Cameron Daddo: Music is still filling his soul

ON BEAT: Cameron Daddo has been writing, singing and recording music for decades and this year he's the front of a new band, Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets. Picture: Geoff Jones
ON BEAT: Cameron Daddo has been writing, singing and recording music for decades and this year he's the front of a new band, Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets. Picture: Geoff Jones

TO some people, he's the Perfect Match guy. To others, he's better know as an actor on stage and screen, or that late night voice on SmoothFM radio, where he has been the presenter for the past nine years, ensuring that the latest and greatest hits are played.

But Cameron Daddo is also a songwriter, guitar player and singer and is currently writing music for an upcoming fifth album.

To those in the United States, where Daddo and his model/actress/podcaster/writer wife Alison Brahe spent 25 years, he's already known as a singer and musician, but he's the first to admit many Aussies are only just discovering his music.

His first album A Long Goodbye was released in 1993, it was followed by Ten Songs... and Change(2011), Songs From the Shed (2016) and Son & Moon (2020). In 2019, he released the single To Love Mewhich was a feature track from the ...Ish Re-imagined album project, a tribute to the original songs created by 1927 for their debut album ...Ish.

Daddo's appearance last year as Evan Slater on Home & Away helped fuel his desire to make more music.

"I got the opportunity to write music for my character for Home & Away and that's when I wrote the Son and Moon song and then I was like 'why am I not playing this live?'" he said. A call to his mate of 30 years, Craig Finniss, and Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets was formed.

Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets is James Lloyd, Cameron Daddo, Craig Finniss and Milton Brown (not pictured). Picture and cover: Geoff Jones

Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets is James Lloyd, Cameron Daddo, Craig Finniss and Milton Brown (not pictured). Picture and cover: Geoff Jones

The Prophets are all locals - Daddo's in Beacon Hill, but keen to move closer to the coast, on bass/vocals is James Lloyd (Avalon), on drums/vocals is Craig Finniss (Palm Beach) and lead guitar is Milton Brown (Elanora Heights).

They've all been playing music and gigging for decades, and Daddo and Finniss have previously played together in the band Baby James in the early 90s, while Finniss still plays in Bobby Sox.

Daddo's currently on the 'writing train' with a swag of new ideas for songs and has just returned to the Beaches and the band, after being in Freemantle, Western Australia to film the movie How to Please a Woman.

"I'm very much a catalyst of how not to please a woman, I'm that guy," he said of his role in the movie, which is due for release in early 2022.

The film is a comedy/drama that's written and directed by Renee Webster and stars British actor Sally Phillips (appeared in all three Bridget Jones movies) as a 50-something woman whose all-male house cleaning business grows out of control. It's a warm-hearted look at sexuality and vulnerability in all stages of life.

Back to the music, Daddo said his ideas for songs usually come to him in his dreams. During the month he was away shooting the film, he had loads of dreams and inspiration. "I got up most mornings at about 5.30am with a song in my head and I recorded it," he said. "I came back with 20 different ideas that are all very different."

Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets.

Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets.

It was Finniss who came up with the group's name, he explains: "Paisley is synonymous with rock 'n' roll, especially in the 80s, so I thought Cam's country and my rock was crossbreeding and it just worked".

The Prophets' music is a hybrid of melodic blues and country rock, reminiscent of The Wallflowers and John Hiatt. They made their debut to the Australian public at Narrabeen RSL in March and their limited performance schedule includes a gig at Avalon Bowlo on June 26. Their first single will come in spring, followed by a tour when their album is released in late 2021.

It's often when I don't talk to someone for a while they go 'hey, how's your music going'.

Cameron Daddo

"We're playing stuff that I've written back in the early days in America, all the way up to now," Daddo said. "I've got four records out, and there's things off all of those records, but as far as I'm concerned this music's had no airing in Australia at all, so it's all brand new music."

He's also been writing music with Garry Frost (Moving Pictures and 1927), Brooke McClymont, Adam Eckersley, Amber Lawrence and Nyssa Ray. He also did a recent duet with David Campbell of Everly Brothers song All I Have to do is Dream.

Acting and presenting may be how many Aussies know Daddo. After all, he won Logie Awards for his performances in TV mini series Golden Fiddles (1991) and Tracks of Glory (1992); and while in the US he scored starring roles on CSI: Miami, Boston Legal and NCIS.

He's also been on stage in The Sound of Music, Charles Dickens' The Haunting and Rocky Horror Show; and has worked as a presenter on SmoothFM since 2012, but it's his own music his friends always ask him about.

"It's often when I don't talk to someone for a while they go 'hey, how's your music going'," he said. "People I haven't spoken to in 10 years will go 'are you still writing? Are you still doing your music?'"

He admits in times of difficulty in his life he's always turned to music, "it's always seemed the most natural thing to do".

"As an actor I'm told what to say, what to wear, where to stand, when I can go eat. And you're often paid very well, which is great, but at the end of the day you're kind of left looking at a director or producer and going 'was that OK?'" he said. "It's a very childlike place to be, which as actors we need to be that to create that wonderment and that openness to do it.

"For music it's the same thing, but I'm not turning to someone else and going 'did I do good? is it OK?' They're my creations and if you like it you like it and if you don't that's OK."

  • Get your tickets to see Cam Daddo and the Paisley Prophets at Avalon Bowlo on June 26 here.

Falling in love with Australia's original cover girl

Alison Brahe and Cameron Daddo.

Alison Brahe and Cameron Daddo.

From Dolly magazine, to Cleo and Cosmopolitan, in the 1980s Alison Brahe was the fresh-faced model who graced the cover of almost every magazine teens, including me, devoured.

She was impossibly gorgeous and was quickly snapped up for campaigns of major brands like CoverGirl and Blackmores. She also had stints co-hosting children's show Guess What? and these days is a teacher and mother.

Not only was the Australian public falling in love with Brahe, so too was Daddo. They were set up on a date three weeks before her 21st birthday and three months later he proposed. One year later, in December 1991, they married - he was 27 years old and she was 22. Not long after they moved to the US to pursue their careers.

I just went on a compulsive heart move and luckily it's worked out.

Cameron Daddo

In the lead up to their 30th wedding anniversary, Daddo admits it was a whirlwind courtship.

"I just went on a compulsive heart move and luckily it's worked out," he said. "We did all of our growing after we got married, but lucky it was an ocean away in America and out of the way of pre-cell phones and Internet, that's been our saving grace."

The couple also have three children - Lotus, 25, River, 21, and Bodhi, 15. As much as Daddo and his wife might be Aussies, their children are American and moving back here three years ago has taken some getting used to.

"It's not easy, it's a different culture, it's a different mindset," he said. "On the outside you'd go 'oh yeah it's exactly the same', it's not. We [Aussies] have a different rhythm. They [their children] have embraced it, they've done the best they possibly can, and it's not been without its challenges."

For the past two years, the couple have hosted a podcast called Separate Bathrooms. In it they're brutally open about the highs and lows of their 30-year marriage and in an episode earlier this month talk about their separation in the early days of their marriage and how they worked to rebuild their union.

On being a Daddo

The surname is synonymous with Australian TV and presenting, Daddo is the eldest of five siblings and his brothers Andrew and Lochie are also actors. Between the three of them they've been on and off the small screen for decades, but Daddo admits he didn't realise how 'known' he and his brothers were among the Australian public until he moved home from the US.

"Al and I had this realisation the other day, because we spent so much time in America and because we left pre-Internet, we had no real idea of how much we were, in the newer sense of the word, influencers. We had no concept of what we were to people," he said. "We were both in this bubble of naivety.

"You talk to my brothers, I feel like we're pretty down to earth, we keep things pretty real, we deal with the same thing that everyone else does - if there's blue bottles in the water we have to deal with those as well."

Speaking of blue bottles, Daddo is a regular early morning ocean swimmer and admits that while some celebrities are "constantly on and they don't leave their house and then when they go out they're on" this is not how he wants to lead his life. He's not ashamed to admit he pulls on well-worn ugg boots and slips on an oodie for his trip to the beach to meet his mates for a swim, this is despite the fact they rib him for his lack of dress sense. "For Alison and I, our careers are something that we do, it's not who we are," he said.

Life hasn't always been rosy

Cameron Daddo is the founder of My Men's Team. Picture: Geoff Jones

Cameron Daddo is the founder of My Men's Team. Picture: Geoff Jones

"A decade ago, I was going through a very challenging time. My work was not providing the money needed to support my family. The incessant chatter in my brain woke me at 3am, I had lost faith in my usual support channels and I felt I had nowhere to turn. My wife and kids were copping outbursts that I couldn't contain."

This is how Daddo introduces his charity My Men's Team online. He tells the Northern Beaches Review that Hollywood could be a lonely place at times and it was only when he reached out to other dads at his kids' school asking if anyone else felt the same that he realised he wasn't alone.

Since then his idea has morphed into a charity, which includes a blueprint for blokes to create their own team to connect and support each other.

"We men, we're not great at sharing our difficulties so I created a way to ease into it," he said.

"I use it as a sporting analogy because most of us play sport of have played sports, I treat it like that - how do you support your team members and support each other and check in? It's about emotional fitness.

"We spend all this time on our bodies and what we're putting into our bodies but we don't spend a lot of time on our emotions and that will be how respond to our partners, our kids, our friends. Emotionally healthy men create emotionally healthy communities and that's the pillar on which My Men's Team is set up."

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