Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe

The Kopy Kats / The Freebeats
June 23, 2008, 1:09 pm
Filed under: New Guinea

The Kopy Kats Meisi Emu Nega

The Freebeats Kekeni Ani Mase

When I started this whole thing, there were a few places I was sure that I would never find records from… Papau New Guinea was definitely on that list.

This record is of a somewhat questionable origin. There is no information about the three bands on this compilation: The Kopy Kats, The Freebeats and The Stalemates. All three suspiciously sound like the same band and most of the songs are covers like “Last Train to Clarksville”.The Mighty Quinn” and the Scottish folk tune “Skye Boat Song”.

After I initially had posted this record, I was informed that The Freebeats were all Australians who had moved to New Guinea. The band consisted of Graham Dunich, Roy Turner, Neville Josey, Ray Michelle and Phil Neilson. They were originally know as The Statesman when they were based in Sydney, but changed their name after moving to Port Moresby at the invite of Graham Dunich who was already living there. The Freebeats supposedly did quite well, especially since they were known to translate popular songs into “Motu“, which was the local language. They were together for three years before they became The Combines in 1970.

Thanks to Bård Hodneland for the information.

Catalog number VP 318 on Viking Record Company Ltd of New Zealand. Recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Port Moresby, New Guinea. No release date given.



If your interested in feedback about the FREEBEATS.
Only 4 of the original Freebeats are still alive. Phil Neilson lives in Mooloolaba on the sunshine coast of Queenland.. Ray Michell lives in Port Maquarie,, NSW. Roy Turner owns an Island off the queensland coast. Neville josey died in 1991 in Cairns. It was sad to hear of the passing of JACK CLUNN.. He was a good friend and I have a number of photo’s of Jack . taken back in 1966-70.. If someone knows where his family can be contacted.. I would appreciate it.
Phil Neilson.

Comment by Phil Neilson

Hello Phil, I’ve heard about the Freebeats,Kopy Kats and Stalemates thru my dad who was also a member of the Kopy Kats. My dad would play the songs (on record at that time) and we would even sing to them!..Those names mentioned above seem so familiar as dad would say their names. As for the late uncle Jack Clunn, his voice will never be forgotten on the radio waves of PNG. The eldest of his sons, Neville was based in Darwin (the last I heard). Ronald, Patrick and Chris are both based here in POM. Hope that I will be able to get a response from your end.

Esther Fabila-Kaib

Comment by Esther Kaib

I have just found a single by The Freebeats released on Viking TSP 5. It has been released 1965 therefore it can’t be true, that they have been together only for 3 years if they split in 1970. All the best, Lars.

Comment by Lars

Ray Harvey was the Australian member of the Stalemates which was formed in 1969. Apart from him other members were Jack Clunn and brothers Tom and Eddie Natera from Hohola. The Stalemates were very popular at the time across Papua New Guinea and made many recordings at the old 9PA radio station in Port Moresby. Their recordings were always requested on the popular “Listeners Choice” radio programme. They regularly played at the Admin College, Army barracks, halls and various taverns (they especially rocked the Kone Tavern at Konedobu each Sunday afternoon with bands like the Kopykats and the Gwardu with big crowds always there). They also played several times in Lae. This LP in question was produced through Viking Records in New Zealand (with tapes obtained from 9PA radio), with no approval from The Stalemates. New Zealand were exempt from copyright laws in those days.There was a similar LP “Africa meets Papua New Guinea” released and also a CD including the Stalemates and other TPNG groups called “Songs of Papua New Guinea”. The Stalemates played a mixture of western and south pacific music. Unfortunately Jack Clunn has passed away. Tom lives in Canberra and Eddie and Ray in Hobart Tasmania. The Stalemates, KopyKats, Freebeats, Gwadu, the Bow Street Runners and other local bands at the time were the forerunners to the development of popular electric band music in TPNG. The 60’s and 70’s were great times in the music scene in POM.
After leaving the Stalemates Ray was a long time member of an excellent band in Port Moresby called The Bowstreet Runners. This band was considered the best western band in TPNG at the time and played at all venues and clubs (Kone club; Little Khan at Taurama etc) around Port Moresby and especially the annual balls held by each government Agency in the Papua Hotel (the “top pub” in those days). This band included expatriates Chris Owner (bass), Keith Stebbins (electric organ), Ray Harvey (guitar) and locals Vali David (guitar)and Max Toa from Hanuabada on drums.

Comment by Ray Harvey

G’day Phil,
Jack Clunn’s brother, Sam, lives in Cairns.
My Regards,
Peter Mills

Comment by Peter Mills

Hi Ester. Wonderfull to hear from someone who knew of Jack Clunn and his family. I was shocked to find out he had died. What happened to Jack ex wife ,, I am not sure of her name now. robina, or something like that. Hope we can chat further..thank you.. Phil Neilson

Comment by Phil Neilson

Phil Neilson was the first member of the freebeats to arrive in Port Moresby after an invite by Graham Dunnich.. To the best of my memory ,, Roy, Ray and Neville arrived late 66 or 67.. As far as recording goes.. we may have made a single when we were in Noumea in 1965 on viking records. I would really like a copy of that single to be certain.

Phil Neilson

Comment by Phil Neilson

Hi Peter.. I would really like to contact some of Jacks family.. If you have any address it would be great,, thank you

Comment by Phil Neilson

Hi again Ester.. Jack clunns wife’s name was Regina. I would really like to contack her again. My email address is


Phil Neilson

Comment by Phil Neilson

Hello Phil,
I have a contact number for Sam in Cairns. (07)40320109
Best I can do.
Also, were you any part of the chook farm at 14mile?
All the best, Peter Mills

Comment by Peter Mills

Hi Peter.. Thanks for that… No I was never a part of the chook farm.

Comment by Phil Neilson


Stalemates ,ahaa. Then Jack Clunn started a band called Clockwork Orange. I was there 1968 to 1993 incl Ranuguri Hostel. Paga Hill before that. Moderator of this website will not let me rave on about 70’s era he deleted my previous lengthy stuff. Shame , he would have more visitors if he let a thread follow its natural course. Have a Cascade on me.

Comment by John Beckwell

I apologize for deleting your previous responses. They did not look like they were related to the topic. My mistake.

Comment by radiodiffusion

I was one of many regulars at the Little Khan when the Freebeats &Kopy Kats played
Wilfred Blackmore
& Willie Love
were members at the time

Comment by Bernard Janecka

You and a few more of us lol.

Little Khan what a treasure.

I was there with my band too.

It was my band who had the ignoble reputation of leading to the closure of Little Khan. One of my dickhead band members said things in a court case that assisted the police’s trumped up charges against Little Khan. They didnt like the owner ,something personal.

I coached all band members , but that one guy , thought he had enough sense to say the right things , said the wrong things , which lead to Little Khan losing their liquor licence.

End of Little Khan.

I would like to rave , but dont like writing stuff to find its been deleted later on.

All the best … memories is all we have got now , lol

Comment by John Beckwell

When did you play at the Little Khan? The Bow Street Runners (my band) were resident there 6 nights a week in1972. I think Willie Love is in Qld now. Is Wilfred Blackmore still in Moresby?

John Beckwell
What was your band’s name. What was the prob with the Little Khan licencees? They were a couple of Yugoslavians to memory. Valli David is running the Keynote Music shop in Gordon’s now and I understand Max Toua isn’t well (Elevala).
Our organist (Keith Stebbins) only left Moresby in 2008 after 38 years there. He is a well known author now. Chris Owner our bass player got a PhD and now lives in the USA and is charge of forensics at a US army base hospital.
I got some photos recently of the original Bow Street Runners from Chris recently. Brings back great memories of the years spent in PM, Ranuguri Hostel; Kone Club: Kone Tavern etc.
You’re right John, memories are all we have now.
Cheers everyone.

Comment by Ray Harvey

Hi, my name is Lynne Seyuewa
I live in Port Moresby. I researh and write for history segment (PORT MORESBY HISTORY) which airs weekly on KUNDU2 television
I would be previlidged to tell the story of the KOPY KATS. If anyone is willing to help, send me line.

Thank you

Comment by Lynne Seyuewa

oh my god, the days of the 4 mile club – clockwork orange playing and dancing our faces off, so many amazing memories of a wonderful time. did Clockwork orange do any recordings? I have acquired a cd through Amazon Records, called Rhythms of New Guinea, couple of Kopy Kats songs on it, plus would you beleive Walkabout Long Chinatown.

Comment by marianne de la motte

Hi Marianne. There is a CD titled “Papua New Guinea 20 Great Favourites” which features The Stalemates; Kopy Kats and others. Songs include O Kukulei; Tiare; Love is All Around; Walkabout Long Chinatown; Badina Oi Daimuai; Heisi Emu Nega; etc. The CD was marketed by MUSIC WORLD P.O. Box 914 Mona Vale Sydney NSW 2103. Another address is P.O. Box 1462 Milton Centre Qld 4064.

Comment by Ray Harvey

Hi Lynne,
my father Wilfred Blakemore was a member and Manager of the Kopy Kats, he would be more than happy to converse with you and help you out with first hand information.. yu can contact me via email @

Narelle Blakemore

Comment by Narelle Blakemore

Hi there. Interesting discussion. But I think the best band by far at this time was the ‘Peter Liu Dynasty’. I also had bands and played at the Little Khan, Tabu, Mandarin, Gateway, etc. Chris Owner and Vali David were in my band. We had a regular gig at the Tabu and expanded into a large band called ‘The Long lost Good Vibration band’ when we played at large venues like the Yacht Club. Great to hear Chris and Vali kicked on after I left PNG in 1972.

Comment by Ian Johnson

so many memories of amazing bands in png. To a statement above, yes Willy Love is in Queensland, but unfortunately not playing music anymore, Robert Chee (ex clockwork orange) is also in Queensland

Comment by marianne de la motte

Hi Phil,
im sam turner, roy turners son.
Are you still in contact with roy?
if so you should come down sometime he often talks of his adventures with the band around new guiney.

Comment by Sam Turner

Hi Marianne.. You are so right. Memories are all we have now.. The time I spent in Port Moresby with the Freebeats were the best of my life..My one big regret is that I never got the chance to see Jack Clunn again before he died..
Phil Neilson (freebeats) 1966-1970.

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi Sam.. I havent seen roy in many years. I sent several letters to him at Hageston island but didnt receive a reply.. I would really love to meet up with him again. Please say hullo to him for me. Regards Phil Neilson.

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi Peter, no sadly, i never got to meet up with Jack again before he died or neville Josie, damn shame. Have you ever been to the png reunions on the Gold Coast Peter? There is a Lae one coming up end of April, ol wantoks get together. Great way to relive the memories. Marianne (1969-1978), Lae and Moresby

Comment by marianne de la motte

Hi Ian. Where are you now? W.A.? Peter Liu Dynasty was a good band, but was disbanded before The Bow Street Runners formed. You would have been very impressed with the latter if you had been around. I took your place in the trio at the Tabu, Mandarin etc when you left. Had a reunion with Keith Stebbins and Chris Owner in Jan 2011 at Coochiemudlo Qld. Chris and his wife flew in from Virginia (USA). Vali couldn’t make it nor Max Toa as well. Hope you’re well and I certainly miss those great days in Moresby where we were the start of grass root music in TPNG.

Comment by Ray Harvey

Hi, my name is Sinclair .I spent 5 years in Port Morseby from mid 68 to mid 73. My sister Diane & her husband created The Little Khan Nightclub. She ran it for lunches and I did the nights. It was here that I met The Freebeats and The Kopy Kats, they were great days and nights. The band in 68′ was Phil, Neville & Greg. I also played a few times at The Khan with a group called Jokers Wild. I now live on the Gold Coast and frequently see Phil. Comment by Sinclair Paku , Aug 6 2011@5 .15 pm

Comment by Sinclair Paku

The Kopykats Band members were: Henry Fabila, Johnny Oberleuter, Andrew Hebei, & Wilfred Blakemore. Twice I was invited to play with Clockwork Orange & both times I declined cos I had other commitments, this was before Jack Clunn passed away, I regret, it now.

Comment by Dane-Michael Starwood

This is an interesting thread – found Googling ‘Peter Liu Dynasty. I lived in Moresby 1963 through 1971. Recall well when Peter Liu Dynasty arrived on the scene – most regular gig was at the Ela Beach RSL if I recall correctly. John (Flaps) Phelps on keyboards and Tom McCauley on bass. Later I think I even stood in myself on bass on the odd occasion. First band I played in was brought together for POM High School dances circa 1965-1967. We must’ve been dreadful, but we had a great time and there wasn’t much else happening. Tom, Phil Patterson, Julian Johnson, Kristo Bradley and John Stanicki were all band-mates from time to time. Played the Yacht club on odd occasions and even got a free trip to Mt Hagen once. I’ve been in kiwi-land since late 1971 though did a 3-year stint on the Thai-Cambodian border during the post Pol Pot emergency years. Recently started building my own guitars – the first one of which is a P-Bass. Still a hopeless guitarist I’m afraid.

Comment by David Fallas

To Mr Ray Harvey rhythm guitarist extraordinaire :

Sorry for the delay , been busy , lol.

To explain your query.

There were a few disturbances at Little Khan , think Police got sick of calling. For sure they made a mountain out of a moll hill one night , nothing much happened , but they were intent on seeing the licensee losing his licence. Maybe cause he did not ‘treat’ the Police from time to time ? Small place Khan , funny place ,one you would never think would succeed but it did. Hardly room to swing a cat , but swing it did.

Vali David running a Keynote music shop ? I thought he went to Orstraylia long time ago to study law ? (old days).

Keith Stebbins stayed 38yrs ? Beats me , only 25yrs in Png (me).

Chris Owner , how could you forget a character like him. Someone like him should have ended up President of USA , lol. He had the style and attitude for it.

Paga Hill , then Ranuguri Hostel , which reminds me where is Ian Stephenson nowadays ? Kone Club , oh yeh , they should have preserved that as a national treasure. I was picking up band gear there one night , long after you had left PNG , and nearly came unstuck , the K’ ave’s (Keremas) liked the idea of stealing the band gear I was picking up , ha ha.

The government abandoned those Konedobu Offices , including your wages and salary office. Keith Tetley (deceased) tried to make Kone Tavern a regular hotel. Another madcap Tetley project , lol. I am guessing that whole area was abandoned to the Keremas , bless their souls.

One thing that stuck in my mind , Ray Harvey was a busy boy on stage. No slackster that Ray , he kept strummin and singin , all night long. Thats our Ray : )

Ray , after a few short years you abandoned us , your mates ! We struggled on until the 1990’s and beyond. Why did you leave us Ray ? ha ha , just joking. Actually in retrospect , a sensible move , I arrived back in Aust 1990’s and was out of touch with just about everything !

Memories , but best not to get stuck in them. Today and the future , whats left of it , counts for more , lol.

Oh , this is a long one , interesting to see if the powers that be , delete it , lol. Cheers , good luck , good health.

Em nau

Comment by John Beckwell

“Walkabout long Chinatown” , now your talkin.

And what about “Kai kai the buai” , Kone Tavern and any pub where folks were drunk , lol , yes yeh.

I was there , on the stage at 4 Mile Club , but only once , that was enough , lol. I remember the large pics above bar of all those who were banned from the place , lol. Fights there were. Should have called it Hotheads Club , lol. If you were mix race ok , but others were quite often a target , hence I did not go there very often.

When we arrived in PNG 1960’s/early 70’s it was paradise and most locals had a job. By 1980’s it was a problem State , by 1990’s not a place anyone would want to live in , other than those making a bundle of money.

Nothing lasts forever.

Comment by John Beckwell

Hi Phil just wishing you and your family a Happy New year and many more to come. Just reading on comments, as my cousins husband has recently been given an old Kopycats record and in the conversation that followed all the “old blokes” names were menioned Uncle’s Henry Fabila, Johnn Oberleuter, Andrew Hebei, & Uncle Wilfred Blakemore, along with the Freebeats, although we weren’t born when you guy’s along with Dad rocked Pom we certainly grew up with your music and stories.

Comment by Neville Clunn

Hi Neville, i recently met you again at Wang Ahnons birthday party, I am your godfathers partner (John de la Cruz), have some great photos of you 2 of the night. My question is do you have any videos/recordings/photos of your dad with Clockwork Orange? I have 2 albums full of photos of our partys at the 4 mile club but sadly over time have been lost. Would be great if you do. Love auntie marianne xx

Comment by marianne de la motte

I am looking for a long time friend by the name of Peter Mills. he was in Port Moresby staying at Hohola No. 1 in early 1970s. They were our neighbours. He has brothers Johnny, Tony & Harry, he had sisters Marie and Barbara.The mother’s name is rita, aunty Rita.My name is Noel Poi Vaia, I am from the Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay Province.

Comment by Noel Vaia

Dont know anything about Peter Mills , but got fond memories of Trobriand Islands , something like $30 return on a DC3 included overnight accommodation , lobster , island tours. Think about it , $30 ! , around 1968-70 period.

PK , PK , “Stick Tobac” ….. memories.

Comment by John Beckwell

and Max Toua was the drummer for Kopy Kats…

Comment by Narelle Blakemore

John Beckwell … you have an email address?

Comment by Ray Harvey (Tasmania)

Hi nev.. Does anyone have any old photo’s of the Freebeats.. We never took many photo’s while we were in Moresby. I would also be interested in any band photo’s you might have of JACK.

Phil Neilson

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi again Esther.. I am putting togeterh a dvd about the Freebeats .. Do you have any old photo’s of that era either of the freebeats, copy kats or clockwork orange.

Phil Neilson

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi John Beckwell………do you have an email address. Would like to contact and re-live some memories. My address is

Comment by Ray Harvey

Editor : do you have a contact email address; telephone no. or mail address of John Beckwell? I’ve been trying to track him down to talk about the past times in TPNG. Thanks

Comment by Ray Harvey

Hi Phil,

please get in touch with me!

All the best, Lars.

Comment by Lars

Hi Esther
Do you have any recordings of Jack Clunn.. I had a long association with Jack and worked with him many times.
Phil Neilson

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi Lars
Is there any chance of getting a copy of the freebeats recording.. You can send it as an MP3 by email if you want.. Regards
Phil Neilson

Comment by Phillip Neilson

Hi Phil, I have no USB turntable and can’t transfer the sound into digital, sorry. Still I might be willing to sell the record, if the price reflects its rarity. Regards Lars.

Comment by Lars

Sorry, lost this blog after leaving my earlier message. I recall handing over to you Peter. grateful you were there at the time to take over. I continued playing, mostly solo, for another few decades – not much these days. I live on the Gold Coast and have been working at Griffith University. I lived my music when I was in POM and was best known for my song “Bloody Port Moresby”.

Comment by Ian Johnson

I’m Tom (Thomas) Natera living in Queanbeyan, NSW just 12 mins outside of Canberra. I’m a semi retired public servant now and from time to time dabble in playing solo guitar and sing, or either being a vocalist at impromptu gatherings. I was an original member of the Stalemates with Ray Harvey (rhythm guitar/vocals), Jack Clunn (vocals/rhythm/lead), my brother Edward (base guitar), Willie Love (drums) and myself (lead/rhythm/drums/vocals). We played at a variety of venues and sometimes were exposed to some interesting experiences. I think those days were the foundations of some real music albeit covers music, and genuine singing was at the forefront, and not singing enhanced by electronic devices installed in computers to try and imitate a voice theses days.

I still have an EP of the ‘Stalemates’ titled ‘Ten Guitars’. This has Jack Clunn and Ray Harvey singing a couple of tracks. I’m disappointed with the ABC who were present in Port Moresby at the time (1969) and Viking Records NZ who produced this record with our permission have not allowed this material to be available or the individual record tracks, if people (my children. grandchildren and other extended family members and friends) were thinking paying for the downloads. This criticism is not restricted to my observation, but it could include other bands who made PNG music history like the Freebeats, KopyKats, Peter Liu Dynasty, Jokers Wild and others, to be afforded some level of accessibility. Obviously I’m not promoting free access, but I’m sure there will be a willingness to pay for any downloads.

In my music days, I also had a short stint with the Bacchanalia Brass in Port Moresby. I stepped in to fill in for the drummer who had to take a intermittent postings to the Highlands for his job. My memory is a bit hazy and I can’t remember his name – someone out there might know his name. The other members were Ian Fiddian (trombone), Harry Turnbull (double base), and myself (drums/vocals), and trumpet player whose name escapes me – I think it could have been Pat Brazil. This collaboration was wonderful experience because it demonstrated to me that the integration of vocals with brass was like having an orchestral backing you to complement your singing – a big band sound.

I hope the compilation of PNG’s Music history in the 60s doesn’t fall by the way and is forgotten.

This is for David Fallas. David I do remember the POM high school days and the band with Julian Johnson and others. I think Joe Regione was involved as well.

Thanks, Tom (Thomas) Natera

Comment by Thomas Christopher Natera

Hi Tom.. I was fortunate to get a copy of the majority of recordings the Freebeats made at the ABC 1966-1970.. I did this many years ago and had no problem.. However just recently I requested a song recorded by the Freebeats which was released on Viking and was the theme song of the South Pacific games,,_I also received no reply or any help from the ABC.. As Jack Clunn was a good friend of mine I would like a copy of any songs you may have of him singing.
Phil Neilson. Freebeats.

Comment by Phillip Neilson

willie love still plays music with his siblings in Brisbane..Comment by Rodney c solien

Comment by Rodney Solien

Possibly not the place to post this.
I just saw the post from Noel Poi.
Yes I am that guy from Hohola No1.
Best days of my life was knocking around with you, John Isa and (young) Peter Bray. Awesome days.
Please email me if you get this message.
Fingers crossed.

Comment by Peter Mills

Yes I am that guy from Hohola No1.
Best days of my life was knocking around with you, John Isa and (young) Peter Bray. Awesome days.
Please email me if you get this message.
Fingers crossed.

Comment by Peter Mills

Comments are closed.

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