Night the `Bassman’ got tough on Nevin
On With the Show’s
Flashback to 1994
By SHIRLEY BROUN
THE tears swelled, the emotions ran high and it took every bit of strength that Nevin McLean could muster to sing a duet with Ian `Pee Wee’ Wilson – one which they had sung together for almost a decade.
The date was June 25, 1994, the venue Campbelltown Catholic Club and the occasion – Nevin’s farewell performance as a member of the nationally acclaimed and much-loved show group, The Delltones.
“I was going along nicely until we sang the Delltone’s medley and Ian and I sang `Bassman’ together. That was tough … one of the hardest performances I’ve ever had to do,” said Nevin, still with a tear in his eye the following day.
It was a night Nevin will never forget and always hold dear.
From the performance and surprise party, to the emotion-filled words of the `bass man’ himself, Pee Wee Wilson who also presented Nevin with a large plaque, which depicted the seven Delltones albums on which Nevin had featured. In the centre was a CD specially inscribed with a heartfelt dedication for his professionalism, contribution and mateship to the Delltones during the past decade.
“It meant more to me than a Rolex Watch,” said Nevin, who says his years with one of the most respected show bands in Australia’s history, prepared him for the next era in his life.
“They were years of learning and discipline. To be part of a five-part harmony band, you have to sing in time and in tune. The Delltones helped me lift my game, work harder and ask a lot more of myself than I probably would have. It gave me confidence and opportunities to perform at major events such as the Royal Command Performance at the Sydney Opera House and Brisbane Expo.
Nevin’s decision to leave The Delltones was, in his words, `a desire to control his own destiny.’
“We all need new challenges along the way to keep us fresh and fulfilled. The decision to leave was an extremely difficult one but I felt that if I didn’t give it a go I would forever be asking myself `if only’. You don’t know anything until you try,” said Nevin.
New era begins
The future stimulates a broad collection of emotions for Nevin. “I’m nervous, anxious, excited and, in a way, feel free. I’m facing the unknown but it doesn’t worry me – a whole new era of my life is beginning and it is really exciting.”
Rehearsals are already underway for Nevin’s new five-member, four-part harmony band, Pheonix, which debuts in Sydney in November. “It has always been a dream of mine to put a show together.”
Nevin will be joined by musical whiz Alan Freeman, who leaves the Delltones in early November to work with his energetic colleague. “Alan is keen to use his talents in vocal and musical arrangements to make Pheonix stand out from the others. He has the musical skills to take the band in any direction and we work so well together”.”
“We don’t want to limit ourselves to an era with Pheonix. We will present good songs from the 50s, 60s and right up to the 90s.”
Prior to joining the Delltones, Nevin admits he was a big fan. “Being a local Bronte boy (where the Delltones started), they were my heroes.”
Vocals added a new dimension
Replacing Danny Mayers in the group, which at the time boasted six members (including Pee Wee Wilson, Alan Freeman, Merv Dick, Woody Finlayson, Danny and saxophone player Vic Schrier), Nevin brought a new dimension to The Delltones. “My strength was in the voice. I had a three octave range and falsetto. They had never really had that before and it proved to be a wonderful tool for singing Frankie Valle, the Beach Boys and a capella. It was an entirely new sound – a true harmony group. Musically, it was the most important time of my life.”
Born in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield, a third generation Australian with Irish, Welsh and Scottish background, Nevin is by no means idle since his departure from the Delltones. “Between rehearsals for Pheonix, I am performing a lot of solo `gigs’at venues throughout Sydney and am also working on a show with this year’s Queensland Entertainer of the Year Greg Doolan (ex-Wickety Wak). Greg and I have been toying with the idea to do something together for almost three years but my schedule has precluded me from going ahead with it. Now the show is getting priority and I’m looking forward to working with him in Queensland.”
It is important to Nevin to develop his own identity outside The Delltones, just as Greg Doolan has done successfully since Wickety Wak’s farewell performance in 1990.
And, he will not be alone in meeting the new challenges life presents. Not one for dedicating songs during performances, Nevin made an exception during his final Delltones performance. “From the heart, this one’s for Denis.” The song was Dreamlover and Denise, the love of his life.Tweet