Aussie pioneer rocker Jeff St John can’t mask his elation.
Jeff’s inspiring story has just been immortalised in a new autobiography, The Inside Outsider, launched in Perth this week.
And a crowd of fans, ageing hippies, musicians, friends and funksters were at the launch to herald this massive achievement, which had Jeff grinning from ear to ear.
In its 72,000 words, Jeff tells his inspiring story. This precocious child prodigy’s career began at five, when he sang at a wedding; at eight he was on Radio 2GB.
In the 60s, this long-haired dude with the Tarzan-strong vocals blasted his way to household fame with hits like Teach Me How To Fly, and Big Time Operator.
His first band was The Syndicate, later, came The Id, which made its mark nationally (the band also holds the record as being the first in Australia to be busted for marijuana possession). Later came Yama, and in 1969 Jeff formed legendary Perth band, Copperwine. And there’s much more after that.
What made Jeff’s trajectory so amazing was, throughout his stellar career, he endured the ravages of spina bifida, a congenital condition affecting the spinal cord.
Confined to a wheelchair for much of his life, and having had numerous hospital visits, he nevertheless proved it was possible to fly in his music.
Perth publisher and St John fan James Anfuso approached Jeff several years ago, asking him if they could collaborate on a book, and to his delight, Jeff agreed.
The project took 18 months, but now, umpteen anecdotes and images have been assembled in an impressive coffee table time capsule: The Inside Outsider.
The book doesn’t hold back: it documents the lows as well as the highs. At one stage, riddled with pain and suffering depression, Jeff saw no way out and wanted to end it all.
Thankfully, though, he’s now loving life again, for this he credits the love of his devoted partner of four years, Marilyn.
Now 70, he can’t deny his deteriorating back is giving him hell; and he knows he can never sing publicly again; his body just isn’t up to it.
But this week, nothing was going to keep him away from the launch. And his fans couldn’t get enough of him, queuing to get him to sign memorabilia including old 45s of his hits cherished for decades. “This guy’s amazing; ooh, that powerful voice,” we kept hearing, over and over again.
“Jeff’s given so much to others over the years; and not just with his amazing music,” says James. “I was inspired to work with him on this project because I love that he’s a hero for those with special needs. I have a special needs son – and Jeff is a reminder that anything is possible.”
There are only 200 copies of The Inside Outsider, a magnificent coffee table book, retailing for $120 – and already half have been sold. So if you’re a Jef S John fan, or a fan of Australian rock history, make haste!
Each book comes in a custom designed slipcase with a numbered, signed by Jeff St John with Certificate of Ownership.
To purchase, go to the Starman Books website www.freewebstore.org/starman-books or purchase it at Diabolik Books in Scarborough Beach Rd, Mt Hawthorn.