Saturday, January 29, 2011

Erle Montaigue (1949-2011)

It is with sadness this week that Steel City Sound learnt of the passing of Erle Montaigue. Previously known as Erle Dalby, Montaigue fronted Earl's Court in the mid-to-late sixties and went on to become a sought-after theatre vocalist, before settling in the UK.

Raised in Corrimal, Montaigue's interest in music came from his father who was a self-taught musician. Watching his schoolmates perform in The Images, Montaigue soon muscled his way into the group and, under the suggestion of good friend and local venue operator Zondrae King, changed the band's name to Earl's Court - a popular hang-out in the UK for Aussie ex-pats.

Leaving school at an early age, Montaigue took up an apprenticeship as a Telephone Technician. It was also around this time that Montaigue met and married Cheryl Hidasi - a local vocalist who had provided Earl's Court with back-up vocals on the odd occasion. Erle and Cherl had two children together before going their separate ways.

Dalby circa-1971
The band recorded 'Can't Wait For September' b/w 'Let Me Be Yours Tomorrow' however by the time the single was released in late 1970, Montaigue and the remaining Earl's Court members had split. To overcome this problem manager Dal Myles set Montaigue up with fledgling Sydney band Pyramid, and the single was released as 'Pyramid with Erl Dalby'.

Montaigue went on to appear in Jesus Christ Superstar, Man of Sorrow, and contributed vocals to Nuclear, before relocating to the UK where he continued to pursue a theatrical career.

Montaigue returned to Australia in the late 70's following the death of his father when he met and married his second wife, Sandra. Moving back to the UK, Montaigue became immersed in martial arts - in particular Tai Chi and Ba Gua, where he became an internationally renowned instructor, having produced numerous books and DVD's on the subjects.

Montaigue continued his passion for music with his family band, Moontagu.

Montaigue passed away on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 from a heart-attack.

Though I personally never met Montaigue, he was a supporter of Steel City Sound, freely engaging in the process of putting his band's history together and providing the audio for free download. I am ever-so thankful that we were able to publish the Earl's Court history before he passed away, and in doing so preserving his work for future generations.

You can read Steel City Sound's piece on Earl's Court here, check out Moontagu here, and read a more detailed autobiography here.

(Partial) Discography:
1970   Pyramid & Erl Dalby - 'Can't Wait For September' b/w 'Let me Be Yours Until Tomorrow' 7" (download)
1970   'Man of Sorrow' Soundtrack
1971   Pyramid - 'Fisherman' b/w 'Celebrate'
1971   Erl Dalby - 'Send Susanna Home' b/w 'Teach Me How To Fly' (download)
1972   Erl Dalby - 'Candy' b/w 'Pasadena'
1972   'Nuclear' Soundtrack
1972   'Jesus Christ Superstar' Soundtrack
1979   Erle Montaigue - 'We Were Life' b/w 'Daylight'
2006   Erle Montaigue - 40 Years (download CD1) (download (CD2)
2006   Moontagu - Written In Stone (download)
2010   Erle Montaigue - Streets of Home (download sampler)
Unreleased   Moontagu - Feel the Fire (download demo's)


  1. You might find this interesting:

    When I was in high school (Corrimal) I had a mate called Erl Montague Dalby. He was an eccentric sort of character who ended up forming a band (called Earl's Court) and he and I got into lots of strife in school because we both had long hair at the time.

    Well I lost touch with Erl and haven't seen nor heard from him since (44 years ago).

    The night before last (for no apparent reason) I thought "I wonder what happened to Erl". So I Googled his name. And I found lots. I discovered that his band had never really made it big though they were popular in Wollongong. They finally broke up when one of the band members was conscripted and Erl joined another band called Pyramid where they released a track recorded by Earl's Court which went on to be a hit. Erl then starred in a couple of pop operas (JC Superstar et al) but seems to have ended up in Murwillumbah. At some stage he started to teach martial arts.

    In his early 20s Erl moved with his family to London to study acting. This wasn't a great success and he ended up living in Wales where he concentrated on martial arts and Tai Chi. He appears to have had lots of books published and videos made.

    I also found out he had a website so naturally I visited it. I found a "Contact me" button so clicked on it. This was exciting!

    So I sent him the following message:

    “Hi Erl. Remember me? We used to hang around together at Corrimal High. Out of the blue, the other night, I thought 'I wonder what ever happened to Erl Dalby'. Well now I know as there's lots written about you on the web. You seem to have led an interesting and colourful life. Cheers, Tony”

  2. Remember, this was the day before yesterday.

    This morning I got the following message:

    From: Eli Montaigue []
    Sent: Thursday, 27 January 2011 10:53 PM
    Subject: Re: Erle Montaigue

    Hi Tony.

    My name is Eli, I'm Erle's son.

    I'm sure that he would remember you. Yes he sure did lead an amazing life.

    He passed away yesterday afternoon. Out with a bang as he always wanted, had just been playing music and training in the martial arts with him that morning. Then he ran to the top of hill to catch up to us walking the dogs, only minutes after getting to us he was gone.

    Regards, Eli.


    I'm neither spiritual nor religious but this just seems a little too coincidental...

  3. that's an amzing story Tony. I never met Erl personally, but he certainly left a legacy.

  4. .. and many sad friends, both in Australia and UK. Now playing in the big band in the sky. A truly unique soul. Erl, I'll miss you til I join you.

  5. On the Festival 3-CD set "So You Wanna Be A Rock'N'Roll Star" (deleted), Glenn A Baker explains that only Erl Dalby's vocal was used on the track "Can't Wait For September", and that the backing recorded by Earl's Court was replaced by a new instrumental track by the new band Pyramid. This is incorrect. Gary Vickery, the lead guitarist in Earls Court, informed me that the original performance for both sides of the single is indeed the Wollongong band Earls Court, as produced by Dal Myles' "Banner Productions" team, and no changes were made at all.

  6. I had email contact with Erl a couple of years ago after eventually - after many years searching for the song that was always swirling around in my head from the early seventies "can't wait for september" - you see I always thougt it was sung by someone like The Everly Brothers (those rich tones) so was always looking at American sites. It wasn't until I heard John Paul Young on ABC radio discussing the good times that he mentioned the song I had been searching for for so many years - the answer was underneath my nose the whole time. Erl, you'll long be remembered by me.

  7. I recorded Earl at Mixdown Studios in Artarmon in 1979. I was fresh out of school and had only a rudimentary idea of what I was doing. We recorded Daylight and the b-side in what I remember as less than 2 hours! He came in with his manager and a percussionist and ripped through the two songs - one take each if I remember and no overdubs. And then he was gone. I remember two things - he was a lovely guy, and he had an incredibly powerful voice. You can probably hear me desperately attenuating the gain on his vocal mic as the song progresses. Sad to hear of his passing.