Ian Francis – Early History
Ian Francis was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire in England, hence the derivation of the nickname some people still use of “Grims “.
He, his parents and 3 siblings emigrated to Sydney in Australia.
They embarked from South Hampton on the Chandris Lines Ship called “Australis” in November and arrived at Circular Quay on December 23rd in 1969. The family stayed near Lane Cove National Park in migrant hostel accommodation at first and later moved to North Ryde and then Epping.
His family were all music lovers with varied tastes. With only one stereo available (in those primitive times), his range of influence was extremely wide. Big Band and opera from his dad, classical, swing and the crooners from his mom, Beatles and Cliffie from his older sister, Cream, ELP and King Crimson from his elder brother and folk singers such as Dylan, Neil Young and Melanie from his younger sister.
His own taste in those early years was for Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, Yes – there are just too many to list. He started to play acoustic guitar in his teens. When he started to write songs there were perhaps two artists, both singer songwriters, who had more influence than others. They were Don McLean and Harry Chapin for the way they told stories with their songs and the touching honesty of their emotion.
This sharing of music from the radio, from old 78’s, single 45’s and LP records (33’s) meant that music was a constant background in the house and from this he memorised an internal repertoire of thousands of popular songs which, when he started to play covers, stood him in such good stead that he was able to play a song to please almost any audience.
He learned to play these songs “by ear”, working out how to play the tunes by listening and playing along with the recordings. He also started to write his own songs almost immediately.
If the resources available today were available then, we’d have more and better recordings of videos and audios from Ian, but professional recording was expensive and simple tape recorders left a lot to be desired for audio quality.
The following pages will lead to the recordings we do have available. Apart from those stages when studios were used, the live recordings and tape recordings are not perfect by a long shot, but it’s the music that is important after all. No-one can go back in time and “do it again” exactly as it was – so please enjoy it as it is. A blast from the past with all the occasional hisses and crackles it includes.