Performer Scene: Brent Dehn – The Radiators

How did you get into playing the guitar?

Stupid story, but my neighbour, who was a guitar player but a bit of a dag used to bring his acoustic guitar outside when the neighbourhood kids would hang out together. This was in the early ‘70’s, well before the internet and smart phones etc. We only had 4 TV channels at the time too. Anyway, I could see that the local girls would sit at his feet and sing along with whatever he was playing. That’s when it struck me…..if he can keep these girls under his spell so easily then that’s the job for me!!

So, my dad bought me a cheap little nylon string acoustic and I got the dag to teach me some chords. It only took about a month before I realised it wasn’t about the girls anymore; I was hooked by the guitar. It’s caused me problems ever since! ;)

What was your first good guitar and how did you get it?

I had always wanted a Fender Stratocaster after hearing Deep Purple’s Made in Japan album. The pictures on the record sleeve showed Ritchie Blackmore playing a Stratocaster in every photo so that was my dream. By July 1976I’d finally talked my dad into going guarantor for a hire purchase loan to buy my first Strat. It was a brand new, black, 1975 Stratocaster. I was in love!

There was no such thing as a vintage guitar market back then and nobody cared too much about old guitars as such so brand new was the way to go. If I knew then what I know now I would’ve bought an old one, they were cheap as chips (relatively) back then. I still have my original black, ‘75 Strat to this day and have recently had it refretted so it now has a new lease on life.

What were your early musical influences?

As I mentioned previously, Ritchie Blackmore made a huge impression on me and was my first major influence by a long shot.

Burn, by Deep purple was another very early album for me and just floored me. Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page came along pretty much straight after Blackmore so that pretty much made my guitar influences complete, at least in my formative years. Jeff Beck’s Blow by blow, and Wired were recent releases at the time as was Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and Presence albums.

Favourite piece of gear?

This is a hard one! I have many Strat’s, and a bunch of Marshalls that I would be hard pressed to pick favourites from.

There are 3 Strats that I couldn’t live without! Number 1 would be my ‘75 black Strat that I bought new. Number 2 would be my ‘69 all original Strat that I picked up a few years ago and that I use in my Deep Purple show “For the love of Purple”, and number 3 would be my Radiators Strat which I bought brand new in about ‘83, destroyed the paintwork, and abused beyond recognition but still plays like butter for me.

My first Marshall 1959 Super Lead that I bought brand new in 1976 is irreplaceable for me too!

What gear that you still use today has been with you the longest?

My ‘75 black Strat, my Marshall Super lead from 1976 and my Boss CE-1 chorus pedal from 1979(?).

What are your top 3 guitar albums (or songs)?

Jeff Beck – Blow by blow (& Wired – I think they both belong together)
Deep Purple – Made in Japan (although Live in London, California Jam, or myriad other Blackmore/Purple live albums could be
added just as well)
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Rainbow Rising.

Notable songs I love would be:
Hocus pocus – Focus
Still I’m sad – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (studio version)
Becks Bolero – Jeff Back
Becks Boogie – Jeff Beck
Celebration – Kevin Borich
I’m sure there are many more but…..

What’s your latest release/recording?

My album Wrecking Crew – Fun in the doghouse has recently been re-released by Bad Reputation records.

The Radiators haven’t released anything new since I joined the band at the end of 2012 but we’re looking at releasing something new in the very near future (along with a special friend of the band).

Any upcoming live/streaming gigs?

I have a gig at Lizottes in Newcastle on Oct 17th with my band “For the love of Purple” where we’ll be performing the Machine Head album from top to bottom and then all the rest of the Purple classics. We’re billing it as “The Gillan years” as we’re still on the hunt for our “Coverdale”.

The Radiators have a gig at the Toronto hotel on the 12th September and a trip to QLD for a handful of gigs from the 22nd of Oct to the 24th Oct. I would say that the Rads gigs that are booked are dependent on circumstances at the time, as they unfold.

Fingers crossed though!

What’s YOUR scene?

I’d say “My Scene” is playing in bands with likeminded muso’s is my favourite thing to do (musically that is). Playing the Deep Purple stuff is musically very challenging for me so it keeps me on my toes, and
playing with the Rads is great fun. Both very satisfying in different ways. I will be very happy to get back to full time gigging but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon sadly!

About The Radiators

The rock ‘n’ roll road to stardom is a dangerous road indeed littered with the corpses of starry eyed hopefuls, wannabes, one hit wonders and jaded “if onlys”…while many bands self-implode before they even leave the garage, victims of classic clashing egos and personalities. Few survive.

One of these survivors is Australian band the RADIATORS who in 2013 celebrated 35 years together since their very first show.

Formed in a transition from a band called Big Swifty, little did they know they would go on to forge a unique sound and influence thousands of teenagers throughout Australia. Following their September 1978 debut in Sydney, the RADIATORS embarked on a formidable performing schedule playing over 320 gigs in the first 12 months alone. They soon came to the attention of major record companies and were signed to Warner Brothers late 1979. The release of their debut album “Feel the Heat” in March 1980, was much anticipated by their many newly won fans and they created history by being the first Australian band to have advanced presales on their debut album.

The end of 2012 unfortunately saw the departure of original guitarist Fess Parker after more than 30 years with the band. Fess played his final show with the RADIATORS on 31 December at Lizottes, Lambton and is as close today with his old band mates as he ever was.

With the departure of the beloved Fess, the New Year ushered in a change in guitarist, in fact the first change since 1978. The RADIATORS welcomed much sought after guitar slinger and long-time friend, Brent Dehn, who is a fitting replacement for Fess.

The RADIATORS still tour extensively playing an average of 100 shows per year and the band’s fans young and old, still flock to grab a slice of living Aussie rock history and dance the night away to the great catchy songs and classic hits that make the RADIATORS a household name in Australia.

About Martin Cilia 60 Articles
Martin is an Australian guitarist and vintage guitar collector. Apart from his solo work he is a member of The Atlantics, Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs and is currently guitarist in Mental As Anything.

5 Comments on Performer Scene: Brent Dehn – The Radiators

  1. Awesome interview, very exited about the new Radiators stuff, whatever that will be.
    Please, please, please let those borders be open for the Qld gigs in October.

  2. Great interview Martin…Brent is A friend of mine and many and a fantastic human and muso..as are you Martin..have a few of your Surf CDs ..love them .
    Cheers.

    • Excellent interview Vincenzo. Very thrilled to hear that new material is being born from the Mighty Rads and can’t wait to see what unfolds. We love and miss Fess and hope he is happy and well and continuing to follow his passions with guitars. Brent has really found his place in the group and everyone loves him. He is a highly gifted guitarist who really enjoys what he does, which comes across in his performances, so he fits in perfectly with Brian, Geoff and Mark who have the same passions and stage presence.
      We miss them so much during this Covid time and hope to see them back on a stage or a live stream very soon.
      Blessings, Donna 🙏😍

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