Song Of The Day 7/6/2015: Little Pattie – “I’ll Eat My Hat”

Australian Pop With Colin Donald: Like many Australians, my general knowledge of Little Pattie covers 3 points:

1) She really is little (actually, she’s tiny). Apparently she needed a point of difference from taller school friends who were also called Pattie.

2) She is a cousin of the late Chrissie Amphlett, fiery lead singer of the Divinyls. Apart from AC/DC, Chrissie is the only rock act to have a Melbourne street named in her honour.

3) She sang for troops in Vietnam.

But the further I looked into her life a surprising number of life achievements came to light. If she were to hold all her awards at once her tiny frame would be swamped.

The year was 1963, the dance craze was ‘The Stomp’, surf-pop records were walking out the stores and in that scene a 14-year-old Little Pattie (fronting The Statesmen) had a huge hit: "He's My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy." Only the Beatles would stop her from reaching number one in the charts. It must have been heady stuff, as she lasted just one more year in high school and then took to regular TV appearances and touring with big namers: Col Joye and the Joy Boys. That too must have been heady stuff, as she married one of the Joy Boys in 1973.

Albums and singles kept her in the public eye and she reached the title of Australian Female Singer of the Year in 1965. She was growing up quickly, and by the age of 17 was the youngest performer allowed to entertain troops in Vietnam (doing 3 shows a day). On August 18, 1966, uncomfortably close action caused her to be evacuated mid-performance and the sights she saw from the helicopter had a profound effect. To this day she has been dedicated to the welfare of serving soldiers and has continued to perform in areas of engagement, such as Iraq. In 1994 her efforts in Vietnam were rewarded by receiving the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal from the Armed Forces.

Paul’s pick for SOTD is her 1967 single "I’ll Eat My Hat." If that’s her diet it might explain her stature. Anyway, enjoy the clip, which looks like it was shot in the stock exchange. If that whets your appetite, enjoy this nostalgic collection of videos.

Little Pattie moved her career into adult contemporary music, subsequently appearing on several TV shows in America, including The Ed Sullivan Show. Approaching the 1972 Australian Federal election she sang with other entertainers on the Australian Labor Party's iconic "It's Time" jingle. That song played no small part in sweeping in a government whose programs still have profound effects on Australian life today. By 1977 she had moved into country music. In later years she has been a vocal coach and mentor at many exclusive schools, but you can still book her for a concert and she will break out the surf-pop tunes.

In addition to her music career, Little Pattie was a member of the Council for the Australian War Memorial (1995 to 1998), and received an Order of Australia Medal in 2003 for her services (as National President) to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and (as vice-president) to Actors' Equity. She has been on the Federal Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). In 2000 The Sydney Morning Herald named her one of the 'century's most loved faces', and she was pictured in a 1998 issue of postage stamps featuring pop/rock acts. In 2004, General Sir Peter Cosgrove (now our Governor General) invited her to be patron of FACE, (Forces Advisory Council on Entertainment).

In 2009 Little Pattie was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. Little by name, but not by nature! -- Colin Donald
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