Leading the way for Aussie Pop Divas was the country’s first all-female band Peaches which had a No. 1 hit in 1978 with its debut single Substitute.
Base player Margaret Kirk spearheaded the group, which was pioneered by record producer Gene Pierson of the Laser Label, a pop record offshoot of Kerry Packer’s Channel 9 Living Sound Label.
“Margaret wanted to have the first all-girl group,” Pierson recalled in 2011 in an interview with a journalist from The Cairns Post.
“I think the timing was absolutely perfect. There were so many boy bands around then.” She approached Pierson with an original song she wrote called Keep on Dancin’, which he put on the B side after finding a funkier tune for the A side, a cover tune of a hit that was a No. 1 at the time for Clout, a South African girl group – Substitute (originally recorded by Righesous Brothers and composed by Willie Wilson).
Peaches’ cover of the song became a massive hit in Australia. It was recorded at Atlantic Studios, released through RCA Records and was Laser Label’s first No. 1 song.
Peter Hood, then owner and head engineer of Atlantic Records, said Peaches had great potential to be world-class stars. “They were really very good,” he said years later. Margaret, the lead singer, was world-class; she was better than Suzie Quatro. We thought they would be a world-wide hit.”
While some thought it was a risk for the Laser Label to take on an all-female group, Pierson was prepared to take the chance. “I saw an opening for girls,” he said. “In those days there was nothing really for female artists in Australia. “Peaches became the first real all-girl group.
“Because of its huge success we started a bit of a revolution where everyone started to look at girl groups and girl artists.” After appearing on Countdown, a popular weekly music TV show, Peaches started touring. (Countdown, hosted by Molly Meldrum, was ABC’s nationally broadcast pop-music television show from November 8, 1974 to July 19, 1987.)
“We released another single, but it didn’t go anywhere,” Pierson said. “They (the band members) wanted to do original songs and were more into blues music, but blues wasn’t commercial back then.”
Peaches dissolved soon after when the drummer’s American visa expired.