Col Joye was a pioneer of Australian rock 'n' roll. While Johnny O'Keefe was billed as 'the wild one', Joye cultivated a clean cut, boy next door image.
Inspired by Bill Haley's 'Rock around the Clock', he formed the Joyboys in 1957 with his brothers and a few friends. Their big break came when promoter Bill McColl saw them at the Maroubra Hotel and offered them a spot playing on his 'Jazzorama' concert in October 1957. They dressed in flash clothes (including white shoes which they painted themselves) and began rehearsing frantically.
A contract with Festival Records followed, and it was his fourth single, a romantic ballad called 'Bye Bye Baby', which established Col Joye as a major star, especially with young female fans. Released as Joye's profile was soaring due to his first appearance on one of Lee Gordon's Big Shows, 'Bye Bye Baby' was a smash. A stack of hits followed. 'Oh Yeah Uh Huh' became the first rock song recorded and produced in Australia to become a national No 1 hit. Recording conditions at Festival were primitive: an echo effect was achieved by piping the vocal into a toilet room and on 'Oh yeah uh huh' the 'drum' beat was tapped out by John Bogie on a typewriter.
With his brilliant smile and squeaky clean image Col Joye was a natural for television. He became a national star thanks to a program called 'Bandstand', hosted by Brian Henderson, and gradually cemented his position as one of Australia's most popular TV personalities. He had a broader appeal than the hard-rocking, sometimes abrasive Johnny O'Keefe. His high TV profile ensured good record sales, and by 1963 he had released 20 singles, 24 EPs and 19 LPs.
Joye wore this suit in performances with the Joyboys. It bears the label of the Sydney tailor Andy Ellis, who, along with Pineapple Joe (George St) and Len Taylor, provided costumes for Sydney's rock 'n' roll elite in the 1950s and early 1960s. Brian Henderson, the disc jockey John Laws, and singers like O'Keefe, Johnny Rebb and Johnny Devlin all visited Ellis's premises at 420 Pitt St to be fitted out. Ellis was also the favoured tailor of Sydney's fastidious bodgies, whose strict dress code demanded that jackets extend to the knees and that trousers measure 71 centimetres at the knee, tapering to 43 centimetres at the ankle. No wonder he was dubbed 'the Dior of the drape shape' by ABC TV's 'Weekend Magazine'.
The museum's collection includes only two other known Andy Ellis outfits, a checked suit and a tangerine tuxedo jacket, both worn by the champion jitterbug dancer Barry Frawley. Col Joye even had Andy Ellis make a replica of the gold suit worn by Elvis Presley on the cover of 'Fifty Million Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong'.
Compared to these flash clothes, the green suit might seem somewhat tame. However with its shiny fabric and up-to-date cut, this was a sharp piece of pop star dress, circa 1960. Col can be seen wearing it on the cover of his LP 'Joyride'.