Flash and the Pan

Flash and the Pan were an Australian studio-based art-pop project from Sydney headed by the songwriting/production team of ex-Easybeats Harry Vanda and George Young. The project began with the 1977 Mercury single “Hey, St. Peter” / “Walking in the Rain” and ultimately yielded five albums on Albert/Epic between 1979 and 1987.

Members: Harry Vanda [Johannes Vandenburg] (vocals, guitar, keyboards), George Young (vocals, guitar, keyboards)


Flash and the Pan started on a lark in 1976 when Sydney-based musician/producers Harry Vanda and George Young recorded the track “Hey, St. Peter” as a distraction from their regular gig as a production team for other artists.

They had been a team since 1964 when Vanda (b. 1946, Voorburg, Netherlands) and Young (b. 1946, Glasgow, Scotland – d. 2017) formed Sydney beatsters The Easybeats, which made five albums and scored hits with “Sorry,” “Heaven and Hell,” and the international evergreen “Friday On My Mind.”

After disbanding the group in 1969 while situated in the UK, the pair cut singles in a series of debt-payback projects (Moondance, Paintbox, Tramp, Haffy’s Whiskey Sour). In 1972, they returned to Australia and formed the Marcus Hook Roll Band with Young’s younger brothers Malcolm and Angus (later of AC/DC). MHRB cut three singles and the 1973 album Tales of Old Grand-Daddy.

In 1973, Vanda and Young became house producers for Albert Productions, where they produced sides for glam-pop singer William Shakespeare, soul-rock vocalist John Paul Young, and ex-Easybeats frontman Stevie Wright, including the latter’s 1974 romance-tragedy rock opus “Evie (Parts 1, 2 & 3).”

“Hey, St. Peter”

Under the pseudonym Flash and the Pan — a pun on the idiom “a flash in the pan,” which refers to a subject of fleeting notoriety — Vanda and Young recorded the song “Hey, St. Peter.” Its lyrics drew from an exchange Young had with a bellhop in New York City, who said that when he meets St. Peter (the locksmith of heaven), he’d tell the saint that he can’t be sent to hell because he’d already “done my time in hell” (as a Manhattan bellhop).

“Hey, St. Peter” was originally released as a single in September 1976 on Albert (Bullet in South Africa), backed with the synth-laden “Walking In the Rain.” With its ham-radio vocals, crafted arrangement, shouted chorus, and spiraling middle — where barrelhouse piano runs collide with rising/falling string-synths — the song shot to #5 on the Australian singles chart and also went Top 10 in Benelux.

The song’s success turned Flash and the Pan into an ongoing project.

(more to come)



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