Shane Howard performing at WOMADelaide 2012
|Birth name||Shane Michael Howard|
|Born||26 January 1955|
|Origin||Dennington, Victoria, Australia|
|Genres||Folk rock, Folk-pop, Roots music, Indie music|
|Occupations||Singer, Songwriter, Composer|
Black Arm Band
Shane Michael Howard (born 26 January 1955) is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, he was the mainstay of folk rock group Goanna which had hits with "Solid Rock" and "Let the Franklin Flow". After their disbandment in January 1987 he pursued a solo career.
Shane Michael Howard was born on 26 January 1955 and raised in the Victorian coastal town of Dennington near Warrnambool. Howard was one of seven children of an Irish-Catholic raised in a cramped factory cottage. The Howard family was a large music-loving family, central to it all was his mother, Teresa Howard, who played the piano and sang.
I don't know a world without music. I don't know what life's like without music. It just was always there. I was a middle child, so there were older brothers and sisters and you just slotted into that. I guess, you know, singing at mass and singing at church were the first sorts of contact with that, and Mum would play the organ.—Shane Howard
According to Shane' sister, Marcia, the family were colloquially known as 'The Von Trapp Family of the Western District', because they played and sang at everyone's weddings, parties, kitchen teas, celebrations. Howard attended the local Christian Brothers College in nearby Warrnambool, South-Western Victoria.
"Elder brothers and sisters brought The Beatles, Dylan and Van Morrison and countless other influences into my already crowded imagination". His eldest brother brought a guitar into the house and homework suffered ever since.
Once he completed high school he moved to Melbourne, where he studied at Monash University for a year, before hitch hiking around Australia, busking and playing any folk club that would let him play his own songs. During this time Howard picked grapes, picked ginger, worked as a screen printer, worked on the railways, washed dishes and taught in Geelong. He studied Education at Deakin University, Geelong where he became that University's First Student Council President.
By 1976, Shane had enrolled in Geelong Teachers College, and was recruiting people for a new folk-rock band. Originally known as the 'Ectoplasmic Manifestation', the group later shortened the name to 'The Goanna Band', their songlists filled with Bob Dylan and Little Feat covers. The band performed up and down the Great Ocean Road, playing pubs and hotels and any place with a stage and an audience. In May 1981, on a doctor's advice, Shane took a month's hiatus from The Goanna Band and traveled to Ayers Rock (Uluru).
I had come from this beautiful inspiring aboriginal tradition, and the contrast between that and this harsh reality of conflict with western world 300 kilometres away, it marked me for all time. I saw an incredible injustice that needed to be dealt with. And also, I realised that this country that I grew up in, that I thought was my country, it wasn't. I had to reassess my whole relationship with the land and the landscape, and understand that we had come from somewhere else, and we had disempowered a whole race of people when we arrived.—Shane Howard
On the way back to Melbourne and a reunion with the group (who shortened their name to simply 'Goanna'), Howard began working on a song called "Stand Y'r Ground." But a new set of lyrics were pouring out of his pen - lyrics that didn't match the folk-rock music that had been Goanna's stock in trade. He put "Stand Y'r Ground" aside, and began developing a different, rougher melody for the new lyrics. By the time Howard arrived back in Melbourne, he had a new song for the group to record, based upon his experiences at Uluru, "Solid Rock." The Goanna Band later became the opening act on James Taylor's Australian tour, which eventually led to a record deal with WEA(Warner Bros.' Australian affiliate) in February, 1982.
In October 1982 Shane's massive anthem, "Solid Rock" from the forthcoming album Spirit of Place, recorded with his band, Goanna, was the first mainstream pop song to broach the subject of Aboriginal rights in Australia.
In 2003 Shane remastered the "Spirit of Place" album adding 7 more tracks of previously unreleased recordings including live versions of "Let the Franklin Flow", "Underfoot, Underground" and "Solid Rock".
In 1987, Shane returned to the pop world, this time as a solo artist. His first solo album, Back to the Track, a self-produced record with his own Big Heart Band, was a classic collection of Australian music, both white and aboriginal. BMG Records signed Shane as a solo recording artist and released his next album, The River, in 1990.
In 1993, Shane made his first tour of Ireland supporting Irish star Mary Black whose recording of Shane's song, "Flesh & Blood" was a Top 5 hit there. Shane returned the favour when he and Mary Black performed together with Liam O'Maonlai at the 1994 Port Fairy Folk Festival introducing her to Australian audiences. Songs from this show are included in the album "Live in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand"
Shane Howard has spent many years working, writing, performing, touring with, and producing Aboriginal musicians throughout Australia and in 2000 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Music Fund of the Australia Council in acknowledgement of his contribution to Australian musical life.
In 2010 Howard released a new album Goanna Dreaming and toured nationally his band, featuring his daughter Myra Howard, Ruben Shannon (bass), Rory McDougall (Black Arm Band) (drums), John Hudson (guitar), and Amy Saunders, formerly of Tiddas.
- Back to the Track (1988)
- The River - Uluru Music/BMG (VPCD 0827) (1990)
- Time Will Tell - BMG (74321162432) (1993)
- Live in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand - Goanna Music (BH94001) (1994)
- Clan - Big Heart/EMI (13 November 1996)
- Beyond Hope's Bridge (CDBH0101) (5 August 2002)
- Retrospective: Collected Songs 1982-2003 - Big Heart (GR040405) (2004)
- Another Country - Goanna Arts (GA040406) (16 August 2004)
- Songs of Love and Resistance - Goanna Arts (GA010606) (4 November 2006)
- Driftwood - Rare and Unreleased - Goanna Arts (GA09010) (5 February 2010)
- Goanna Dreaming - Goanna Arts (GA100101) (9 July 2010)
- ...Other Side of the Rock - MGM Distribution (GA120101) (2012)
- "Back to the Track"/"Mother Earth" (1988)
- "Just a Feeling"
- "Walk on Fire"/"Love is a River" (1990)
- "If the Well Runs Dry" (1990)
- "Here and Now"/"Without You" (1990)
- "Escape from Reality" (1991)
- "I Shall Be Released" (1993)
- "Flesh & Blood" (1993)