LIVING LEGEND: Joe Camerilli of The Black Sorrows.
LIVING LEGEND: Joe Camerilli of The Black Sorrows. Guy Palmer

Black Sorrows frontman is no ordinary Joe

AUSTRALIANS love their sports statistics, cricket, rugby league, AFL, the annals go on.

In the music world not so much, just surviving it is something to trumpet for most working on the frontline, but if you look at the legendary Joe Camilleri's track record, the temptation to pull out a few gobsmacking stats for good measure is too good to pass up.

The charismatic frontman has clocked up 50 years in the game, from his days with Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons, to the legendary Black Sorrows. In that time Camilleri has released 49 albums, yes even if you flunked maths at school, you can see that averages at about one a year.

But the 70-year-old has no intention of slowing down any time soon. He's already written half of his 50th and as 2018 draws to a close The Black Sorrows frontman has delivered close to 170 live shows.

Normally he averages about 160 a show, so he says he's lifted his game this year and stopped being lazy.

The love of his craft and machine-like work ethic of Joe Camilleri isn't lost on others in the industry, Rolling Stone Magazine recently declaring him a Living Legend, but like all people acknowledged for a lifetime of contributions to their industry, Camilleri says these kinds of things don't really register with him.

"While I appreciate the inclusion, I don't think about those sorts of things, they aren't on my radar at all I'm just a geezer.”

He says his latest tour with The Black Sorrows, which brings them to Yamba on January 4, is all about another geezer, Citizen John, which also the title of his 49th release.

"He's a real bad dude. He could quite easily be one of these famous politicians that are so right wing they can see their left wing.”

Camilleri said most of the moment on the album "except when I'm tender, loving and caring” looks at what's going on in the world today.

"Everyday there's seem to be more violence, a lot more anger, even on the road. A lot of people think they can get stuff without working hard. These people are kind of bad, they're bad for the environment. There's too much money around and they don't care how they get it. But in John's case, he cops his, he gets nicely sorted.”

As demonstrated in those earlier statistics hard work is something Camilleri is not afraid of, even well into the age group one would expect to be entrenched in some form of retirement.

"I think because I'm a migrant and my upbringing, my family was poor, my dad would work 16 hours a day God bless him just to get food on the table and all that. I mean I wasn't off playing golf, I went out and did what my dad did. Work and work hard and try to provide for my family. That's in my DNA or something but I do like my job and love making music and a lot of it. I said to Mark (Gray, bass player) the other day 'Geez, I haven't written a song in four weeks Mark and he said 'go and have good look at yourself',” he laughed.

And while Camilleri isn't rolling around in mountains of cash, he does run his operation like a small business, making his own records for the past 23 years before landing the recent record contract for Citizen John.

"No-one can stop you from being in the game when you do you're own thing but you still have to sell records. You're not going to win an ARIA and no-one's going to talk about you but you can be the best band in the world tonight but unfortunately only the people there are going to see it. I don't know why people like me, I'm short, fat and ugly. I've got the three strikes so I should be out.”

Camilleri said he feels really lucky to still be making and playing music. "I wouldn't say I'm blessed but I'm lucky to be doing this. I get to play around the world now. We're touring Europe in April and September next year, a record release there and in Australia, who would've thought?”

While Camilleri said he makes enough to keep the band and his families happy, as while as his legions of fans across multiple generations, he isn't too fussed about the stuff.

"You put a million dollars with a piano and they don't like each other.

"They don't hangout. I get all my candy from just trying to come up with something on an empty page, listening to music and buying music and talking about music. That's how boring I am.”

  • Don't miss The Black Sorrows live at the Yamba Bowling Club on Friday, January 4. Tickets on sale from the club or through their website.

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