Betty McQuade (1941-2011) originally emigrated to Brisbane from Scotland, but worked in Melbourne from 1960 as vocalist for The Thunderbirds, and later appeared on the Go!! TV show in the mid-60s.
In the informed opinion of Kees van der Hoeven, John D. Loudermilk aficionado and discographer, Betty McQuade recorded the definitive killer version… a rock & roll classic.
References, further reading: 1. Betty McQuade page at First Decade of Rock. 2. Commentary on McQuade's and others' versions at Kees's John D. Loudermilk site. 3. First Wave discography: notes on Betty McQuade..
Thanks to Kees van der Hoeven.
B-side of Tobacco Road. Single on Columbia label.
John D. Loudermilk's recent comments to Kees van der Hoeven add to the meaning of the lyrics: In my hometown of Durham, the Midnight Bus, that's the way the kids used to elope. Now back before everybody had a car and those who either got pregnant or wanted to get married early, they just got on the bus and went down to South Carolina 'cause you could marry at 14 down there. So they'd get on the bus and get married and come back, the next day to tell all their friends, "Look, we're married, ha ha!"
JDL also commented that he had no idea his record had charted in Brisbane, and was not aware of Betty McQuade's version and the impact it had in Australia.
Some sources credit Loudermilk and Marijohn Wilkin as songwriters, but this seems to be an error. See, for example, the original Billy Graves record and the BMI listing, both of which cite only Loudermilk.
Kees van der Hoeven, at his John D. Loudermilk site, also lists these Australian versions of Midnight Bus: The Swordsmen (1966), Bobby & Laurie (1987, recorded especially for retrospective album The Very Best Of…), The McQuades (1992), X (2003). Sheet music for Midnight Bus was published in Australia with Col Joye on the cover: he appears not to have recorded it, but probably performed it live.
Melbourne singer, guitarist and songwriter Johnny Chester started out with the Chessmen in the late 50s, performing at dances he organised in the northern suburbs. Signed to Melbourne’s W&G label, he had a number of Top 10 hits in Melbourne from 1961. He became a disc jockey with Top 40 station 3UZ in 1966, and built a successful national career in country music from the 1970s. His website is at www.johnnychester.com.
On the album Songs The Radio Taught Us.
Keith Glass (18th Century Quartet, Cam-Pact), Mick Hamilton (The Vibrants), and Gary Young (Daddy Cool) are all experienced Australian artists whose CVs cover numerous Australian bands over several decades.
Glass and Hamilton first met at school and teamed up again in the 90s. They issued three albums with Gary Young as well as an album as a duo.