scene, with “Life on the Dole” being their only recording that received a proper release (on the 5MMM comp), although it was played on community stations around the country. You may be interested to know that he also wrote the bridge section of the Bad Poets “Crash Sweet Crash” (on the same comp), when the band got stuck with how to link the verse and the chorus!
After the Brats disintegrated, he travelled to Darwin, where he wrote the music column in the daily paper, and which consequently featured lots and lots of stories of the exploits of his latest band, Exhibit A (the first version) – the band shopping at the local supermarket made the front page! Peter said “better to be a big fish in a little pond than never be a fish at all”.
The next move was to Melbourne, where he made friends (in his usual inimitable style) with a host of great musos of the time: Chris, Dave and Claire from The Moodists, Lindy and Grant of the Go-Betweens, Russell of the Crystal Set, Nick and Tracey of the Birthday Party, Stu Spasm, Tex Perkins, Marty and Ploogie of The Church (the latter originally being the drummer for The Brats)…..sorry for all the name dropping. This is when Exhibit A (mk 2) recorded the unreleased single “Confusion”, which was all ready to go when their record label folded.
Rock stardom thwarted yet again, Peter “settled down” to fatherhood, first with Oliver, and then with the birth of Holly. Later moving back to Adelaide, he concentrated on work and being a single-dad to Holly, only playing occasionally and recording with Mary Laslett and Peter Jesser (Rashamra), and doing a couple of gigs with Truck offshoot Devil’s Elbow (with Lynton Cox and Mick Brown).
He eventually found his way to Three D Radio (with Holly in tow, doing her own show on Rock and Roll High School), hosting Breakfast with Lynton, and Obscured By … with Michael Hunter. After Lynton’s untimely death in early 2005, I then joined Wednesday Breakfast and The Cat and the Brat were born.
Not being a morning person, we switched to Wednesday Drive with Technicolour Dreaming (no more 4.30am alarms, yay!) while also entertaining the listeners (as well as ourselves) as the Three Dots on Obscured By…, until our switch later on to the current Tuesday timeslot.
After The Cat and The Brat’s rock’n’roll wedding at the original Jade Monkey in 2007 Peter was keen to re-release Life on the Dole, a dream that was realised a few years later with the shiny black vinyl double-A-side shared with the Molting Vultures.
Since then, apart from the occasional guest spot with the Molties, and playing with the memorable (for all the wrong reasons) Three D Band (we had such good fun singing and playing with Adam, Tim, Dave, Suzy, Mark and Kerry) the Brat has concentrated on radio since retiring from work in 2008, and with our permanent move down south, a lot of his time has been spent in the last few years researching and downloading a ridiculous amount of music from new psychedelic bands from round the world, to play on our show. So much music, and so little time to find and play it all.