Pip Proud

July 2020: Half A Cow reissued Pip Proud’s debut album De Da De Dum. There were only 20-50 copies made back in 1967. Pip gained the attention of Polydor Records and most of the tracks were re-recorded and became the Adreneline & Richard album the following year. The recordings on De Da De Dum are unique to this album. You can check out the album here and is also be available as a tee-shirt pack. Pipmania is in full force!


The most original and groundbreaking Australian singer-songwriter of the 1960s! While all around him artists fell over each other trying to imitate overseas trends – beat groups, psychedelia, or whatever they were listening to in London and LA that month – Pip Proud was starting from scratch and making his own music.

The Adelaide-born Philip Proud taught himself his own idiosyncratic guitar style as a teenager; moving to Sydney in his late teens, he began to write poetry, novels and songs.  In 1967, encouraged by stockbroker/art patron Michael Hobbs, Pip Proud recorded De Da De Dum at home. No-one knows how many copies were pressed, on Pip’s own independent Grendel label, but it was not more than 50.

In early 1968, artist Gary Shead made a documentary about him, also called De Da De Dum. Interest was growing in this unique and unusual 20-year-old. Bob Cooley at an Australian sub-label of UK’s Polydor heard the De Da De Dum album and asked Pip to re-record it. This became Adreneline & Richard, modelled on the earlier LP but missing two songs: ‘I Love You Best When You’re a Leaf’ and ‘The Sun Was Yellow’.

The one thing the critics all agreed on was that Pip Proud was an original, although some thought they heard traces of Dylan or Melanie – two other artists who played guitar, sang and offered poignant observations on the world. In subsequent decades the name of Syd Barrett has also come up, although Barrett was two years away from releasing any solo material when Pip first recorded.

By the time the second Pip Proud album emerged – A Bird In The Engine – Pip had his eyes firmly set on Britain. He returned to Australia in 1971 set on expanding his literary horizons; he wrote for Double J, (Vlort Phlitson, Intergalactic Trouble Shooter and Don Coyote), published some poetry and wrote – then burnt – numerous novels. For a time he lived in Tasmania before relocating a rural area of New South Wales, eventually living in Tenterfield in the mid-1990s.

Everyone gets a revival, though, and there was something in the air. In 1994 Dunedin singer-guitarist, Alastair Galbraith, released a track, “Pip Proud”, on his four-track EP Cluster. Pip’s two Polydor LPs were released as one CD on Half A Cow Records as Eagle-Wise (1996). Pip also started to write and record new material, including some with Nic Dalton the same year.

He recorded three albums for the Emperor Jones label: “I had to learn the guitar again. I recorded to a cassette player that was hooked up to the car to power it, then a petrol generator, then solar cells.”

Early in the 21st century Proud’s health declined. In 2002 he had a stroke which left him blind and partially paralysed. He died on 4th March 2010, aged 62, from throat cancer, survived by five children.

In 2020, the original 1967 De Da De Dum is re-released on Half A Cow in all its raw, ambitious, primitive glory.

– David Nichols


Buy Music

De Da De Dum

A Bird In The Engine

Adreneline & Richard

Eagle-wise (compilation)


De Da De Dum (hac238)
originally released 1967 (Grendel)
reissued by Half A Cow 2020

Adreneline & Richard
released 1968

A Bird In The Engine
released 1969

Eagle-wise (compilation)


review at savagesaints.blogspot.com

If any Australian performer of the Sixties deserves the description “cult figure”, it’s Sydney singer-songwriter-poet Philip “Pip” Proud (b. 1947). Among his fans are Ian McFarlane, who likens him to Britain’s legendary Syd Barrett and American Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine). One of his most ardent champions is Sydney writer-musician David Nichols (The Cannanes), who describes Pip as “Australia’s first pop primitive” and hails him as “the greatest Australian singer-songwriter of the 1960s”. In the late Sixties Pip was touted as Australia’s answer to Bob Dylan, but this was a simplistic comparison. Nichols suggests a commonality with other distinctive solo artists like Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Melanie, Donovan and Sandy Denny, but perhaps more so with some of the ‘underground’ artists of the last 10-15 years:
“He was, of course, twenty-five years ahead of his time. Listen to Lou Barlow’s Sentridoh, or the Folk Implosion’s Kids soundtrack. Listen to other cutting-edge U.S. artists like The Mountain Goats, Beck, Guided By Voices or The Spinanes. Or listen to New Zealand’s Alistair Galbraith, such a Proud fan he led off his 1994 Cluster EP with a song called “Pip Proud”. Then listen to Pip Proud and tell us he doesn’t fit so snugly with those sounds it’s almost uncanny.”
Pip’s style was unique. He wrote strange, plaintive song-poems about modern urban life and love, which he sang in his distinctive high, quavering voice. What made his recordings really stand out was that he accompanied himself by strumming or tapping on the strings of his unamplified electric guitar. Italian music writer Piero Scaruffi describes Pip’s songs as
“… bizarre, childish rants of an hallucinated mind, accompanied by an out-of-tune guitar and paced at irregular tempos. The only precedent was the acid-folk music of the Holy Modal Rounders.”
Like Syd Barrett, Pip recorded two remarkable solo Albums of original music in the late Sixties — which now fetch hundreds of dollars apiece on the collectors’ market — and then he more or less disappeared from view. But interest in his remarkable music was kept alive by a dedicated few, and in the mid-1990s his musical career was revived, thanks largely to the efforts of super-fan David Nichols. We are delighted to report that, since then, Pip has recorded and released several CDs of new music, which have gained international release.
Information about Pip’s life and career is scant. What we know so far is that Pip was born in Adelaide and moved to Sydney in his late teens, where he began creating a large body of poetry, songs, novels and plays and also — like most of his contemporaries — became involved in the anti-war movement. Ca. 1967 he was ‘discovered’ by stockbroker and art patron Michael Hobbs, who financed Pip’s first recording, the privately-recorded album De Da De Dum. It was released on the Grendel label, and apparently only about fifty copies were pressed, which must qualify it as one of the rarest and most collectible of all Australian recordings of that era.
Fortunately for posterity, Pip’s album was heard by Bob Cooley, A&R manager at Polydor Records (the Australia branch of what later became the Polygram group). He was impressed by the unque qualities of Pip’s music and signed him to the Philips label. Pip’s first commercial LP was a re-recording of the songs from his debut album, released in 1968 under the title Adrenaline and Richard . It was well-reviewed in Go-Set which led to Pip making a few TV appearances and giving a handful of live performances.
Another person who became fascinated with Pip’s music was Sydney artist and underground filmmaker Garry Shead, who was part of the now-legendary Ubu film collective. There are several connections between Hobbs and Shead — Hobbs had purchased Shead’s portrait of fellow filmmaker Albie Thoms, which had been exhibited at the 1968 Royal Easter Show in April (it is now in the collection of the the Wollongong City Art Gallery), and he later financed Shead’s film Live Between Evil.
With backing from Hobbs, Shead made a 15-minute experimental film documentary about Pip, also called De Da De Dum. It was shot in early 1968 with a crew drawn from the cast of Terror Australis. This experimental theatre production, which had premiered at the Jane St Theatre in Sydney in March that year, featured a number of future “big names” of Australian arts, including Shead, future film/TV stars Garry McDonald, Helen Morse, Jennifer West, Dean Letcher, Johnny Allen (who went on to organise the 1973 Aquarius Festival), Jim Sharman and Oz co-editor Richard Walsh.
The publicity sheet for the film is reproduced in Peter Mudie’s brilliant 1997 book on Ubu:
“This experimental documentary observes Pip and his constant companion Alison in a variety of settings which project Pip’s attitudes to urban life. Slow, fast and single frame filming are used, and some images are drawn on and punctured. Pip sings his own songs on the sound track.”
The film was completed in May 1968 and it premiered on 16 May at the (now demolished) Rose Bay Wintergarden cinema as part of a program of underground films by American filmmaker Bruce Conner, which also featured new Australian works including De Da De Dum, Matuta (the debut film by renowned director Paul Cox), and Bruce Petty’s anti-war film Hearts and Minds, which Petty had been unable to get screened on Australian TV. This event was a major success, with over 1600 people attending, and De Da De Dum was also screened as part of Ubu’s “Underground 68” program at the Playhouse Theatre in Canberra on June 27-28.
Some time during this period Pip formed a band, The Pip Proud Group, and he recorded his second solo album A Bird In The Engine, which was released in 1969. He then travelled to the UK, apparently on the promise of a possible signing to The Beatles’ Apple Records. But like so many other Australian musos of the time, his sojourn in the UK was a frustrating period spent living on the breadline, waiting and working for breaks that never came his way. On his return to Australia he was dropped by Philips, effectively ending his recording career, and it would be more than 25 years before he returned to the studio.
During the ’70s Pip continued to write, producing poems, novels and plays, and around 1970-71 he was living in Sydney in the same building as his friend, noted ‘underground’ poet Michael Dransfield. Most of Pip’s work remains unpublished, but in the late 1970s the ABC’s rock station Double Jay produced radio adaptations of two of his plays, Vlort Phlitson, Intergalactic Trouble Shooter and Don Coyote and presumably these are preserved in the ABC archives.
Nothing else was heard from Pip until the mid-1990s, when he was tracked down by David Nichols. With the help of Nic Dalton, the wonderful Half A Cow label remastered and reissued Pip’s two Albums as the CD Eagle-Wise, which was released in July 1996. Nichols and Dalton also took Proud into the studio for his first new recordings in since 1969, which resulted in the album Oncer, which also received a US release on the Emperor Jones label.
By this time Pip was a father of five, living on the north coast of NSW; since then he has apparently moved to Healesville, on Melbourne’s eastern fringe. Over the last ten years Pip has released several more CDs in collaboration with other artists and most released on the Emperor Jones label.