Monday, February 26, 2024
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Vale Frank Howson : March 1952 – February 2024

Rob Greaves
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.

Frank Howson was born on March 10th 1952.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
“Baby” Frank Howson

He totally immersed himself in multi-faceted arts from an early age.  He was up until his passing, still writing lyrics and writing story-lines. In fact in recent years he was still producing and directing live and filmed performances.

In 2017 I sat down with Frank for a wide ranging discussion on his life and work. This discussion revealed much about this talented man.

In part 1 of the interview Frank introduces himself and his family. Through the stories of his early life we gain a good understanding of Frank. We learn how his early introduction to music and arts would heavily influence the rest of his life.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
Frank (Center) in an early stage production

Franks amazing career included success in music, acting, screenwriting, play-writing, producing and directing. He demonstrated these skills in both live performances and in films and, in both Australia and Hollywood.

In part 2 we learn he was taken under the wing of by a radio legend. This was none other than DJ Stan ‘the man” Rofe, while Frank was working at 3UZ.

We learn how this led to him entering a recording studio and recording a single that looked destined to be a hit. However, professional jealousy from a well known artist of the day interfered in the process, much to Frank’s dismay.

Undaunted, Frank then moved into live theatre performance and gained roles in many large and successful productions.

These including Jesus Christ Superstar. It is here where Frank tells a story of how he almost accidentally hung Jon English during a performance. The stories flow freely and Frank oozes entertainment while informing and educating in a very easy going style of presentation.

The story of 65 year old Frank Howson is the story of a man who came from a “arts” loving family. He was in the right place in the right time. Heavily endowed in artistic skills, he carved out an amazing career that continued right through until his passing.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
Frank directing a musical in Hong Kong where some of the cast thought they knew more than the director and musical director. They didn’t

Part 3 – Frank focused on the success he has had as a lyricist. He talks of the songs that he has written for many successful artists. These include the Little River Band, Richie Havens and Kate Ceberano, just to name a few.

But his writing far exceeds lyrics. Frank was also a very successful playwright and scriptwriter for movies and live musicals. But, as they say, there’s more!  Frank’s success was also shown in his work both a producer and director.

In this program he also starts to share with us the stories behind his last blockbuster success – Dream Lover: The Bobby Darin Musical.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
Not just a raging success in Sydney, but bringing the audience to its feet in Melbourne

For the 4th and final part of his story, Frank continues to talk at some length about his latest and last project.

This was “Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Story”. Frank wrote and produced the show which had rave reviews in its Sydney opening season. In talking about this show, Frank also talks about his first-hand experiences with Bobby Darin’s family.

Finally, Frank also takes time out from stories involving his professional and on-going career. He shares his thoughts and feelings on a range of issues that are of concern to him. Not the least of these being, his concern for the degradation of the environment.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
A favourite ‘son” of the Melbourne Music Industry Support Group – the Debonairs. Frank sharing a joke with Australian music legend Bob (Bobby) Bright

Those that had the delight of knowing Frank, also knew he certainly had developed over later years some difficult to accept ideas. Yet he was a man of great intellect, and his passion for the Arts was always on display.

We don’t overlook those parts of Frank Howson that we may have found difficult to accept. This is because Frank was the total sum of all his many faceted elements. This is what made him who he was. As a result h was a man who had more genuine friends than we can imagine.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024
Frank with the late Sisto Malaspina at Pellegrini’s cafe

Impossible to forget and easy to forgive. His work will remain as a legacy of a man who took on the world while always remaining a Aussie boy.

vale frank howson : march 1952 - february 2024


Frank Howson – part 1

 


Frank Howson – part 2

 


Frank Howson – Part 3

 


Frank Howson – Part 4

 

 

 

 

 

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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