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Tony Eardley - biography

Tony was born in Bristol, England. He studied classics and English literature & language at Oxford University, to very little immediate effect apart from a lifelong attachment to good grammar and correct apostrophising, and later social policy at Bristol and York Universities. He picked up his brother’s guitar at the age of 14 and learned enough chords (three, in fact) to strum along to many of the folk songs he’d begun to hear on the radio and TV.

Some of his earliest influences were US protest singers of the 1960s and then contemporary British singers of the folk revival. He played in various folk clubs and sessions in the midlands of England in the late '60s and after moving to London in the early '70s became involved in the squatting movement and community politics. It was this experience that led to his involvement in social policy and later to his career as a social researcher. It also led to participation in left music groupings like the Hackney & Islington Music Workshop and Music for Socialism, and instilled in him a sense of the power of music in political and popular culture and the importance of participation not just consumption.

After a long break from music, during which he even gave away his old guitar, he rediscovered his roots in folk music following a move to Australia in 1995. Now a regular performer at folk clubs and festivals, Tony has also devised a multi-media themed concert/workshop entitled ‘The Barricade and The Rose - songs of struggle and dissent from 1970s Britain’, which he has presented to audience acclaim at numerous festivals.

He has collaborated on occasions with Maree Robertson, bass player Liz Frencham (Jigzag) and others as The Rosewood Project and his version of Heartbreak Hotel, in Maree’s Love in the Lost and Found show at Woodford 2003 persuaded many that Elvis had not left the building! As well as melodic guitar, Tony now plays a beautiful Jack Spira guitar-bodied bouzouki.

Outside of his solo work, Tony has been a member of the Solidarity Choir, the deep green ensemble Ecopella and the Spooky Men’s Chorale.

A number of Tony’s songs have been recorded by other groups and artists, including 'Come Away With Me' - an audience favourite in the Ecopella repertoire and 'Taken', written for friends in the trio Touchwood. Their version appears on a collection of songs about refugees and asylum seekers (Behind the Wire), produced by Miguel Heatwole, and on a compilation album Stand Up and Shout released on Warren Fahey's Rouseabout Records label to raise funds for the GetUp campaign. A demo version of ‘Footsteps On An Empty Road’ appeared on a 2006 collection of performances by Blue Mountains musicians, Local and Live, produced by Blu-FM radio. More recently ‘Taken’ was included on another CD compilation Reclaim Your Voice! Stop the Punishment of Asylum Seekers, put together by Andy Busuttil to raise funds for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

In a parallel universe, Tony previously had a job as a social researcher, evaluator and research manager in the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, working on topics including income support and poverty, employment services, welfare reform and homelessness. He is now mainly retired but carries on some work as a private researcher and consultant.