YOU know that old saying about the '60s? That if you can remember them, then you couldn't have been there?
Well, Doug Parkinson was most definitely there, and what's more, he remembers far more than he admits he might have forgotten.
Parkinson, praised since his early breakthrough years as one of Australia's greatest rock voices, will be in the Hunter on Saturday, November 21, for a gig at Belmont 16s.
The show, with a crack rocking band, is called Doug Parkinson honours Joe Cocker.
The first half of the show is Parkinson singing the songs that made him famous: hit singles including Dear Prudence, Without You, Hair and Everlasting Love.
The second half of the show pays tribute to the infamous Yorkshireman, from the crazed days of Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Cocker's career-defining take on the Beatles' With a Little Help From My Friends, through to his 1980s reinvention courtesy of Up Where We Belong and You Can Leave Your Hat On.
In conversation with Weekender, Parkinson said the Cocker show had been selling like hot cakes and gigs were booked into the middle of next year.
For a man who formed his first band in 1966, it's been a long life of performing.
"There's not too many of my generation of Australian pop stars still out there on the road," Parkinson says.
While his wife and manager Suzie - they married in 1968 - was coy about her husband's age, the man himself had no such reservations.
"I just turned 69 and, as far as I'm concerned, and Suzie says the same, I'm singing better now than I ever have."
FOR many years, Parkinson and his wife have lived on Sydney's northern beaches, but the singer's life began at the Mater Hospital at Waratah on Wednesday, October 30, 1946.
He came into the world at "two or three in the morning" and wonders if that wasn't a factor in his being a life-long night owl.
Parkinson's father was a water-colourist and commercial artist working in print advertising and, although the family left Wallsend for Sydney when Parkinson was five, he still has relatives in the Hunter, and catches up with them occasionally "when the clan gets together".
With his booming bass voice and brooding, Mephistophelian looks, Parkinson is sometimes asked if he is part African-American or Polynesian.
But the family is Welsh/Irish on his mother's side and German on his father's, so the "black" sound, it seems, is simply a quirk of his DNA.
Parkinson says he was "painfully shy" as a teenager and first sang "into a pillow" to muffle his voice.
"Then my father one day made the huge mistake of buying a two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder," Parkinson says.
"I have no idea why he bought it but it was there, and one night I snuck out and turned it on and sang into it.
"And I thought 'Who is that person coming back on that tape?'. It intrigued me.
"Then I asked for a guitar for Christmas and that was the end of me."
Parkinson left high school at 15 and did a handful of labouring jobs before a friend arranged an interview at the Daily Telegraph - owned at the time by James Packer's grandfather, Sir Frank Packer - that led to a journalism cadetship.
"It's where I learned to drink!" Parkinson says with a laugh.
"I was there for three years from 1964 to 1966. I was so impatient, another year I would have been a graded journalist, but I was impatient, I was earning more with the band two nights a week than I was at the paper, but I was always having to swap shifts with other cadets and then I finally bit the bullet and left.
"But I have always wondered what if ... "
By 1967, Parkinson was well into "the outer regions of psychedelic rock" with a band called The Questions, whose guitarist, Ray Burton, would later co-write I Am Woman with Helen Reddy.
That year, The Questions supported British acts The Who, The Small Faces and Paul Jones (ex-Manfred Mann) on a national tour that was too much for a still-conservative middle-Australia.
The Who guitarist Pete Townsend vowed the band would never return Down Under, and kept his word until 2004.
In 1968, Parkinson formed the band that would really make his name: Doug Parkinson In Focus, featuring Billy Green on guitar, Johnny Dick on drums and Duncan McGuire on bass, producing a run of singles that included his two biggest chart hits, Dear Prudence and Without You.
Back then, bands took part in a national competition, called Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds after the Melbourne company that invented the Violet Crumble and had been making them since 1913.
The Questions were runners-up in 1967 and In Focus won the 1968 battle.
The "pub rock" phenomenon that characterised Australian music in the late 1970s and early 1980s was yet to find its feet and Parkinson said many of his 1960s shows were either in nightclubs or they were daytime "no alcohol" affairs.
Another big influence on pop culture at the time was the Saturday morning TV show, Uptight.
Hosted by singer Ross D. Wylie, Uptight began in 1967, becoming Happening '70 at the start of the new decade. Its final year was Happening '72.
Parkinson was an Uptight favourite.
"I am still mates with Ross," Parkinson says.
"At that time we'd be doing maybe 10 shows a week in all these little clubs in Melbourne and all the bands would criss-cross each other in their vans - you'd wave out the window and you'd know everybody.
"The Masters Apprentices, Max Merritt, Glen Shorrock, Brian Cadd, all of them.
"And then we would end up sleeping on the Friday night in the studio car park and we'd get up at dawn and run into the station and clean up in the studio toilets and get dressed to do an 8am show that ran for four hours, live!
"Nobody else in the world was game to do it like that. In America they wouldn't dream of doing it, but Australia did, and that's how we learned our craft."
After two huge hits in Dear Prudence and Without You, Parkinson was primed for even bigger things, but his next single, Baby Blue Eyes, was killed by the "1970 radio ban" - a royalties dispute between radio stations and record companies that kept Australian records off the airwaves for much of that year.
In hindsight, it was a devastating blow.
For the next few years Parkinson kept playing and recording - he cut an album in London with a new band, Fanny Adams, and spent two years on the road - but an era was drawing to a close.
Another single, Everlasting Love, hit the top 20 in 1974, but Parkinson's career began to move towards the stage, with roles in the rock opera Tommy and in stage productions of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Ned Kelly.
In 1978, Parkinson reunited with drummer Mark Kennedy and bass player Duncan McGuire - both veterans of In Focus -to form the Southern Star Band with a young Tommy Emmanuel on lead guitar.
In 1981, Parkinson made his TV acting debut on The Young Doctors. He also cut an album that year with Broderick Smith, of Dingoes fame, that resulted in a top-10 cover of The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More.
Between then and now, Parkinson has forged a strong and successful career as a singer, actor and writer, with a steady stream of corporate gigs and TV commercial jingles and voice-overs should rock'n'roll not be enough to keep the wolves from the door.
Ads for Coke, BHP, Toyota, Carlton United Breweries, Sanyo and Philips helped, as well as acting roles in tele-movies The Body Business, Butterfly Island and Watch the Shadows Dance. There was The Motown Story at Sydney's Kinselas, a big-band tribute, Destination Moon, 18 months as Pap Finn in the musical Big River, the Big Bopper in the Buddy Holly musical Buddy, Vince Fontaine in Grease, The Arena Spectacular and the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Also, a Wallabies theme song for the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup and a stint on the old rockers' tour, A Long Way to the Top.
And that's not a full list.
IT'S a year ago tomorrow since the Rolling Stones played at Hope Estate and, though Mick Jagger looks as lithe and lively as ever, there are not too many septuagenarians like him.
By contrast, "Lemmy" Kilmister, vocalist and bassist for heavy metal band Motorhead - a few months older than Parkinson - has had to cancel a few gigs mid-show this year because of health problems.
Parkinson says: "I hate it that the body is disintegrating before my very eyes.
"But you make up for it with experience because you have the firepower to go where your mind wants to take you - if that makes sense - while you are singing.
"I only found out a year ago that I love singing. It's always been a job, I've just gone out and done it, I've never ever thought about it, and then one day the penny dropped. I thought 'I really enjoy where this takes me and what it does to me'."
Parkinson also loves writing - he says not finishing his Telegraph cadetship is one of his great regrets - and he is working on a book that is part memoir, part historical reflection on the 1960s that he hopes to publish next year.
He began writing songs from his earliest days as a singer, but success was hard to find.
"This is another of my major regrets, that I didn't persevere with songwriting," Parkinson says.
"This is the time of The Beatles, of course, and I thought 'I am never ever going to write a song as good as The Beatles'.
"So I concentrated on learning to sing correctly and properly and in a different way.
"I can either say I'm an interpreter of other peoples' songs, or I'm a crook songwriter, so I prefer to say the former."
Rockin' Joe Cocker is another man whose fame rested largely on his interpretation of other people's songs, and Parkinson says he had been thinking about a Cocker show for some time when the great man died on December 22 last year, aged 70.
He never met Cocker, but sees "a lot of parallels in our lives".
"So now I am having this strange feeling of stepping in another man's shoes and singing his repertoire, which feels weird sometimes," Parkinson says.
"He rings a bell with so many people, especially Australians, because of that out-of-control element with him that a lot of young Australian males like."
Parkinson says the Cocker songs are "not doing anything much removed from what I do anyway" but the two sets seem to meld perfectly together.
"There's some kind of weird connection that the audience - my audience - wants to come and see," Parkinson says.