“It’s what I know.” Wayne Green’s 50-year fight for rock and roll

Home >Lifestyle >“It’s what I know.” Wayne Green’s 50-year fight for rock and roll

50 years. Five zero. That’s how long Wayne Green has been rocking pubs and bars across Perth.

He’s one of the best to ever do it too – that is the opinion of nearly everyone who witnessed him live on stage during his long and storied career.

Now 70, Wayne is still making music, in fact, earlier this year he recorded his first ever solo album in his 50-year rock and roll career, due for release soon. His story is one of excitement and sadness, and plenty of raw emotion and in fairness to Wayne, he discusses his life openly and honestly now.

“I’ve lived a mighty exciting life, and mostly on my terms, for that I am proud,” Wayne tells us on the phone last week. “I’m at an age now where I can be open and honest, and speak freely, and that’s also good I suppose.”

Get it on film

Perth-filmmaker Luke Griffiths from Halo Films thought this story, of a rocker who refuses to give up his passion, was one worth telling. So, he followed Wayne around Perth to track his current musical projects, and of course run through his storied life for a documentary.

“I had never done anything like this ever before, it was great, a little bizarre at first, but a lot of fun. I think I said ‘Why do they want to tell my story, I’m a nobody’ at first,” says Wayne “But Luke and I have become very close mates, we (Wayne’s and his friends and family) threw a lot of stuff at the wall, and he took it and turned it into this.”

The documentary is called Green: The Fight for Rock and Roll and will be screened for the first time at Revelation Perth International Film Festival. The doco screens on Saturday 6 July at Luna Leederville and Saturday 13 July at Luna on SX. At the screening at Luna Leederville there will also be a Q&A with the people behind the screening – grab tickets here.

Wayne Green Fight For Rock And Roll

Why Wayne?

The obvious question to ask is why make a documentary film on Wayne Green? It’s simple really – his friend Garry Shuttleworth summed it up by saying: “He’s almost wholly original, you will not find anybody with his personality, his voice, or anything.”

And after watching the documentary and speaking to Wayne, it is clear that the above statement is true. He epitomises rock and roll, he’s truly special – and he’s from Perth, a city with a unique and storied local music scene.

He first started singing in 1972, he and his mates would get together in family garages around the area and rock out. Six months later he had his first gig on stage. From there he bounced around with different bands but in 1979 his first chance at stardom came to the fore with…

The Phantoms

Wayne Green and the Phantoms formed and very quickly became the best live band in Perth. They were regulars at the Scarborough Beach Hotel, the Criterion, Hernandos and many more. Anyone got any fun memories of those venues?

The Phantoms were wild, bold, and rock and rollers. Literally epitomised the genre – loud music, beers, drugs, partying, and above all else a don’t give a f*ck attitude: “We had so much fun, that was the beauty of rock and roll back then,” Wayne recalls. “We were good too, we did, you know, upwards of 300 gigs a year one year, three a night sometimes, Friday night right through to the Sunday morning 11am slot at Scarborough Hotel.

“We didn’t have many rules, really only one, don’t be a dickhead, oh and have fun!”

Now in 2024, looking back, the band members all agree that if they had taken themselves to the East coast, then they would have made it big. However, they disbanded, and Wayne was back to square one.

The Boys

A few years passed and in 1982, the already popular Perth band The Boys asked him to join. Initially he said no, but when he heard they were going on an Australian tour with London band The Kinks, he was sold on the idea.

Off he went, with The Boys, across Australia to tour with The Kinks. And boy did they make an impact. Playing at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, they brought the house down, and for Wayne, it was a career highlight.

“Playing with The Boys was a new experience for me, but again we were real rockers, it was carefree,” he reflects. “I would say my favourite gig of all time was at the Capitol Theatre, playing with them. I was nervous, but I looked up and thought this is incredible, that moment will stay with me.”

The Boys then recorded an album, their first with Wayne as the frontman, which performed well on the charts. It looked like this would be the chance for Wayne to hit bigger heights in the industry.

Unfortunately, relationships fell apart, and he found himself back in Perth, deflated.

Kid Green

After a period of melancholy, Wayne got back on the music saddle. This time it was a new direction – into country music. In the ’90s, he launched a solo project under the name Kid Green, after being taught three chords on an acoustic guitar.

“Kid Green was basically like a snake shedding its skin, it was brand new, and he was a persona really,” Wayne says.

That persona gained enough notoriety to inspire a movie which in turn saw Wayne flown to Nashville to meet with record labels, however that all stalled almost as soon as it took off.

Here and now

Fast forward to 2024 and Wayne Green still performs, as often as he possibly can, which is of course, not enough: “I love what I do, to this day I wouldn’t ever want to stop it and yes I still perform, but not as much as I want to, I want more,” he says, somewhat despondently.

The lifestyle he loves and has lived has come with consequences though, he has strained relationships with his children, and his body is beginning to tire.

“I’m wearing out now, I have aches and pains that old people get, but I am still fine, physically… In my career I kept succumbing to temptation and wasn’t there enough with my family, I don’t want to die with anything unresolved now.”

Alongside some of his longest friends in music, Wayne has been – and remains – producing new music.

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It would seem this little thing called rock and roll has had a hold over Wayne for his whole life, and his passion for it remains as strong as it was when he first gripped the microphone. Long may it continue.

He finishes up our chat with an unsurprising declaration: “Every big opportunity in my life has come by accident, I’ve never chased, I have always done things on my own terms… That has made it an exciting life to lead, and music has and always will be a part of it.

“I’ll keep singing until the very end I’d say, it’s what I know.”

Revelation Film Festival runs from July 3-14, head to revelationfilmfest.org for the full program.

Image Credit: Supplied