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Often cited as Sydney’s “University of the Blues,” the Foreday Riders will celebrate 42 years as a band in 2009, and despite countless line-up changes, 2 original members from 1967 remain: Ron and Jeff King, playing harmonica and guitar respectively. Other durable current members are the rhythm section of drummer Rosscoe Clark and bassist “Sleepy” Stan Mobbs, while the band is fronted on guitar and vocals by Riders veteran Tony "Pedro" Pedroza. The Riders also present a ‘reunion’ version of the band for bigger shows, adding singer Jill Tweedie (nee Drury) and drummer Rick Lock from the 1967 line-up, guitarist/singer Phil B. Colson, and ace keyboard player Carolyn ‘Pinecone’ Packer.
The Riders emerged in the wake of the British “blues boom” of the early 60’s, initially inspired by outfits such as the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds and Manfred Mann. These bands were always ready to acknowledge their musical sources and so introduced the Riders to what became their primary influence - the “golden age” of Chicago Blues in the 1950’s: the bands of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Rogers etc.
What began in the mid-60’s as a loose association of school friends dabbling in electric blues developed over a year or so into a 7-piece band featuring young singer Jill Drury and Swiss piano man Rolli Utzinger. Material ranged from the country blues of Memphis Minnie & Lightning Hopkins through to urban R & B by Willie Dixon and Ray Charles, incorporating jazz-flavored instrumentals and jump tunes. Since then, after a brief stint as a quartet in the early 70’s, the band has settled for a 5-piece line up such as the current one, often augmented at Riders gigs by guests dropping in on guitar, sax, harp, keyboards - whatever you can use for the blues.
Only venturing sporadically into the recording studios, the Riders have released 8 titles, the most recent being “Shake A Leg” (2005) on Full House Records, featuring Ray Beadle, Wayne Jury and jazz legend Col Nolan, and “Blues Reform School (2009) taken from a live recording of the Riders’ 30th anniversary show at the Basement in 1997.
Highlights in the band’s history include: support acts with B.B.King; Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee; Freddie King and Hound Dog Taylor, Gatemouth Brown, the “Delta Blues Legends” show, Chris Cain and others. The Riders have backed Bo Diddley in Sydney, and were joined on stage by Junior Wells during his 1972 tour. In 1975 the Riders were part of the “History of the Blues” concert tour which included Dutch Tilders, Judy Bailey and Margaret Roadknight. Other names associated with the band are Jeannie Lewis and Broderick Smith, and former Riders have moved into major local blues acts such as the Bondi Cigars and The Hippos. Apart from appearing at Sunbury in 1975, the Riders played at the now legendary Alice Springs Blues Festival in 1986, along with Chain, Renee Geyer, Kevin Borich, Ian Moss and others. More recent festival appearances include the East Coast Blues Festival at Byron Bay, the Lithgow, Goulburn and Thredbo Blues Festivals, and the Wangaratta, Manly and Hawksbury Jazz Festivals.
In 1996 the Riders were awarded the inaugural Hall of Fame Award at the Lithgow Blues Festival and in following years received the Chain Heritage award at Goulburn (and were later inducted into the Hall of Fame), the 2MBS-FM Stormy Monday Lifetime Achievement award, and the Sydney Blues Society “Services to the Blues” Award. The Riders were also included in a series of blues concerts at the Sydney Opera House in 1999, “Sundays ‘round the House”, with Mal Eastick, The Mighty Reapers and Matt Walker.
Throughout the band’s history, the King Brothers have been privileged to work with an imposing array of leading Australian blues performers, and hope to continue doing so, always aiming to see audiences have as much fun as the band