As the graceful international divas of the pop scene dominated the global charts of the ‘60s, a few local ladies were making their own stab at pop stardom. Chief among them was Little Pattie – better known today as 63-year old Pattie Amphlett, who kicked off her career at the tender age of 14 with the 1963 hit He’s My Blonde-Headed, Stompie Wompie, Real Gone Surfer Boy (ridiculous title, yes, but a perfect fit with the early ‘60s penchant for surf pop).
Amphlett will revisit her hits, and those of her counterparts, for the upcoming Class of ’69 concert series.
“It’s a show of two halves. I’ll be doing the first half, singing songs from the ‘60s; some of them will be my hits, some will be the hits of other people,” Amphlett told the Star Observer.
“The second half will be a big tribute to some international female singers – Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Lesley Gore and Diana Ross.”
Four younger Australian singers will take to the stage as those four greats, performing enduring classics such as Downtown, It’s My Party and Stop! In the Name of Love. As a scrappy teen-pop starlet in the 1960s, Amphlett said she looked to those big international names for inspiration.
“I’m sure I’m speaking on behalf of a lot of female Australian singers when I say those were the women we idolised. They churned out the hits, and made it in a pretty blokey world. The music industry is still male-dominated, but back then, to have a hit record in such a fella’s business was pretty darn good,” she said.
“When Dusty, Diana and all those girls had their first hit records, there were already several Australian girls, myself included, who’d already had hits. But the fact that they’d struck out in that enormous international way inspired us. We thought, if they can do it, maybe we can do it to. It gave us the impetus to keep going and to not just be one-hit wonders.
While Amphlett’s own chart-bothering days were behind her by the end of the 1960s, she managed to escape the grim fate suffered by many other child stars. No rehab stints for Amphlett, who parlayed her early pop stint into a long career as a live performer and singing teacher (yes, she said, she’s made sure her students know their way around a few Little Pattie hits).
“Sometimes you’re thrown in at the deep end, but I was surrounded by great people so there was no way I was ever going to get a big head. The people around me were supportive and protective, but never unrealistic about anything,” she said of her successful transition from child star to well-adjusted adult.
“It was a heady cocktail for a young person – to have left school, to be on tour, constantly on television and recognised whenever you walk out the door. But you know something? You just deal with it.”