The Grape Organisation

Wa Wa Nee

WA WA NEE was one of Australia’s most successful bands to emerge from the 1980s. Paul Gray and Steve Williams formed the band in 1982. Paul and Steve developed their own sound marrying highly danceable synth driven funk grooves with a mix of metal style guitar. After recording some demos, by 1985 they had signed a recording deal with CBS Records.​ ​In January of 1986 Gray and Williams assembled a full touring line-up of WA WA NEE comprised of bassist Geoff Lundren, keyboardist Elizabeth Lord and drummer Chris Sweeney. Paul’s brother Mark Gray soon replaced Lundren on bass and Phil Witchett replaced Lord on keyboards. ​WA WA NEE’s debut single ‘Stimulation’ was released in April 1986 and reached #2 in Australia, remaining in the charts for 27 weeks. Gray and Williams took WA WA NEE on the road for an extensive touring schedule, performing over 270 shows in 1986. The band’s follow up single ‘I Could Make You Love Me’ was released in August of the same year and reached #5. Thanks to these songs, WA WA NEE became the first band in Australia to have two national Top 10 hits simultaneously. A highly anticipated debut album soon followed in November and peaked at #29 nationally, achieving platinum status. WA WA NEE spawned their third consecutive top 10 hit ‘Sugar Free’ (#10) and a top 20 hit ‘One and One (Ain’t I Good Enough)’ (#19) followed.  With the immense success the band was having in Australia, they soon set their sites on the illusive United States market. Releasing ‘Sugar Free’ as a single in July 1987 and peaking at #36 on the billboard hot 100. Whilst touring the U.S. in late 1987 WA WA NEE featured on American Bandstand with Dick Clark, Top of the Pops (US version), The Late Show with Arsenio Hall, Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 and many other appearances. WA WA NEE’s songs were also featured in motion pictures Cassandra and Satisfaction. After returning to Australia, disaster struck in 1988 whilst preparing for the band’s sophomore album, when Keyboardist Phil Witchett passed away. The band dedicated the new album in his memory and carried on as a four piece. In November 1988, the band continued to perform to hoards of adoring, screaming girls and released ‘Can’t Control Myself’ which ascended to #23 on the national charts. ‘So Good’ was also released soon after, peaking at #29 in early 1989. The promo clip for So Good came under controversy with its mix of religious and racy imagery.  In April 1989, the band’s second album ‘Blush’ was released. The album out charted the band’s debut album with a peak position of #27. In mid 1989, WA WA NEE would once again enter the charts with ‘I Want You’ (#69). Not having the same chart success as the previous singles, WA WA NEE decided to disband in late 1989. Singer/Songwriter/keyboardist Paul Gray was a key figure in the Australian music industry. He aided and supported the careers of many prominent Australian performers including; Deni Hines, Maybe Dolls, Danni’elle Gaha, CDB, Lisa Maxwell, Anthony Callea, Kate Ceberano and Tina Arena. Gray also wrote material for pop groups Scandal’Us and Bardot. Returning to his WA WA NEE roots in the mid 2000s, he performed at 80s reunion concerts and Countdown Spectaculars. Gray was also a well sort after Keyboardist and vocalist performing in many prominent Australian touring acts such as Glenn Shorrock’s band. Paul sadly passed away after a battle with multiple myeloma (a form of cancer) on the 24th April 2018. ​ ​After WA WA NEE, Steve Williams was asked by Paul Christie to join The Party Boys and featured on their ‘Do Wah Diddy’ single. Williams also toured with James Freud’s band and continued to perform with other bands such as Mama’s Darlings, Richard Clapton band and Skunk. Later Steve lived in Europe, but decided to return home to begin a new passion, teaching music to young performers. Steve continued to perform in bands including Swanee, Ray Parker Jr, Real Life, Lee Kerneghan, and Brian Cadd. Steve became a long time member of well known Adelaide tribute band Zep Boys and also was a mainstay in the Choirboys with Mark Gable. In 2006, Steve worked with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and in 2008 accompanied the ASO and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord for an Australian tour. Steve has also been sought after for musical theatre productions such as The Man From Snowy River, Sweet Charity, Singing In The Rain, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Elvis The Musical. Steve is currently a member of the Matt Finish band and Absolutely 80s with Scott Carne (Kids In the Kitchen), Brian Mannix (Uncanny Xmen), Dale Ryder (Boom Crash Opera) and many other contemporaries. In 2022, Steve Williams was inducted into the South Australian Music Hall of Fame.​ ​Today, Steve brings the excitement of WA WA NEE’s hits performing them live, the way they should be – across the country with his STEVE WILLIAMS PLAYS WA WA NEE show. Steve has assembled a stimulating lineup with Tim Watson from Taxiride fronting the band. Come along, celebrate the songs of WA WA NEE and the memory of Paul Gray. See you at one of our upcoming events!

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The Grape Organisation
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