The fact that I was the lead guitarist in this one-hit-wonder band had been deeply buried in my subconscious and completely forgotten for a good 40 years until my friend Keith Ritchie, who ran a very extensive music website, came to one of my performances in May 2006. He showed me a book titled 'The Who's Who Of Australian Rock'. Idly glancing through it, I was completely stunned to see that The Mystrys were listed, but there was no information about the members of the band.
When I came home after that gig, out of curiosity I searched the Internet, expecting to find nothing. I was astounded to find countless references to The Mystrys and also that our one and only hit song, Witch Girl, was recently featured on a number of CD compilations and also on many radio station playlists all over the world. However, it seemed that the real identities of The Mystrys was one of the enduring secrets of the Australian pop scene, as none of the rock and roll historians and 1960s music collectors seemed to have any clue as to who they were for over 40 years.
I was truly shocked to realise that in four decades, absolutely nothing had leaked out about the identities of The Mystrys except for the fact that some of the members were culled from a Melbourne band called The Untouchables, but no names had been revealed. Although I had become quite well-known in that time on the Melbourne music scene, nobody had ever connected me to The Mystrys and I had never mentioned this to anybody.
So being inspired by all the Internet references to The Mystrys, I decided to see if I could find the other band members and also any of The Kontacts, the girl band that supported The Mystrys at most of the shows and on that ill-fated country tour. I had not seen any of them since 1966 and honestly did not expect to have any luck, however with the power of the Internet and some musician friends in Melbourne, I achieved what I thought was literally impossible.
My quest began with a call to my very good friend in Melbourne, renowned jazz vocalist, the late Tony Paris, who gave me my first lead. He told me that The Mystrys bass guitarist Charlie Bayliss was still living in Melbourne and running a couple of businesses, including being the owner and very highly ranked Sensei of the very successful Samurai School Of Shukokai Karate. When Charlie recovered from the shock of hearing from me after so many decades and learned what I had discovered, he suggested that it would be amusing to finally spill the beans about The Mystrys to the world.
I told Charlie that I had discovered on the Internet that Mystrys media consultant and songwriter Bob King Crawford was still living in Melbourne. He was involved in the Australian Republican movement and I had found his phone number on a website. Charlie rang Bob and surprised him with the news that some of us were still around and went to visit him.
I also discovered that Buff Parry, the financial backer of The Mystrys, was also still in Melbourne and running a business called Masterfibre. I rang Buff and had an interesting chat to him, but found that Buff preferred to try and forget the whole debacle, having been burned by that fraudster Michael Kopp.
With further research, I eventually located Mystrys rhythm guitarist Kevin Thomas, also living in Melbourne and teaching flute. Kevin was also thrilled to hear from me and reminisce about those fantastic days. So far I have not been able to find any trace of original Mystrys drummer Malcolm McPhee. I suspected that with his alcoholism and suspected narcotics habits, Malcolm was probably well and truly dead by then.
In April 2011, out of the blue I received an email from John Lake. He reminded me that he was The Mystrys second drummer after original drummer Malcolm McPhee was fired. My memory of him was very hazy, but once he mentioned all the events of the ill-fated tour, it all came back to me, including the two bands suffering from food poisoning in Swan Hill and the fun we had playing out-of-the-way towns such as Andamooka, Nooriootpa, Port Augusta and a few other hamlets. John also reminded me of the breakdowns of our Kombi vans and all the problems we had until The Mystrys and Kontacts broke up in Adelaide.
I was very thrilled to hear from John after so long - a whopping 45 years since those heady days on tour. John now lives and runs a business in British Columbia in Canada.
Amazingly, Charlie and I also managed to find every single member of The Kontacts. Lead guitarist Davida Dowal and female lead singer Alison Lafferty were still living in Melbourne, drummer Kaye Keele and rhythm guitarist Joy Pownall moved to Queensland, bass guitarist Sancia (Harry) Robinson was living in New Zealand and male lead singer Nic Gazzana was living in Sydney.
So after more than 50 years, the only people not located from the entire Mystrys and Kontacts era were promoter and manager Michael Kopp and Mystrys drummer Malcolm McPhee. Michael Kopp is definitely deceased, as he was middle-aged back in 1966, or more probably had his neck wrung by one of his scam victims. Malcolm McPhee seemingly has vanished off the face of the earth and cannot be found.
In 2014, I was contacted by Melbourne journalist Samantha Wilson, who had heard and really liked Witch Girl and decided that The Mystrys would be an excellent subject for a magazine article. So we spoke at length on the phone and I introduced her to Charlie, who met up with her and arranged a get-together with Bob Crawford. The result of the phone calls, meetings and the material on this website resulted in a fabulous double-page spread in Issue 48 of the the famous British music magazine Shindig. Here is the link to the article, which will open in a new window.
When I was on one of my trips to Melbourne, I had a meeting with Samantha at a coffee lounge in Acland Street St Kilda, the very street where The Mystrys rehearsed at the Artransa Studios. Samantha is a musician in her own right and a very gorgeous and pleasant lady. I hope to keep in touch with her in the future.