Back To The Past (38)

I still remember seeing Australian metal band CHEETAH at the world- famous Reading festival (UK) in 1982. Little did I know about the background of this band. The fact, they just had a record out called “Rock N Roll Women” was the only thing I did know. And that the band consisted of two of the most finest looking female vocalists, you ever can imagine. Standing there in 1982, it never really crossed my mind, that almost twenty-five years later I would be interviewing one of the ladies of this particluar band for our website. Nor did I realise, what this band has achieved in the past, or what they would be up to in the (near) future. All of this (and of course much more!) will be discussed in the following interview, that we did with Lyndsay Hammond, the blonde (and older) sister of Chrissie. I still can’t believe, we would be able to trace down one of these ‘rock and roll women’ after so many years. Read on how the CHEETAH survived so many years of rock and roll history....

Why did you move from England to Melbourne, Australia, and how old were you when this happened?
“We emigrated as a result of our parents decision, when we were resp. two and four years old in 1958.”

When did you actually find out, that you and your sister owned some great singing voices and did you have any singing lessons in your youth?
“When we were quite young, we used to sing and play guitar at our parent’s parties. And no, we have never had singing lessons ever.”

Your sister Chrissie made her first steps in showbusiness as Mary Magdalene in the second Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar. This must have been quite an experience, and a positive boost to her career, because almost everybody knows this musical.
“Yes, she was only nineteen and it was a very big starring role for her.”

You fronted a band, called SKINTIGHT, for three years. What kind of music did you play, and can you recall the names of the other band members?
“We played soul, funk and R & B. I can remember the guitarist name was Brenton White, because he was my husband at the time.”

Why did you quit SKINTIGHT, and did someone take over your place or did the band just fall apart after you left?
“The band just ran its course and we all moved on to other things.”

You also toured with Rene Geyer. This name doesn’t ring a bell to us at all. Maybe you can tell us more about this cooperation?
“Renee Geyer is a famous soul singer in Australia and I did one tour with her as a backing singer.”

In 1977, you formed CHEETAH with Chrissie. Did you already work together musically, before the formation of CHEETAH?
“As we are sisters, we always somehow worked together. After Chrissie finished in Jesus Christ Superstar and worked with the original line-up of AIR SUPPLY, we formed CHEETAH.”

Who came up with the name CHEETAH, and why?
“Chrissie chose the name, because it sounded right and we wanted something with a feline image.”

How come record label Philips released “Love Ain’t Easy To Come By” as a single without your permission?
“It was a management decision between the record company and a manager we had at the time.”

Your official debut single was released in 1978 - a cover by THE RONETTES, called “Walking In The Rain”. Why did you pick this song as being your debut single?
“Once again this was a management decision, but it became a huge hit in Australia nevertheless. We were very young and naive at the time and obviously had lots to learn about the business side of music.”

What exactly happened that your single “Deeper Than Love” did not reach the charts in Australia at all? And how did you manage to hit the charts in Germany instead with this release?
“Radio stations simply did not like it and refused to play it. But our record company in Germany liked the song very much, so they released it and it became a huge hit.”

To be honest with you, we only know CHEETAH for their album “Rock & Roll Women” and I’ve seen the band play live at the Reading Festival in 1982 (more about that later on in this interview). What were the musical influences of the band, when you recorded this album? Obviously, AC/DC must have been one of your biggest influences...
“Yes, they were and our producers were their early producers. Also we were with the same label.”

Did any of the band members on the album, play in other interesting bands before they joined CHEETAH?
“Our bass player Mark Evans played with AC/DC.”

Did the flipsides of the four singles taken from this album contain any tracks, that were not to be found on the album?
“Yes, a song called “Love You To The Limit”.”

What was your most successful hitsingle from this album?
“Definitely “Spend The Night”.“

Did you ever write any new songs with CHEETAH for a follow-up album, after you toured in England?
“Yes, we wrote a whole album, but never recorded the songs.”

What caused the split of CHEETAH and when exactly did that happen?
“It was 1984, I think. It’s a long time ago, but Chrissie and myself were out of contract with the record company and the times had changed. I seem to remember that heavy rock was a bit out of fashion at the time. There was lots of pop music around and video clips seemed to be more important than live shows. Live performances and touring was always our greatest strength and great love.”

Let’s have a closer look at your live shows with CHEETAH, and of course your show at Reading in particular. Let’s start with your live shows in general. With whom did you share the stage with in your years of existence?
“Once again you are testing my memory, but I seem to remember IRON MAIDEN, NEIL YOUNG, GARY MOORE, SCORPIONS, SAXON, U2, JETHRO TULL and MOTORHEAD, to name a few.”

Did you also play any covers, or did you just stick to your own self-written material?
“No, we didn’t play covers as such, but most of our own material and I hate to disappoint you, was written for us by Harry Vanda & George Young, our producers. Our second album was our own material, but was never recorded. We did however start to introduce our own material into the live set. It has always been my greatest wish to record those songs and I did record some in another band of mine, called WORD OF HONOUR.”

What was the metal scene like in the early eighties in Australia? Were there many clubs where you could play live?
“Only a very few. That’s why we relocated to the UK.”

Did you play many shows in Europe, besides the gigs you did in England?
“We played at all the European festivals.”

Did you have any show effects on stage, besides the usual hard work and loads of sweat of course?
“No, we hated all the special effects and pyrotechnics. We just wanted to let the music and vocals speak for themselves.”

Like I mentioned before, I saw the band at Reading 1982 in the UK. Prior to that, you recorded a TV special, which was never broadcasted on British television, because you acted way too sexy on stage (so they said). Is that a true story? And weren’t you flabbergasted about this whole situation?
“Yes. A true story and we were amazed, as we were only doing what guys had been doing for years onstage.”

Did you ever get hold on a copy of these recordings yourself and if yes, what did you think of it?
“No, I have never seen a copy.”

The first impression, I got of CHEETAH was that you played live much louder than on the record, and the guitars were much more in the background. Can you agree with me on that and please explain why...
“By the time we had finished recording and started introducing our own material we had learned a lot and really liked to play loud and hard. We also had changed band members, when we got to the UK, but we still had to make them play a lot harder than they were ‘used to playing with girls’. That’s a quote from one of the musicians! We like the energy that comes from playing rock loud and hard.”

The most impressive thing, I can recall is that you went to the control tower back and forth, through the audience. Any particular reason for that?
“I’m glad you remembered that, as it’s one of my fondest memories of the festival. I have always done things onstage spontaneously. I hate anything that is contrived or too rehearsed. It reminds me of a cabaret show and that’s not what we were going for. It’s what the essence of rock is about, raw energy and feeling like you can do anything you want to at any given time. Total freedom of expression. The crowd responded to it as well, so what I was going for hit the spot and was especially pleasing. No one knew that I was going to do it, so it caused a bit of a panic with security and roadcrew!”

I believe, they were also filming these gigs from there. Have you got any idea what happened to the footage, they recorded?
“No, I have never seen it.”

What else can you recall from that specific day?
“Lots of great music, and a well-deserved vodka after the show.”

Don’t you think, there were a lot of people, who only came to see the band, because there were two pretty and sexy ladies on stage, playing some nice rock songs? (I do remember this huge banner with ‘Get Your Tits Out’ for example).
“We used to have an army of guys, that used to show up all the time singing ‘get your tits out for the lads’. It became a bit of a joke, because I hauled one of them onstage, sat on top of him and told him in front of a huge audience to get his out for the girls. He refused and got all embarrassed, so I promptly got it out for him and it was very disappointing, if you know what I mean. Word got around after that not to mess with me or else! We always believed that eventually the music would become the main focus once everyone had gotten over the sex thing. I think, it did that day. In some ways it’s a pity we didn’t stick around even longer. Would be interesting to see the reaction today.”

I remember, there were a lot of bands on the bill, that I really loved, like GARY MOORE, BUDGIE, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, Y&T, IRON MAIDEN, BLACKFOOT, BARON ROJO, BOW WOW and many more. Which bands did you check out this weekend, and which bands did you like the most?
“I loved GARY MOORE and IRON MAIDEN. There was also a girl band, called ROCK GODDESS, who were pretty cool.”

I’ve seen a statement on your website, that CHEETAH would be touring Europe in 2005. Why did this never happen and are there still any plans to come over in the near future?
"CHEETAH have reformed and we are currently negotiating to tour Australia with our Countdown Spectacular show in September 2006 [Note from editor: check our concert guide for all the recent dates!!]. I would very much like to bring our show to Europe as well in 2007.”

Are you still in touch with the former band members?
“Yes, I am.”

Can you update us on what happened to Ian Miller (guitar), Ronnie Peel (guitar), Les Karski (bass), Mike Peters (keyboards) and Ray Arnott (drums) after the band split up?
“All these guys are still in Australia, but I don’t keep in contact with them.”

We never heard about any line up changes of CHEETAH. Were there any and if yes, can you please tell us more about the people that went in and out?
“Only Chrissie and myself went to the UK. We recruited English players after that. The two guitarists you saw with us at Reading are Ant Glynne (ROGER CHAPMAN, MIKE OLDFIELD, RICK WAKEMAN) and D'zal Martin (THE EQUALS, RICK WAKEMAN).”

How do you look back at your CHEETAH days now?
“With great fondness and pride. I think, we were at the forefront of woman in rock and I’m proud to have worked with some great people.”

Chrissie worked with keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman (YES). Did she also sing on his albums, and did she perhaps tour with him as well?
“Yes, she recorded eleven albums with him and toured world wide.”

She also played the theatres of West End for a while, but what is she doing right now? Is she still active in the music scene?
“Yes, she lives in the UK and is in Chicago at the moment. She also played the lead in the musical "Cats" for four years in West End as Grizabella.”

You have been working with THE VAGABONDS and WORD OF HONOUR. What's the link between both bands?
“For the UK, we renamed WORD OF HONOUR, THE VAGABONDS, as there was another band in UK with the same name. We played hard rock and released one album in 1991. We toured England and Germany through 1991-1995. You can download some music from my website;”

You also released two solo albums. What kind of music do you play on these albums?
“Singer/songwriter with blues, roots and country influences.”

Are there any other projects, you are working on nowadays?
“If you go to the website, you can grab all that stuff and download music. I have just finished a play [Red Dust Diva] and am now working on a film of the same project and also planning to release another solo album. I even did a jazz project. So I am doing lots of varied stuff these days.”

Is your sister still living in London? And don’t you miss her a lot, while you are living in Australia?
“Yes, I do miss her, but we talk a lot on the phone.”

To what music do you listen to nowadays?
“What I have always listened to are NEIL YOUNG, BOB DYLAN, DANIEL LANOIS and LUCINDA WILLIAMS.”

You also worked together with Keith Glass, a big country star in Australia. Is country music your new passion now?
“I have always loved country music, as I love HANK WILLIAMS and WILLIE NELSON and EMMYLOU HARRIS.”

What’s your favorite CHEETAH song and why?
“I used to like “Scars Of Love”, as I liked the groove and the lyrics.”

There must have been some situations, in which you were dealing with male groupies. Please tell us some nice stories about how male fans tried to catch your attention, or what fans tried to do to get in contact with you or get a date with you. I bet you and your sister must have been in some very hilarious situations sometimes?!
“I think, I have told you already about the ‘get your tits out for the lads’. They used to follow us around all the time and became really cool fans.”

What are your plans for the future, long and short term?
“Possibly touring with CHEETAH and recording another solo album and starring in the film "Red Dust Diva".”

I have seen a couple of video clips from CHEETAH, but what about the circulation of any good live footage (shows), that you know of?
“I don’t know of any. I’m not very good at keeping records.”

Will the video clips be released on DVD in the future, maybe with some bonus live footage, that is available somewhere. Or don’t you have any plans in that direction?
“That would be entirely up to the old record company, Alberts, in Sydney (the AC/DC label). You would have to ask them. I guess, if there was a demand, they would do it.”

Where did you actually shoot these video clips?
“In Sydney, Australia.”

Do you have any other hobbies or interests besides playing music?
“I love riding horses or anything to do with them and drinking fine red wine.”

Do you also play any instrument(s) besides singing? And what about Chrissie?
“Yes, I play guitar onstage now. Chrissie also plays guitar.”

We are an online magazine from The Netherlands, dedicated to the female musicians in the (hard) rock and (heavy) metal scene. Do you think, that women still need this kind of attention, that we give to them? Or do you feel they already get all the recognition they earn so much?
“I think women need celebration regardless! I have never had any issues with the sexist thing. My belief is if you have a problem with it, then you are going to have a problem with it. You always attract the things you fear of have a problem with the most.”

Have you ever been to Holland, and what else do you know about our country, besides the fact that we have wonderful tulips, beautiful windmills and some tasty cheese?
“And you put mayonnaise on chips! Yes, I have been to Amsterdam many times and love it. You are all very tall there and both Chrissie and I are 174 centimeters, but we are like midgets in Holland. We did a TV show there, but I don’t recall the name of it.”

What was it like for you to take a walk down memory lane and answer all these questions about CHEETAH?
“Great fun and I am very pleased you are interested in us.”

What’s the biggest goal, you’ve achieved with CHEETAH?
“We were women and we rocked hard and loud and played to all those huge festival audiences.”

And are there also moments, you would rather forget about?
“Some of my bad hair days!”

Do people still ask you a lot about CHEETAH, or was this a one of a kind request from our account?
“No, people still ask a lot, as they still play the old clips on television here in Australia.”

Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview? Maybe there’s something we forget to mention, that is essential for the whole story of CHEETAH, and would make it complete. Or have we covered it all?
“You’ve covered everything and your research is fantastic. Well done! Thanks for taking an interest in us.”

Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
“Never let anyone talk you out of your dreams and keep believing in yourself. The world is what you think it is and you are the only one who can create your future. There is enough room for everybody as an individual on this planet, despite what our governments and other people would have us believe.”

The last words in this interview are for Lyndsay and CHEETAH....
“If anyone would like to see CHEETAH live again, please let me know and I’ll see what we can do. Visit:”

Interview by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens-summer 2006.

Visit CHEETAH's web site at:

Discography CHEETAH

*Rock & Roll Women (April '82; EPC 85522)

*Shake It To The Right ('77; AUS Philips)
*Love Ain't Easy To Come By ('77; AUS Philips)
*Walking In The Rain ('78; AUS EMI)
*Deeper Than Love ('79; AUS Albert)
*Spend The Night ('80; AUS Albert) [Note: also available as picture disc!]
*Love You To The Limit('81; AUS Albert)
*Bang Bang ('81; AUS Albert)
*My Man ('82; AUS Albert)

Other CD releases Lyndsay Hammond:
*WORD OF HONOUR - Heat Of The Moment ('91)
*THE RAVEN ('99; AUS Warner Bros)
*RED DUST DIVA - The Musical ('05; AUS Hi Ten Records)

CDsingle releases Lyndsay Hammond:
*Shattered ('01 AUS Warner Bros) [from THE RAVEN album]
*Back Into Heaven ('01; AUS Warner Bros) [from THE RAVEN album]
*Here's A Heart ('02 AUS Hi Ten Records) [from RED DUST DIVA album]
*Rooms In Our House ('03 AUS Hi Ten Records) [from RED DUST DIVA album]

Album/CD releases RICK WAKEMAN w/Chrissie Hammond on vocals:
*Phantom Power ('90; Ambient UK)
*Softsword ('91; President UK/Ambient UK)
*Don't Fly Away b/w After Prayers ('91; Ambient UK - CDsingle)
*Prayers ('93; Hope Records UK)
*No Expense Spared ('93; President UK/Bellaphon GER)
*Light Up The Sky ('94; President UK - CDsingle)
*Cirque Surreal ('95; Pinnacle UK)
*Fields Of Green ('96; Griffin UK)
*Vignettes ('96; President UK)
*Can You Hear Me? ('96; Hope Records UK)
*Fields Of Green ('97; Music Fusion)
*Fields Of Green ('97; Music Fusion - CDsingle)
*Themes ('98; President UK)