In 1979, I signed a one year contract with Rose Music/Yamaha to go to Melbourne, Australia and then travel around all of Australia and New Zealand and show the Yamaha keyboards and synthesizers to musicians young and old. I have never tried to count how many plane trips I took that first year. I think it was somewhere between seventy-five and one hundred. I stayed with Yamaha for four years and then moved to Sydney and worked as a music director for six years at Channel 7 TV.
The promo Department at Yamaha spent a lot of time and money on advertising the arrival of a keyboard player from America who would be in their town to demonstrate new keyboards. I was booked on radio and TV shows. Traveling across Australia was fantastic. The cities are beautiful, the people are friendly and the musicians are talented and, mostly, fun-loving.
I developed a pretty entertaining show using all the synthesizers that Yamaha and Arp were selling. I also developed a different show for schools and children using a lot of sound effects. It was always such a treat to hear all of these school kids asking questions and talking with an Australian accent. At first we had a hard time figuring out their accent but after several years I didn’t even hear the accent. I, instead, would hear the American accent if they were in my vicinity. I never realized how much we (Americans) pronounce the letter”R”. For instance, My last name is Kimber but the Australians always pronounced it Kimba. The “r” disappeared and my plane tickets often times read…Dave Kimba. They would say,”Hey, like Kimba the white lion.” Kimba was a cartoon show that never made to America but was very popular over here in Australia. I kind of enjoyed having an American accent. My wife, however, did not.
I met my wife about one year before we came to Australia. I was working in a music store and she came in to buy a used electric piano. Pamela Jean or “P.J.” as I fondly called her is a musical person who is also blessed with a big heart and a big brain. She was smart in everything except buying used pianos…I made a fortune on that piano I sold her. I also fell in love with her. She had moved to California from Michigan and was working at her career as a teacher of the deaf.
I was offered the job in Australia and asked her to come with me and she said,”Yes, if we get married first.” We each took two suitcases for the next year in Australia. I signed a one-year contract but, actually, stayed ten years and had 53 boxes of stuff sent back to America by Sea.
The first year I was traveling around the country doing a lot of shows, being on TV shows showing the instruments at concerts in different cities and towns and making some good friends with Australians around the country. P.J. was offered a job at Rose Music but then was also offered a job as a teacher at the Victorian School for Deaf Children. She told me that the Australians used different signs for words than the American deaf did. Why, I don’t know.
Well, my wife came up with something very unique for the Australian deaf community. It was called the “Victorian School for Deaf Sign Choir”. It sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I mean, how can these deaf children sing? Well, they don’t…they sign in time, together. The whole class follows my wife’s signs perfectly in time. To see it melts your heart.
At this time there was an American entertainer named Don Lane. He was never famous in America but was the host of the biggest late night variety show in Australia. It was like the Johnny Carson show but Don wasn’t as funny as Johnny. He had a fair voice and he had an interest in helping the deaf community. He saw my wife’s sign choir and invited them on his national TV show. Don sang the beautiful song, “Rainbow Connection,” which was a hit at the time sung by Kermit the Frog. And the sign choir all signed the words to the song with P.J. leading the group.
The Don Lane Show
It was a very special performance and the whole country went crazy and made phone calls and sent letters wanting to know more about the kids and my wife. During our time in Australia, because of Yamaha advertising me all over the country, upon meeting my wife people would often ask, “Oh, Are you Dave Kimber’s wife?” Well, a radio host named Derryn Hinch called the house the next morning and I said,”Hello, this is Dave Kimber.” An he said, “Oh, You must be Pam Kimber’s husband.” I loved it, the tables had turned.
P.J. did a lot of interviews and a few T.V. programs. She also performed at several service clubs. She was set to appear at a woman’s club and she told me about it later. The woman’s club was running late and my wife’s children choir were getting antsy and hungry. The ladies had to bring in extra chairs to seat the whole choir while they were finishing up minutes from their last meeting. P.J. told me she could see the women talking about how cute it was to see the children communicate using sign language. Little did they know that the children may have looked cute but what they were really saying was not nice at all. The children were bored and hungry and they were really making fun of the older ladies and cussing via sign language. For example: “Look at the fat old lady with blank, blank blue hair.” Out of the mouths of babes come gems.
At the same time that P.J. and the Deaf Sign Choir was having it’s successful performance on TV, with Don Lane, the whole world was celebrating another exciting event – it was especially exciting for the people of England and people living in one of the Commonwealth Nations, like Australia. The event was the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. It was really a big deal in Australia. After the marriage Lady Diana became Princess Diana.
One of the first things that the couple did was to plan a tour of different countries and they picked Australia to be the first country that they visited. This was before the marriage got ugly. Australia decided to have a Royal Gala Performance at the new , beautiful Concert Hall in Melbourne and invite the stars of Australia to entertain.Little River Band was there. Paul Hogan was there . He was a stand-up comedian before he made “Crocodile Dundee”. Peter Allen, the songwriter, who was married to Liza Minnelli for a couple of days. And, my wife received a special phone call inviting her and her deaf sign choir to perform for the new royal couple. It was quite an honor and the evening was a great event.
I had a ticket to the event and I wore my black tuxedo but I didn’t have a back stage ticket that would get me to where my wife would be after the show and where Prince Charles and Princess Diana would be coming to say hello and shake hands with all of the performers. I really wanted to see them up close and hear their voices and so I resorted to a device I used to use in Hollywood when I wanted to get into a closed studio session. I carried a clipboard and acted like I knew where I was going and why I was there. And it worked. It doesn’t always. But I got lucky and this time it worked. I got to observe both of the royals.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana (&Bert Newton, MC of the Show)
I have always been impressed with the Queen and her family and how they can shake someone’s hand, and, in less then thirty seconds they can impart a new piece of information – say something to make the person laugh and stay long enough to exchange thank-you’s and, then, move on to the next person. I watched them do this to a couple hundred people and they never seem to run out of things to say. I wanted to listen in on the royals and see if they say about the same thing to everybody. Well, they don’t.
Each person gets a special personal greeting and an individual piece of information. After the show, the guests were lined up on both sides of a spiral staircase and Prince Charles took one side and Princess Diana took the other side (for these quick little snippets of information). It was so impressive. I was happy I got to watch them operate their Royal greetings.This Royal Family business is definitely a full time job. I’d rather go surfing.
After the Royal Concert, for the next week I was, once again, Pam’s husband. And, I was glad to be him. I was very proud of my wife. By the way, in the picture of Pam meeting Princess Diana, P.J. actually made the dress she is wearing.
PJ and Princess Diana, after the show
Six months later our TV band was asked to back up Don Lane again, the American entertainer, who was singing the same song he did for the Prince and the Princess, The Rainbow Connection. Before the song started I inadvertently hit the transpose switch on my keyboard which brought the whole song down one key. It was way too low for Don’s natural voice, but, we had already started and so he had to keep going. The song seemed to last forever and I could see steam coming from Don Lane’s ears. I can still hear him cussing after the show. He had, of course, a very strong American accent and those R’s were really ringing, especially, when he was saying “Mother”, on the front of most of his words that applied to me. Well, for some reason Don Lane never asked me to play with him again. GO FIGURE.
A recent pic of PJ relaxing at home