Neon sign, 'SOUNDS', and attached power supply, wood / metal / glass / plastic / electrical components, used by Channel Seven on the television program 'Sounds', power supply made by Standard Electric Works, Hong Kong, 1986, neon sign made by Signcraft Neon Pty Ltd, Brookvale, New South Wales, Australia, 1986
This neon sign documents the television program 'Sounds', which began on Channel Seven on 1 March 1975, the day colour transmission officially commenced on Australian television. It began life as 'Sounds Unlimited' with Graham Webb as host. Webb soon gave up hosting for production, entrusting the job to ex-Sydney DJ Donnie Sutherland.
'Sounds' went out live for three hours from 9am each Saturday morning, 52 weeks a year, until December 1987. At its peak it was shown on well over 100 stations nationally and regularly reached 85% of the watching audience. From 1975 to December 1987, 'Sounds' had many Australians between 13 and 35 watching rock music. It was an unprecedented achievement, held together by Donnie Sutherland's impish grin and infectious spirit, and a freedom seldom seen in today's tightly controlled programming.
Like its fondly remembered contemporary, the ABC's 'Countdown', 'Sounds' not only introduced a generation of Australians to rock 'n' roll, but, a decade before MTV hit the American airwaves, ushered in the era of video music. The genesis of 'Sounds' was in the TV-clip shows of Graham Webb, an ex-'Blind Date' host and British pirate radio presenter. Webb has received little recognition of his role as a pioneer of rock video in Australia. Frustrated at trying to find material to screen, he would commission a young Russell Mulcahy, then working as a newsroom editor, to film sequences to accompany the hits of the day. The results were the first real video clips to be consistently given TV airplay. Record companies soon caught onto the promotional possibilities and a new industry emerged.
With three hours a week to fill, 'Sounds' had the time to run lengthy interviews, specials and non-mainstream clips. Guests could vary from Slim Dusty to Siouxie Sioux, with clips from Weddings Parties Anything and Air Supply. It became a magazine for young people and a reference point for youth culture. Unable to compete with the insistence of 'Countdown' on the right to premiere clips, 'Sounds' instead concentrated on presenting an unparalleled breadth of artists.
In 1984 'Sounds' received international recognition with a bronze award for best TV music show in the world at the prestigious New York Film and TV Festival. This was significant praise for the Australian industry and worthy recognition for the show which interviewed over 5000 people during its life, pioneered satellite and location shows and provided an essential outlet for local talent. When 'Sounds' was cancelled in December 1987, it was at the whim of Channel 7's new owner, Christopher Skase. It was still rating as highly as it ever had. No other program has ever effectively replaced it.
Designer unknown. Sign made by Signcraft Neon Pty Ltd, 106 Old Pittwater Rd Brookvale. It was commissioned by Channel Seven and cost $2000. The transformer was made by Standard Electric Works, Kong Kong, 1986.
The sign was commissioned by Channel Seven in 1986 and used as part of the set for Donnie Sutherland's Saturday morning television program 'Sounds'. It has belonged to the donor since Channel Seven allowed him to purchase it for $50 after 'Sounds' was axed in 1987. The sign was featured on the television program 'Beyond 2000' during a segment about neon signs. The donor was a technical director at Sydney's Channel Seven for many years. Apart from 'Sounds', he worked programs such as 'Hey Dad', 'Sons and Daughters', A Country Practice', 'Romper Room', 'Saturday Morning with Jono and Dano' and 'Real Life'.