The Atlantics

"This article refers to the Australian Surf rock band. See paragraph at the end of this page for information on other bands called The Atlantics."

Infobox musical artist |
Name = The Atlantics

Landscape = yes
Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Sydney, Australia
Genre = Surf rock
Garage rock
Years_active = 1961—present
Label =
Associated_acts =
URL = [ The Atlantics Web Site]
Current_members = Peter Hood
Bosco Bosanac
Jim Skiathitis
Martin Cilia
Past_members = Theo Penglis
Johnny Rebb
Eddie Matzenik
Brian Burns

The Atlantics were an Australian surf rock band in the early 1960s and arguably Australia's most successful of the genre. Most well-known for their classic hit, "Bombora", their later recordings such as "Come On" are examples of 1960s garage rock. They were the first Australian rock band to write their own hits. In 2000 the group reformed with three of the original members, and they are still actively releasing new material and performing live.


Classic lineup 1962-1970

:Peter Hood - Drums -1961 to present:Theo Penglis - Lead & Rhythm guitar, later Keyboards 1961-1970:Bosco Bosanac - Bass - 1961 to present:Jim Skiathitis - Lead & Rhythm guitar 1962 - present

Other members

:Johnny Rebb - Lead Vocals - 1965-1970:Eddie Matzenik - Guitar - 1961-1962:Brian Burns - Guitar 1985:Martin Cilia - Guitar- 1999 to present (new member, replaced Theo Penglis in current group)


Early years

Formed in the southern beachside suburbs of Sydney, Australia in early 1961, the group began performing locally, and soon gained an enthusiastic following. Contrary to the accepted surfing connotations of their name they actually took their name from a local brand of petrol, Atlantic. In early 1962 they appeared on a local television show "New Faces", where they were voted "Most Promising Group of 1962." They signed a deal with booking agent Joan King, who convinced the members to quit their day jobs and produce a demo, which she shopped to a variety of record labels. After several rejections, they were signed to CBS Records in 1963. The A&R representative for CBS, Sven Libaek, was especially impressed by the group's original compositions. Most Australian instrumental rock bands at the time merely aped and covered material from The Shadows or, to a lesser extent, The Ventures. The Atlantics had the advantage of having twin lead guitarists, both highly proficient on solo work and both capable of pushing the band along with a driving rythmn. It was this, together with the band members European cultural influences (largely Greek with some Yugoslav and Hungarian - all members came to Australia as child migrants) that gave their music that passionate edge over other local bands of their day.

In February 1963, CBS released the first single, "Moon Man" b/w "Dark Eyes". "Moon Man" was an original song written by Peter Hood, and "Dark Eyes" was a traditional tune reinterpreted by the band. While the single was not a hit, it did gain enough attention for CBS to agree to continue to support the group.

Riding the surf music wave

By this time the surfing music craze had reached Australia's shores and a host of local bands such as The Statesmen, Jimmy D & the Starlighters (a.k.a. Jimmy D & the Jaguars), The Midnighters, The Telstars, Dave Bridge Trio, The Joy Boys and The Denvermen were all releasing surfing titled instrumental tracks, and in particular, The Denvermen's evocative ballad "Surfside", which had topped Australia's charts in February 1963.

In July 1963 The Atlantics released the single that would become their biggest hit, most well-known song and one which remains a classic of its genre to this day. The monstrous, pounding, driving "Bombora" was written by Peter and Jim and was named after an Aboriginal term for large waves breaking over submerged rock shelves. The B-side was the old traditional English song "Greensleeves". By September 1963, "Bombora" had raced up the Australian charts to reach No 1. It was released in Japan, Italy, Holland, England and New Zealand and in South America. It was nominated as record of the week by US Cashbox magazine and reached No 2 on the Italian charts (where there was even a vocal version released). As well the song was covered by a number of overseas bands. This overseas success made The Atlantics Australia’s first internationally recognized rock act. October 1963 saw the release of their first LP album, predictably named Bombora. They were to release three more albums from 1963 to 1965. On stage the band maintained their reputation at concerts and beachside surf clubs with an exciting, pounding sound combined with a stage act that included them all playing their guitars behind their heads and Theo and Jim on opposite sides of the stage swapping lead lines with one another.

In November 1963 they released the follow-up, another similar thundering surf instrumental, "The Crusher" which, while not quite as successful as Bombora, still made a respectable dent in the Australian charts.

Their fourth single, "War of the Worlds" however was a total break with the surf sound. Released in March 1964, it was unlike any other of their tracks, or indeed any other instrumentals of the day. A bold and ambitious attempt at a mini Sci-Fi space opera, it had a dramatic build up intro, tempo changes and dynamic changes. It was way ahead of its time. It featured a battle in space using echo and guitar effects, the like of which would not be heard until Hendrix came along some years later. Disappointingly for the band, many DJ's refused to play it and it failed to make most charts.

By this time The Beatles and the Merseybeat sound had arrived and instrumentals were becoming rather passe. The Atlantics continued to release a number of instrumental singles with titles such as "Rumble and Run" and "Giant" until July 1965. However none of these achieved any success chart wise and their record contract with CBS ended. During 1965 they undertook a far-Eastern tour including Japan.

A new image & style

So in 1965, they reinvented themselves. They set up their own production company JRA productions. They exchanged their suits and thin CIA ties for casual shirts, t-shirts and jeans and grew their hair long, guitarist Theo Penglis switched to keyboards and they added a vocalist, Johnny Rebb. Johnny Rebb had been a rock star in Australia in his own right in the late 1950s. Indeed he had at one time been known as the "Gentleman of Rock". With Johnny on vocals they proceeded to release a number of tough sounding singles starting with a hard rockin' revival of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It" and Bo Diddley's, R 'n B, "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover". They recorded songs with a variety of styles between 1965 and 1970 including The Byrds influenced "You Tell Me Why" with 12 string guitar hook & harmonies and an instrumental, "Take A Trip", under the pseudonym band name as The Gift of Love. However they only succeeded chart-wise with an excellent version of Screaming Jay Hawkins "I Put A Spell On You", which reached #29 on the Sydney charts in 1966. In 1967 they put out the song that is now widely regarded as a classic punk/garage track, Peter Hood's "Come On". During this time Johnny Rebb continued to release a number of singles under his own name with The Atlantics backing him. They also provided backing on a string of singles for Russ Kruger, Johnny Rebb's brother, and female singer Kelly Green. It was during this time that The Atlantics started their own independent label, Ramrod. They were one of the first Australian bands to set up their own independent label. From September 1967 all their recordings and all those for the above artists were released on their Ramrod label. As well they put out recordings by other bands such as The Motivation.

1970 and beyond....

Around 1970 the "classic" lineup ceased to regularly perform live. They started their own recording studio, Atlantic studio (no connection with the U.S. company Atlantic Records), in the Sydney suburb of Earlwood. Run by Peter Hood, this studio was to operate continuously right through into the 1990s, recording a wide variety of music from advertising jingles to country music to heavy metal bands and at one point even produced a single there for visiting Hollywood actress, Brooke Shields. Bosco Bosanac went into country music and switched to pedal steel guitar. He formed a band with anglo-American country singer Mike Fox and produced two albums for him. Mike Fox, won a Golden Guitar as the best new talent award for 1978 at Australia's annual prestigious Tamworth Country Music Festival for his song "If Nobody Loves You", which came from his first album. Theo Penglis played lead guitar and piano on this track. Bosco then went to form country rock band Shotgun.

The flight of the surf guitar

Over the years The Atlantics have still come together to perform from time to time. In 1986–1988, Jim, Peter and Bosco, together with guitarist Brian Burns, did a tour. In 1999 these three reformed on a more permanent basis with guitarist Martin Cilia. They have since released three CD Albums, the first being called The Flight of the Surf Guitar.They are in the forefront of a new interest in the surf rock music instrumental genre. They have done a number of tours including appearing on Australia's "Long Way To The Top" 50's and 60's Rock revival shows, ABC-TV's show, Studio 22, and Bombora was used in the Opening Ceremony at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. They continue to perform live. On Sat 2 December 2006 they appeared live, playing Bombora, on the ABC TV show, "Delightful Rain", a celebration of four decades of Australian Surf rock music.

Other bands called The Atlantics

The name "The Atlantics" has been used by several popular music groups around the world over the years. Apart from the Australian surf rock band, The Atlantics, to which this article refers, current bands using this name include a power pop band from Boston, USA, a wedding band in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, led by ex-Lou Reed guitarist Jeffrey Ross, and a wedding band in Austin, Texas, USA. Others may exist. For information on other groups using the same name, refer to their respective websites or MySpace pages.


*Collected Stories On Australian Rock 'n Roll - Compiled by David Maclean - CaneToad Publications, Sydney - 1991

*The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop - Ian McFarlane - Allen & Unwin, Sydney - 1999 - ISBN 1 86508 072 1 & ISBN 1 86449 768 2

*Cover Liner Notes - The Atlantics with Johnny Rebb on Vocals - The legendary JRA/Ramrod sessions CD - Canetoad Records CTCD-003

*The Tamworth Country Music Festival - Monika Allen - Horwitz Grahame Pty Ltd, Sydney - 1988

*Cover Liner Notes - Mike Fox LP - Country Boys Memories - Bunyip Records BLS 309 1978

*An Australian Rock Discography 1960-1989 - Chris Spencer - Moonlight Publishers - 1990 - ISBN 0 7316 8343 9

External links

* [ The Atlantics Web Site]
* [ The Atlantics on Nantucket]
* [ The Atlantics MySpace page]
* [ The Atlantics Discography, Wang Dang Dula Website]
* [ Johnny Rebb Discography, Wang Dang Dula Website]
* [ Lyn Nuttall's Pop Archives The Atlantics Feature]
* [ Milesago]
* [ It's A Long Way To The Top]
* [ Holy Ground]
* [ Martin Cilia's Website]
* [ Bombora Creative (new releases)]

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