The Lazenby Young Blues Guitarist Award was set-up to honour Phil Lazenby who passed away in April 2013.
Cindy Lazenby sets the scene about Phil and his love of music: “I first met Philip in 1979 when he was playing at what was the Lakeview Hotel with Leigh Rolls and Garry Hudson. I will never forget his driving drum beat in My Sharona. They played it every single week!
From then on music became a huge part of my life because it was a huge part of his life. If he wasn’t playing in a band, we were running discos. We ran them three or four nights a week – at the Captain Cook Hotel, the ANA Motel which used to be in View Street, Goldies at the Golden Hills Motel and all over the state in various pubs, halls and wedding venues. You name it, we played it.
But he always came back to live music. His enthusiasm for music never waived although in later years he had trouble with his ears and couldn’t play in public. So he set up his garage as a studio and had a never-ending stream of muso friends around for jams.”
Phil was a highly respected community figure in Bendigo. A distinguished business career, culminating in the role of CEO at Bendigo Community Telco, was preceded by an unstinting passion for music, once supporting AC/DC when they played in Bendigo in the 1970s. Phil’s contribution to the local music community was significant over many years and was matched by his support for local young people. “Philip also had unwavering support for the youth of Bendigo, whether it was about music or helping them get a good start in life,” says Cindy, “Philip was huge supporter of LeadOn, a youth and community development organisation which aims to strengthen relationships between young people and the broader community. And Philip gave so much of his time it – he was on the board, he initiated numerous projects and he personally mentored many of the kids.”
“Phil was instrumental in helping to get the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival off the ground,” said Andrew Watts. “His close friend, Peter Gavin came up with the idea of creating an award in his honour. It was a fitting tribute which celebrated his passion for music, the development of youth and a love for Bendigo.”
I asked Andrew about the guitar that some lucky, but talented, young guitarist will be able to call their own later this year. “Phil purchased the Fender Stratocaster guitar from a local music shop to support their business. Given he could hardly play, the guitar remained untouched at Phil’s house. After his passing, Phil’s family offered the guitar as first prize in the competition. The guitar is in sexy black, unplayed and in a genuine Fender case.”
”His family and I are thrilled to be able to provide this guitar – that he owned but never played – as the inaugural prize for this competition,” added Cindy Lazenby. ”I hope the competition generates lots of fun for everyone involved and gets kids inspired to get into blues music. I also hope this competition will continue to remind us all of the amazing person he was and help to ensure his legacy lives on for future generations.”
Peter Gavin added: “I think Phil would be pleased if he thought that there were some young people out there striving a little more toward excellence just so they can have a shot at playing at the festival and maybe owning this guitar and then using it to further their ambitions.” The Fender Stratocaster is valued at $2299. Bendigo Community Telco has put up a second prize to the tune of $500.
I have seen all the Lazenby Young Blues Guitarist heats so far at Big Hill Winery, The Rifle Brigade and the Goldmines Hotel. The young guitarists on display to date have been awe-inspiring, and it will take someone very talented indeed to take out the award in November. But what a great award and what an appropriate tribute to Phil Lazenby – a passionate musician who worked tirelessly for Bendigo and its youth; a drummer who owned a lot of guitars.
Competition entrants must be under 25. For more information visit www.bendigobluesandroots.com.au