Kuckles – 28 March 2011


Mark Bin Bakar
Mark Bin Bakar


by Mark Bin Bakar
One of the pioneering groups of the Kimberley has had a major influence on Australia by the continuing legacy of a basic idea that was born in Broome in 1981.

This group was called “The Kuckles”. It was one of the first groups that decided to engage in original song writing. Members of the band wanted to achieve a greater success in music via their individual skills as musicians and songwriters.

Featuring Jimmy Chi – Vocals; Stephen Pigram – Guitar/vocals; Mick Manolis – Guitar/vocals; Patrick  Bin Amat – Bass/vocals  and Gary Gower – drums. This unique combination of talent, ambition and vision stimulated the group to travel to Adelaide and study music at Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM College). They decided to have a crack at gaining further exposure, skills and confidence in the small growing band of original Indigenous song writing groups. They shared the limelight with No Fixed Address, Coloured Stone and Us Mob who were all CASM student groups.

But Kuckles had a very different outlook, style of music and sense of humour. Their music moved from acoustic calypso toward an electric reggae/rock style. Through their sense of Humour came the long awaited  hit song “Bran Nue Dae” which was penned by Jimmy Chi. They wanted to say something about the terrible state of affairs within Indigenous affairs, but they also wanted to celebrate being a working band away from home and creating a landmark place in Australian music industry.

They sure did. Quote  by Jimmy Chi  “I hope that Bran Nue Dae will bring about change. And that’s really what I think my purpose in life is to bring about change through the means of theatre and song and dance. Whether I achieve that or not will come along in time, but I feel I am”.

They recorded an audition tape, Milliya Rumarra, which won them a trip to Germany to the Third Annual International Cologne Song Festival in 1982. They returned to Broome in 1982 and disbanded. Kuckles songs later appeared in Chi’s musicals Bran Nue Dae and Corrugation Road with Kuckles appearing as part of the music. Since then, Bran Nue Dae the first Indigenous Musical ever, Corrugation Road and now the Bran Nue Dae movie, Kuckles have left a very significant legacy on the Australian music, theatre and film Industry that has entertained , amused and grossed a significant success for itself and the many people behind it.

After Bran Nue Dae the musical an album featuring the original cast of Bran Nue Dae was recorded in 1993, this was released as Jimmy Chi and Kuckles. Since then another album was recorded as the soundtrack to Bran Nue Dae.

Every now and again  we are so privileged to see Kuckles reform. You will get to see them if you are lucky. As Mick Manolis once said “If you missed them once you need to wait for the next 10 years as they will reform then”

We are so much the richer for having the legacy of Jimmy Chi and Kuckles available to us all and yes it has made the Kimberley shine in the world of music, theatre, entertainment and film. I salute Jimmy Chi and Kuckles.

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