Obituary – Aussie Jazz Legend Chet Boomerang

Chet With One Of The Sheilas

Chet With One Of The Sheilas

Born in Sydney, Australia in 1929, Chester P Bloomberg, more famously known as Chet Boomerang, Australia’s leading jazz visionary has died, aged 84.

Chet Boomerang led what can only be described as a varied and interesting life. He was born into a wealthy family of manufacturing entrepreneurs, but having more of an artistic bent than a talent for stripping manufacturing techniques to the bare bones, he distanced himself at an early age from the family business empire, although he was slightly less ambivalent regarding the family fortune.

Chet was always reluctant to discuss his early life, but it is a matter of record that he was a pupil at the prestigious Willow Brook School, going on to gain a degree in creative zen at the University Of Alternative Theory in Melbourne. Upon his graduation he returned to his native Sydney and rented an apartment in the Bohemian Kings Cross area, where he met his biggest musical influence, Al ‘The Vibe’ Kerrigan.

On account of being perpetually skint, ‘The Vibe’ meticulously cultivated his friendship with his potentially wealthy benefactor, introducing him to the showgirl, Sheila Bondi, who Chet got up the duff and married in 1948. The couple enjoyed a ridiculous relationship, having three children before divorcing in 1951 following an incident in which Sheila, upon returning home early from a shopping spree caught Chet in the act of attempting to murder a Philippino maid by choking her with a blunt instrument.

In the kitchen.

Feeling disillusioned with his bohemian lifestyle, Chet fled to Brisbane, where he met Sheila McGinty, his second wife. McGinty, a wealthy socialite gave birth to triplets and twins within two years of their union, but there were questions over paternity, exacerbated after Chet allegedly caught McGinty and Kerrigan (who was like a leech upon Chet at the time, according to contemporary reports) in bed together, whereupon he reportedly engaged in a threesome with the pair.

Writing in his diary, Chet recorded that he was more interested in Kerrigan than McGinty on that particular evening, so he divorced McGinty, announced that he was gay (Which at the time wasn’t quite the done thing.) and fled to America with his new love – Al ‘The Vibe’ Kerrigan.

The couple built a 40 storey skyscraper to live in with Bloomberg family money, just off Union Square in Manhattan before they both came to the realisation that they weren’t properly gay. Wondering how to best utilise his serendipitous cash cow husband, Kerrigan suggested a trip uptown to the Lenox Jazz Lounge on 129th Street. The rest is history. They both went out and got shagged by women, in keeping with their newly rediscovered sexuality.

Chet Boomerang fell in love with jazz music after watching a gig by a band named ‘The Deadbeats’ and with some encouragement from ‘The Vibe’ he decided to start a recording company. A studio was set up on the lower east side, and Chet fell in love with an Australian immigrant lounge singer named Sheila Shally.

Chet’s career flourished – Sheila Shally made four hit singles, two immensely popular albums, married her boss, and in an ironic twist also gave birth to twins and triplets, before the marriage hit the rocks.

“I guess I’m addicted to Sheilas,” Chet said at the time.

Unfortunately, Chet was also addicted to smoking ‘Rope’ – a designer drug actually made of rope steeped in a solution of opium, LSD, marijuana, laudanum and petrol then smoked over burning charcoal briquettes – and his life began to unravel. Sheila Shally divorced Chet in 1959.

“Chet didn’t give a shit,” said Boomerang Records house drummer Archie Labelle. “He was off his nut on rope for years. The record company thrived though, thanks to a great deal of creative accounting and a whole lot of groovy sounds. We were doing well, and to be honest we were all a little apprehensive when Chet decided to form his own jazz combo and record at the studio with us.”

Chet Boomerang’s first album, released in 1964 and titled ‘Hi! I’m Chet Boomerang And I Love Jazz!’ hit the Billboard top ten, even though by Chet’s own admission it wasn’t very good:

“I’d done the rehab thing, and I wanted to make music to tell people that sometimes things can get a little hectic,” Chet said at the time. “So I walked the streets recording the sound of emergency sirens and tyre squeals. When I’d got about thirty hours worth of that stuff, we mixed it in the studio, cut it down, and overlaid a number of tracks, with Archie Labelle hitting a gravel filled plastic container with a baseball bat on some tracks, saxophonist Senior Strider tunelessly and randomly tooting on others, and we recorded an asthmatic New Jersey hotel night porter wheezing on others. When we played it back in the studio we knew straight away we were onto something huge. We’d no idea why, but the critics loved it and it sold millions because it was ‘existential’ or something. Then I met Sheila and she insisted that we move to London because it was slightly less mental than New York. ”

Sheila being Chet’s fourth wife – Sheila Delaney, a New York call girl who was to bear four children before embracing the hippy movement and running off with acid loving 60’s cult guru Noah Righteous and co-founding a commune in North Wales dedicated to the adoration of organic orange marmalade as a cure for the world’s ills. Chet Boomerang divorced her in 1971 on the grounds that she wasn’t quite right in the head.

The 70’s were a tough challenge for Boomerang, with the advent of glam rock, disco and punk, and despite a string of hit albums, Chet found himself floundering in a creative vacuum.

“He was frantic,” recalls Boomerang Records backing singer and self appointed band-bicycle Nadia Blunkett. “He’d hung out with Lennon, Jagger, Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Dave Hill out of Slade and Simon Bates off Radio One, but he just couldn’t find the inspiration to write anything. Even blowjobs didn’t help. He was wallowing at that time. Lost. A lost soul. We prayed for him at the time because we loved him. I got down on my knees more than most, I think it’s fair to say.”

Which is when Chet Boomerang’s life inspiration kicked into play – he met Sheila Sheila, but things weren’t at all straight forward. There were complications.

Chet Boomerang - A Man With Style

Chet Boomerang – A Man With Style

In an uncharacteristic departure from the tradition of marrying Sheilas, Chet had unwittingly married Nadia Blunkett, the aforementioned band-bicycle. Now Chet was faced with the unenviable task of letting Nadia down gently and asking for a divorce. On the grounds that Nadia had been negligent by eating too much orange marmalade on toast during pregnancy, which resulted in their son Caxton, being born with a lazy eye.

Nadia insisted that the fault lay with Chet, and promptly put Caxton up for adoption, but the damage was done. Caxton was adopted by a childless couple from Alfreton in Derbyshire, who were later sectioned under the Mental Health Act and imprisoned for nine years each for ‘immoral acts involving bin-bags and slices of Hovis.’

The indomitable Chet moved on, found inspiration, and married Sheila Sheila, in what has since been described as ‘an act of fate.’ Nobody knew or seemed to care how Caxton fared – because Chet slayed the world with his ‘Born In Australia’ album in the mid 80’s. Sheila Sheila went on to give birth to three children – one of each gender – before cementing herself in jazz history as not only the woman who tamed the irrepressible Chet Boomerang, but his inspiration, and the one who had less kids by Chet than the others.

Declining an invitation to appear at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985 on the grounds that he ‘couldn’t be arsed joining in a sing-along with a bunch of gay blokes’ Chet instead took himself off to a canal bank in east London, where he recorded himself tossing bottles in said canal, and added layered instrumental tracks later in the studio in what was to become the legendary ‘This Is Me, Chet Boomerang Lobbing Bottles In The Cut While The Do-Gooders Pissball About Raising Aid That’ll Never Reach The Starving In Ethiopia’ album.

It was a pivotal moment.

“We had the boys doing all kinds of shit around a bunch of everyday sounds – like the bog flushing – and we realised we were onto something big. So we just kept on releasing a load of totally bollocky sounds, and it all fell into place. Pete Waterman and Kylie Minogue made it all look so easy – then Simon Cowell came along and made it easier still. I’ve even got a million selling album filled with recordings of me wiping my arse with newspaper – the Daily Star actually. It sold 42 million copies worldwide. The greatest rock and roll/jazz swindle ever perpetrated. Eat your heart out Sex Pistols! Aaaaarrrgh…”

RIP Chet Boomerang 1929 – 2013.

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