The story of Martin Clarke
and the legendary Clarion record label.
       Clarion label       
Open until end of March 2007
Fremantle Light and Sound Discovery Centre at the Western Australian Museum - Fremantle History, Finnerty Street Fremantle. Ph 9430 7966
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Clarion Gold is an exhibition about Martin Clarke and Western Australia's legendary Clarion Record Label.

The exhibition is open in the Fremantle Light and Sound Discovery Centre in the Western Australian Museum - Fremantle History and will run until the end of March 2007.

On display is one of Martin Clarks early record cutting lathes, as well as a selection of the acetates he cut on that machine.

record cutting lathe

There are samples of Top 40 Charts in which Clarion records appear, original Clarion documents and letters, photographs taken in the studio, and record players from the 1960s.

Record players

There is also a big selection of rare and not-so-rare Clarion records, including a gold record Martin Clarke received for Johnny Young’s “Young Happening” album.

Clarion records

The exhibition has been co-ordinated by Richard Rennie. The museum’s telephone is 9430 7966.

Martin Clarke developed his interest in sound recording as a teenager. His first recording studio was in his mother’s home in Mosman Park.

Les Dixon (below) was Western Australia's first Rock 'n' Roll singer.
Les Dixon

In 1958 Les had a Rock 'n' Roll record cut by Martin Clarke using the recording lathe on display. It was recorded in Martin Clarke's home in Mosman Park, and was Martin's first Rock 'n' Roll recording session. Martin was only 18, and Les (seen below) was 17.
Les Dixon young
At the age of 21 Martin set up Western Australia’s first purpose built recording studio in Hay Street East Perth. He installed the best recording equipment he could buy, including a Neumann record cutting lathe from Germany.

In 1962 Martin Clarke established W.A.’s first nation record label - Clarion. Its first release was a novelty song “Little White Star” - a tribute to astronaut John Glenn and Glenn's seeing of the “lights of Perth”.
Clarion label

Martin Clarke went on to record artists such as Johnny Young, Robbie Snowden, Glen Ingram, The Time, The Valentines, Clem Croft, and many more.

By the mid 60s Clarion records were being released nationally by Festival. Martin Clarke was producing national hits, often having several records in the Top 40 Charts simultaneously.

In 1966, Glen Ingram (seen below visiting the exhibition) and The Hi Five had a national hit for Clarion with Skye Boat Song.                                       Right: Glen Ingram and The Clan
Glen Ingram Glen Ingram and Clan

Martin Clarke recorded hits by Ray Hoff and the Off Beats, including Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go and Bama Bama, Bama Loo. Dave Birkbeck (below) played trumpet on these tracks.
Dave Birkbeck

Gemini had a big hit for Clarion with Sunshine River. Len Wright (left), Paul Young (centre) and Nick Melidonis (second from right) were part of that group.
Below: Paul Young (left), Nick Melidonis and Len Wright (below) at the Clarion Gold exhibition.
Paul Young      Mick Melidonis
Len Wright

In 1967 Maggie Hammond recorded 'You Won't Be Leaving'. She was backed by The Tagg, comprising Kevin Jamieson (organ), Tony Woodward (guitar), Phil Garner (rhythm guitar), John Kendall (bass), and Ron Moloney (drums). Below Kevin Jamieson visits the Clarion Gold exhibition.
Kevin Jamieson

Martin continued to record Western Australian talent in the 1970s.
Steve and Terry Lawrence
Steve Lawrence (above left) and his brother Terry Lawrence (right) played in many local bands. Terry Lawrence's 1971 Clarion recordings of 'It Takes Minutes' and 'The Girl I Left Behind' both reached Number 15 on 6PRs Top 40 charts. Below: Terry Lawrence in 1971.
Terry Lawrence

In 1972, Norm Wrightson with the Court Jesters recorded MCK 4654 - 'The Rangers Waltz'  and 'Day By Day'. The Court Jesters played dance music at Canterbury Court Ballroom. Norm Wrightson (below) recently visited the exhibition with his wife Bernice.
Norm Wrightson

Clarion continued to release records through into the 1980s.  About 120 Clarion singles, along with 20 EPs and 20 LPs were issued. Martin Clarke also released about fifty singles on the Martin Clarke Recording Studios generic labels, and countless special one-off recordings.
Martin Clarke
Artwork by Glen Ingram

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