Yes, the same Bob Francis who now abuses little old ladies at night and attempts to run as many people over in his Gopher as is humanly possible. The same Bob Francis who has made a career out of being an angry old bastard who likes to call anyone who doesn't see his own unique point of view 'wankers', loves to call elderly ladies 'silly old bitches', enjoys using the word 'bullshit' a lot and has been told not to drink red wine in the studio anymore. The closest I ever got to Bob Francis is when he tried to run over my foot in the Central Market about a year ago. He didn't look too pleased that he missed out on crippling me, and there'd be a few people who'd feel the same and chastise Bob for the lost opportunity.
It’s a funny old world really. Both Bob and Ernie were at the coalface of South Australian entertainment, going back to the late 1950s. Ernie moved to a national audience via radio and then television and forged a career on the back of being ‘The Little Aussie Battler’, but there’s still people who’d happily piss kerosene on him if he caught fire. Despite all of his best efforts most people remember Ernie as being a sarcastic, grumpy little prick whose claims to fames came via Denise Drysdales tits, being fired from a plum job at Channel Nine for abusing Kerry Packer on air and having the shit beaten out of him by Don Lane at a 1980s Logie Awards after party. Don always said that he didn’t intend on hitting Ernie, but witnesses claim otherwise, and frankly we all yelled, good on you Don! He only did what thousands would have happily lined up and paid to do and in doing so quite possibly ensured his future employment with the Packer family. Believe me when I say this, no-one’s mum like Ernie Sigley.
(Somewhere in this sea of humanity that was King William Street, lurks Three Beatles, a replacement drummer and Bob Francis. Clearly it's a Sigley Free Zone)
So why did Bob and Ernie nearly go toe-to-toe in 1994? To use a phrase that is instantly recognisable, The Beatles. In 1964 The Beatles announced a tour of Australia, but in a move that would become the norm by the 1980s as concert promoters decided that they hate Adelaide, announced concerts in almost every city barring Adelaide. Bob rightfully took that as a slight and raised a petition and a lot of publicity, ultimately presenting the petition to The Beatles management, resulting in Adelaide being added to the tour. History now shows that Adelaide produced the largest turn-out anywhere in the world, with almost 350,000 people, out of a population of around 1,000,000 at the time, lining the streets for a glimpse. The shows were recorded and, well, frankly by then The Beatles, as a live act, were crap. But hey, it was The Beatles. Bob was dragged along for the ride and got to hang out with them and, as far as I’m aware, did the only interview that the band gave in Adelaide. Certainly all the footage I have features Bob and no-one else.
God forbid what Bob will do to Ernie if he lines him up in front of his gopher. Mind you Bob Francis is a person I’d love to interview, just to get to the bottom of those days, and also to have a peek in his files of memorabilia. I’ll not hold my breath though as I'm not that fond of being called a wanker by an angry old man.