Barry Leef's aching widescreen interpretation of Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett's country soul ballad ‘Goodbye Birds’ (1971) is a wisdom filled lament and cautionary tale recorded by the Wellington band across the Tasman. The little-heard single was issued in Australia and New Zealand.
Formed in 1967 by three Hutt Valley bred Todd Motors employees, Barry Leef (rhythm guitar), Ron "Cass" Gascoigne (bass) and Harry Leki (lead guitar), The Simple Image had three strong vocalists in a line-up completed by drummer Alan Gordon (succeeded in 1968 by Gordon Wylie). Ron "Cass" Gascoigne had been in an early pre-Fourmyula band, The In-Sect (also featuring Frankie Stevens on guitar/vocals).
The Simple Image's first gigs were on the Wellington wedding circut, improving no more than slightly when agent Tom McDonald signed them to his UBA agency. He sent the band off on a trip around the Pacific on a cruise liner.
The phaser-effect ridden ‘Spinning Spinning Spinning’ went to No.1 in June, aided by producer Howard Gable's inventive light psychedelic production.
After touring with Maria Dallas, and supporting Mr Lee Grant, The Simple Image were spotted by HMV A&R man Howard Gable and signed to the label. They released their debut single 'Two Kinds Of Lovers' in early 1968, produced by Gable. It reached No.11 but the sequel would establish the band.
The phaser-effect ridden ‘Spinning Spinning Spinning’ (also released in the UK and Holland) went to No.1 in June, aided by producer Howard Gable's inventive light psychedelic production. There it sat for a month, which prompted an album of the same name for HMV Records, featuring a fine close harmony take on The Beach Boys' ‘Hawaii’.
Better still was the proto-power pop of ‘The Grooviest Girl in The World’ (No.3, March 1969) and ‘Ulla’ (July 1969), two infectious, upbeat pieces of bubblegum pop.
Barry Leef left for Sydney in July 1969, forming Strawpatch with fellow New Zealanders Jack Stradwick, Mike Wilson and Mike Darby. With new singer Doug Smith, Bruce Walker on keyboards, and the NEBOA Entertainer Of The Year group award under their belts, The Simple Image followed, taking up a residency at Sydney's Whisky Au Go Go in September 1969. Leef soon rejoined and Gordon Wylie was replaced by Christchurch drummer Wayne Allen in October.
The Simple Image split in 1971, and Harry Leki returned to Wellington to join Andy Anderson's Arkastra. Leef joined Perth progressive rockers Bakery in 1973, impressing the touring Frank Zappa, who offered up a spot in The Mothers of Invention, which was stymied only by visa difficulties.
The Barry Leef Group followed in 1975, releasing two singles on Festival’s Infinity label before Leef settled into a well-regarded career as session vocalist and performing musican. He still plays out, currently touring an Eagles/Doobie Brothers/West Coast song revue around Australia.
Harry Leki passed away in 2009.
In 1968 The Simple Image provided the "pop" sequence in an Education Department film promoting milk in schools and toured to support it during the school holidays with funding from the department.
Ron Gascoigne - bass, vocals
Alan Gordon - drums
Harry Leki - lead guitar, vocals
Doug Smith - vocals
Bruce Walker - keyboards
Gordon Wylie - drums
Wayne Allen - drums