the start


Born and named John Michael O'Keefe on January 19th 1935, the second son of Thelma and Ray, was destined to become an integral part of Australian social history. Little did they know that 18 or so years in the future he would, for near on 25 years, have the highest profile, be the most controversial, but would be the most helpful performer and music producer the Australian music business would ever see.

Why, you say? Well, to cut to the chase and leave out the promotional hype, Johnny O'Keefe, by achieving things for himself, put himself in the position of 'having' to help others. By default, he ended up being the major force of the new music industry. Whilst he had little option but to help others, he took on the challenge personally and really did try to nurture most of the artists he hired. The whole music scene was to benefit from it.

Doubters of this assumption are invited to present any other performer or promoter within the music industry at that time and since, with the exception of Lee Gordon, who was able to, and in fact did, help so many to success.

Little Johnny was raised in the upper crust suburb of Dover Heights in Sydney's east, where most residents can choose whatever panoramic view they want, looking west back over the beautiful harbour to Sydney's skyline, or eastward out across the wide blue Pacific Ocean.

No, life was not too tough for Johnny or his family, although his parents Ray and Thelma had both worked very hard for many years, to achieve what they had. His schooling started at the quaint little Catholic Church School just around the corner from the home and then on to Christian Brothers in the close suburb of Waverly next to Bondi.

He stayed until matriculation and then followed Barry his elder brother, to Sydney University where he studied economics. The academic career he was heading towards at this stage, did a disappearing act as soon as his passion for entertaining showed it could provide him some financial income. His parents weren't very happy about his choice yet, like most caring parents, they went along for the ride because that is what their child really wanted to do.

Well, we all can thank them, because if they had deprived him of making that choice, who knows what type of music industry we might have had if any. The chances are you would not have ever heard of many of the stars you now know so well!

Who knows who else would have created monopolies that could have totally stifled competition instead of adopting the 'help' approach as J.O'K did.!

Finally the chances are slim that Australia would have a popular music industry as it does today!