Rick Pointon's favourite room in his Lake Macquarie home is lined with vinyl. Records, tens of thousands of them, climb the walls and crouch over the doorway.
The library of singles and albums, arranged in alphabetical order, is a rock and roll Aladdin's Cave. More to the point, it's Rick's refuge, his pride and joy, and the focal point of his obsession.
Rick Pointon began collecting records when he was about 12. His parents gave him a little record player and a copy of Jimmie Rogers' EP, including the hit Honeycomb, which reverberated through the family home at Argenton. And that was it; the love of a lifetime was etched into his soul as surely as grooves are into vinyl.
"I was just smitten with music," the 74-year-old says. "All my pocket money went on records.
"I can tell you where I bought almost every record. Almost."
And to think this collection has been culled. Pointon says he recently sold about 30,000 records.
"Rick's a hoarder," says Pointon's wife of almost half a century, Helen.
"I like to say I'm a collector of interesting artefacts," he counters.
The "record room", in effect, chronicles the history of rock music. And each and every record chronicles the life of Rick Pointon.
If, as the saying goes, music is the soundtrack of someone's life, then this room amplifies what a crowded and eclectic, loud and colourful life Rick Pointon has led.
Music has been Pointon's life. He marks the moments with rhythm and melody.
"I can remember sitting on the bus at Glendale waiting to go home, and everyone had a little transistor, and I first heard She Loves You, and I thought, 'Holey Dooley," Pointon says, before recounting a string of songs entwined around a particular time and place in his life.
More than collect records, he has made them, as a member of popular Newcastle acts in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including topping the local charts in the mid 1970s with his band Benny & the Jets.
Art Ryan, a long-time media personality and creative collaborator of Pointon, describes his friend as "Newcastle rock music royalty".
Now Rick Pointon has mixed his love of music with words, writing his first book, Hey Rock 'n' Roll.
The book is both a memoir, journeying through Pointon's musical life, and a local social history, as the author recalls Newcastle's rock and roll past, taking the reader into venues long gone and conjuring up performers he played with. Some of those artists have been silenced by the years; others are legends.
Often the personal and the historical combine on the page, in what Pointon calls "not your normal autobiography".
The self-described "collector or interesting artefacts" has shown in his writing that he is also the keeper of fascinating anecdotes.
"It's always been there," says Pointon of his desire to write a book. "Someone would say, 'Did you ever play with so-and-so?', and I'd tell a story, and they'd say 'That's a good story. You should write a book'.
"I tried to make it more about what was happening in the musical world at a certain point, whereas in a normal autobiography I think you'd have more things about yourself.
"I wanted to have a bit more of a history of Newcastle music."
Still, the main character in this journey through Newcastle's rock past is Rick Pointon himself.
Born in England in 1946, Rick was 10 when the Pointon family immigrated to Australia, and made Lake Macquarie their home.
Only back then he was Eric. However, after a school mate found out that American pop singer Ricky Nelson's birth name was Eric, young Pointon became known as "Rick". The name stuck.
"If I pass someone in the street and they say, 'G'day Eric', I know they were living in Argenton when I was very young," he says.
Pointon bought his first guitar in 1962, hoping to play like Hank Marvin from The Shadows.
While he was inspired by a rock star, Rick Pointon says he never imagined being one. He writes in his book that he has "never been desperate to pack out the Royal Albert Hall or the Hollywood Bowl". What's more, Pointon never gave up a day job for a band, even when he was playing almost every night. His desire to take to the stage stayed close to home.
"I always wanted to play, but I never looked that far ahead, I don't think," Pointon says.
In 1963, Pointon joined his first band, The Mystics, as a bass guitarist, playing lots of Shadows songs. He then joined a group called The Mystery Men, in which he became the lead singer as well as the bass player, a combination he would continue throughout his career.
Band names changed as quickly as music trends. The Mystery Men became the Tremors before morphing into the Others, which later turned into The Second Thoughts.
That band recorded a single, The World Keeps Goin' Round, which is now a collector's item. Of course, Rick Pointon has it in his collection, but he recently saw a second-hand copy for sale for $200: "I can't afford my own records!"
In the mid 1960s, The Second Thoughts played on stages up and down the coast, and in Newcastle venues that are now but a memory, often buried under apartment blocks and stores, places such as The Cavern Coffee Lounge in Wolfe Street, the Impala Teenscene in Hunter Street, and Shindig Village in Newcomen Street.
Back then, he says, there were so many venues supporting so many bands attracting so many crowds, from suburban kids to seamen off the visiting ships lining the wharves.
"One night we counted, and there must have been 25 live bands in and around Hunter Street and the CBD," Pointon says. "On that same night there would have been a band at Warners Bay community hall, a band at Cardiff, at Argenton, a band at Edgeworth, at Mayfield. Just about every suburb had a community hall dance.
"So there were heaps of places for young kids to learn and play - and get money."
It is a far and faded cry from Newcastle's live music scene today.
In Hey Rock 'n' Roll, Pointon writes, "Inner city Newcastle is becoming a retirement village with some old farts trying to stop live music... Newcastle used to be called 'Rock City' but now it's become 'Rock-a-bye City'."
"It's terrible," says Pointon of the present state of local live music. "COVID's made it worse, but even before that, it was sad.
"I love Newcastle now, but the music scene is dull and boring unfortunately. It would be lovely if the wheel turned again."
Newcastle's venues not only nurtured local talent but attracted big names.
Pointon's band supported The Twilights, whose members included Glenn Shorrock, later to be lead singer of Little River Band, and Terry Britten, who has written a stack of hit songs, including for Michael Jackson, Cliff Richard and Tina Turner.
In the book, Pointon recalls talking with Shorrock after the show in Newcomen Street, and the future LRB vocalist complimented the young Newcastle singer, telling him he sounded like Georgie Fame.
Throughout Hey Rock 'n' Roll, there are stories from the road, of artists Pointon has played with and supported through the years, from Billy Thorpe - "Loved him. He was good fun" - to the Easybeats. From The Master's Apprentices to John(ny) Farnham - "lovely bloke". From Ray Brown and the Whispers to Sherbet.
And there's a tale about looking for a young singer on the streets of Maitland before a concert at a place called Snoopy's. That singer was Bon Scott, then with The Valentines but soon to burst the world's eardrums with AC/DC. Not that Pointon saw a rock icon in the making as he searched for - and found - Scott in time for the Maitland show.
"It is funny, when they become so big," Pointon muses, as we talk about that memory. "But every artist would have those stories. They weren't always huge."
The one act he recalls playing with in the 1960s and predicted would become huge was The Bee Gees. Pointon was on stage with the trio at Civic Park, playing in the backing band, when it came time to perform the Bee Gees' new single, Spicks and Specks. Only, as Pointon tells it, the performers mimed this song.
As he writes, disaster struck when the record they were miming to stuck. The brothers Gibb and the backing musicians began jumping around "like demented kangaroos" to distract the crowd, until the boys' father could get the song back on track.
Pointon still holds enormous admiration for the surviving Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, and not just because of his music. Pointon tracked down one of the pioneers of the city's live music scene, Ted van der Landen, who told the author how in the mid-1970s, when the Bee Gees were one of the biggest acts in the world, Barry Gibb quietly returned to Newcastle to thank the band promoter for kindness he showed the trio a decade earlier.
In a book filled with such stories, Pointon also restores, at least in words, what has been largely lost from our lives. He writes about beach concerts and "Battle of the Bands" competitions, and record stores, including the one he owned at Swansea for almost a decade from 1974.
"Every suburb worth its vinyl had a record shop," Pointon says, explaining they were more than a music outlet, but a forum for the sharing of opinions, ideas, and excitement when a new song or album was released.
And there are stories about arguably the most famous pub ever in Newcastle. The Star Hotel. When Pointon put together Benny & the Jets in 1974 as a rock and roll revival band, he believed the Star "was the right venue for that music".
He was correct. Benny & the Jets became synonymous with the Star, pulling in big crowds as they played their 1950s-inspired rock in the pub three times a week.
"Loved it!," Pointon says of playing at The Star. "It was incredible because you were so close. There was nowhere to hide. The crowd was on top of you. So you just had to get on with it!"
By the time the Star closed with a riot in 1979, Benny & the Jets had sputtered out, after a couple of number-one singles and a hit album, with a title and cover just like Pointon's book.
Rick Pointon went on to other bands, and to create other touchstones in Newcastle's cultural life, from writing advertising jingles and scripts for NBN's environment series for children, Beating Around the Bush, to recording theme songs for the KB United soccer team and the Newcastle Knights.
Yet the man who had helped give voice to what it meant to live in Newcastle had to face the threat of losing his own.
In the late 1970s, Pointon had throat nodules, due to so much rock singing. Then, in 2013, the non-smoker was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Pointon underwent treatment and has been given the all-clear, but there is no more belting out songs in public.
"I'm teaching myself ukulele, and I sing around the house," he says. "And if I picked a certain song, I'm fine. But I don't know how I'd go on stage anymore, all night."
But he has found a new voice, and stirred up a lot of memories, with Hey Rock 'n' Roll, which is launched on Wednesday night at Warners Bay Theatre (this writer will be interviewing Pointon on stage). Pointon hopes his book reminds readers of the value of music in their lives, and what a horrible silence would be created, if it weren't there.
"I hope it makes them think about music and concerts, and buying some CDs and playing them, and going to a concert and seeing a live band," he says.
Rick Pointon continues to make his contribution beyond Hey Rock 'n' Roll. Never mind his recent offloading of 30,000 discs; he continues to buy piles of recordings, on both CD and vinyl.
He points to dozens of CDs on a cabinet and explains they are some of his recent purchases. They range from Arcade Fire to the latest albums by Van Morrison and the man he once shared a stage with, Barry Gibb.
Leaning against the cabinet are vinyl albums, including the new Paul McCartney release. Next to it is a stack of Beatles box sets: "I'm a full-on Beatles fan".
So he may now be a man of written words, but Rick Pointon will always be a lover of music - and an unstoppable force when it comes to collecting "interesting artefacts".
As Rick Pointon says, while scanning the ranks of records in the heart of his home, "You can never have too many".
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