‘Monday I've Got Friday on My Mind’

Frank Mastropolo

The Easybeats’ ‘Working-Class Anthem’

United Artists

Beatlemania in Australia reached its peak in June 1964 when the Fab Four staged a three-week tour of the country. Hundreds of rock groups sprouted as a result, formed by teens who hoped to emulate their heroes from Liverpool.

That happened in Sydney, where guitarists Harry Vanda and George Young, bassist Dick Diamonde, drummer Gordon “Snowy” Fleet, and lead singer Stevie Wright founded the Easybeats, their name a nod to the Beatles.

With the help of producer Ted Albert, whose family owned a prestigious music publishing company, the Easybeats put together a string of hit singles; by 1966 they were the biggest pop group in Australia. With nothing left to achieve Down Under, the band moved to London to take part in the last years of the British Invasion.

Signed by United Artists Records, Albert and the band reported to Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles had recorded so many hits. George Young—brother of Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC—said in House of Hits that expectations were high for the tracks, but United Artists execs were disappointed with the result.

“We all felt chuffed about the fact that this was it — you’re in the place where all these great records are being made. We did a session there but the songs that were made there obviously weren’t very good.”

United Artists replaced Albert with Shel Talmy, a star producer who had created monster hits with The Who and The Kinks. The band knew that their singles in Australia weren’t good enough for the UK and US markets, so they labored for months writing new material.

“We had to come up with something that stood out, that sounded like a hit,” recalled Young. “God knows how many songs we wrote. It must have been scores of them.”

The best was clearly “Friday on My Mind.” Written by Young and Vanda, the tune has been described as a “working-class anthem.” Young explained in Friday on Our Minds: Popular Culture in Australia Since 1945 that it was more than that.

"Friday on My Mind" by the Easybeats

“The lyrical theme was obvious after we came up with the opening line—’Monday morning feel so bad’—it was all about the big night out at the end of the working week, and you didn’t need a diploma to know that the big night out crossed all borders.

“It’s understandable why it can be seen as an ode to the working class given the weekly grind of the average punter. But it had more to do with their outlook than any working-class statement.”

“Friday on My Mind” opens with an Eastern-flavored guitar riff by Vanda, who said on the Australian TV miniseries Friday on My Mind that it was inspired by a film that featured the Swingle Singers, a French vocal group. “At one point in the film, they sang a ­melody that went ‘tudutudutudutudu’ that made us all laugh. We transferred the melody to guitar and it ­became the intro to ‘Friday on My Mind.’”

Talmy took the band into London’s IBC Studios, where his production skills helped make “Friday on My Mind” an international smash. Young said that Talmy didn’t waste any time in the studio.

“I think we did the whole song in about three or four hours, the whole track! The engineer he relied upon was Glyn Johns, who went on to make a name for himself with the big names as a producer—the Stones and the Beatles, etc. We had to come up with something different from all the other pop-rock bands and ‘Friday on My Mind’ fitted that.”

But “Friday on My Mind” would be the Easybeats’ first and last US hit. Later singles went nowhere and the band broke up after a 1969 tour.

“‘Friday on My Mind,’ good as it was, was the wrong song for the Easybeats because it was such a departure from the kind of band that we were,” said Young. “We were a three-chord pop-rock band; ‘Friday on My Mind’ was more of a classical, classic-influenced piece of pop music, so we wanted to go back to the more traditional pop-rock thing.”

Mastropolo is the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever.

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Mastropolo is the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever; Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York's Past; and Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York's Past

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