Circa: 1969 – 1975
Home town:  Salisbury

  • Jack McGroaty – Vocals
  • Nick Pickard – Vocals, guitar,  keyboards & trumpet
  • Jerry Barnard – Vocals,  lead guitar & keyboards
  • John McBeth – Saxophone, flute & percussion
  • John Davis – Trombone
  • Mel French – Bass.
  • Ernie Mindry – Bass. (1972 – 1974). Replaced Mel French
  • Paddy Beach (a.k.a Shane Mahoney) – Drums.  Replaced by Neil Fox.
  • Neil Fox– Drums. Replaced Shane Mahoney
Holy Black main pic
HOLY BLACK From Left to Right: Neil Fox, John Davies, John McBeath, Jerry Barnard, Mel French and Nic Pickard.


The forerunner to HOLY BLACK was the highly acclaimed band, the DRIFTERS (See separate entry).  After many years of success as the DRIFTERS, the band changed their name to DADDY LONG LEGS, this change coinciding with Una Valli and Phil Arosa joining the line-up on vocals.  To some extent the name change was forced upon them due to the fact that there was a band in the United States also called the DRIFTERS and all sorts of potential confusion was anticipated due to this.  In order to avoid any such prospects the name change was implemented.  Looking to aspire to even greater heights, the band decided to take on the Australian challenge.  Before they departed, however, lead male vocalist Phil Arosa was unable to obtain a Work Permit.  This was compounded by drummer, Mark Robins, leaving the band. Undeterred, the band changed their name from DADDY LONG LEGS to HOLY BLACK (1969) and travelled to Australia without a drummer.  Shortly after arrival, however, they were introduced to – and became good friends – with Darryl Braithwaite and the Australian band, SHERBET.  Through these contacts they met Paddy Beech who then joined them on drums.

The band’s first 6-week sting was at the Bondi Beach Hotel where they immediately proved popular.  Their following included many serviceman serving in Vietnam who visited Australia during their periods of R & R.  Una’s presence at the front of the band, strutting her soulful sounds, was a big hit with audiences.  Thereafter the band moved onto the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, reputedly the biggest night club in the southern hemisphere.  They were in residence at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go for a year.  The band spent significant time in recording studios endeavouring to develop a sound which would suit the American market.  These efforts did not bear any fruit as the obstacles – including music/radio bans – were too many to surmount.   At this stage Nick Pickard announced that he would be leaving the band and returning to Rhodesia.  Jerry Barnard and Paddy Beech duly joined Nick and returned to Rhodesia where they continued under the HOLY BLACK banner.

Doug Smith and Una Valli remained in Australia where, joined by a number of Australian musicians, they also continued to perform under the name of HOLY BLACK. For a time, bands of the same name were simultaneously in existence in, both, Rhodesia and Australia.  The Australian band later changed their name to CITY LIMITS and performed in South Africa in 1979/80 when they were “imported” to perform at the opening of the New Royal Hotel in Durban.  Along the way Doug and Una married, had three children and later divorced.

The South African version of HOLY BLACK continued to gig regularly until 1975 when they finally broke up.  Amongst their many accolades was the fact that Holy Black supported Albert Hammond on his tour of South Africa in 1974.

Holy Black Independence Ball


A further change came when the band renamed themselves HOLLY BLACK because production houses in South Africa would not accept the word HOLY due to the risk of upsetting the country’s religious zealots!  It is for this reason that the band sometimes appear as HOLLY BLACK on their recordings of that era.  A further element of confusion that has crept into the band’s history is that of the identity of Paddy Beech.  This arises from the fact that, as the result of Work Visa problems in Rhodesia, Beech used a second name – Shane Mahoney – to ease his difficulties.  Beech joined the band in Australia after current drummer, Mark Robbins, left the band prior to their departure for Aussie.  So, if you were thinking that they had double drummers simultaneously in their line-up you’d be mistaken!!  

John McBeth wrote an African rock opera “Nongawuza”, with Pickard in 1973. Shane Mahoney left Holy Black to join Ballyhoo. Pickard became a successful producer in Rhodesia, later running a studio of his own in Johannesburg, writing jingles and television theme music. Jerry Barnard has a studio in Cape Town catering, primarily, for the demand of the advertising world. He still performs regularly with LATE FINAL – one of Cape Town’s top covers bands – on bass guitar. Late Final can be heard performing “Who Loves You?” on the CD compilation ‘Cape Town Vibes’, produced by Kfm radio.

HOLY BLACK at the Salisbury Police Grounds in 1973.



Funky Music (1974) Gallo

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