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Courtesy of Peter Pinne
Peter Pinne Peter Pinne i(A35028 works by) (a.k.a. Peter Lindsay)
Born: Established: 1937 Moreland, Brunswick - Coburg area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria, ;
Gender: Male
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BiographyHistory

OVERVIEW

The author of twenty stage musicals, Peter Pinne has been involved in many facets of the entertainment industry, both in Australia and overseas, during his five-decade-long career. His professional resume includes composer, lyricist, scriptwriter, author, columnist, recording producer, company founder/director, and executive roles (including Senior Vice President) in two global television organisations. Pinne first began writing songs for Melbourne revues in the late 1950s, and by the early 1960s was working largely in collaboration with Don Battye. Their first major success, A Bunch of Ratbags (1966), is believed to have been the first rock musical to be staged anywhere in the world (pre-dating Hair by a year). Other notable Pinne/Battye musicals are Caroline (1970), Sweet Fanny Adams (1974), Red, White and Boogie (1973) and, arguably their most successful musical, Prisoner Cell Block H, which premiered to much critical acclaim in London's West End in 1995. The two men have also collaborated on seven children's musicals, beginning with Rumplestiltskin in 1974. Pinne's other creative partnerships include A Bit O' Petticoat with Ray Kolle, Pyjamas in Paradise (2005) with John Michael Howson and Ashley Irwin, and Suddenly Single (2007) with Paul Delitt.

Employed as a scriptwriter by Grundy Television in the late 1970s, Pinne worked on some of the most successful series ever produced in Australia, including The Young Doctors; The Restless Years; Sons and Daughters, for which he also wrote the theme song; and Prisoner. In the mid-1980s, he was appointed Executive in Charge of Production for Neighbours. Pinne later wrote the wedding song 'In Your Arms' for the show. His position as executive producer also involved overseeing production of Australia's Most Wanted. He rose to the position of Senior Vice President of Grundy Television, handling, among other duties, the launch of Neighbours in the U.S.A.. He retained the position with Pearson Television (Latin American division) when it bought out Grundy in the 1990s.

In 1999, Pinne established Bayview Recording Company, an American-based boutique recording label specialising in reissued CDs and the show music market. His career has also seen him collaborate with Albert Moran on research for the Australian Film and Television School's publication Moran's Guide to Australian Television Series (1993). He contributed the chapter on Australian musicals to David Hummel's American Musical Theatre (1984) and has published a discography, Australian Performers, Australian Performances (1987). Between 1981 and 2002, he wrote the 'Down Under' columns for the American magazine Show Music. In 2003, he began contributing regular articles to the Victorian Theatres Trust's publication On Stage, and, since 2005, has been writing for Stage Whispers.

BIOGRAPHY

1937-1969: Born in Moreland, Victoria, Peter Norman Pinne initially pursued a career with the advertising company J. Walter Thompson before going into the family butcher business. His interest in theatre, inspired both by an aunt and through frequent visits to the Tivoli with his great grandfather, saw him eventually become involved in revue. His early career in the theatre was undertaken both in amateur and professional productions. Although Pinne learned piano from three teachers, notably Melbourne jazz pianist Les Patching (who himself wrote several musicals with Frank Wilson), he was largely self-taught as a songwriter. In early 1957, under the nom-de-plume Peter Lindsay, he began sending in songs to ABC Radio's These Are Our Songs. The show's competition format saw five new popular-style songs introduced each week. The winning song was re-broadcast the following week, with a prize of ten pounds going to the composer(s). Eight of Pinne's songs were selected for inclusion in the show between April 1957 and November 1958, with his first entry, 'Autumn in Love', going on to win the prize. Two of Pinne's songs ('November Serenade' and 'Lost in Love') also reached the finals of another ABC radio competition, Write a Pop Song, which aired in November 1957.

Among his early collaborations were revues staged by Melbourne's Bread and Cheese Club Composers and Songwriters Group. His first production with the group was Annual Revue, staged in February 1959. Another revue staged later in the year (One to Fourteen), included a young writer/actor named Don Battye. Although Pinne was largely writing material on his own at this stage, he and Battye collaborated on one song: 'The Spy.' Other members of the Composers and Songwriters group included Dorothy Barnham, Barry Prendergast, and Doreen Irwin (piano). Pinne was involved in a number of other revues staged in Melbourne in 1959, including productions at the Arlen Theatre (St Kilda) and the Arts Theatre (Richmond). Several of his songs were also performed that same year on the ABC TV variety series Saturday Night Party.

In 1960, Pinne and Battye began collaborating on their full-length musical All Saint's Day. Played out within a metropolitan football (Australian Rules) setting, it premiered at the National Theatre, in Melbourne's Eastern Hill in December that same year. They followed this in 1962 with Don't Tell Helena, before scoring their first major critical and box office success with the chamber musical A Bunch of Ratbags (1966).

Based on William Dick's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, A Bunch of Ratbags received generous reviews from the Melbourne theatre critics. One of the songs from the show, 'A Mason or a Mick?', was accorded additional success by being included in such revues as Who the Hell Are You? and Revue at the Loo. It was also performed on The Gordon Chater Show. Other popular compositions from this period include 'I'm a Square,' 'It's Apples with Chappells', and 'I Played Around with Love and Lost' (Pinne); 'A Miracle a Day' (Pinne/Battye/Kolle); and 'Up the Empire,' 'Millie', and 'Sunday Morning Fashion Parade' (Pinne/Battye).

Pinne and Battye followed A Bunch of Ratbags with It Happened in Tanjablanca (1968), a musical spoof on Hollywood musicals of the 1940s, which had a second life as Red, White and Boogie (1973).

Among the revues to which Pinne and Battye contributed some material during the 1960s were Every Child's Garden of Revue (1964), The Student Body (1964), Revue at The Loo (1967), and Who the Hell are You? (1967). Several of Pinne's songs (including Pinne/Battye compositions) were also featured in the television comedy/satire series The Mavis Bramston Show (1967-1968), The Gordon Chater Show (1968), and The Entertainers (1969). The first stage revue to contain a considerable number of songs (and one sketch) was Gone to Pot (1968), which was staged by the Launceston Players in 1968.

1970-1989: In 1971, Pinne and Battye created a tribute to Caroline Chisholm, which was staged by St Martin's Theatre. The production received additional financial assistance as a result of the theatre company having been awarded a $40,000 grant from Sir Henry Bolte to produce a series of Australian works. Caroline has been, perhaps, Pinne and Battye's most popular and most frequently revived musical. That same year, Pinne was commissioned to write the soundtrack for A City's Child (Kavanagh Productions), a film that explores the issue of loneliness in a large city through the life of an unloved spinster.

The next two Pinne/Battye musicals to be staged were The Computer and Love Travelling Salesman (both presented as part of the 1972 Adelaide Festival of Arts). The following year, they premiered the first of their children's musicals, Rumplestiltskin (Alexandra Theatre, Melbourne), along with Sweet Fanny Adams, an adult musical about two rival whorehouse madams (Le Chat Noir, Melbourne). Buoyed by the critical success of Rumplestiltskin, Pinne and Battye produced several more children's musicals during the remainder of the 1970s: The Shoemaker and the Elves (1975), Jack and the Beanstalk (1976), Billabong Bill (1976), The Little Tin Soldier (1977), The Emperor's New Clothes (1978), and Beauty and the Beast (1980).

In the mid-late 1970s, Pinne and Battye began expanding their creative output, branching into television. Don Battye worked for Crawford Productions as a writer and executive producer, while Pinne was initially employed by Reg Grundy Enterprises (RGE) as a scriptwriter. Battye eventually moved across to Grundy, where they both worked on such series as The Restless Years, The Young Doctors, Richmond Hill, Starting Out, and Sons and Daughters. Their theme song for the latter series became a No 1 chart hit in Europe when the series was eventually shown there.

During the 1980s, Pinne also wrote the theme for the telemovie A Special Place, collaborated on the development of Shortland Street, and penned the wedding song 'In Your Arms' for Neighbours. Despite his extensive television commitments, he continued to pursue his interest in live theatre during the 1980s, collaborating with Ray Kolle on A Bit O' Petticoat (based on Oriel Gray's prize-winning play The Torrents). Beginning in 1981, he also began contributing a series of articles to the American magazine Show Music. Titled 'Down Under', the column continued to be published regularly up until 2002.

In 1982, Pinne was appointed Head of Production for Grundy, a position he held up until he went to the USA in 1991. In this role, he oversaw the continuing production of Neighbours, Sons and Daughters, Richmond Hill, and The Young Doctors (as Associate Producer/Script Editor for some six-hundred episodes), while also setting up such new series as Secret Valley, Taurus Rising, Starting Out, Waterloo Station, and Pretty Petrol (pilot). He was also Executive Producer for Australia's Most Wanted. In addition, he supervised the production of Bellamy, Runaway Island, Professor Pooppsnagle's Steam Zeppelin, the mini series Tanamera: The Lion of Singapore, the telemovie Island Trader, and two documentaries: The Australian Way and The Killers.

Pinne reamined in Los Angeles for some two years (1991-1992) as Vice President (Serialised Drama), overseeing Grundy's operations there, including the production of Dangerous Women (an American version of Prisoner) and the US launch of Australia's Neighbours. Reg Grundy's expansion into the international television markets with Grundy World Wide in 1985 eventually led to Pinne being placed in charge of the company's operation in South America, where he set up offices and production facilities in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela for the making of a variety of programs, notably game shows and sitcoms.

1990-1999: When Grundy sold his company to Pearson Television in 1995, Pinne remained with the operations as Senior Vice President (Latin America). Among the productions he was associated with during his time in South America were the game shows La Venta Del Siglo (Sale of the Century), Blockbusters, Man O Man, and Juntos Per Siempre (Together Forever) and the sitcom Madre y Hijo (Mother and Son). In 1995, Pinne again found time to separate himself from his television commitments, re-uniting with Don Battye to adapt the Australian television soap Prisoner into a musical. The series had enjoyed a cult following in England since first being broadcast there and thus, not surprisingly, the end result, Prisoner Cell Block H - The Musical, enjoyed a successful run on the West End in late 1995 before being taken on two provincial tours (1996 and 1997).

2000- 2007: In 1999, Pinne founded the USA-based Bayview Recording Company. Based in Los Angeles, the boutique label was aimed at the show music market, specialising in both new musicals and re-issued recordings of favourite productions. All of its twenty releases became number one best sellers in New York. Bayview also reissued on CD such musicals as Lionel Bart's Lock Up Your Daughters, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, Maggie May, and La Strada, along with Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and Noel Coward's Ace of Clubs. Among the Australian musicals and cast recordings re-issued have been Lola Montez, Only Heaven Knows, and Hair, as well as a compilation, Musicals From the Land of Oz. One of the company's releases, All The Colours of the Rainbow, containing fourteen new versions of songs from a selection of the Pinne and Battye children's musicals (1973-1980), was named as one of the top-ten show-tune albums released in the USA in 2000.

Since 2003, Pinne has been contributing regular articles to the Victorian Theatres Trust's publication On Stage. A series of articles for On Stage, first published in 2005 under the on-going title 'It Didn't Always Have to Close on Saturday Night', looks at the intimate revue genre in Australia during the 1950s and 1960s. Pinne's association with On Stage has also seen him produce a series of feature articles on important Australian musicals. His music theatre articles have also been published regularly in Stage Whispers since 2005.

After a hiatus of several years, Pinne returned to writing musicals in 2005, collaborating with John Michael Howson on Pyjamas in Paradise. The following year, he and Paul Dellit put together a retrospective stage show celebrating the infamous 1960s television series The Mavis Bramston Show. Titled Mavis Bramston - Reloaded, the production premiered in Brisbane in October 2006. In late 2007, Pinne sold Bayview to the Georgetown-based (USA) label Original Cast Records. That same year, he and Dellit followed their revue with Suddenly Single, a musical focusing on the metro-sexual phenomenon. It was given a 'Showcase' performance by OzMade Musicals in December 2007.

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • 1. HISTORICAL NOTES AND CORRECTIONS:

    1.1. Songs performed during the ABC's 1959 Saturday Night Party television variety series include ' I Played Around with Love and Lost' and 'Night After Night' (sung by Joy Grisold) and 'I'm a Square' and 'The Toughest Hombre in the West' (sung by Graeme Bent).

      • As a songwriter, Peter Pinne has also been a finalist in the 1991 Benelux Song Festival (with 'Love Will Never, Never Be Like This Again') and was placed second in the Festival's 1997 competition (with 'For Life').

    1.2. The Pinne/Battye songs performed on The Mavis Bramston Show were 'Up the Empire,' 'Elsie', and 'Psychology' (all sung by Barbara Angell).

    1.3. 'A Mason or a Mick?' was performed on The Gordon Chater Show (ATN-7) in 1968.

    1.4. The Entertainers (7 Network, 1969) featured Tommy Hanlon, Rod McLennan, and Nancye Hayes performing 'Revive' (Pinne/Battye). Johnny Farnham and Alison Durban also performed Pinne's 'Man and Woman, Boy and Girl' during the year.

        • 'Man and Woman, Boy and Girl' was later interpolated into the Pinne/Battye musical The Computer. The song was then credited to Pinne/Battye.

    1.5. These Are Our Songs: music director Frank Thorn led the ABC Melbourne Dance Band. Featured soloists included Eric Mitchelson, Pam Corrigan, Arthur Little, Joan Arnold, Geoff Brooke, Jack Bowkett, Muriel Luyk, Darryl Stewart, Joan Clark, and Reg Gray. The thirty-minute program was produced in the ABC's Melbourne studios. Peter Pinne's selected entries were:

        • 'Autum in Love (10 Apr. 1957) - Winning entry. Re-broadcast on 17 April 1957

        • 'At the End of the Rainbow' (26 June 1957) - Sung by Muriel Luyk.

        • 'Romantic Paradise' (6 Mar. 1958).

        • 'November Serenade' (13 Mar. 1958).

        • 'Look to the Sky' (19 June 1958).

        • 'We Will Love Till Eternity' (10 July 1958).

        • 'I can Read You Like a Book' (30 Oct. 1958).

        • 'Lost in Love' (6 Nov. 1958).

    1.6. Write a Pop Song: Produced by Joe Crummey at the ABC's Sydney studios, this was a national song-writing competition. The ABC's Sydney dance band was led by Jim Gussey.

    1.7. Pinne was a guest contestant on the quiz show $6,000 Question over several nights in late November/early December 1970. His specialty areas were musical comedy and American musical comedy.

  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian-written music theatre and film being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.

    Additional information has been sourced from material donated to the Fryer Library (University of Queensland) by Peter Pinne.

Awards for Works

Sons and Daughters 1981 series - publisher film/TV

Sons and Daughters explores the dramatic incidents in the lives of the wealthy Hamilton family and the working-class Palmer family. The premise that underpinned the show's early years concerned the character John Palmer, on the run from the Melbourne police, who suspect him of murder. He travels to Sydney and falls in love with the wealthy Angela Hamilton, but they are later revealed to be twins who were separated at birth and raised separately: John raised by the wise former prostitute Fiona Thompson before returning to live with his father and Angela raised by her mother, who subsequently married into money. More wealth later arrives through the introduction of the Morrell clan, who have managed to marry their way into the Hamilton family.

1983 winner Logie Awards Most Popular Drama Series
Last amended 15 Nov 2011 13:53:04
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