Denise Wharmby

Denise Wharmby

Denise Wharmby was born in Tasmania, and met the girls (as they were then known!) on their first night in Sydney back in 1986. She showed them where to party, took them out on wild nights of drinking and gambling, and finally threw a barbie for them just before they headed off on their Outback Tour. Fatefully, someone started a bit of a sing-song, and wouldn’t ya just know it, but Denise launched into the big aria from La Traviata. Dillie was completely bowled over - not just by Denise’s superb voice, enormous range and all round musicianship - but by the extraordinary throw of the dice that had landed them all together. For the truth was that Adèle and Dillie had been touring with a heavy heart, as Marilyn had decided that she needed to spread her wings and escape the somewhat claustrophobic world of touring, touring, touring. This was to be her swansong with Fascinating Aïda, and it appeared that there was no-one to replace her. Auditions had been held, and suffice it to say that much drowning of sorrows had been attempted as a result of said auditions. However, there in Sydney on that fateful day in February 1986, whilst they munched their blackened shrimps and stood beside a Kawai grand piano, Adèle and Dillie found their saviour.

The rest is history. Denise left a promising career on the musical side of Australian showbiz to come to England, and didn’t leave out shores for many years.

Then another piece of fate lead Denise to her third continent. In 1984, Fascinating Aïda had been pipped at the post for the Perrier Award, Edinburgh’s famous comedy trophy. The winners that year (quite deservedly) were the wackiest quintet of musicians ever to toot a horn on a stage -The Brass Band. As huge fans of The Brass Band, Fascinating Aïda found it no trouble to be galnat losers, so they took the bottle of champagne they had bought around to share it with the five crazy Californian boys. The guys looked somewhat puzzled at this act of quixotic magnanimity, but sufice it to say that they recognised in the girls the unmistakable signs of schoolgirl adulation (not to mention infatuation) and a real and abiding friendship was struck.

Then when Denise joined the group, she naturally came across the guys - firstly at the Perth Festival in 1988, then in San Francisco in 1989. Of course, all the guys lived in SF, so there was quite a bit of socialising, etc. etc., and naturally she got to know them all fairly well.

Cut to some years later - about 1994 or so… Denise was passing through San Francisco on her way to Oz to see her family, and decided to look up the old friends. The Brass Band had by then disbanded (no pun intended!) but the individuals weren’t hard to find. And lo and behold, she and George Wallace (no relation to the right wing senator, nor to the African-American comic of the same name) looked into one another’s eyes - and found the experience more than pleasant.

So there you have it. Denise is now living in the Bay Area of San Francisco, a contented mother of a little boy. George is doing all sorts of things - he turned out to be a bit of a whizz as a builder and decorator, so that’s his main occupation. However, he’s still conducting and doing all sorts of things with his music, and Denise is teaching. That little boy is sure going to be musical!

We wish her well, and Denise, if you’re reading this, send a photo of the family to the website!