Countdown Memories


Jason: When did you start watching Countdown and how did you become interested in the show?

Troy: I unfortunately was only 6 when it ended in 1987 and was into cartoons and kiddy programs like Playschool at the time. I got into 70's music when I was 13 and didn't know about Countdown until my mum told me about it and only just found out that Rage was repeating Countdowns in January 1998. So I've started watching Countdown mid January 1998 and loved it ever since and wouldn't miss the specials for the world!!!

Jason: What are amongst some of your greatest Countdown memories, favourite Countdown episodes?

Troy: As I didn't watch Countdown until 1998 I cannot say anything about my early childhood days when Countdown was on but some of the greatest memories watching the repeats was when in January 1998 they played the August 31st 1975 episode as I was sooooo fascinated of what the earliest shows might look like! When the show opened with Sherbet's "Survival" and "Life" I was stoked at the visual feedback effects when Daryl says "Life", ever since that episode I've been really hoping each season Rage will play the earliest Countdown episodes from the vault. A sad memory on the other hand was about 4 years ago I was begging in the Guestbook for 1974 episodes and the moderator told me a lot of the 70's were deleted, that upsetted me. But to the good memories another good memory was the New Years Eve Countdown special of December 31st 1998 which featured cool early Countdown moments of the 70's including the stuff ups Molly made in the interview which was piss funny he,he,he especially when he swore in front of Prince Charles, ahh yeah I taped that special too. Anyway's those are some highlight moments of the past 6 years I've been watching the repeats.

Jason: Who are amongst your favourite artists from the 70's and 80's that Countdown has introduced you to? Troy: Of the 1970s episodes and clips I've seen some of my favourite groups are AC/DC, Skyhooks, Hush, Stevie Wright, JPY, Ray Burgess, Supernaut, Split Enz, Dragon, Marcia Hines etc. and with international artists they would be Sweet, Leif Garrett, Alice Cooper, Patrick Hernandez, Donna Summer, Village People, Elton John, KISS just to name a few. Though I'm more into the 70's than the 80's I do have a number of favourite groups which include Aussies like Mondo Rock, Australian Crawl, Mi-Sex, Men At Work, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil etc. and international artists like Human League, Simple Minds, Nik Kershaw, Culture Club, Huey Lewis & The News, Kim Wilde, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Modern Romance etc. Some of the above artists I've only heard a few songs of them and have one favourite but by all means they are dynamite to listen to!

Jason: What are your favourite segments of the show?

Troy: In the early years prior to 1978, from what I've seen on the repeats I liked the "Discovery" segments and "Clips Corner" segments. In the late 70's and early 80's the "Chartbuster" segments are fantastic and same with "Molly's Humdrum" especially in a 1979 episode where a bottle of red paint/tomato sauce explodes and when Iggy Pop butts in he,he,he,he. But my top favourite of that era are the one-off or rarely used segments like "Discocheck", "Offcuts" where they played clangers, "Prediction" and "Flashback" where they play some great classics. In the mid/late 80s it would be the Australian, US and UK top 5 charts.

Jason: What do you think it is about Countdown that still makes it stand up today, and what is it that makes Countdown so special to you?

Troy: The obvious thing that makes Countdown stand up today is the live studio content where Aussie and international artists played LIVE in the studio. And also the many segments from Humdrum, Molly's interviews, Paul and Gavin's voiceover comments, kids mauling artists in the 70s and the funny stuff that happened on the show e.g. Claude The Crow bagging out songs and Elton John caking Molly. The show had variety and class and made music really exciting unlike today's boring music video shows like Video Hits which just play clips one after the other and that's it which takes the fun out of everything!!! The reasons above about Countdown is what makes it so special to me. There is no other show like it, not even overseas pop shows!!!

Jason: Do you think that given the chance Countdown could have kept going to this day?

Troy: To my opinion it would still be going today if only they kept the format having at least 40% studio performances but 50% or more is preferred. Top Of The Pops still lives on because they kept most of the content studio, and if Countdown did the same it would live on for decades to come!!! Basically looking at the mid/late 80s shows as a lot of them were nothing but music videos and shows like Rage and Video Hits coming out in 1987 those two shows were specially designed for music videos so Countdown became redundant and I reckon like many people is what killed Countdown which was really sad.

Jason: Do you think it's important that Rage keep repeating Countdown so that a new generation may be introduced to the history of Australian and overseas music through Countdown, and just for generally having the respect to look back and celebrate such a landmark program?

Troy: Bloody oath yeah!!! Not just for the new generation who's into music but for new upcoming artists too as it is real important for them to know the roots of today's music. History is always important!!!

Jason: How do you feel about the ABC wiping so many 70's Countdown episodes and maybe very early 80's episodes from their archives. And not understanding the power and importance of the most historical program to come out of not only the ABC but Australia?

Troy: Jason, in my opinion that is the WORST THING ABC HAS EVER DONE!!!!! IT DISGUSTS ME SOOOOOOOO MUCH, I HATE THE FACT THAT THIS HAS BLOODY HAPPENED!!!!! From what I read the bastard responsible for the wiping of so many fantastic 70's shows and some early 80's shows was the ABC's general manager at the time. Whoever he is he deserves to be horse whipped!!!!! Sorry for sounding so angry but that's how I honestly feel about this deletion! As I wasn't born in the 70's I never got an opportunity to see all those fantastic episodes that aired back then and from what exists of the mid 70s I've only seen probably 5% of it! Anyways it's saddened me and many others who loved the 70's! So therefore as you know I'm on a hunt for early home video/audio/film recordings of the early years of Countdown. Fortunately I've had some success so far such as a 1978 episode hosted by Jon English, some bits of B&W reel-reel footage from 1975 and a Weekend Magazine show segment about the Countdown's 50th show. I'm still searching and I know I will find more footage in the near future on old videos, audio tapes and possibly 8mm film. I swear if I had a time machine I'd buy myself a Digital Betacam recorder and a shit load of tapes and go back to 1974 and tape each weekend of Countdown right up till the 80's when the deletion stopped!!!

Jason: Do you think the ABC should repeat Countdown on a regular basis?

Troy: Bloody oath yeah!!! At LEAST one Saturday night a month so we don't have to hang out a whole year and panic about what's going to be played and get disappointed if they don't play the shows we so much want to see. One weekend a month with 5 Countdowns will be fantastic and we won't have to wait so long for Rage to FINALLY play our most desired shows!

Jason: Do you think it would be a great idea for the ABC to bring out a collection of Countdown episodes on DVD?

Troy: Bloody oath yeah!!! It would be fantastic as we can buy Countdown in fantastic quality fresh from the masters and we can choose what episodes we want to buy and enjoy them instead of hanging out hoping to god Rage decides to play our favourite shows. I can guarantee ABC will rake in cash. However in reality this is not likely to happen because of the factor of ABC chasing up artists and record companies to get the rights to release shows on DVDs, same goes for all other music shows. But they should as it will be well worth the money for them as Countdown is one of the most watched shows in Australia!!!

Jason: What are your favourite periods of Countdown, and why?

Troy: My absolute favourite period of Countdown is its earliest years 1974-1976 because it was a period of GREAT Aussie glam rock, pub rock and soul!!! Aussie artists like AC/DC, Skyhooks, Hush, Sherbet, TMG, Silver Studs, Stevie Wright, Ol'55, Ray Burgess, Marcia Hines, Renee Geyer, Debbie Byrne etc. really made Countdown kick arse!!! Also international artists like Pilot, Wings, Alice Cooper, Sweet, Bay City Rollers, David Essex and many many more are fantastic!!! Also I loved the funky props used in that period such as the ball lights, plasic Countdown C's, the circuit board patterned walls etc. And the fashion, the flares and platform shoes and funky hairdos made looked really cool!!! Plus back then there were more live Australian acts than there were in the latter years!!! To me nothing beats the earliest years of Countdown, I LOVE the early years!!!