Somethings are just meant to be – and it was certainly that way for The Chantoozies. The dynamic female pop vocal group dominated the 1980s with their party anthems, adored by audiences for their vibrant live shows and their four female strong lead vocal line-up. Led by Eve von Bibra, Angie La Bozzetta, Tottie Goldsmith and Ally Fowler on vocals – with Brett Goldsmith (bass), David Reyne (drums), Frank McCoy (guitar) and Scott Griffiths (keys) – they played to packed houses, sold-out national tours and joined international headliners on the road, all while keeping true to their ethos of putting on a great party.
It was a party in fact, that was the catalyst for The Chantoozies coming together in the first place. It was Tottie’s birthday in 1986 and for a bit of fun, the friends decided to get a group together to play at reputed nightclub the Underground for the party. Little did they know the chain of events they would set in action. The ‘one-off’ gig spurned a six-week Thursday night residency that packed the house every week – and a flood of offers to play at other iconic venues around Melbourne.
The industry had already started to sit up and take notice of The Chantoozies – who named themselves after the French word chanteuse. There was something different about this group. Not only in their effortless ability to kick off the party – and keep it going – but also in the strong female lead singers and the musicians whose repertoire had music fans, and venues, wanting more. So, Mushroom Records backed the group to release their first single – a cover of the 1970s Redbone song Witch Queen of New Orleans.
The Chantoozies version of Witch Queen released in 1987 changed everything. Australian music fans suddenly found out what the local Melbourne music scene already knew, this group was something really special. The single smashed into the charts, reaching #4 and the video clip, directed by Peter Faiman (of Crocodile Dundee fame) made The Chantoozies a household name overnight and turned the group who ‘got together for a bit of fun’ into a solid recording act.
They were invited to perform on Countdown and the momentum just keep rolling. The Chantoozies second single, a version of He’s Gonna Step On You Again, went further to demonstrate their versatility as a group, sitting in the Top 20. They also headed into the studio to record their debut offering – the self-titled The Chantoozies – released in 1988, and their first original single Wanna Be Up.
Penned by Eve von Bibra and Brett Goldsmith, Wanna Be Up was the epitome of The Chantoozie’s sound. It embodied what their live shows were like, and it was embraced by music fans everywhere. It smashed into #5 and kept up a constant resurgence in and out of the Top 5. Their debut album went gold and platinum and held its position in the Top 10. The final single from the album, Kiss and Tell, also hit the Top 20, cementing The Chantoozies as one of the favourite groups of the decade.
Keeping up their party spirit, The Chantoozies were solidly touring everywhere. There were few venues on the East Coast they hadn’t played to packed houses, they did a host of crazy private and corporate events and a memorable New Year’s Eve performance in 1988 on the Tall Ships in Melbourne. They were regulars on TV shows such as Hey Its Saturday, Tonight Live and Countdown.
The Chantoozies sophomore release Gild The Lily was released in 1990, spawning more charting singles, including Come Back, Walk On and the Top 20 smash hit Love The One You’re With. The group toured in support of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire Australian Tour in 1991, playing to massive arenas and packed houses before deciding to pull back from the big tours. They focused on smaller regional runs, undertaking several tours to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, playing to mining towns and small communities, before taking an indefinite hiatus to focus on their own families, and independent projects, in the mid-1990s.
Much like how The Chantoozies got together in the 1980s, the group’s reformation followed a similar storyline. In 2006, they joined the original Countdown tour for a string of dates and it ‘stirred the pot’. Not only was it fun – the original party feel that had got the group together in the first place was still there – and it was evident that it was still there for audiences as well. It was like putting on an old pair of stilettos – they fit and they felt fabulous. Fast forward a couple of decades, it was also more fun, if that could ever be possible!
After dipping their toes back in the water for a run of some shows here and there, The Chantoozies decided it felt right to be back together, back on stage and back on the road. The time was right in all their lives and the time was right in the lives of their fans. In true Chantoozies form, they came back officially with a smashing party, at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in 2011 and haven’t stopped since.
Their first new single, Baby It’s You in 2014, with its star-studded film clip featuring Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana and Anthony Lapaglia, garnered them a whole new generation of fans, and reminded those who knew them back in the day why they are so fantastic! With Angie taking leave of the group for personal reasons, the now seven-piece continued to work and released the original Black And Blue in 2015, a track penned by Tottie. They also continued to tour, supporting Rick Astley, Bananarama and Wang Chung, and performing at some massive winery shows featuring the likes of Go West, Paul Young and Cutting Crew to name a few.