Rocking down memory lane
by SANDI MILLER
22nd January 2024
THE “TICE” were a 1970s cult band from Eltham and are famous for being the most famous band that you’ve never heard of.
Members of Reuben Tice recently got together and played two reunion gigs in Eltham and St Andrews.
Readers may not recognise the name, but the band played a part in the history of the iconic 70s band Skyhooks.
Officially called the Reuben Tice Memorial Band (named after an American engineer who died trying to invent a machine that de-wrinkled prunes — but that’s a whole other story), the band has been likened to a local version of the Grateful Dead — or perhaps the Rolling Stones.
Warrandyte-born songwriter Greg Macainsh and Elthamite Tony Williams formed Reuben Tice in 1969.
Guitarist Mark Smith joined the band in 1975 when he moved down from Sydney, but he told the M&N Bulletin the band first started around Montsalvat, with people such as Marcus Skipper in the line-up.
“The band used to get together at Montsalvat and jam together.”
They were also on the bill for the first Skyhooks concert in April 1973, which Macainsh was also songwriter and bass guitarist for, penning such classics as Balwyn Calling, Million Dollar Riff, Horror Movie, Ego is Not a Dirty Word, Women in Uniform, Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo) and Living in the ‘70s.
Reuben Tice vocalist Tony Williams joined Macainsh in Skyhooks in 1978 when Shirley Strachan left to pursue a television career.
Flash forward to 2023, and many of the faces remain the same, as the reunion line-up featured:
- Tony Williams (Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica)
- Mark Smith (Guitar)
- Roger Davies (Guitar)
- George Kirov (Bass)
- Jamie Slagmolen (Cajon)
They were also joined by local musicians, country singer Leslie Avril and singer/songwriter Sharin Anderson.
The reunion gig was to celebrate the release of their four-CD box set Rolling The Tice — Songs From An Unmade Road (Reuben Tice 1969–1979), which includes a mix of live and studio recordings.
“A good friend of ours, disc jockey Maurice Hurry, took a great interest in the band over the years.
“He gathered together a whole lot of recordings and had them remastered, and this is the result,” said Mark.
Maurice told the M&N Bulletin he and music producer Marcell Borrack spent the pandemic compiling the recordings.
“It’s quite interesting as a piece of lost rock and roll archive with all these 60s and 70s musicians.
“It all started at Eltham High and Montsalvat — this art rock and roll culture — we have a lost heritage, from the last 30–40 years.
“Some of the band members moved on to Skyhooks, and this incredible archive was left behind, which I have finessed and remastered,” Maurice said.
Reuben Tice performed nine songs at the St Andrews reunion gig, including originals The Way It’s Played, I Couldn’t Get High, Rock Bottom Shuffle, Down The Road I Go, as well as covers The Weight (The Band) and Emergency (The Fabulous Thunderbirds).
Guitarist Mark Smith said the reunion concert was “lots of fun — we had a lot of our fanbase turn up at the St Andrews Hall”.
However, he said he doubted there would be another concert.
“Roger Davies is 76 now, and Vic, the original drummer, can’t play anymore because he has arthritis, and Greg Macainsh is now working as an Intellectual Property Lawyer in Queensland,”
Lead vocalist Tony Williams has released a memoir, Touched by the Tice, outlining his time in Reuben Tice and later as the vocalist for Skyhooks.
Maurice said Rolling the Tice will be on Band Camp in the next few weeks, and video of the St Andrews concert is available to watch on YouTube and an audio recording is in the process of being produced and will hopefully be released in the coming months.
Tony William’s book, Touched by the Tice, is available to purchase from Amazon or to borrow from Eltham Library.
Photos by BILL McAULEY