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