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Interviews > Barry Crocker, OAM

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours... When it comes to an introduction, this gentleman needs little more than that. When most fans think of Neighbours, they think of Harold Bishop, the Coffee Shop, perhaps Scott & Charlene or Karl & Susan and of course the theme tune and for many, that is still synonymous with our interviewee, Barry Crocker...

Firstly, can you give us some background about yourself and your extensive career?
If you Google me up on my website, BarryCrocker.net, you’ll find out more than you’ll ever want to know!

In 1985, your first version of the Neighbours theme debuted along with the show itself. How did this come about?
Tony Hatch, (we were - still are - good mates), asked me if I would do the demos for a new proposed sit-com called Neighbours.

Did you have any creative input into the sound of the theme?
I really just followed what Tony wanted, and I think I came up with the doubling of the vocal.

Your vocals featured on the theme for seven years, making you its longest-serving singer so far and for many is considered the 'proper' Neighbours theme. What do you think is the secret to its enduring success?
I think the friendship that was shared by Tony, Jackie, and I came through onto the “wax” (as they would have said in the old days) – we made about 7 or 8 Albums together. AND, the amazing thing about the recording – “Grundys” went with the demos – they just liked the warmth they generated!

In 1992, having been reduced to just 20 seconds in the years previous, your theme was replaced by a new, jazz style theme by Greg Hind. Were you informed of this decision and if so, did you have any involvement?
In all honesty, Grundys had sold the company, and someone there (in the new co) must have said –“Why are we paying royalties to Crocker? He’s had 7 years” - so they got in a demo singer, gave him a one off fee and that was the end of me!!! He was a good singer, I was just disappointed that mums couldn’t point me out to their kids – “That’s the bloke who sings the Neighbours theme!” (I missed that!)

Have you heard any of the subsequent versions by Greg, Paul Norton & Wendy Stapleton, Janine Maunder and Sandra DeJong? If so, what did you think of them?
Yes I’ve heard all the versions - some are friends of mine – fine singers – but I’m constantly told by the bloke in the street, that they always preferred mine – (of course they could have just being nice?).

Neighbours has recently increased its music content with more live artists performing at the show's bar, Charlie's. Would you ever consider making an appearance? Possibly even a cameo for the show’s 25 anniversary in 2010?
I would love that! – But no one’s asked yet – I think it could generate a whole wave of publicity. I re-recorded the Neighbours theme (in a swing style) on my latest CD “REFLECTIONS”, to mix in with the other tracks that are mostly soft JAZZ; (4 of my own songs grace the album).

Has the theme ever come back to haunt you in any unusual circumstances?
Everything has been of a positive vibe as far as the song goes – all sorts of stories abound - being played at Teddy Tingling’s funeral, Ella Fitzgerald (on Parky) saying she loved the song, Farmers in the UK saying their “cows” gave better milk when the theme was played to them etc, etc - you see what happened when they stopped playing my version – MAD COWS DISEASE!

Following Neighbours' revamp the same year, a newspaper review by one of the show's writers, Marieke Hardy commented that "the opening credits music now appears to be sung by someone competing for a place in the Von Trapp Family Singers (bring back the chocolate baritone of Barry Crocker you bastards)". Would you ever consider recording a new version for the show?
LOVE TO - But again no one’s asked -- & thank you Marieke.

Various spoof versions of the Neighbours theme have done the rounds over the years with one of the most notable being by your 'The Adventures of Barry McKenzie' co-star, Barry Humphries, still in the guise of Edna Everage. Have you heard any of them and if so, which have stood out the most to you?
I should say, Humphries, but I think Des O’Connor’s version was the funniest! (Joke Des!)

As well as being a talented singer, you're also a very successful actor. Which do you prefer - music or acting?
I would say Musicals are my favourites – because you get to sing & act - I did 3 last year.

What can we expect from you in the future?
Apart from the usual cabaret & TV spots – I’m finishing off my follow up Autobiography to the first - “BAZZA” The Adventures of Barry Crocker. I’m also the voice of SHAMANI (Character in a new cartoon series—released in 2010) It’s called Enyo - You can Google that up too, if you wish?

With Neighbours now in its 24th year, do you have any thoughts on why the show has lasted so long?
THE ORIGINAL SINGER! No – I think that over the years it’s been the kick off start to many of today’s top stars, (film, recording & TV). Audiences search for the next big thing, we have a plethora of talent out here & VISUALLY it has a warmth that makes part of the brain say 'I’d like to live in that street!'

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Interview by Callum. Added on 30th May 2009