Get Rich Quick; Peter Doyle and Antipodean hidden histories

  • Get Rich Quick-Peter Doyle-Afterhours Sleaze and DignityNow, I suspect this is a bit Western/Europe culturally centric of me but until quite recently I’d not ever really thought of Afterhours-esque culture and subculture in Australia back in the day.

    Peter Doyle’s work is one of the things that has changed that, in particular his collections of photographs from the Sydney Police archives – City Of Shadows / Crooks Like Us and more recently his first fiction book Get Rich Quick.

    It’s a book set in the early to later 1950s, just pre and during the explosion of rock and roll and concerns itself with a (curiously likeable considering he’s actually something of a toerag) chap called Billy Glasheen who is variously a dance organiser, scammer, bagman and tour manager for visiting rock’n’roll acts.

    Along the way the book mixes fact and fiction and weaves in amongst the semi-hidden histories of Australia in a way that put me in mind of writing by Jake Arnott, Cathi Unsworth and maybe also Anthony Frewin in his London Blue or even a touch of David Peace (although a somewhat lighter/easier read than the last chaps fictions).

    …one of the highlights of the book is the telling of Mr Glasheen’s “keeping the wheels greased” on the famous/infamous tour where Little Richard renounced rock’n’roll and looked towards god; it captures the excitement of a moment in time when everything began to change in the face of the old guard and the bodgies and widgies (sort of Australian slang at the time for male and female juvenile delinquents / Elvis-esque proto-rock’n’rollers / rockabillys / teenagers) music and style began to go mainstream.

    Visit Crooks Like Us / City Of Shadows around these parts at
    Day #34/365a.

    Visit the collection of photographs here and here. Peruse the books and Peter Doyle’s fiction work here.


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