Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs Part 2!
Written by Ryan Stevenson on 29 September 2020
Previously we talked about Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs 1964 to 1966 run of success before a change of Aztecs and a breakup occurred that seemingly put an end to the band but this was not the case.
Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs returned in 1969 with a new lineup and a new sound, gone were the tender songs like “Love Letters” and in came songs like “Gangster of Love” which were loud and packed full of heavy-rock music.
Billy left behind his suits and grown his hair long as well as picking up a guitar and starting to write his own material as the majority of the 1964-66 hits were covers which was standard back at that time.
The 1971 album “The Hoax Is Over” gave the band a Top 10 album and amazingly this album only has four songs on it with “Gangster of Love” clocking in at 24 minutes and 35 seconds taking up the entire first side while three songs shared the other side.
Most versions of “Gangster of Love” that you see on YouTube or are on CD or digital file clock in between ten and fourteen minutes with the above version from 1979 clocking in at ten and a half minutes still far longer than your standard single.
The Live Album “Live” gave the band another No. 8 album and the double album “Aztecs Live at Sunbury” reached No. 4 after it’s release in August 1972.
The single “Most People I Know”/”Regulation Three Puff” was a big hit in 1972 and surprisingly it was not a No. 1 hit as it had peaked at No. 2 but it is considered one of Australia’s greatest songs.
The band’s next five singles peaked between No. 20 and No. 88 with “Over the Rainbow”/”Let’s Have a Party” peaking at No.20 and two singles did not chart.
The 1974 studio album “More Arse Than Class” was a hit as it peaked at No. 14 and the songs were considerably shorter than “The Hoax Is Over” with “Slowly Learning How” topping the list at nine minutes and eleven seconds.
Live album “Steaming At The Opera House” peaked at No. 74 after its release in November 1974 and compilation album “Gold” peaked at No. 89 with “Gold” being the last charting Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs release between 1964 and 1975.
Billy went on to live in the United States and during his solo career he released the album “Children of The Sun” with the single “Children of the Sun/Simple Life” peaking in the United States at No. 41 in 1979, he even composed music for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and other popular TV shows.
Billy returned to Australia and continued to perform and record, he was honoured on the TV show “This is Your Life” and the episode is notable for Mike Munro being unable to say the name of Woolloongabba, a suburb near Brisbane.
Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs returned in the 21st century for the “Long Way To The Top” concert tour as the pre-1965 band (Original Aztecs) playing first and playing a number of their hits such as “Poison Ivy” and “Over the Rainbow”.
Towards the end of the show, the 1970’s version (Sunbury Aztecs) performed a number of songs giving fans and viewers the opportunity to see the differences in the two hit making versions of Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs.
Billy Thorpe died on February 28 2007 in Sydney shocking and saddening the nation and he continues to be missed by his adoring fans to this day.