Almanac Music: A Tribute to Died Pretty


We were recently saddened by the news that legendary Sydney band Died Pretty have had to cancel their October concerts in Melbourne at the National Theatre in St kilda.


Unfortunately lead singer Ron Peno and drummer Chris Welsh are both battling cancer so it looks like Died Pretty may be retiring with an average of 100+.


I only saw them play twice over the last forty years. The first time was 1993 at a post footy season trip in Hobart. Joined by team mate and fellow lover of Australian independent music Tim Harrington, we went to the University of Tasmania where the band played the entire classic Doughboy Hollow album.


It was an unforgettable night witnessing a band in peak form. I was told by a friend in Sydney that they could have the occasional ‘off’ night, usually caused by the enigmatic and charismatic Peno. Not this night. They were incredibly tight and we left the venue buzzing.


The second time was about six years ago at The Croxton Bandroom in Melbourne where they supported Radio Birdman. I thought it would be an educational opportunity for my daughters so I dragged them along!


Again they were superb and Ron had seemingly recovered from his first bout with throat cancer. Alas it has returned and our thoughts are very much with Ron and Chris at this tough time.


Died Pretty were formed in 1983, and developed a unique sound. It’s big, demands space and deserves to be turned up. Lots of powerful but intricate guitar from Brett Myers and keyboards from John Brunetti and John Hoey overlay many of the songs and the rhythm section of Chris Welsh with Dr Steve Clark are awesome.


Their albums Free Dirt and Doughboy Hollow are in any list of the greatest Australian albums made, and their other releases are crackers also. I cringe when I see shows like The Voice and judges saying things like, “you’re a superstar” to the poor delusional contestants.


If I was a judge , I would simply say, “please stop screaming like a banshee, go listen to Died Pretty and come back with your thoughts on whether you think you’re a superstar or not.”


If you’re not familiar with Died Pretty these are a few tracks which I hope you enjoy from this criminally ignored Australian band. Fingers crossed we see them again.


‘Winterland’ from their first album Free Dirt.





‘Everybody Moves’ from the album Lost





Sweetheart’ from the album Doughboy Hollow





‘Harness Up’ from the album Trace





‘True Fools Fall’ taken from Every Brilliant Eye





‘Doused’ from the album Doughboy Hollow





‘Whitlam Square’ from the album Every Brilliant Eye





‘Head Around’ from the album Trace



‘Satisfied’ from the album Doughboy Hollow





‘Stop Myself’ from the album Doughboy Hollow






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About Ian Wilson

Former army aircraft mechanic, sales manager, VFA footballer and coach. Now mental health worker and blogger. Lifelong St Kilda FC tragic and father to 2 x girls.


  1. Patrick O'Brien says

    Great parenting, Ian.

    Forgot about Whitlam Square and its cheeky nod to The One I Love drum intro.

  2. Thanks Patrick, didn’t see that but what a great song that is too. Cheers

  3. Excellent review Ian and sad to hear about Ron and Chris. Died Pretty were a great band as evidenced by your song selection. Ron, a superb singer. I don’t know why but they were one band I never saw live (shame on me) but I did see The Darling Downs at the old East Brunswick club (that was a great venue). They were great.


  4. So many great memories. Went to loads of their gigs in the late 80’s and 90’s in places like The Old Greek Theatre, The Club, the Barwon Club Hotel in Geelong and many others, including a few interstate. I was a bit of a groupie back then. I was at their farewell gig at the Prince of Wales in 2002 and have seen most of their comeback gigs. Ron is the best frontman we have seen in the last 30 years. He always gives his all. Love the man and hope he recovers.


  5. Was lucky enough to see a few gigs at The Venue before it closed its doors – Paul Kelly & the Coloured Girls (pretty sure they were supported by Harem Scarem as Chris Wilson had just done harmonica on ‘Gossip’). I Spit on Your Gravy supporting the Psychotic Turnbuckles was another memorable gig!


  6. The Club, in Collingwood was a great venue. Huge The Black-eyed Susans show there in 92 I reckon.

  7. David “big bopper” Rooke says

    Thanks for your tribute Ian; if it’s any consolation there is a huge contingent of astute aussies that follow Died Pretty, have all their records and love them as a great Australian rock n roll band. I had the pleasure of seeing them many times, probably more than I have fingers, including that boisterous gig at the Croc with Radio Birdman. My thoughts are with the boys, hoping they’re over and give Melbourne another crack one day soon……

  8. Patrick O’Brien says

    And for some reason Robert Forster name checks Frank Brunetti in Darlinghurst Nights.

    Blasting Desperate Hours now as the sky weeps across St Kilda. Best song the Doors never wrote.

  9. RIP Ron.

  10. Thanks for this, Ian.

    My feeling is that Died Pretty never broke through because Ron did not have the right “look”.

    “Doughboy Hollow” is a classic.

    RIP Ron Peno

  11. Mick Symons says

    Thanks Ian.
    Such sad news about Ron. Such a great loss.
    I have been playing Died Pretty all week – so many brilliant songs.
    Trying to maintain ‘A state of graceful mourning’.

  12. John Butler says

    Late to this one Ian. And of course, Ron has now passed.

    Like Haiku Bob, Died Pretty were one of my go-to live bands of the 1980’s onwards. They usually soared high, though you’re right, occasionally they came of the rails.

    Ron’s work with Kim Salmon as the Darling Downs was also outstanding, His later band the Superstitions were no slouches either.

    Vale Ron.

  13. Peter Warrington says

    we’re all sad here in the Inner West. friends had a record wake on the weekend but I was crook and couldn’t go

    The Paddo show in 89 was one of the best. also Uni Library Lawn probably 87.

    One of the fave memories was dueting with Peno one night at the Teachers Club after I finished work for the day at the Wilderness Society. He was up to kischief, as ever.

    marvellous, marvellous band.

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