Dressed to Thrill

Rocky Cameron’s Cowboy Costume

By the age of ten Rocky Cameron (1944-2016) was already an experienced performer. He had ‘cut his teeth’ on the greater-Sydney radio circuit – 2UW, 2KY, 2GB & 2KA – but even with those successes he still felt his nerves swell.

Following the introduction of television to Australia, Rocky made it to the stage of Pat Mondel’s Fun Farm (1956), a talent quest which aired on Sydney’s Channel 9. Never had the stakes been this high. His mum, Reta, watched the performance on ‘the telly’ at a nearby milk bar.

Aimed at children, Mondel’s TV show had been quickly dismissed by the Australian Women’s Weekly as a program that should be dropped like a hot tomato. The host’s manner of speaking – including her use of slang – was the reason. But Rocky didn’t care for the high-and-mighty critique of one magazine writer, he was there to win the competition and take home its prize of a television.

When Rocky performed on Fun Farm he wore this three-piece cowboy suit, made by his mum when he was eight. It was in great condition considering he had worn it to every performance prior, singing at least one of two country songs written for him – My Mum and Dad (1954) and My Mother’s Prayer (1954). The only adjustment needed was a strip of fabric attached to the hems of his pants to make them longer–a young boy grows quickly after all.

During this television appearance he played the full-size guitar his dad, Hugh, had bought for him from Nicholson’s music store in George Street, Sydney. One of only three Crafton Rex guitars in the country, his dad left Rocky at the store as security while he made the trip home to Granville to get enough money to buy the instrument.

That day Rocky was the one to beat, and when declared the winner he became the first kid on his street to own a television.