Australian Rock of Ages: Number 6 – Ross D. Wylie

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie

The Life and Time Stories of Australian Musicians, Performance Artists and those who commenced their their contributed to the Australian Music industry from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. 

Australian Rock of Ages is a series of interviews conducted with artists, partners of artists, entrepreneurs, managers, and those who promoted and contributed to the Australian Music Industry.  All were born in Australia or settled in Australia during the halcyon years of the late 1950’s through to the late 1970’s. 

We present a different story each month.

This program features the story of Ross D. Wylie.

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie
A young Ross D. Wylie [Click to enlarge]

There are 4-parts to this program.

In Part 1 of this 4-part series we learn that Ross was born on November 21, 1944 in Ashgrove Brisbane.

Ross talks about his early years, and of contracting of polio at the age of 8 ½. This even is among the strongest of all his memories.

In doing so he happily engages in an in-depth discussion about contracting polio, his experiences and many associated issues.

One thing is clear; polio did not stop him from following his heart and developing a career in music. However, it did have a major impact upon his life from those early years through until today.

So it is this diagnosis or rather, misdiagnosis still weighs heavily upon him. In sharing his experiences of his treatment regime we can understand what makes him the man he is today.

His treatment included sessions with the legendary Sister Kenny. Her groundbreaking treatment in fact helped many young polio sufferers.

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie
Sister Kenny working with a polio sufferer [Click to enlarge]

Our discussions cover how he has worked hard to live as normal a life as possible. Ross makes it very clear he is not a polio victim – he is a polio survivor.

The many decades of learning how to use parts of his body to compensate for the polio damage is now coming at a cost.  This compensating in order to operate as normal as possible means parts of his body are failing even faster.

As we listen it becomes evident that what Ross is not looking for is, sympathy. Why should he?

So, having become a household name with many families and leading a great life has led to contentment in his later years.

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie
A relaxed Ross D.Wylie – [Click to enlarge]

Ross shares his memories of befriending another young man during his Polio rehab sessions. This person had lost the use of his arms. Ross got them both involved in softball and he would hit the ball while the other young man did the running.

What a great example of how Ross adapted to his situation.

We learn how Ross is introduced to music when given a Hawaiian guitar. Yet he quickly realised his future was not as a musician, but rather as a singer.

Having been a singer in choirs, Ross has a wonderful soprano voice. Now he becomes determined to use it in a pop career. Yet, even as that career kicks off circumstances thrust him into becoming a TV music show compare.

Ross becomes the host of the TV show “Uptight”, and later on the host of Happening 70”!

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie
[Click to enlarge]

It is a whirlwind time, because while all this is happening Ross marries his sweetheart, Eileen.

australian rock of ages: number 6 - ross d. wylie

Incidentally, it is a marriage that continues on today.

listen to older voices: ross d. wylie – part 4
A recent picture of Ross, with his first guitar – Click to enlarge]

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Previous stories in Australian Rock Of Ages can be found via these links:

Program #1 – Bob Bright: Click here

Program #2 – Normie Rowe: Click here

Program #3 – Mike Rudd: Click here

Program #4 – Phil Manning: Click here

Program #5 – Marcie Jones: Click here


Rob Greaves

I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

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