Singer Jeff Duff has long been one of this country’s most enduring and dynamic performers with a career that spans a broad church of musical genres – from glamour punk, through swinging jazz, to contemporary soulful rock. He is also one of the most liked and respected with a warmth and good humour on stage that has captivated thousands of fans. Hardly the type of person who would start in a riot in a well known Sydney club and transform the venue into instant chaos!
Yet that was the scenario back in 1999 when Jeff, along with his band The Prophets, played one of their many sellout shows at The Basement. En route to the venue Jeff had picked up on a radio report of an Indigenous lad charged with offensive language for telling a police officer to “fuck off”. The case had been thrown out of court with the judge deeming that the use of the four letter word no longer constituted a criminal offence.
The news item obviously struck a chord with Jeff and during the performance he recalled the incident and mischievously suggested to the audience that they turn to each other and exchange a hearty but non threatening “fuck off”. For a few glorious moments it worked like a charm with the hundreds of punters who packed the room embracing the hilarity and good nature of it all.
Unfortunately a certain section of the crowd, notably some ‘big’ (and obviously humourless) guys standing near the bar, failed to appreciate the absurdity and punches were quickly thrown. The bouncers intervened, a riot ensued, the police were called, the performance cancelled, and the tabloids erupted. Worst of all Jeff incurred the wrath of The Basement management and was promptly banned from the venue for an indefinite period.
Needless to say it wasn’t too long before all was forgiven, Jeff was back at The Basement soon enough and packing out the venue night after night. In recent years he has experienced renewed popularity with his highly successful run of theatre and club shows playing the music of David Bowie, a cameo in The Great Gatsby, an award-winning video, and festival appearances all over the country. Remarkably during that time he has found time to record his 26th album, Walking On Eggshells, with ten original songs written by Jeff and producer Steve Bull. He has also finished writing a most entertaining autobiography, tracing his at times controversial career right back to the 1960s, including a memorable stint in London during the ‘80s.
There won’t be a riot but there will certainly be a most entertaining evening when Jeff launches Walking On Eggshells this coming Friday October 17 in the splendour of Marrickville’s Camelot Lounge. Expect a lot more than just your run-of-the-mill CD launch. The night is billed as a “Magical Mystery Show” and for starters Jeff & The Duffmen will perform the entire album live, along with some all-time Duffo classics. The extraordinary magician Mannix will also dazzle the audience with his slight of hand and Esmerelda the incredible singing goldfish will make a cameo appearance. Together with Jeff’s magic movie show and lots of audience prizes, Jeff promises a launch party to top all others!
Oct 17, Camelot Lounge, 19 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville, $30, jeffduff.com