Dave Gleeson had his first taste as a rocker playing at a school formal in Newcastle.
A few months later, the Screaming Jets frontman played his first proper gig with Grant Walmsley and the foundation of the band was born.
Although having undergone several line-up changes over the years, Gleeson has always remained at the core of the band, blitzing his way through their back catalogue of pub rock anthems including Better, Shivers and Helping Hand.
Gleeson has also starred on the Channel 7 singing program It Takes Two and had regular stints on The Footy Show.
The father of two lives in Adelaide with wife Katie and continues to tour and record with The Screaming Jets.
Gleeson performs in the Led Zeppelin tribute, Whole Lotta Love, with a 12-piece band and guest vocalists including John Swan and Steve Balbi at Civic Theatre on September 11.
Are you a big Led Zeppelin fan?
I think anyone who loves rock knows that Zeppelin are one of the seminal rock bands of all time. Zeppelin invented the greatest rock riffs of all time – and everyone else has been stealing them ever since!
Favourite Led Zeppelin song?
It would have to be Since I’ve Been Loving You which I sang in the show last year. It’s the heaviest rock-blues song I think I’ve ever heard, and Robert Plant’s soaring vocal on it is pretty amazing.
Ultimate rock god?
My ultimate rock god would have to be Jim Morrison. As I grew up he was the guy I identified most with. I can’t class Bon Scott as a rock god. I don’t know where I’d put him but he was the all-time greatest frontman of any band.
Stevie Ray Vaughn was perhaps my favourite musician so to sing Cold Shot with him would be pretty cool.
What song do you wish you had written?
Oh geez, there’s a million. The perfect song ... hmmm ... maybe A Day In the Life by The Beatles. It’s got it all.
The very first gig I did was at a school dance for St Francis Xavier’s College which is where I went to school. We were in fifth form and it was the Year 10 formal that we played at. We played at Town Hall in Newcastle and that was it for me! I hadn’t even thought of being in a band but Grant Walmsley asked me to come along, so I did that and maybe two months later we had our first gig.
I couldn’t tell you the best gig because there’s been so many. But the best gigs are when you come off stage feeling like you’ve just been hit by a truck. You’re dripping with sweat and huffing and puffing. You can’t talk for five or 10 minutes.
I just warm my throat up a bit and bang myself on my chest like a big baboon.
You live in Adelaide but do you still support the Newcastle Knights?
Well I’ve actually always been a Dragons fan [laughs]. I started following footy in 1975, so the Knights didn’t come in until 1988 and I’m not one to be a turncoat so I’ve always stuck with the Dragons. But Newcastle has a very special place in my heart and I know some of the former players and a couple of the players still on the team.
Anything you miss about Newcastle?
Everything! I think of it on a daily basis – the beaches, the people and the places familiar to me that I go back to after living away for so long. They’re little spiritual places for me. I’ll often stop at South Newcastle Beach and have a little reminisce. I miss the whole joint. And I miss my family too, of course.