Richard Debenham

Richard managed The Rubber Band for four-and-a-half years, from February 1967 until July 1971

He took what was just another unknown struggling group, and established them as a highly successful Sydney 'institution'

Under Richard's guidance, The Rubber Band became one of the best-known and highly respected bands on the Sydney and Regional NSW dance scene.

In December 1968, Australia's leading music magazine Music Maker, in a cover story on the band, had this to say:

"In little more than twelve months under the personal management of Richard Debenham, The Rubber Band has grown from a practically unknown 'pop' group to become one of the most sought after musical combinations on Sydney's social circuit and campus scene. This, the five young musicians claim, is basically due to good management and promotion, hard work, and the adoption of a business -like approach to everything concerned with the group."

Richard had sensed the importance of marketing as a strategy for creating a successful band. This was new territory in those days. Many initiatives taken under Richard's leadership were directed toward understanding what audiences were looking for, and providing what they wanted. Bands had not really done that before.

"When you combined this approach with the capabilities of a talented band to deliver great music, you had an unstoppable combination." "Let's let Richard tell his story.

"When I was younger, so much younger than today . . . I was studying Economics at Sydney University and dreaming of the life of Brian Epstein and The Beatles when I found myself sitting next to fellow student Ray Lynn, who was telling me that the most exciting thing in his life ( apart from his then girlfriend Joan ) was playing lead guitar in The Rubber Band.

"In one of our conversations Ray mentioned they were finding it difficult to get gigs and thought that maybe they needed a Manager. Being tone deaf but enthusiastic, I said I might be able to do the trick!

"The next night I went out to hear The Rubber Band playing at a school dance in Parramatta. Things were already under way when I arrived and I kind of fell in love with the first sounds I heard from The Rubber Band . . .

"you're sitting drinking coffee and your girl walks in,
don't it make you feel good . . . "
by The Shadows.

"One of the most memorable nights of our lives was seeing The Shadows live at Chequers nightclub. And then we saw the same guys over 40 years later performing at The Sydney Entertainment Centre!

"Neither the band nor I had much to lose so we decided to give it a try. No contracts, just a handshake and an as yet unearned trust. No fixed fee or percentage commission; I would get the same as each member of the group.

"This was quite different from the typical arrangement, but the symbolism of egalitarianism was important. We were all in it together, rise or fall.

"We would start at my 21st Birthday Party in February 1967. What a hit !!!! "Now my friends all wanted to book The Rubber Band for their parties, and so started a chain reaction. Football Clubs, University Balls , B&S Balls in country towns , P&O Cruises , slowly it started to happen!

"For me it was a wonderful experience . Some of the same pleasure that comes from being a member of a football team and club. Learning how to promote The Rubber Band. Learning to manage creative people! I'd never had a Yugoslavian friend before, or a Hungarian friend! And I got to meet their families, a terrific and unexpected bonus.

"We had no baggage so we could start with a clean sheet of paper. We had business cards made, and put them with branded book-matches on the tables at functions. We had Rubber Band balloons.

"We gave a present from the band to the birthday girl or boy at 21sts. These were things other bands didn't do.

"There were idiosyncratic, and I have to say corny, Monthly Reports from me to the individuals in the band and even detailed tax returns ( probably a first in the music industry!).

"Really , I never wanted it to end. And maybe it didn't, because there the the guys were again jamming at my 60th birthday celebrations !!!!!!"

The Rubber Band

The Rubber Band

February 6 1970. Richard Debenham, left, presenting engraved commemorative silver trays to Ron Miles and Mayliu Thomas, who were both leaving The Rubber Band. Ron was going to England to get married, and Mayliu was leaving for Amsterdam and the UK. She remained overseas for 12 months. On returning to Australia she married Kevin Currie in February 1971 and rejoined The Rubber Band. Ron was replaced as drummer by John Long.

The Rubber Band

Aboard the P&O cruise ship SS Himalaya, February 1969. L to r: Mary Thomas (Mayliu's mother), Kevin Currie, Richard Debenham and Mayliu Thomas. The band always looked forward to playing on P&O cruise ships.

Richard reluctantly left The Rubber Band in mid-1971 due to the mountaing pressures of his work. He has enjoyed an extremely successful career as a senior executive with Coca Cola, including a number of years during which he ran their European operations while living with his family in Vienna.

Richard met his lovely Canadian wife Connie while holidaying in Kenya.

And today . . .

The Rubber Band

Richard in 2011 with his wife Connie (right), and Mayliu Currie. Photo taken by Kevin Currie at Richard and Connie's Killara home, after a night out together at the theatre.

rockin' horse

Business card c. 1967.