Bringing greats back

Dennis Dunstan.
Dennis Dunstan.

It was 3am in 1977 and Dennis Dunstan was between gigs, living with his mother in an outer Melbourne suburb.

“The phone rings and my mum knocks on the door and says, ‘Mick Fleetwood is on the phone’, and I thought it was just my mates taking the piss,” he said.

“A voice said, ‘Hello Dennis, it’s Mick, would you still like to come and work for us?’.”

Dennis had worked as a session drummer in the UK and Australia and on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tour, and been told he was wanted again, but wasn’t pinning his hopes on another call-up.

“They said, ‘We’d love you to come back; we’re going to have a break and then we’re going to do the American leg of that tour and then we’ll give you a call’,” he said.

Dennis hopped on a plane to LA, and a job that was supposed to last three months turned into nearly three decades. He stayed on with Fleetwood Mac for the making of the Tusk album, and became Mick Fleetwood’s personal manager.

Dennis says it’s all about trust, creating mutual respect in an industry that has a reputation for chewing up and spitting out the naive and the foolish.

He’s built a career on that ethos, working with some of music’s biggest names.

Dennis has a strong sense of justice and says he’s re-entered the music world after a four-year hiatus to right a few wrongs in the Australian music scene.

“I got invited to see Kevin Borich at an RSL and I looked around and my stomach was in the bottom of my feet,” he said. “The acts were poorly treated. I went one night and there’s (poker) machines banging away in the background and there were drunks walking up to the microphone and spilling beer and I just thought this was not on.

“I thought if I’m going to bring anything back I’m going to start with Kevin Borich, and then I met Phil Emmanuel, and I know Phil from when he worked with Air Supply.

“I thought, that’s the combination, you’ve got a guitar virtuoso with another guitar legend who also sings and I thought if I could put these two guys together, that’s the package that will pave the way for the rest of their careers and give them the dignity they deserve.

“I just want to see them in great theatres with proper sound systems. These guys are legends, they’re the fabric of music industry. People who’ve never seen them have got to get off their bums and see them; they’re two of the finest guitar players this country’s ever seen.

“Having already heard one or two of the rehearsals, it’ll blow your socks off.”

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