DIARY - 27 MAY 2007 - LAWRIE WEIR OBITUARY
STILL RIDING THESE BLUE HIGHWAYS
"I've been riding these blue highways/ another night has made me
stop/ my weary bones can go no farther/ and here's where they'll drop."
- Anywhere On Earth You Are. - Danny O'Keefe-Tim Krekel
DAVID WEIR - BORN BRIGHTON DECEMBER 31, 1948
- BRIGHTON - MAY 10, 2007
STREETS OF BRIGHTON
Lawrie Weir roared into the world on New Years Eve in 1948 he
was destined to live and work in fast-forward.
Impromptu childhood cricket and footy games on the leafy streets of
post war East Brighton and the cowboy town in his backyard nurtured
his childhood and adolescent growth.
They also fuelled the dreams of exploration of the breath taking mountains
of Nepal, North Africa and South America and populous villages of
the sub Continent and Far East.
The rough and rocky routes morphed into poignant pit stops in his
eternal time travel that spanned five decades.
Although Lawrie, affectionately known as Flash and Loose Wire to diverse
friends on his joyous journey was an avid adventurer, his battery
also included a home magnet.
in the picturesque solid brick house his father Frank and mother Elva
built, from the day he first drew breath.
And he drove
the Weir patriarchs 1967 brown Mercedes thousands of miles to and
from the same home until the cool autumnal night he died there in his
may have been the vintage vehicle that drove him to distant concerts in
his tertiary teaching and music appreciation but it was not his primary
means of transport.
Replete with Richmond scarf and red cap, he rode his frequent flyer pushbike
to his professional font of 27 years in Moorabbin and railway stations
en route to concerts in the city and suburbs and football and cricket
The campus changed name from Barton to Chisholm to Homesglen in Lawrie's
tenure but not his two favourite modes of transport that also delivered
him to tutorials at the Monash University campuses at Caulfield and Clayton.
CANADA TO CRETE
my dreams your arms will find me/ they will hold me through the night/
then release me to my journey/ as another day grows light." - Anywhere
On Earth You Are.
was on foot on a six-month overseas odyssey that soon stretched into an
innings or two short of five years when he met his Canadian true love
and soul mate Ellen Franklin on the island of Crete.
The year was 1976 and a chance meeting soon became a 31-year union and
eventual marriage that was only punctuated by more travels.
And, of course, birth and growth of son Matthew, that persuaded Lawrie
to postpone a Masters Degree, and daughter Avril who emulated her parents'
spirit and zest for life.
Weir earned his Bachelor Of Commerce and Diploma Of Education on the campus
of Monash after ascending from the cloistered quadrangles of Brighton
Grammar where he mixed academia and sport with delicious dexterity.
Ellen, an interior designer, shared her husband's love of roots music
- especially the works of Irish legend Van Morrison who provided their
life time favourites lovingly preserved in a Van tower in their home.
So it was fitting Tupelo Honey and Have I Told You Lately That
I Love You soothed the huge throng of mourners as belated May rain
tumbled down on the parched parish roof of St Andrews Anglican Church
in Brighton during the premature farewell of one of life's revered characters.
Three of Weir's closest friends Rod Opie, Rod Sanders and Andrew Mullett
detailed his journey from childhood to departure.
Son Matthew and daughter Avril also delivered evocative eulogies.
runner-up to the Dux of Brighton Grammar with an enter score of 99.8 and
is now in his third year of a Melbourne University Engineering/Commerce.
Avrils secondary schoolmates from the Firbank Choir performed The
Lord Is My Shepherd.
And it was
a George Strait song Love Without End, Amen that Matthew found
in his father's vast record collection that he quoted in his eulogy.
OF THE RHYME
got so many miles to go/ and promises to keep/ right now all I wanna do/
is be anywhere on earth you are."
It was in
the early eighties on frequent returns to Victoria from my daily toil
as music feature and news writer and country and rock columnist on the
now defunct Sydney Daily Mirror that I first flew into Lawrie's orbit.
It could have been early as the first Australian tours by Willie Nelson,
The Amazing Rhythm Aces and Leon Russell in 1980-1 or as late as the down
under debuts by Jerry Jeff Walker and Emmylou Harris.
But there was no mistaking the bearded Brighton boy, bearing well-worn
vinyl record covers, standing patiently in line for autographs from revered
Or even his regular presence, Richmond scarf covering a mandatory collared
shirt, in the decidedly austere environs of the MCC members' stand where
be-suited bullfrogs from the corporate corrals conducted business while
others like Lawrie focussed on warriors duelling for possession, marking
and kicking of footballs.
While peers discussed stocks, shares, society and politics the Brighton
visitor, often shouldering a backpack, shared his music relics and the
magazine stories and columns - country oases - in the media mainstream.
As the decade wore on I returned south and complimented paid journalistic
work with honorary, volunteer guest spots on then commercial country music
radio station 3UZ and hosting role on 3RRR-FM show High In The Saddle.
It was the latter that provoked a pro-active role by Lawrie who ascended
from listener to subscriber and news and music source.
But it was not Lawrie's first community radio foray - he and old mate
Mark Newstead joined forces on Mad Mark on RMIT radio in 1970-1.
Newstead hosted the 3ST show, broadcast to crevices of the campus on landline,
and Lawrie pre-recorded his expert comments, critiques and music.
The duo's debut dovetailed with Lawrie's short stint as a cadet salesman
at 3AK - the AM station that later challenged 3XY with its "no wrinklies"
Newstead takes full blame for Lawrie's leviathan music collection that
dated back to their 9 p m-dawn sessions transferring vinyl on to reel-to-reel
That passion inspired Lawrie's strident support and subscribing to David
Heard's acoustic and country shows on 3PBS-FM that dated back to the seventies.
David's tribute appears below.
LONG IN THE SADDLE AND NU COUNTRY
always been a gypsy/ and the road calls me to roam/ but each day brings
me closer/ to the place where we call home." - Anywhere On Earth
By the time the nineties rolled around country music - a commercial radio
staple in varying degrees in Australian since the fifties - had been marginalised.
Voracious supporters like Lawrie had to twirl the dial to the ABC for
specialist shows on Saturday and the Sabbath or tape daytime shows like
David Heard's on PBS-FM while at lectures.
So a diverse bunch of volunteers formed Nu Country FM in 1994 and set
up a studio in a caretaker's cottage at outer northern suburb Bundoora
in the sanguine shadows of a psychiatric hospital.
The aspirant temporary licence meant the station, which had to share frequencies
and time allocation with motley competitors, was also restricted in wattage.
By the time the station moved to its new premises in a forlorn flat above
a commercial garage at Northcote on Beer Can Hill the signal had improved
to the extent it could be heard in the Weir family Mercedes and at home.
Lawrie joined commercial radio and TV DJS diverse as Sandy Roberts, Craig
Willis, Mark Bishop and 3UZ trio Rod Stone, Doug Cummins and Troy Beard
on air as the station's profile, reach and membership soared.
Countless musicians, singers, comedians and actors rubbed shoulders with
students, teachers, truckies and other country presenters as the station's
hi-tech studio enabled live concerts and internet broadcasting, replete
with web cam.
It was a perfect font for Weir and fellow country archivist Barbara Dowling
who won wide acclaim and listeners for their alternate Sabbath hosting
of Long In The Saddle.
The four-hour plus shows that highlighted knowledge and passion of those
two hosts in an album format often preceded Music After Midnight
sessions by fellow teacher and heart transplantee Peter Cresp-Gerrard.
Lawrie's leviathan knowledge was matched by his laconic wit and an enthusiasm
that leaped from the speakers in the country music starved capital city
and far beyond.
The switchboard lit up whenever Lawrie primed the membership pump with
CD and concert ticket offers - he took calls in between balancing song
selections and trivia data on the decidedly cramped console.
It was not surprising that Weir, driving his Mercedes north across the
Yarra when not on bike, train and tram, also had a fanatical rapport with
Cresp-Gerrard who later died at 52 at 5 am on Monday July 9, 2001, on
the eve of the station's final broadcast.
On the occasions
when the smart archivist took public transport to the studio I would drive
him home as Cresp-Gerrard ruled the airwaves.
Peter, whose cocktail of heart medication and mood modifiers was designed
to give him quality of life and relief, mixed his theme shows with a hilarious
bent that had Lawrie clutching my car door with an unrestrained laughter.
Wow, Lawrie would shout, as The Haileybury and Monash educated son of
a thirties dux of Geelong College, embellished his messages to listeners
with a droll dexterity.
But the time we reached his home, with lectures often a mere six or seven
hours away, he was still repeating something the Captain Midnight DJ had
Lawrie's vigorous support of a massive membership drive, accelerated by
Lubbock Or Leave It host and membership officer Peter O'Keefe,
Especially when the station burned down at 9.49 p m on June 26, 2000 -
the first day of its 28th broadcast.
But, with the aid of benefit concerts headlined by singing Texan crime
novelist Kinky Friedman and the cream of the local country scene, the
station was resurrected in the National Bank building in Harley House
at the Paris, Texas end of Collins St in the summer of 2001.
The benefactor was expatriate Californian property developer and landlord
Bob Crain, whose selection of three dental surgeries and waiting rooms
as studios before belated renovations, was manna from honky tonk heaven.
Crain, like Weir, became a hands-on supporter as he hosted breakfast shows
under the name of Bayside Bob to distinguish him from fellow expatriate
Californian DJ, maths teacher and latter day TV host Mid Pacific Bob Olson.
This was a far more accessible locale from Sabbath games at the MCG for
the country loving suburban cyclist Lawrie with backpack full of CD and
live concert treasures.
It was also where he extended his friendship with veteran actor Peter
Hosking - host of the country movie show Reel Country - who was
to give him his TV debut.
Weir joined forces with many other academics, politicians, community leaders
and fans by writing letters of support to the ABA for Nu Country's licence
bid - it was one of 23 broadcasters seeking the meagre four licences on
RADIO TO TV
"In my dreams your arms will find me/ they will hold me through the
night/ right now all I wanna do/ is be anywhere on earth you are."
- Anywhere On Earth You Are
Nu Country, with collective membership of 5,500 over an eight-year journey,
lost to more politically correct applicants representing broadcasters
of the Gay, Koori, Christian and Youth persuasion.
This did little to deter enthusiasm of Lawrie, who had a cameo in the
acclaimed ABC TV documentary Against All Odds that dramatised the
When Hosking, who also volunteered his voiceover and video production
skills at the Victorian community TV station C 31, saw an opening for
a country music TV show he knew he had a hard core of volunteers waiting
in the wings.
Announcers Paul Hicks, Heather Rutherford, Red Smith, Moanna Kerr, Mid
Pacific Bob and Lawrie were ready made for the show that roared into life
in October, 2003.
Lawrie became the straight man on Guru segments filmed by Hosking and
associate producer Carol Taylor and hosted his own episode poolside in
East Burwood in the sixth series premiered by Lee Kernaghan's hosting
Hosking is preparing a collage of Lawrie's appearances for a special tribute
when we return to C 31 in June.
Behind the scenes the amiable archivist was equally enthusiastic - he
provided aural support for peers' reviews in the street press and web
The tape of a concert by popular singing Oklahoma born actress and TV
show host Reba McEntire that he attended with wife Ellen, fuelled a Beat
Lawrie frequently joined Ellen up as a station member in our long battle
for a licence and wrote letters of support.
And, when one of his heroes Danny O'Keefe performed at loyal Nu Country
sponsor Basement Discs store and the Corner Hotel it was Lawrie's review
that appeared on our TV page hosted by Anne Sydenham.
CLICK HERE for a reprise of
Lawrie's review on November 22, 2005.
ROAD GOES ON FOREVER
belated eighth series of Nu Country TV scheduled for June, 2007, there
was again movement at the station for Lawrie to add his wit and wisdom.
For almost two decades he sourced international country music magazines,
newspaper reviews and CD rarities for his Nu Country peers.
But sadly, like Peter Cresp-Gerrard, he passed away on the eve of the
It was after a nocturnal lecture at the Moorabbin campus of Homesglen
TAFE and eight days later we bid adios to a true gentleman and music lover
who never had a chance to reciprocate.
I fondly recalled accepted Lawrie's invitation to join him twice for lectures
on radio in the nineties to his son Matthew's class on the junior campus
of Brighton Grammar.
So it was fitting a decade later Lawrie modestly shared joyous tidings
that Matthew, a Geelong supporter, was dux of Brighton Grammar with a
99 plus TER score.
A meeting with Lawrie at the Geelong-Melbourne game at the MCG on Sunday
April 15 never eventuated when he set his compass due south of The Blazer
This was distressing when Lawrie later emailed me about the missed meeting
- he had seconded my partner Carol's son Jordan for MCC membership and
saved seats for us on occasions.
Lawrie also nominated many of Matthew's schoolmates for membership and
ensured they had the best seats in the oft-crowded house.
Sadly, on this occasion I was in absentia, speaking to friends of David
Here is a written tribute by David who also provided his radio requiem
on his Acid Country show on PBS just hours after attending the funeral.
FROM DAVID HEARD
I was shocked
and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of my good friend, Lawrie
I had known Lawrie for over 20 years - since he first phoned to enquire
about a song I had played on the radio.
He was a music enthusiast (to put it mildly), an avid collector (a "completist"
he would say) and a strong supporter of community radio.
He had an on-air role at Nu Country FM and later at Nu Country TV.
Much of the music I've played on the radio over the years was provided
by Lawrie. He had a certain knack for acquiring things.
I will miss Lawrie greatly. Not for his record collection, but for his
warm friendship, his sense of humour and that hearty laugh.
My deepest sympathy to Ellen, Matthew and Avril
Heard has hosted roots music shows on 3PBS-FM for more than 30 years -
his Acid Country show is aired on Thursday from 3-5 p m on 106.7.
David also presented Cold Coffee Morning on Nu Country FM at Beer Can
FROM ROD BROWNE
I first met
Lawrie Weir on top of Old Beer Can Hill in Northcote where I traded in
my hammer and nails in my alter ego as a carpenter in the musty studio
that also doubled as my home away from home.
I made the trip in my pick-up from the ancient seaport of Williamstown
while Lawrie cycled or drove in from across the bay in Brighton.
On this first meeting I had filled in on air for David Heard who made
an even longer exodus from the Wimmera - but not in the Horsham fire truck
that may have been a bonus a few years later.
Lawrie, frocked up in his trademark Richmond scarf, fossicked through
his amazing music library as he prepared to ride shotgun on his Long
In The Saddle album show.
Our paths were to pass many times in the same scenario in diverse locales
- from Beer Can Hill to the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St.
His love and knowledge of country music was immense and I have fond memories
of the many shows he hosted.
I was always amazed at how he managed to balance his footy backpack -
laden down with soup containers and cooking utensils - and another bag
equally full to brim with CDS, books and magazines.
Lawrie was also a regular patron of concerts and shows by renowned international
and Australian country artists.
At first I was bemused by Lawrie's sartorial splendour - an extra coat
or scarf was an accessory - more for cushioning and concealment of his
trusty tape recorder - than the inclement weather inside venues.
One of my favourite memories of Lawrie was his pride in his profession
as a lecturer - not just for many academic successes but his nurturing
of St Kilda champion Robert Harvey.
Lawrie confided that Robert, now the oldest AFL player, was one of his
youngest and keenest students.
And, like on the footy field, he led by example - sitting in the front
row at lectures.
Lawrie was chuffed at this and couldn't pluck up the courage to discuss
football with him for several months.
But when Lawrie's son Matthew, then a junior school student, celebrated
a birthday Lawrie politely requested autographed memorabilia and was rewarded
by the dual Brownlow Medallist.
After our fire sale at Beer Can Hill necessitated a move to Harley House
at the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St, our paths didn't cross as often.
But, after hosting the Sunday Morning Coming Down shift, I was
always uplifted when Lawrie climbed long into the saddle for the evening
show with David Dawson.
It was a staple of my Sabbath diet for Lawrie's knowledge, wit and supreme
taste in honky tonk heroes and heroines.
And, of course, the perfect sibling for Barbara Dowling - a St Kilda supporter
and alternate Sunday host.
Dawson was indeed lucky to have found two such smart archivists - Lawrie
and the station may have passed but their spirit burns bright and deep
in my memory bank.
My condolences go out to Ellen, Matthew and Avril.
was host of Neon Moon and Supper Six Pack and has now been Vice President
of Nu Country Music for almost a decade.
Rod now presents Action Country on Stereo 97.4 FM daily from 3-6 p m and
Working Without A Net on WYN-FM - 88.9 - on Thursday from 6-8 p m.
FROM BARBARA DOWLING
For me, it was a privilege to have known, and been a colleague of, Lawrie
Lawrie and I alternated each Sunday night on Long in the Saddle.
Lawrie approached everything in life with dedication and determination,
was relentless in the pursuit of his chosen musical genre and his research
into the subject was impeccable.
Thank you Lawrie for your support, encouragement and in depth discussions
about our music.
My thoughts go out to Ellen, Matthew and Avril.
Country archivist Barbara Dowling and her late mother Mary were pro-active
supporters of country music through specialist retailing and the Country
Barbara has written liner notes for albums and co-hosted Long In The Saddle
from Nu Country's birth at Bundoora in 1994.
FROM BARBARA O'NEILL
very funny, intelligent and generous man.
Lawrie shared a love of music with us all.
That is why he became involved with the radio station from the early
days and was always at the gigs.
I would look for the red baseball cap and know that all was right
with the world because Lawrie was there and we were all going to have
a great night of music that we could all discuss endlessly afterwards.
disappointment of not gaining a radio licence it was great to see that
Lawrie was still involved and I looked forward to seeing him every now
and then on Nu Country TV.
During what was a very trying time for me in my last two years of living
in Melbourne I ran into Lawrie at Monash where we both worked and we talked
about missing the radio station, the friends we had made there and of
After this every few weeks I would get a parcel in the internal mail that
contained some music that Lawrie knew I would love this would brighten
up my day, and I could escape into the music.
It was a pleasure to have known you Lawrie - we will miss you.
O'Neill is a former President of 3WAY-FM in Warrnambool and long time
music host and treasurer of Nu Country FM and High In The Saddle guest
FROM COLIN FIELDING
As I'm putting
pen to paper, I'm still in disbelief saddened by the sudden death of my
good mate, Lawrie Weir.
No more 2 hour weekly conversations on our favorite topic, Music !!
I first meet Lawrie in the foyer of the studios of 3PBS- FM while waiting
to catch up with what turned out to be a mutual friend, unbeknown to us
at the time in David Heard.
Lawrie and myself formed an immediate friendship and talked at length
about of course music, a passion for us both and something we had continued
to do right up to the week before his sudden passing.
Lawrie would tune in each week to my program and would ring to let me
know what artist, songs etc he enjoyed and would go on to tell me others
that he had that he was sure I would enjoy. Lawrie liked nothing better
than to share the music.
A couple of fond memories of my good mate were one - back in 2003 when
we went along to the Music and Blues Festival in Melbourne.
We were standing in a crowd of around 8,000 people and just as Bonnie
Raitt was about to go on stage, Lawrie pulled out this portable tape player,
the likes of which I hadn't seen for years, plugs in a microphone and
pleads with all around to be quiet as he wants to record the show.
The end result was a terrible recording that didn't matter to Lawrie as
he still had something to remind him of one of his all time faves - live.
With the offer of putting it onto a disc for himself, bought the response
"Hang On, You Mean, You're Telling Me, You Can, Oh It's All Beyond
Me", all in the one sentence.
They are words that will stay with me forever.
Another time is when Lawrie rang to get my thoughts on the Gillian Welch/David
Rawlings show and when I enquired, due to the fact I didn't see him there,
why he didn't go he replied "Oh I was there you just wouldn't have
seen me because I brought a stool and was in front of the stage"
The fact that everyone around him would have been standing would not have
I will miss Lawrie greatly. I will miss his great friendship, humour,
laugh, the long phone calls and the sharing of music.
My deepest sympathy to Ellen, Matthew and Avril
I know if there is a radio in heaven, then Lawrie will be tuning in.
See ya down the road buddy.
FIELDING is - host of Folk And Roots - Sunday 5-6 p m on Inner-FM - 96.5
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