June 10, 2007 – Lynne Randell was born Lynne Randall on 14 December 1949 in Liverpool England where she had started primary school. When five years old however, her family migrated to Australia and settled in the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena. She later attended Mordialloc High School. She completed Form Three and won a singing talent quest at a school fete – the prize was a one-week engagement at Lorne on the Victorian surf coast.
Lynne had dreams of becoming a famous hairdresser and designed her own mod hair style. Early in her life she never mentioned singing, it was always hairdressing, however by fourteen Lynne was starting to get singing jobs during here school holidays. At the age of 14, Randell started working for celebrity hairdresser Lillian Frank on a trial basis and promptly asked for annual holidays to fulfil her singing gig. Frank required proof:
“Vell, if you’re such a singer then sing for me and I will decide.” The dryers were turned off … I stood there and sang. At the end, everyone applauded and Lillian said, “That’s very good dah-ling, you can have your holidays.”
One of Frank’s regular customers was publicist, Carol West. Garry Spry, the manager of Australian mod group The Flies, employed West to organise a publicity shoot for TV and press to display his band having their long hair done at a women’s hair salon. During the shoot, The Flies lead singer, Ronnie Burns sang with his guitar and Frank suggested her young apprentice should sing along. Spry was so impressed by her voice he offered her a job at his discothèque, Pinocchios, and West became her manager. For Randell’s 15th birthday on 14 December 1964, West held a party in Malvern and invited local radio DJs including Stan Rofe. The Spinning Wheels backed Randell as she sang “House of the Rising Sun” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”. She cut a demo in a dining room and Rofe played it on his radio show.
At the Lorne Life Saving Club she sang with a band, The Spinning Wheels, and met a surfie-roadie and university student, Ian Meldrum, with whom she formed a lifelong friendship. Meldrum became a pop music commentator, writing for teen magazine, Go-Set, hosting television music series, Countdown, and providing opinions in various media.
For three years in the mid-1960s she was Australia’s most popular female performer and had hits with “Heart” and “Goin’ Out of My Head” in 1966, and “Ciao Baby” in 1967. On the back of her Australian success, Randell went to the United Kingdom and performed at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. By 1967, she was in the United States, where she met The Monkees and had a brief relationship with Davy Jones. She toured with them as part of a bill which also featured Jimi Hendrix and Ike & Tina Turner.
While touring the US, Randell became addicted to methamphetamine tablets which were sold legally as slimming pills. She developed a long term addiction which subsequently damaged her brain, nervous system and adrenal glands.
The demands of life on the road played havoc with Randell’s health, and prior to a television appearance, manager West criticized her weight. In response, she secured some diet pills from a friend, beginning a struggle with methamphetamine abuse that spanned decades.
Her next single “That’s a Hoe Down” / “I Need You Boy” appeared in 1967 and she won another ‘Most Popular Female Vocal’ from Go-Set pop poll in October. Randell moved to Los Angeles in 1968 and released “An Open Letter”. However, she had health problems with glandular fever and then peritonitis. Her last single, “I Love My Dog” was released in 1969 on Capitol Records.
Just 19 years old Randell married Abe Hoch, an Atlantic Records company executive.. She provided a weekly column for Go-Set as their US correspondent – their home was the US office for Go-Set Publications – during 1970 and 1971. In 1972, their son Jamieson Hoch was born. Abe Hoch later became head of Swan Song Records and they moved to London in 1976 where Randell had further health problems related to her methamphetamine addiction and prescriptions by doctors. This caused difficulties for their marriage and led to their divorce by the late 1970s.
After the end of her marriage, Randell returned to Australia in 1980, she worked as a personal assistant to Meldrum, then compère of Countdown, until 1986. Randell worked for Seymour Stein of Sire Records as his personal assistant in New York during the late 1980s, living close to her son Jamieson. Randell moved back to Melbourne in the 1990s and made occasional appearances in oldies concerts.
She went public about her methamphetamine addiction in 2004 in an interview with Peter Wilmoth of The Age. She indicated that her adrenal glands were atrophied to about 30% function.
Randell was found dead at her home in Toorak, Melbourne on 8 June 2007. Even though suicide was a clear indicator, police said that there were “no suspicious circumstances”. She left notes and gifts for family and friends. She was 57.
Her son Jamieson Hoch, 35, died of a brain haemorrhage on 24 July 2007 only days after he joined mourners at St Kilda beach where he spoke about his mother and scattered her ashes in the water.