Wednesday, March 30, 2005

ignatius' ghost

There were moments on stage when Ignatius Jones ceased to be human; when his bloodied face, bondage mask, obscene leotard, dripping sweat and Neanderthal gyrations culminated in a grotesque indefinable creature, both frightening and fascinating. Like footage of Nazi Concentration Camps, Ignatius commanded attention, no matter how horrifying the spectacle. Teetering between drama and depravity, lunacy and lucidity and rock and repugnance, Australia's Jimmy and The Boys could scarcely be described as just a rock group. Sadomasochism, transvestitism, self-mutilation, drug abuse, inebriation, simulated sex and mock rape all took starring roles in their blisteringly paced tribute to cultural degeneracy. The double-jointed, bisexual, Ignatius Jones was an extraordinary creature.

Nick Conroy, former flatmate for Michael Hutchence recalls a typical Ignatius spectacle from the first INXS gig he saw:

One Saturday night in 1980 I went, as usual, to the old Seaview Ballroom in St. Kilda. Everyone would meet there in those days to find out who was who, what was what and where it was. Jimmy and the Boys were playing that night. Ignatius Jones was quite an entertaining spectacle in those days, able to sing and seemingly lick his balls at the same time. People were muttering about going upstairs to see this unknown band from Perth (INXS), and I was thinking "Gee, they're gonna really have to be something to surpass a small man in tights simulating cunnilingus on a blow-up teenage doll with its loving mouth held by a six-foot transvestite with a giant red beehive hairdo."

The band somehow managed to achieve a top 5 single and a gold album despite their stage antics. However soon after this, Jimmy and the Boys would break up and Ignatius would go solo. In 1982, Jones would release the single Like a Ghost- a song written by Steve Kilbey. You might recognize that name from a much more famous Australian export, the Church. While the Church had already had a handful of releases, Kilbey was writing songs for others and later, the B-side It's No Reason would appear on the '83 Church album, Seance. A few years down the road, Kilbey would again mine his own back catalog and record his own version of his song Like a Ghost for his '89 solo album, The Slow Crack.

After his brief solo life Ignatius started directing theatre and beyond Down Under and had great success all over the map. He can be heard crooning on the   highly acclaimed soundtrack to the film Strictly Ballroom. He personally directed the three largest live events in Australian history, which included the closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics. He is also one of the few directors ever to direct the "opening night of a country", when he staged the Independence Ceremonies of East Timor in May 2002. This ceremony, to mark the birth of the world's newest nation, was attended by 200,000 people. Not bad for a guy who was known for licking his own balls on stage eh?

Ignatius Jones - Like a Ghost (An M&M Mix)
Ignatius Jones - Like a Ghost (original mix)
Ignatius Jones - It's No Reason


At 9:57 PM, Blogger g caduff said...

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Phil said...

i saw J&TBs a few times in sydney and pretty much hated them. once was at some wine bar (maybe it was a party) under the pylons of the expressway near the border of darlinghurst and wolloomooloo of which i only remember their jazz rock / zappa stylings. and then i saw them at the paris theatre (?) on oxford street with about 10 other people and they did a version of robert wyatt's 'soup song' of all things. yelled at him to play some more wyatt and then walked out when they didn't.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger heath said...

phil- wow. thats amazing. not so much that you saw this obscure band that I am talking about, but that blogging has enabled the contact to happen in less than 24hrs without even really trying. the bad sound files I have heard of them arent very impressive but I am still intruiged to hear more. thanks for posting!

At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first band I ever saw. It was at the Death to Disco concert at the castle hill showground in NorthWestern Sydney in (maybe) '79. he was wearing pink tights, black tape crosses on his nipples, and at some point there was a plunger stuck to his belly and was doing strange contortions. A drag queen was playing keyboards (i think) They did a standing 69 at one point. Mi Sex, Slit Enz, and Midnight Oil were also played.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That red headed drag queen was Joylene Hairmouth (William O'Riordon) who played keyboards.
They were also renowned for dismembering chickens onstage and other antics. Not bad for a couple of lads from one of Sydney's poshest schools

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Claustral said...

I've added some photos of Jimmy and the Boys to my Flickr page. There's two of Iggy and one of Joylene, and they confirm the description by Anonymous above. I was also at Castle Hill back in 1979 (It was September 30 according to the Midnight Oil gig list).


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