Band Of Light

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Band Of Light - circa late 1973
Phil Key (Guitar/Vocals), Tony Buette (Drums), Norm Roue (Slide Guitar) and Peter Roberts (Bass)
Other members of this group included Robin Andrews (Drums) 1973-74, Michel Brouet (Bass), Tony Buettel (Drums) 1972-73, Dannie Davidson (Drums) 1974-75, Eddie Hanson (Guitar) 1974-75, Phil Key (Guitar/Vocals) 1972-75, Ian Rilen (Bass) 1972-74, Peter Roberts (Bass/Vocals) 1972, Norm Roue (Guitar) 1972-74, Bill Williams (Bass) 1974

The Band of Light was a blues-based Sydney group, formed in October 1972 by Phil Key, with bassist Peter Roberts (both just left the La De Das).  Phil Key was of course a founder member, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist in that legendary band.  Peter Roberts was a more recent member, joining in late 1970 and helping to revitalise the group during a difficult period, after their disastrous English trip and the departure of original bassist Trevor Wilson.  In the latter days of the La De Das, Phil reportedly experienced difficulty in getting his own original material played in the band (as well as harbouring growing angst and friction over his control of the group's finances).  Phil quit the La De Das over a money dispute in September and the next month he and Peter formed Band Of Light, which enabled Phil to develop his own songs, which explored more personal themes of racial equality (Phil was Maori), social justice, spirituality and mysticism.  Band Of Light was also one of the first local bands to use a symbol (a yin-yang within two triangles) to represent their philosophy and approach.  Their distinctive blues-rock sound was built around the dual slide guitar work of Key and their other superb guitarist, Norm Roue (who had come from Sydney band Gutbucket).


Band Of Light - The Archer (front)

Band Of Light performing on stage

Band Of Light - The Archer (rear)


Peter Roberts left after only three shows and was replaced by Ian Rilen, who was to become a fixture on the Australian rock scene in the 70s and 80s.  The band worked consistently on the Sydney and Melbourne pub/festival/dance circuits, alongside other staple acts of the day like Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs.  Band Of Light signed a recording contract with WEA in early 1973, and had immediate success in July when their first single Destiny Song made the national Top 40, peaking at #18.  They followed up with a successful debut LP, Total Union, in August, which made the national Top 20 album chart, peaking at #13.  A third single, the non-album track Moonstruck was released in November, but it did not chart.  They continued to be a popular live draw throughout into 1974, but in mid-year, on the verge of recording their second album, Rilen, Roue and Buettel all left the band.  Phil called on bassist Billy Williams (ex Classic Affair) and drummer Dannie Davidson (ex-Tamam Shud) to replace Rilen and Buettel and cut the record, which was titled The Archer and released later in the year.  Ray Vanderby (Keyboards) and Eddie Hansen (Lead Guitar) were brought in to fill out the lineup for live dates, but neither the single nor the album were successful, and the group split in late 1974.  Band of Light's debut EP Total Union has recently been re-released on CD by Aztec Music, who also plan to reissue The Archer in the near future.