Graham Shirley Strachan

Tuesday, August 02, 2016 01:14:15 PM


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Shirl – Graham Strachan was born on January 2nd 1952 and died 29th August 2001. He was one of four born to Joyce and Ronald Strachan.

He was Skyhooks lead singer, nicknamed Shirley because of his fuzzy curly hair, like Shirley Temple, but clearly his blonde bleached hair from his surfing days was the difference.

He went to Mt Waverly High School and decided to take up Woodwork in 4th Form. He did not enjoy French and caused a lot of turmoil for the teachers.

He was sacked from First Aid in Form 2 room for giving mouth to mouth to a girl who clearly did not need it.

He left school and followed his dream to become a ‘chippy’  working with his Dad to gain his apprenticeship as a Carpenter. His dad became a Carpenter after WW2. During his first year his runner up to the Dux of the class and his second year in building technician course he was the one who topped the course.

Surfing was always his first love , but music gave his the biggest buzz, He met up with Freddy Strauks and Greg Macainsh, and was part of the band claptrap, working still on completing his trade before taking up music and other interests full time. He went to Perth with his girlfriend Sandy who would later become his wife but came back to Melbourne to become Skyhook’s lead singer.

Their music rocked the establishment, controlling the destinies, culturally and their enormous skills with music, writing their songs and just entertaining us in their wild fashion, they just connected with everyone.

However all this became too much took off for a holiday in Bali and married his wife Sue in England. He did come back and mad Ego is not a Dirty Word putting rumours behind that he was leaving the band.

He faced a real turning point and turned on his life in Melbourne as headed for Sydney in 1974 and the rest is history. He retuned to his old trade in 1983 ad built a surf shop on Phillip Island.

He loved kids but sadly never had any of his own and really enjoyed his show television series, Shirl's  Neighborhood in the early 1980s.

In the 90’s he was presenter on Our House on the Nine Network where he regularly used his carpentry skills for the show.

Skyhooks Era: They came out to be one the most brash, cheeky and colourful bands to entertain us. I remember them as a ‘Baby Boomer’ watching them on TV, I never saw them live. They managed to change the musical history of Australia in the 70’s. ‘Living in the 70’s’ sold 300, 000 albums

After Skyhooks was disbanded his most successful song released was, his cover of "Every Little Bit Hurts" in 1976.

Skyhooks were simply not just another band and quickly made another Album "EGO is not a dirty word" selling over 200,000 copies.

Shirl’s last gig was at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre for Nightmoves, he was totally spent and wanted a simple life of surfing, carpentry , so Christmas ’78  he was no longer ‘hooked’.

He starred in Shirl’s Neighbourhood from 1979-1983 and did MMM Breakfast Show from 1995-1997.

He also did Our House on the Nine Network from 1993 till his death in 2001, showing his bright, bubbly personality, talking to the viewers in everyday language in his beaut Aussie style. He was known a s the mouth on the Our House se. I guess they never would have thought that has been, washed out rock star would become a strong anchor for 8 years that he appeared on the show, sadly he has just lost 10kg on his Vegetarian diet, when his untimely death took his cheeky smile of our screen. He will be remembered for  his great communication attributes, his wonderful friendly nature, embracing life to the fullest , his wonderful enthusiast attitude , his exuberance , choosing to be seen eating normal tucker with roadies not champers with the high flyers.

However his life came to its tragic end on 31 August when sudden gust of wind took his life on his first solo flight. The Bell helicopter flipped and plunged to earth upside down. The westerly winds were reaching34 knots around 70kms an hour. For some reason his was off track. He had taken off from Sunshine Coast airport.

Flying was one of his greatest of passions. Bob Starkie Bongo, said it didn’t surprise him that he went down in helicopter, he always loved to have joystick in his hand. He stood up to many over the years, calling a spade..A SPADE. His enormous appetite for having fun kept many of his band members up for hours.  He was always a practical, professional guy. A well know prankster.

He is survived by his wife Sue of 26 years who lived at Cooroy west of Noosa. Shirl was 49.