The town of Myponga is situated on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula, about 60 kilometres south of Adelaide. Prior to the staging of the Myponga Festival in 1971, the town's main claim to fame was the 1953 discovery of a uranium ore deposit at Wild Dog Hill, just outside the township and between 1953 and 1955, small quantities of uranium ore were obtained from the site. The Myponga area was chiefly known for dairy farming.
The Myponga Festival -- its proper title was "The Australian Festival of Progressive Music" -- was held on the traditional festival date, the Australia Day long weekend, from 30 January to 1 February. It was staged just a week after the Wallacia Festival in NSW and many of the acts who played at Myponga had come direct from performing at Wallacia.
The main figure in the festival organising company, Music Power, was Hamish Henry, an young Adelaide millionaire entrepreneur who had a continuing involvement with rock music in the early '70s. As well as organising the Myponga festival, Henry managed one of the headlining local bands, War Machine he also managed other Adelaide groups, Headband, Lotus and Fraternity (feat. Bon Scott).
The front page of the promotional flyer for the festival said:
"Music Power presents at Myponga, South Australia on January 30th, 31st, February 1st, the first Australian Festival of Progressive Music. The promoters believe that in keeping with world trends of freedom of expression and thought in all fields of art, literature and music, Myponga 71 will be an exciting, aesthetic and elevating experience through progressive music."
The Myponga festival was important for several reasons. Myponga was the venue for the first Australian performance by leading British heavy rock group Black Sabbath and it is believed to have hosted the Australian first performances by visiting Hungarian jazz-rock group Syrius, which featured the late Jackie Orszaczky. Black Sabbath was then at the peak of their form, the band turned in a fine performance and it is reputed to have been by far the best of their several Australian appearances. The other major overseas act scheduled was Cat Stevens, but his appearance was cancelled just before the festival began. Stevens eventually toured Australia for Paul Dainty in August-September 1972.
Myponga was also an important event in the careers of two leading Australian groups -- Daddy Cool and Spectrum. Spectrum's successful appearance was some months before their national hit breakout with "I'll Be Gone", and according to Adrian Rawlins, they played a very impressive set.
The same was true for Daddy Cool, which at the time was still part of Wilson and Hannaford's larger Sons of the Vegetal Mother project. DC had been warmly received at Wallacia and when their Myponga set totally eclipsed the Vegetals it was clear that Daddy Cool were far more popular than their parent band, so Sons of the Vegetal Mother was soon shelved for good. Filmmaker Chris Lofven was on hand with a movie camera to capture some of the DC set and this footage (often mistakenly thought to be from Sunbury) eventually found its way into Chris' landmark film-clip for Daddy Cool's debut smash-hit single Eagle Rock.
ORIGINAL MYPONGA TEAM
Hamish Henry - Director of Grape Organisation, Myponga Music Festival Financial Backer and Promoter, Owner Of Music Power
Trevor Brien - Myponga Music Festival Booker and Artist Liaison
Jim Moncur - Media Spokesman
Vince Lovegrove - PR, Media Liaison
Alan Hale - Tickets, General Organisation
Bruce Packer - General Organisation
Bil Andersen - Hensen Graphics, Posters and other Printed Promotional Material
Jon Lovejoy - Festival Spokesperson
Alex Innocenti - Selling Tickets through Cellar Blues Club & Assistant to Trevor Brien