Ross Andrew Hannaford (1 December 1950 – 8 March 2016) was an Australian musician, active in numerous local bands. He was often referred to by his nickname "Hanna". Widely regarded as one of the country's finest rock guitarists, he was best known for his long collaboration with singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, which began as teenagers, with The Pink Finks and forming the seminal early '70s Australian rock band Daddy Cool. Hannaford died of cancer after being diagnosed a year earlier.
The Pink Finks
Ross Andrew Hannaford was born in Newcastle on 1 December 1950, his family moved to Melbourne one year later. Hannaford and Wilson first teamed up in the hometown of Melbourne in early 1965, in the R&B band The Pink Finks, which enjoyed moderate local success. This was followed by the more progressively-oriented The Party Machine, They released a single "You've All Gotta Go" in 1969; their printed songbooks were confiscated and burned by the Victorian Vice Squad for being obscene and seditious. The Party Machine disbanded in 1969, with Wilson travelling to London.
Sons of the Vegetal Mother
After a short stint in the UK, Wilson returned to Australia and reunited with Hannaford ca. 1970 in the even more avant garde Sons of the Vegetal Mother, which embodied Wilson's enthusiasm for the music of Frank Zappa.
This band eventually evolved into Daddy Cool, which had started out as an informal offshoot of the Vegetals but soon overtook. After the release of their hugely successful debut single "Eagle Rock" and their debut LP Daddy Who? Daddy Cool, the band became one of the most popular and successful rock acts of the decade, breaking all previous sales records for an Australian act.
Hannaford's unique guitar stylings won wide praise from critics and his goofy stage presence, distinctive baritone voice and trademark 'helicopter' cap made him a favourite with fans. He also wrote several of the group's songs and co-designed the sleeve of their second album, Sex, Dope, Rock'n'Roll: Teenage Heaven.
After the first split of Daddy Cool at the end of 1972, Wilson and Hannaford formed the short-lived Mighty Kong with former members of Spectrum and Company Caine and they recorded one album, All I Wanna Do Is Rock, but they split just after the record was released.
Daddy Cool reformed in 1974 and continued until 1976, when they split again. Hannaford and Wilson's last collaboration in this period was on the soundtrack for the 1976 movie Oz.
Hannaford subsequently did a considerable amount of session work and played in many bands. His group and recording credits include The Black Sorrows, Paul Madigan & The Humans, Ian Moss, Steve Hoy, Mark Gillespie, Billy T, Ram Band and Goanna. In the 1990s he and his band Dianna Kiss had a long-standing residency at the famous Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne.
In 2005 the original members of Daddy Cool reunited for a one-off performance at a Melbourne benefit concert in aid of the Asian Tsunami disaster, and this led to the 2006 reformation of the group and the recording of a new single and album. In November 2007, the original Daddy Cool line-up reformed for a national tour of Australia with the Beach Boys & Christopher Cross. The tour took in Melbourne, Hunter Valley, Adelaide, Perth, Wollongong & Sydney. In recent years Hannaford has been a familiar figure on the streets of Melbourne, where he has been regularly busking in Melbourne's CBD and at the Camberwell Markets.
In mid-2015 he released a new 10 track CD 'Hanna', which features all original compositions and 'all sounds' by Hannaford ′except Mau the cat (Track 7)' and Mark Ferrie on bass (Track 5).
Health and death
In July 2015, it was announced that Hannaford was suffering from "serious health issues", and that he had to cancel a planned national tour because he was too ill to work. Friends and colleagues, including singer-songwriter Steve Hoy and songwriter Margret Barret (a friend since their art school days in the late 1960s) organised a benefit concert which was staged in Melbourne to raise money for Hannaford's ongoing health care. The line-up included former Daddy Cool band mates, Ross Wilson, Wayne Duncan and Gary Young, Steve Hoy, the RocKwiz Orchestra, The Black Sorrows, and Mike Rudd, with TV personality Brian Nankervis (RockWiz) as MC. The first concert sold out within 24 hours and a second show was quickly organised, which also sold out.
As part of a project in which people tell their life stories film maker Haydn Keenan shot a long interview with Hannaford in late 2014. The interview has been edited into a 60-minute DVD with all proceeds going to the guitarist. Hannaford died on 8 March 2016 aged 65 from cancer; he had been diagnosed with the condition a year earlier.
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