It was only in the last couple of years that I had the distinct privilege of meeting Ross Hannaford, when he, along with the other three original members of Daddy Cool, Ross Wilson, Gary Young and Wayne Duncan, gave an interview about their career prior to their induction into The Age Victoria Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Hannaford’s good humoured recollections (although he claimed not to have too many) and anecdotes during that interview were delightfully entertaining, not unlike his musical performances on stage over the years; back in the Daddy Cool days, he wore a helicopter hat on his head as he danced around the stage. Not that any gimmickry was required to draw attention to some of the most sublime guitar work this country has ever heard
Hannaford had been playing in bands since the ripe old age of 12 and was not quite 13 years old when he met Ross Wilson and the two joined forces, forming their first band The Pink Finks. More combos followed after that including the Party Machine, Sons of the Vegetal Mother and Mighty Kong but it was his work with Daddy Cool that would forever cement the name Ross Hannaford in Australian musical history.
In 2006, he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, along with fellow Daddy Cool members acknowledging the band’s considerable contribution to the Australian recording industry.
In more recent years, Hannaford could be seen busking on the streets of Melbourne and, by all accounts, doing rather well at it although apparently it was something that, at first, he was reluctant to do.
He has worked with some of the country’s finest artists including Renee Geyer and John Farnham, to name just a few. And the enormous respect that he has earned from peers and fans alike was never more evident than in 2015 when, following the news that Ross was battling a serious illness, two sell out shows were put together by friends in the music industry. Held over two consecutive days at Memo Music Hall in Melbourne, the benefit shows raised funds for Ross in his battle and many of our greatest musicians jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand, ensuring two sensational shows in Hannaford’s honour over the weekend and, thankfully, the guest of honour was able to be a part of it.
His cancer diagnosis earlier in the year didn’t stop Hanna (as he was affectionately known) from recording his last CD. If anything, perhaps this lit a spark that saw the project come to fruition. The CD, titled ‘Hanna’ (naturally), was scheduled to be launched with a show at Oakleigh’s Caravan Club on 10th December 2015 but, much to his disappointment, Ross was too ill to perform that night and the show had to be rescheduled. The launch did eventually go ahead a few days later on 15th December for one last performance with another sold out show at the Caravan Club.
On Tuesday, 8th March 2016, Ross Hannaford lost his brave battle with cancer and the world lost an extraordinary musician and personality whose enormous contribution to the Australian music scene spanned an incredible six decades.
To Ross’s family, friends, colleagues and fans, Rock Club 40 would like to extend our sincere condolences. Rest in Peace, Hanna and thanks for the musical memories.
You can purchase a copy of the 'Hanna' CD (or any of Ross's other CDs) here
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved