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
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
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
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
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
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
Shirl’s last gig was at Melbourne’s Palais
for Nightmoves, he was totally spent and wanted a
simple life of surfing, carpentry , so Christmas ’78
he was no longer
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
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
He is survived by his wife Sue of 26 years who lived at Cooroy west of
Noosa. Shirl was 49