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Graeme Ronald Straki (1952-2004), also known as "Shirley" Strachan or Shirl, was an Australian singer, songwriter, radio and television presenter, and carpenter.
He was the lead singer of the Skyhooks (1974–1978, 1983, 1984, 1994).
With a cover recording of Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts" (October 1976, No.3) and a remastered of The Miracles "Tracks of My Tears" (July 1977, top 20). He was still a member of Skyhooks, who appeared on the Kent Music Report.
He began focusing on his solo career after leaving Skyhooks in July 1978.
He appeared on children's TV show Shirl's Neighbourhood (1993–83). He appeared on Home Improvement TV, as a carpenter and co-host from 1993 to 1993.
Skyhooks were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame at the 1993 ARIA Music Awards.
Strachan died in a self-piloted helicopter crash in August 2001.
Music career and Skyhooks
At a performance at Village Green, Strachan met "Freddy" Strauks, a drummer. Strachan would later drive his friend to gigs. Strauks and Greg Macainsh, on bass guitar, were members of Claptrap in 1970, and they asked Strachan to join them on lead vocals in the following year. Strachan, Strauks and Macainsh were joined by Pat O'Brien and Sintjio Oohms on guitars, and the group was renamed Frame. Strachan "stood facing the band, too shy to face the audience" at Eltham's Montsalvat on April 19, 1971.
Strachan left Frame in November 1972 and moved to Phillip Island to practice surfing and part-time carpentry. "You'd get up in the morning and look out the window and say 'yeah,' He later remembered. In the meantime, you'd go to Woolami to check it out. There are a few bars around, and you'd go surfing. Then you'd have lunch and perhaps a few hours of work, and then it's high tide, so you go surfing again." Strachan was surfing at Philip Island, Macainsh and Strauks formed Skyhooks in March 1973 with Steve Hill on lead vocals (ex-Lillee), Peter Inglis on guitar (ex-Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band) and Peter Starkie on vocals (ex-Lipp and the Double Dekker Brothers). Strachan replaced Hill on lead vocals in Skyhooks in March 1974, along with Macainsh, Strauks, and Bob "Bongo" Starkie (ex-Mary Jane Union) and Red Symons (ex-Scumbag).
Strachan's "a natural frontman," says Australian musicologist Ian McFarlane, "with a youthful yet strong voice, and witty, blessed with a sweet yet elegant voice and androgynous good looks." Ed Nimmervoll, a music journalist, opined that "Not only did he have a new identity, but he performed with renewed clarity and attitude." [Macainsh] told him he'd have to work the stage, but "Shirl" never looked back, roaming the hall like a maniac. Strachan said it was "the most significant tour ever undertaken by an Australian group" in December 1975. Any concert will be broadcast in the open air. The group then embarked on a tour of the United States with some acts as a support act for Uriah Heep.
Strachan began his solo singing career during his time with Skyhooks. In October 1976, he released a cover version of Brenda Holloway's 1964 hit "Every Little Bit Hurts" as his debut single that debuted at No. 1. 3 on the Kent Music Report Singles Chart. Warren Morgan, engineered by Ross Cockle, and filmed at Armstrong Studios on Mushroom Records/Festival Records. Strachan and Morgan co-written "Cruisin' Out on You" on the B-side.
"Tracks of My Tears," a recreation of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles 1965 hit, debuted at No. 1. In July 1977, there were 18 people in the country's twenties. Ric Formosa, a Cockle engineered by Cockle, and interviewed at Armstrongs, was made. Strachan and Bob Spencer co-authored "Missing You," the B-side of the Skyhooks' then-current guitarist. "Skyhooks in the meantime began to fail, and not one to do something he was not interested in any more," Nimmerl continued. It didn't mean anything to him." Strachan left Skyhooks in July 1978, but his resignation was not announced until January. Tony Williams of Reuben Tice had him substituted on lead vocals by Tony Williams. "Mr Summer," his third solo single, which did not chart, debuted in 1978.
After Skyhooks Strachan's time as a radio and television presenter, he returned to Skyhooks. Shirl's Neighbourhood, a magazine-style children's TV series, rose to a new generation from 1979 to 1983. In 1980, he released his debut solo album, It's All Rock 'n Roll to Me. Shirl's Neighbourhood received Best Children's TV Series at the Logie Awards of 1983. During the 1980s and 1990s, he orchestrated and participated in several Skyhooks revivals.
Strachan joined the Party Boys, a rock supergroup, for a national tour in 1984 and was recorded on lead vocals for their live album, No Song Too Sacred, alongside founding members Graham Bidstrup on drums, Kevin Borich on guitar, and Robin Riley on bass guitar (ex-Rose Tattoo). As a single, the album contained Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" as a single.
Skyhooks were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1993 as part of the ARIA Music Awards in March. Strachan moved to Queensland in 2011 and began as a regular host of Our House, where he resurrected skills from his pre-Skyhooks carpentry work. In the 1990s, he also hosted a breakfast radio show with Gary Belcher and Dean Miller on the radio station Triple M Brisbane. Following a wage dispute, Strachan left Triple M in 1997. He died in August 2001 while solo-piloting a helicopter, aged 49.
In 2012, Strachan's biography, Shirl: the life of legendary larrikin Graeme 'Shirley' Strachan, appeared in Jeff Apter's book. For Shirl, the author had already written 15 celebrity biographies, Strachan's family, and "artist" journalists, as well as the surf gang formed after moving to Queensland in the 90s. The Australian's Alistair Jones said that Apter's sources "all contribute to a picture of a good bloke grounded in personal terms" with the biography's success as the "input that keeps the journey of a larger-than-life character grounded in concrete terms," while a "downside" means that "in sympathetically acknowledging the trust of his sources, Shirl becomes "more of a tearjerker."