“Country bands sure like fine in their silk and golden suits/ flash guitars and cowboy hats and diamond studded boots/ but that kinda side don't cut with us you see/ we're just human beings/ hate a smoke and a toke and a joke and a ten ounce pot of beer/ playing country music up and down the line/ was a time I thought we'd make it but that's passed us by/ and we play that country music, till the day we die.” - Up And Down The Line - Marty Atchison - Dead Livers .

Veteran Melbourne singer-songwriter and guitarist Warren Keats has died after a colourful career that began with the Keats family band in the sixties and seventies.

Keats, known as Waza, was the third son of the late Les and Joy Keats who performed from the 1930's and younger brother of fellow guitarists Garry and Kerran.

Warren, born in Ivanhoe in 1961, was raised in Heidelberg and played with many major artists.

They included Bobby and Laurie, Dead Livers, Rip Rawers , Ray Kernaghan Cavalcade Of Stars, Moose Malone, Rattlesnake, Rerun, Sleazybeats, Longshot , Geoff Wells Band, Spot The Aussie , Bernie O'Brien, Nite Trane , Laurie Allen Revue, LBW, Palace Gypsies and The Moonlighters.

Warren was in the Rip Rawers with fellow Dead Livers graduate - bassist Les Gough - who died at 75 on September 29 in 2021 at Ballarat at his family home.

He also produced and recorded with Laurie Allen who died at after a heart attack on June 13, 2002.

Dead Livers singer Marty Atchison wrote this tribute after reading a message by Warren 's daughters Josie and Michelle and his wife Cheryl on Facebook.

“It's always sad when someone you knew dies.” Atchison , a former schoolteacher said.

“It sounds as though he was loved by his kids and I thought their description of their dad was apt. He was a keen and talented guitarist and so easy to get along with. I wish I could have recorded something with the then young Waza - RIP.”

Warren recorded and toured with Australians Michelle Green, Ian Castles and Saltbush co-founder Bernie O'Brien.

Keats also strutted his stuff and toured with international acts diverse as Billy Wyatt & Wyatt Works, Justin Trevino, Amber Digby, Mike Bella and Dave Jorgenson.

Here's the beginning of his journey in his own words from his web page.


“My name is Warren Keats I was born in Ivanhoe in 1961 the younger son of Les & Joy Keats We lived in West Heidelberg not far from the Olympic village.

I was part of a musical family, older brothers Garry & Kerran both played guitar, Mum and Dad had a country band and both brothers played in it.

I guess my first musical memories are a strange mixture of sixties rock and roll radio - Buck Owens, Hank Snow, Jean Shepherd, The Twilights, The Easybeats, Jimmy Rodgers, Bobby & Laurie and a few instrumental records my brother left lying around like Amapola By The Spotnicks and other strange and marvelous things.

The song that made me want to be a guitar player was Apache by The Shadows.

The sound of that guitar made me think I could do worse things than make a noise like that.

While the run of the mill life in West Heidelberg usually involved stealing a car or getting a tattoo this was probably a very sensible decision

I am now 51 years of age and I am still one of the few kids from Marie Ave that has not got a tattoo or an earring.

By the time I was about eleven I got Garry's job which he inherited from Kerran as the lead guitarist in the Keats family band

And so began a journey that we would share my mum and dad and me for the next thirty years.

That was 1971.”

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