The story of the Rocking Roo

This is a story I wrote and turned into a rock opera. The powers that be at Sony Music introduced me to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joe Walsh who both wanted to play on the thing as the guitar hero characters. Unfortunately interest rates got me and the thing sent me broke but who knows, one day perhaps.


There’s a stirring in the forest in the depths of Kakadu,
A murmur breaks the silence in the swamps of Humpty-Doo.
A whisper traces through The Reef beneath a heaving sea
And shakes the very ramparts of the giant Kauri tree.
It howls upon the haunted wind, across the endless wastes,
Ears pricked in secret glades perceive its silken trace
And high above the burning earth where eagles stalk their prey
The crow trills the message that the Roo has come to play.

There are legends steeped in myth and mist that time will never dim.
Stories told by firelight of confrontations grim,
Whispered tales of battles fought, heroic win and loss,
Of blood that stained the ancient sands beneath the Southern Cross.
But one stands taller than the rest, endures while others fade,
His deeds are carved upon the stone and whispered through the glade.
His name is spoke in whispers from Dooloon to Dunnedoo
For none can match the legend of the mighty Rocking Roo.

Ten foot tall he stood, (or twelve) a giant western red,
A creature spawned of arcane power or so the legend said.
His iron gaze and steely stare could turn a man to stone
Just his regal countenance could chill you to the bone.
He ruled the land where all who lived there struggled to survive,
In temperatures where guts and guile kept heart and soul alive.
His fighting skill was consummate, his knowledge without par,
His divination absolute,……… and he played a mean guitar.

Out upon the desert wastes where the kite hawks shriek and wheel,
Where the ground is baked like solid rock, where dingoes slink and steal,
The mighty Roo would come to play regardless of the heat,
The word would travel through the realm and all the folks would meet.
His amp stood full three stories high and twenty metres wide,
Valves and gauges etched in black were there on every side.
Bolts of lightning flashed and spat while the rolling thunder grew
And thus he’d play all afternoon, the mighty Rocking Roo.

One day a letter came to town, it had travelled far and wide,
Dog-eared, stained with travel dust on water buffalo hide.
In tones both stark and sombre, letters faded by the sun,
It said, ‘To the world’s number two axeman from the world’s number one.’
I’ve jammed with Eric Clapton, Steve Vai and Stevie Ray,
Keith Richards, even Hendrix couldn’t beat me on my day,
Mahavisnu John McLaughlan, even Carlos had to drool,
Only you are left to beat, consider this a duel.”
The Roo read on word for word, his face a twisted mask.
“Another kid with foolish dreams, I’ll put him with the last.
You’d think they’d learn the lesson, no one’s ever stretched me yet,
I’ll have to show them one more time so that no one will forget.”
Every kid who buys a new guitar and makes it ring,
anyone who’s ever learned a riff and thinks he’s king
must understand a legend is a lonely lofty breed
and only Rockin’ Roo can make a Stratocaster bleed.

News flashed round the desert that a challenge had been laid,
Another would be rock star trying hard to make the grade,
Just another notch upon the handle of a gun,
Another would be if he could be, broken-hearted, on the run.
“Write a letter back,” he said, “tell him come on if you dare,
his destiny awaits him in the searing desert air.
I’ll play him on his terms, I don’t care how he sets the rules,
The desert lies in wait to pick the bones of beaten fools.”

Through sleet and snow and rain and hail they sped the letter on,
Through swollen stream and desert lands and up the mighty Swan,
Up where man has never gone and was never meant to be,
It came at last to rest against a mighty Kauri tree.
Wherein there lived a fearsome beast whose name was spoke in dread,
He wore a diamond in his nose and a cactus on his head,
His teeth were long and razor sharp, his eyes were burning coals
He’d shaped his gleaming Flying Vee from a single kauri bole.

He came at last to the desert home of the mighty Rockin’ Roo,
He rode a dappled brumby mare and carried a cockatoo.
Two hundred long horned buffalo hauled his mighty amp,
A dust cloud twenty miles wide pursued his thronging camp.
Up and down that heaving mass the bullwhips cracked and sang,
Creaking wheels creaked and squealed and metal traces rang
And there behind this mighty host like a gleaming evening star,
Cut with gold and precious stones rode Yowie Jack’s guitar.

The desert shook and creatures ran before the swelling tide
Or fell beneath the hooves of riders flanked on every side.
Arrayed in leather armour, golden helms upon their heads,
The desert folk took flight and hid before that host, in dread.
And still they came that fearsome throng to the beating of the drum,
Those who stood transfixed with fear were struck completely numb.
Then all at once a shadow fell as that rolling thunder grew
For that thronging host at last had found the mighty Rockin’ Roo.

“Yowie Jack,” growled Rockin’ Roo, “at last, how do you do?”
“You’ve travelled a long and torturous path to meet your Waterloo.”
Yowie Jack just howled a laugh that echoed to the sky.
“You’re wrong,” he said, “I’ve come my friend to watch a legend die!”
”I’ve come to claim for once and all the mantle that is mine,
to carve my name forever more in the granite walls of time.”
“Only sand you’ll take from here, I promise that,” said Roo,
“so let’s be done, I’ve got,” he said, “more important things to do.”

Their amps were set a league apart on cliffs of solid rock,
Braced by giant iron gums to minimize the shock.
A waterfall was harnessed to enormous paddle wheels,
Joined to iron dynamos and copper covered reels.
Translucent arcs of naked power shimmered in the heat
And danced across the yawning gap to explode at both their feet.
Showers of sparks cascaded on the crowd who jumped and twitched.
And the desert folk let out a howl as their hero hit the switch.

A sound as sweet as honeydew as dark as raven’s wings,
Echoed as his fingers danced across those polished strings.
Like a gentle breeze it fanned the air above the desert folk
And rippled through the foliage of the mighty desert oak.
It ran like waves of summer heat and rolled across the sand,
Each note a silken lover’s kiss exploded from his hand.
It howled like ghostly desert winds and screamed its sad lament,
The Rockin’ Roo stood fast until his tortured riff was spent.

A breathless sigh escaped the crowd that threatened to erupt
‘cause suddenly across the plain Yowie Jack lit up.
It ran like starving wolves among the frightened multitude,
A sound as black as desert storms, like a shrieking dingo brood,
It tore at hearts and stung the skin and ears began to bleed,
Feedback from the bowels of hell withered desert weeds.
Storm clouds gathered overhead and lightning split the sky,
The desert folk cowered down and waited there to die.

Back and forth it blazed away, walls of solid sound,
Flashing hands on white hot strings rumbled through the ground.
Crackling balls of sizzling power crackled overhead
As first the Roo then Yowie Jack kept the maelstrom fed.
Like mighty dogs of war they stood and traded blow for blow,
Leather smoked, timber stressed and steel began to glow.
The air became a living thing, a nightmare tinged in blue
As Yowie howled a challenge down at the mighty Rockin’ Roo.

Rockin’ Roo was bathed in sweat, he pulled a laboured breath,
He knew the gauntlet had been laid to falter now meant death.
Through hooded eyes with gritted teeth he glared at Yowie Jack,
Hit a chord that seared the air and countered the attack.
The very ground they stood upon began to shake and sway,
The Rockin’ Roo was frenzied as he blew them all away.
Trees were blasted from the ground, willy willies howled,
Then his bloodied fingers paused at last, “beat that Jack,” he growled.

Yowie Jack let out a howl and hit the pedal hard,
His tortured amp was glowing red, the ground around him charred.
A nightmare sound of evil issued forth from his guitar,
Birds were plucked from out the sky and dingoes howled afar.
Stringybarks were were set alight and rocks were split in two,
He blasted gold from nearby hills and cooked his cockatoo.
One last terrifying riff he aimed across the void
It ricocheted off Roo’s guitar and made him quite annoyed.

“So it’s a fight you want,” said Rockin’ Roo, “prepare to meet your doom!”
He turned his amp up all the way and gave himself some room.
He hit a chord that blasted Yowie Jack right off his feet,
Two armour plated horsemen were ignited by the heat.
His eyes were mad, his fur was scorched, he played like one possessed
From where he dragged those frenzied chords no one could have guessed.
Every note he’d ever learned he played as if demented,
Sevenths, ninths, suspended fourths and major chords augmented.

But Yowie Jack was not dead yet, he was made of sterner stuff,
He staggered to his feet and yelled abuse across the bluff.
His smoking blackened axe was swathed in blue St. Elmo’s fire,
He wound his dials all the way, higher, ever higher.
His tortured amp was screaming, all the gauges flashing red,
The sound that issued from it was a force of solid dread.
It shredded skin right off the bone and burned with acid heat
And still the Roo could not be budged Yowie knew that he’d been beat.

The Rockin’ Roo rose up full height he was rent from head to toe,
Through the gloom and swirling smoke he glimpsed his beaten foe.
“My legend stands unbeaten yet,” he laughed at Yowie Jack.
“Take your choice of desert sand it’s all you’re taking back,
but rest assured my friend,” he said, “you page in history’s set,
I plan to leave a legacy so that no one will forget.
You and I will live again through the song bird as he sings.”
Then he raised the strat above his head and hit those burning strings.

His amp exploded end for end in blinding violent light,
The desert sky for miles around glowed a brilliant white.
The ground erupted spewing flames, its very fabric torn
And amidst a sea of molten rock a mighty stone was born.
A monument of stunning size rose to meet the sky
The scale of which was never glimpsed before by naked eye.
It’s battlements of fiery red were fuelled by desert sun,
A monolithic masterpiece to the memory of a gun.

And so they stood before the rock and gazed in silent awe
And wondered at such architecture upon the desert floor.
Through the night they heard the sound of music on the wind,
They read the strange inscriptions on which all their hopes were pinned.
The sunset colours bathed the rock in ghostly twilight hue,
They thought they saw the spirit form of a giant kangaroo
And Mister Ayer who found the rock or so the stories say,
Found again the legend still unbeaten to this day.