Willie McIntyre Biography


The Lion Roars cover4 - Copy

By day Willie McIntyre was a mild-mannered accountant, always impeccably dressed in a suit with his hand-made shirt and cufflinks. By night he was ‘The Lion’, a hard-drinking boogie and stride pianist who sang in a Fats Waller style or shouted the blues, always with a slightly mischievous, enigmatic look on his face.

This book focuses on his music, looking at his early musical training in the Victorian country town of Benalla and in Melbourne in the 1930s, his experiences in a medical unit in Papua and New Britain during WWII, and his role in the development of traditional jazz in postwar Melbourne and Adelaide. A discussion of his use of the harmonium and his role as a comedian concludes with an evaluation of his contribution to Australian jazz. Foreword by Dick Hughes.

The companion CD contains 21 rare tracks, only two of which have been previously released on CD. Included are solo tracks and material from the Tony Newstead South Side Gang and the Portsea Trio. As well as a private session there are performances from the 1949 and 1962 Australian Jazz Conventions and the 1985 Mildura Jazz Jamboree.


The Lion Roars: The Musical Life of Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre. Paperback (free postage in Australia)




The Lion Roars: Selected Tracks by Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre 1946-85. CD (free postage in Australia)




Book and CD (free postage in Australia)


Order book from online suppliers such as Amazon, Book Depository and Angus & Robertson.

Ebook  now available

Book and CD available from:

The Australian Jazz Museum (10% discount for members) www.ajm.org.au

The South Australian Jazz Archive (10% discount for members) www.sajazzarchive.org.au

Mainly Jazz, 94 St Kilda Road, St Kilda, Victoria, (03) 9534 1173.

Reviewers’ comments

Eric Myers, The Australian, 3-4 November 2018

Phil Sandford’s The Lion Roars is a reminder of how vibrant the Melbourne jazz scene was in the late 30s and early 40s, as an unprecedented generation of talented young musicians emerged. Strong personalities, they created a sub-culture with such capital that, in the immediate post-World War II years, jazz was first cab off the rank in taking Australian music, indeed Australiana, to the rest of the world. Here we are primarily talking about the overseas exploits of Graeme Bell and his Australian Jazz Band. To some extent that’s another story.

Pianist and singer Willie “The Lion” McIntyre, a mere footnote in many previous accounts, has now been fleshed out in commendable detail. He was not an innovator, says Sandford, but “a consolidator of stride and boogie woogie piano styles who generated enormous rhythmic drive and joy, but also expressed the pain and suffering of the blues.” See full review

Ted Nettelbeck, pianist

Phil Sandford has provided a valuable, carefully researched and informative account
of the important contribution of a jazz pianist, working in that time following World
War II when Australian-based traditional jazz was emerging as a somewhat unique
sound and attracting national and international audiences. (Ericmyersjazz.com) See full review

Loretta Barnard, writer

What makes Sandford’s book so engaging is the wealth of research he’s brought to his subject. (Australianjazz.net) See full review

Mal Eustice, jazz historian

A treat! You have done Willie proud, a great history.

Graeme Bull, pianist

A magnificent effort! The meticulous research, the easy flow of the text, plus the PhD quality of the referencing make this one of the best jazz histories that I’ve read.  And without your work, Willie would never have been given his proper status in the Australian jazz fraternity.  Congratulations!! I really did enjoy reading the book in its final form.  Apart from anything else, it was a great nostalgia trip for me – I knew all the people, all the places and all the bands – I’d played in all of them at one time or another, mostly depping, but still having a ball.

Ross Clarke, pianist

This is a truly amazing book. The atmosphere of the thirties and forties in Australia is instantly evoked and even if you are not all that interested in jazz music, you will enjoy reading about the people, places and circumstances of the time. On the other hand this is a meticulously and thoroughly researched documentation of the history of Australian traditional jazz, with particular emphasis on the life and achievements of pianist Willie McIntyre. All of this fascinating and important history was probably on the verge of being lost forever, but Phil Sandford has brought it all to life in a most engaging manner. “The Lion Roars” will continue to be an exhaustive reference work for future students of Australian Jazz history, as well as a delightful read for anyone with an interest in Australia’s past.

Derek Mortimer, writer

Phil Sandford has created a marvellous book, not only for traditional jazz lovers but for anyone interested in what was happening on the Australian scene, particularly Melbourne, from the early 1900s to the postwar period. It is replete with references to music and the jazzmen of the time, foremost among them, Willie ‘The Lion’ McIntyre, and international legends. Sandford slides effortlessly from discussions of Willie’s escapades; as the organist at Carnegie Methodist Church he, “occasionally managed to incorporate a disguised version of ‘St Louis Blues’ into the hymns he played”, to, “For George Tack, the main difference between the Newstead band and the New Orleans-style bands in Melbourne lay in the rhythm section ‘…they didn’t swing.’”

Sandford moves from discussing the influence of Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller on McIntyre’s playing style, to jazz sessions in war-ravaged Papua New Guinea, weaving in the interconnected threads of life and music. The book is a meticulous work of scholarship, with over eleven pages of notes; four pages of interview notes; seventeen page details of all recordings referred to; five pages of bibliography; a ten page index, and a four page list of all the songs referred to, making it an invaluable reference source of jazz history.