Monday, March 12, 2012

Blurred Vision (1998-2000)

L-R: Jezz, Gary, Kai Purhonen, Richard Moulton
Epitomising the urgency of UK punk, Blurred Vision existed for barely 12 months before tragedy drew the band to a grinding halt.

First formed by former TBK, Tank o’ Piss and Rukus guitarist Azzie, bassist Kai Purhonen, drummer Jez and vocalist Gary 'Gaz' McDonald in October 1998, the band played hard n' fast punk, influenced by the likes of The Business, Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects and The Exploited.

After playing a few local shows with Frontside, Zero Tolerance, Naval Graveyard, and Psychotic Numbskulls, Azzie left to focus again on Rukus, and was replaced by Richard Moulton (Psychotic Numbskulls, Burning Bridges).


Momentum was building, and the band hit the road for a tour to Adelaide playing the Adelaide Arts Festival, stopping over at Melbourne’s Arthouse, before returning to Canberra’s Punk in the Park, Sydney’s Iron Duke and then home to support Dropkick Murphy’s at Wollongong Youth Centre in November. Not too scrappy for a band only a few months old.The band was doing well and Moulton, Purhonen and Gary began sharing a house in West Wollongong.

The year 1999 saw Blurred Vision record a 7-track EP, and though they contributed a couple of these tracks to various compilations, the EP never saw the light of day as the band split in early 2000. Following the split, Moulton moved out of the flat with his remaining flatmates evicted soon after.

Moulton, Purhonen, Gary, Jezz
Purhonen moved into a flat in Seaview Rd, Coniston with a number of other members of the local punk scene. Liam Tully-Salter, an itinerant 17 year-old originally from WA fell in with the group and began hanging out at the flat. Tully-Salter however began to overstay his welcome at the flat and twice broke a window to get inside and two of his flat mates, Jason Farrell and Daniel Ezold made a pact to get rid of him.

On the night of November 15, a group including Tully-Salter, Purhonen, Farrell and Ezold attended The Oxford Tavern after consuming a cocktail of alcohol and LSD. After leaving the Oxford, the group then headed towards South Beach before proceeding towards Port Kembla.

In the early hours of November 16, 2000 Tully-Salter was killed on the banks of Tom Thumb Lagoon. Here Tully-Salter’s body lay undetected until a witness came forward a couple of days later. Ezold and Farrell was arrested and charged with Tully-Salter’s murder soon after. On 21 November Kai Purhonen was also arrested and charged.

Liam Tully-Salter
Despite Blurred Vision having already split up, The Illawarra Mercury’s Court Reporter Jenny Dennis jumped on Purhonen’s punk connections.

Seven days after Tully-Salter's death Mercury reporter Cydonee Mardon ran a piece citing Gaz as saying that Blurred Vision was one of this country's biggest punk bands, having released four albums, and that plans were underway for a US and European tour. Gaz denies ever saying these things, stating that he was reluctant to do any interview and refused a photo.

On September 11, 2001 the charges against Purhonen were dropped due to lack of evidence. On 20 February 2002 Ezold was handed a 16-year sentence for his role in Tully-Salter’s murder. Farrell was named as the prime offender and on 2 May 2002 was sentenced to 18 years.

Purhonen left the area, travelling to the UK before returning home in 2002. In July 2003 following an altercation with his father in Tomerong, Purhonen was arrested and the murder charge against him was re-enlivened. Though cleared of assault he was granted bail for the murder charge.

In January 2004 however, Purhonen got himself into an altercation at The Oxford following jeers and taunts from punters labelling him a killer. Purhonen was again taken into custody and held until the murder trial commenced.

In May 2004 a Supreme Court jury took only half an hour to reach a ‘not guilty’ verdict for Purhonen’s role in Tully-Salter’s murder. Despite this verdict, Purhonen was to languish in prison for another month before being released on bail for the Oxford assault charges.
Illawarra Mercury, 30/10/04

On 18 October 2004, eleven days before he was scheduled to return to court to face the Oxford assault charges, Purhonen took his own life in an apparent suicide pact with a 15 year old girl he’d met only weeks before.

In a Mercury feature article it was reported that Purhonen’s death was no surprise to those close to him, though no less devastating. His state of mind was precarious following witnessing Tully-Salter’s death and his treatment in prison. His close friend Corinne Smith is reported as saying “He’d seen a lot of things in jail but he’d never tell me about them. He just said he didn’t want to go back.”

Prior to the band splitting Gaz formed Coastal Records in North Wollongong, pressing vinyl for the likes of The Living End, Resin Dogs and Hilltop Hoods. Coastal Records existed for about two years before Gaz relocated to Melbourne. These days Gaz divides his time between Darwin and Adelaide running a herbal business.

Richard Moulton continues to play with the Psychotic Numbskulls, whilst Jez relocated to Melbourne and is currently behind the kit for Bastard Squad.
 

Discography:
2000 - Unreleased EP (download)
2000 – The New Breed Pay Tribute to Bastard Squad compilation (‘Defective’ & ‘Tell It Like It Is’) (Noise Pollution)
2000 - Time To Pay Up compilation (‘Spoon Feed’ & ‘Tell It Like It Is’) (Snapshot Records)

Resources:
Who’s Liam? Illawarra Mercury (20 November 2000)
Three men in court over Liam slaying mystery Illawarra Mercury (21 November 2000)
Third man, 19, charged with murder Illawarra Mercury (21 November 2000))
Punk rocker charged with Liam’s murder Illawarra Mercury (22 November 2000)
Tragedy followed drifter Illawarra Mercury (23 November 2000)
Death shocks punk band Illawarra Mercury (23 November 2000)
Teenagers plead not guilty to Liam murder Illawarra Mercury (7 July 2001)
Punk rocker cleared over murder Illawarra Mercury (13 September 2001)
Accused killer was ‘off his face’ Illawarra Mercury (20 February 2002)
Jury shown video of bashing confession Illawarra Mercury (23 February 2002)
Punk rocker charged with teen murder Illawarra Mercury (12 July 2003)
Trio formed pact to ‘get rid of teen’ Illawarra Mercury  (4 May 2004)
Witness assault charges Illawarra Mercury (27 May 2004)
How the system failed Kai Illawarra Mercury (30 October 2004)
The tragedy of Kai Purhonen Illawarra Mercury (feature: 30 October 2004)

Supreme Court of New South Wales decisions:

Thanks to Richard Moulton, Maris Depers and Gaz for their help and support on this piece.

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide contact beyondblue 1300 22 46 36, lifeline 13 11 14 or Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22.

12 comments:

  1. :D well done mate

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  2. Why is this article posted here in this forum? I don't understand what the tragedy of these boys has to do with music. Having sat in the courtroom every single day listening to everything about this event I know that 'Blurred Vision' was not a factor in the case. I fail to understand why you want to connect the two. And as I understand it from reading the posts on your FB site, you were unable to get people to talk about it and relied heavily on media and some court reporting of the day. You also wrote in response to Paix Fluer's comments, "eligible for parole in 2012". How are we to read this statement? Are you pleased with this? Or was it a rallying cry for objection? It is incredibly ambiguous. As one of those family members that Paix spoke of, I hope that you and those that read this column think about how you will treat my relative upon his release. Judgement was made upon Daniel's life by the criminal justice system and that is as it should be. We must respect that and allow all those involved to move on and become whole again. And personally, I wish you would remove your blog from this site which is as you say in your mission statement, "An online archive documenting the history of the Wollongong music scene".

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  3. Tess - with respect, the death of Tully-Salter is inherently linked to Blurred Vision due to Purhonen's involvement - notwithstanding his acquittal. Our role here is, as you say, to document the history of the scene, and unfortunately there has been some tragic elements to that. I will clarify my facebook statement and say that whilst I relied heavily on the media reports, I did so with a great deal of caution. Anything that could not be confirmed elsewhere was not used. Ultimately the written decisions played a larger influence in the final article than any Mercury piece.

    "Eligible for parole in 2012" is merely a statement of fact. There is no ambiguity there. However, if it assists, please know I work in the legal system and am the first to argue that once a sentence is complete, an inmate and their family is entitled to move on as best they can. This is a hard process and with a 51% recidivism rate in this state, it is clear that the NSW government has a lot of work to do in this regard. I am a staunch advocate for prisoners, often at the peril of my friends, family and colleagues.

    But I digress. Though I respect the sensitivity of this history, it is important and ought to be told. As such, I don't intend to remove this article but am prepared to make amendments if it can be shown to contain any errors.

    I would encourage you, or anyone else related or closely connected to Ezold, Farrell, Purhonen, or Tully-Salter to contact me via the email address under the contacts tab to discuss the matter further.

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  4. Kai was acquitted - ergo, no involvement - ergo 'Blurred Vision' is not involved. We disagree, obviously. It would be great though, to see an article on the band's music here on this site.

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  5. Who the hell (putting it nicely for this site) are you, Dangerbird? Why do you claim to know anything about this subject??????

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  6. Dangerbird = Warren Wheeler (me). What I know about this subject is what I was able to glean from research and interviews. If you, or anyone, believes I have made errors or can contribute please feel to contact me (steelcitysound@gmail.com) to discuss.

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  7. I also attended most court cases involving Kai. I also lived with Blurred vision , minus Jez...good times, mostly good times. <3 you always Kai x

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  8. Crazy times living in that house with those boys..jammin in the garage :) always found heaps cool treasures left behind from past tennants in that garage...

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  9. Kai would have been 32 today. Miss him so much it hurts.

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  10. 32 i remember when he was 17 Gaz still hurts

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  11. Miss you Kai. You were the most unique person I ever knew. Missed, loved, never forgotten.
    Can't believe it's been 9yrs

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  12. I miss Kai heaps and whoever wrote they lived with us Oct 18 2012 (must be Matt or Lisa) and I miss you both also they were good days. If not name your name and maybe look me up on facebook (Gary McDonald). I was not there when it happened but 2 days later I got a call from a friend and went and seen half a dozen very scared young people that were there and witnessed it. It was me that told them they had to go to the police. Big time gangster Jason was threatening 14 year old girls and this was not going to happen. That Jason I never met but he was shooting his mouth off about doing time with Dane Sweetman and Martyn Bayston in Pentridge and this was simply not true because I was in Pentridge in 1991 and wrote to Marty whilst in Blurred vision. What surprised me most was Dan’s involvement and to this I would bet my life that he regrets what happened. I blame a plastic punk that was hated in Melb, forced to move to Wollongong and then tries to big note himself by killing the very person as punk rockers we should have been protecting. A week vulnerable kid living on the streets, you don’t get much more punk rock than that. I am sorry Dan did what he did and will be released one day but he should never ever be welcomed back into the punk world under any circumstances. I blame him as much as Jason for Liams, Kai and Kai girlfriend deaths. I would love to hear also who it was that harassed Kai at the Oxford they are just weak as piss assholes. Thanks for every the contributions here and to the author for giving us a page in history I just wish it was under different circumstances. If your reading this and don’t know Wollongong check out a band called “Rukus” Scotty, Azzie and Adam are 100 times better than we ever were or would have ever been.

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