Remembering Daddy Cool

 Karen Hewitt

The Righteous Brothers said it best, 'If there’s a rock'n'roll heaven, well you know they got a hell of a band'. Daddy Cool mourned the loss of two members in 2016 with the passing of guitarist Ross Hannaford on 8 March and bass player Wayne Duncan on 4 December. Clocking up over 100 years of recording and performing between them, Australia has lost two of its musical pioneers. We look back at their legacy.

Daddy Cool is most remembered for their anthemic song, 'Eagle Rock', which broke all sales records when it was released in 1971, selling 100,000 copies. Incidentally this was not beaten until 'Living in the 70’s' (by Skyhooks) which was produced by Ross Wilson and sold 226,000 copies in 1973.


Eagle Rock, 1971. This clip was reconstructed in 2013 with inserted colourised sequences which were found in an experimental version that screened on Happening 71 (0-10 Network) in 1971. NFSA title: 1105254

Eagle Rock, 1971. This clip was reconstructed in 2013 with inserted colourised sequences which were found in an experimental version that screened on Happening 71 (0-10 Network) in 1971. NFSA title: 1105254


Daddy Cool delivered many firsts for Australian music. They were Australia’s first band to tour America extensively, trailblazing across America supporting artists of the highest calibre such as Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Linda Ronstadt and Earth Wind and Fire. Daddy Cool also simulcast the first live performance, recorded at Armstrongs Studios in Melbourne and broadcasting across Australia and New Zealand.



Ross Hannaford (1950–2016)


Wanting to play guitar from the age of four Ross Hannaford had to wait until he could hold the instrument and received his first guitar at age eight; his parents sent him for lessons where he was taught to read charts of pop songs. Ross gave up musical tuition when theory classes were introduced and was self-taught from then on. Writing his own material in the last 10 years of his life Hannaford spoke of his regret for not continuing with formal training. While not musical themselves Hannaford credits his parents with always encouraging his creativity.



In his teenage years Ross saw his music as a wonderful distraction; with an equal love of drawing he intended to be an art school teacher. Daddy Cool came along in his last year of teacher's training and a new course was set. Ross did however design some of Daddy Cool’s artwork.  

Known as a free spirit and guitar legend Ross Hannaford sits at the top of the list of Australia’s most talented guitarists. Hannaford had an almost Zen quality in his guitar playing that reflected his humble personality. For 30 years Ross was one of the country’s most sought after session musicians, lending his unique style to artists such as Renee Geyer, Mark Gillespie and Goanna.

Interviewed by Debbie Kruger, Hannaford said of playing in a band, 'I never really listen or pay attention to the vocal, I just feel the music'. He also says he was lucky that everything he played Ross Wilson liked!

In June 2016 Ross Hannaford, the man described as Australia’s Salvador Dali of guitar, released his last album - Hanna - which included this instrumental track, 'Till We Meet Again'.


Wayne Duncan (19442016)


Wayne Duncan (bass, vocals) and longtime friend Gary Young (drums, vocals) were the rhythm section for many bands in the 1950s. In the 1960s Wayne was part of the Rondells, the backing band for the popular singing duo Bobby & Laurie who had a number 1 single with 'Hitch Hiker' in 1966. Australia’s first band to start wearing long hair like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it was not uncommon for Bobbie or Laurie to be pulled off stage by hysterical teenage girls.



After the split, Laurie put together a Motown-style soul revue called Dice. The line-up included Wayne Duncan, Gary Young and guitarist Phil Manning; backing singers were sisters Glenys and Colleen Hewett. 

At the start of 1970 Wayne joined Ross Wilson’s band Sons of Vegetal Mothers, a band inspired by Wilson’s vegetarian lifestyle and as homage to his musical hero Frank Zappa. The side project of this band became Daddy Cool and was signed by Australian music prodigy and record producer Robbie Porter who at the time was riding high on the success of the Rick Springfield song, 'Speak to the Sky', which he produced.

Wayne Duncan has a long string of credits since Daddy Cool, which includes work with Gulliver's Travels, Jane Clifton, Phil Manning, The Black Sorrows and the Ross Hannaford Trio.  A few bands after Daddy Cool saw Duncan form the rhythm and blues outfit The Hornets, with Craig Horne. The Hornets entertained Australian audiences for  20 years, performing 1500 shows and releasing six albums.

Recording right up to his death, his final album release was Dangerous Dancing which included this song, 'I Met a Girl'.