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Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs


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Sydney, Australia (1963 – 1967, 1970 – 1973)

Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs were an Australian pop and rock group dating from the mid-sixties. The group enjoyed huge success in the mid-1960s, but split in 1967. They re-emerged in the early seventies to become one of the most popular Australian hard-rock bands of the period. Thorpe died from a heart attack in Sydney on February 28th, 2007.


As is typical of many Australasian groups of the era, The Aztecs went through many incarnations. Originally formed in Sydney in 1963, the first lineup consisted of lead singer Billy Thorpe, whose powerful voice and showmanship have made him one of the most popular and respected rock performers in Australian music. The rest of the group comprised drummer Col Baigent, bassist John “Bluey” Watson and guitarists Tony Barber and Vince Maloney (who later played with The Bee Gees).

Chart success

The group broke through in mid-1964 with a massive nationwide hit, their cover of the Leiber and Stoller classic “Poison Ivy”, which famously ousted The Beatles from the #1 spot on the Sydney charts at the very moment that the group was making its first and only tour of Australia — a feat which resulted in Thorpe being invited to meet the Fab Four at their hotel. Over the next twelve months the band reigned supreme as the most popular ‘beat’ group in Australia, scoring further hits with the songs “Mashed Potato”, “Sick And Tired” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, until they were eclipsed by the emergence of The Easybeats in 1965.


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