Mike Furber—A Mate

19 Jan

This is a story I wrote many years ago which a few of my long time followers might recall, I would like to re-post it again as the story belongs in our music history and as such must be remembered. I have taken the liberty of adding the Wikipedia story on Mike, some aspects I disagree from first hand experience. Take time to view this old video taken of Mike performing back in England in the days of the emerging new era of pop songs, the Beatles days and others.

This is a story of a mate I once had, back in the days of long ago now.I first met Mike Furber when I was posted as a Medical instructor at the School of Army Health Healesville upon my return from Vietnam in 1970. Mike came to the school around late 72 early 73.This is his story.

Mike was born in London England in 1948 and immigrated to Australia with his family soon after.

It was in his teens that he found his forte in life and his future destined for the music industry , Mike could sing.His career started out when he formed a band called the Bowery Boys in 68 and was signed up for a recording contract , however as the lead singer the recording studio wanted it known as Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys, and that became the name recorded in Australian musical history. The band had a number of hits that reached the Top Ten on the hit parade here in Australia.

Mike was a flamboyant pop star and was rising in the pop musical culture of that time , the time the Beatles were starting to make a name for themselves , the era of Billy Thorpe and the Aztects ,Bob Dylan, the Monkeys , Normie Rowe ,Ian Turpie and Johnny Okeefe.He wore his hair in the style of the time and was much likened to Davey Jones of the Monkeys . His world was the pop scene of the time and all the glitter and excitement of the music era associated with free love , flower power and the drugs that followed the music industry. Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys went into a time of stagnation, staying in the music charts and yet not moving up , the band subsequently broke up and Mike moved on and pursued a solo career aiming to become a famous pop star of the time . He had a starring role in the Gospel rock musical Godspell at the time.

It was after this time that Mikes career became somewhat disrupted , Australia had bought in National service , where conscription into the army became compulsory , this was ostensibly to boost our commitment to the Vietnam war .This was done by a lottery system where birthdates were placed in a barrel and drawn at random , Mikes luck ran out and he became a winner and thus commenced his military life.It was at this time that I first met Mike , we were billeted together and were to share the same room for many months , Mike could not adapt to the institutional way of military life , he hated the army and could not adapt , he hated war and the thought of going to Vietnam .Over the months we developed a bond , Mike was a conscript whereas I was a volunteer .Mike kept up his musical career and at weekends would disappear to play at many gigs around the Melbourne entertainment circuit and would return to barracks for work on Mondays.  He was burning the candle at both ends .Many nights we sat and talked long into the night , Mike would have his smoke and the air was thick with the delightful aroma , many nights I would fall asleep giggling with a stupid look on my face but a happy heart , Mike carried over his habit from the pop scene.It was during these long night talks that Mike confided his worst fears of going to Vietnam , I tried to reassure him it was unlikely he would go as the Paris peace talks were on again , although I secretly had doubts .Mike kept singing at various gigs and I got to see him perform a number of times. The first time I saw him perform on stage and hear him sing convinced me that this guy would never be a soldier , he put on a first class performance and it was obvious to me that the army had made a bad mistake , Mike had show business in his veins and there was no way the army would change that.

Our talks at night became longer as Mike got more depressed after each gig away.

Reassurance was doing little to allay his fears and hatred for the military life and the Vietnam war.Mike never returned to the barracks one weekend and I was called into the Commanders office and told to pack all Mikes personal belongings as he would not be returning. Mike had hung himself at his mother home in Melbourne , the pressure had been too much. I was requested to attend his funeral not only because I was his roommate but as a representative of the army.

Mike Furber was buried in the Melbourne cemetery in May 1973. Rumours surrounding his death soon surfaced , one being that he was murdered , another that he fell victim to the underworld of that time.

I know why my mate died , he was an undisclosed victim of the Vietnam war.This is a video of Mike Furber in his younger days in the musical world of the pop era



Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


20 responses to “Mike Furber—A Mate

  1. reocochran

    February 21, 2017 at 4:02 am

    This is so sad, Ian. My artistic brother has a few times attempted suicide. I saved him at least twice. Once he had to have his stomach pumped. Another time he went to the hospital to get wounds wrapped. Musicians and artists may have sensitive souls. I know you are sensitive but must have a strong inner core that manages to stay here on earth. I liked your friend, Mike’s voice and personality. 🙂
    I do see Davy, but he also reminds me of Herman of Herman’s Hermits.
    I saw them in concert in 2001, trying to lift our spirits after our 9/11 bombings. They replaced the British flag with our American flag and said a simple thing like they were here for us.

    • aussieian2011

      February 23, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      What a beautiful comment Robin, sorry to hear that your Brother suffers also, certain people in life are very sensitive, and most beautiful Hearts that just find life hard to bear at times.
      What a great moment to see Herman’s Hermits live.
      I enjoy the old songs and personalities, takes me back to my Vietnam days when singers were playing against the war, days of Make Love not War and songs had meaning. I came back from Vietnam all ready for the Make Love bit, but unfortunately that phase had passed, such is life.
      Kind regards Robin and best wishes.

      • reocochran

        February 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm

        I appreciate your complete response about my brother, your friend, Mike and your own return from the hard, devastating Vietnam war. I liked how you were hoping to come back to the free love and hippie era! This made me smile despite the serious part of this post. Hugs from me to you, Ana and family including your angels of grandies! xo

        • aussieian2011

          February 25, 2017 at 10:21 pm

          Hi Robin, yep I missed out on the free love era but sure made up for it with three marriages, hehe.

  2. davidprosser

    February 19, 2017 at 7:19 am

    What a waste Ian and another war that should have never been.

    • aussieian2011

      February 19, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting David, as the years roll by memory’s of old friends and moments seem to come to the fore.
      Kind regards.

  3. derrickjknight

    February 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    So sorry about the loss of your friend, Ian. I see the Monkey likeness

    • aussieian2011

      February 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting Derrick, Mike was certainly a product of his times way back then, your right with the similarities to the Monkeys, all the Rock and Roll guys from that era had a similar style.
      Kind regards.

  4. Sue Dreamwalker

    February 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Such a sad story Ian, and I can not remember this one, although I do recall this video of seeing it before..
    Such souls are not meant to go to fight.. And So many were made to go in both that war and in the First and Second World Wars.. When they objected, or could not face it, they were imprisoned or worst shot..
    And I so admire those like yourselves Ian who were medics and who volunteered to help others..
    Lasting memories and Lasting scars are carried long long after wars have stopped..

    Thank you for sharing this again Ian.

    Love and Blessings
    Sue 🙂

    • aussieian2011

      February 23, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks Sue, I re posted that story as I did get a few responses from others who new Mike, they must have read the story through Google as they aren’t in Word press, was great to hear from them as we all had something in common.
      Thanks for taking the time to have another read Sue.

      • Sue Dreamwalker

        February 24, 2017 at 6:11 pm

        You are most welcome Ian.. I have been off line a few days.. So hope all is well in your world.. xx

        • aussieian2011

          March 2, 2017 at 8:34 am

          Hi Sue, your not the only one being off line for a while lately, I have a slight Flu that’s coming good now, but it does tend to drain your enthusiasm, I catch up in spurts.
          Cheers and thanks for visiting.

          • Sue Dreamwalker

            March 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm

            Very wise to pace yourself Ian.. there are some nasty virus circling our planet right now.. And not all of them of the flu kind.. but the human variety which also have a tendency to bring one down..
            I hope you soon recover and bounce back in true Emu fashion..
            Love and warm hugs your way along with healing thoughts.. Hugs Sue xxx

          • auntyuta

            March 5, 2017 at 12:09 am

            Hope you’re feeling much better by now, Ian. The horror of conscription to the Vietnam War. . . Conscription is so wrong!

  5. Eugene Butkowski

    February 18, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I remember Mike well. He was an Inala boy like me. We first met at Healesville. I remember it would have been at Christmas 71 and We were marched on parade and Mike hadn’t had a haircut and his sideburns were bushy. His beret was flat out fitting. I thought WO1 Max Steiger was going to have a heart attack! We certainly did a few parties together in Healesville. I later ran ini him travelling on a train going to Sydney in 72. Sadly it must have been soon after her was found.
    Ian we must have been at Healesville at the same time. A good mate of mine was Bob Dow. We are still in touch

    • The Emu

      February 18, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Yes I think we were there at the same time, I was an instructor, others were Dolensky, shorty langford Nev Kayne, Bruce Turnbull, Brian Coward and stacks others, I was there 71 to 76, I do remember Bob Dow, check out if he remembers me, was Bob on staff there???
      Cheers mate.

      • Eugene Butkowski

        February 19, 2017 at 11:36 am

        Hi Ian
        Bob had just got back from Nam and he was on staff. He got busted and I got done for piddling on the colonels garden. Bob ended up lecturing in Pathology at QUT and retired to QLD. Max Steiger wasn’t to impressed when I marched in to the charge goose stepping! I remember Dolensky. I enjoyed Healesville I was mates with Danny Granger the cook we shared a hut after I finished Corp training before I went to 2 Mil hospital
        What rank were you I do remember a lance Corp in 71. But memory fades!

        Living in the tents in winter was not enjoyable

  6. jfwknifton

    February 18, 2017 at 8:52 am

    God, that is so, so sad even 40 odd years after the event.

    • The Emu

      February 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Thanks for the comment mate, memories do linger on as the years go by.

  7. The Emu

    February 18, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Reblogged this on Welcome To Aussie Emus World.


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