24 February 2018

The Hayes Brothers

While many groups and individuals will feature in this site in years to come, we cannot go on without acknowledging the foundational contributions made by the Hayes Brothers in the early 1960′s.

There is little documented on the Hayes Brothers, but we have turned up the following information:

Mike and Pete Hayes were born in Henley-on-Thames in England in the early 1940′s. They moved to Australia in the late 40′s, and lived in Melbourne. By the 1960′s the brothers were performing together as The Bluegrass Ramblers.  Shortly after that the couple

Hayes Bros Album Cover

Hayes Bros Album Notes

expanded the band to become the Hayes Brothers, a bluegrass band which performed together for many years. They released 2 albums and are widely recognised as the first bluegrass band to perform in Australia.

Another family band at the time, The Hawking Brothers featured Russ and Alan Hawking. Pete Hayes also sang with the Hawking Brothers band for around two years, after the death of Russ Hawking in 1976.

Pete Hayes settled in Melbourne in 1978 and he and his brother were inducted into the Country Music Hands of Fame.

Pete Hayes continued to record with a range of local and international artists including, The Hawking Brothers, The Howie Brothers, Saltbush, Lee Conway, Lionel Rose, Johnny Chester and Charlie Pride. Mike Hayes was also an ABC journalist.

Mike Hayes passed away on the 10th of February 2003 and that same year his brother Pete passed away on the 1st of December.


  1. barry roy says:

    Well — where do start with Peter Hayes,
    I first come in contact with Peter in the 60’s — I was a rocker — didn’t have much to do with country – but after hearing that banjo and voice – I stood a convert.
    I was always proud to say that I played with Pete for many decades at gigs and parties – and in Homestead with the very lovely Jazza Smith.
    Peter was the most natural all round musician I have ever worked with.

    With respect — baz..

  2. Sandy Rogers says:

    The Hayes Brothers lived with their mother “Gabby” at Lady Northcote Farm school near Bacchus Marsh Victoria in the 1940’s- 1950’s where she was a Cottage Mother.

    • There mum was Paula n a beautiful
      Lady just like the boys – & when I met them they then lived at john street & what times where had there – best music I had ever heard come out of that house …. Wonita

  3. So good that the CD of early music is available. First heard the boys at the first Port Melbourne Folk Festival – about 48 or 49 years ago, and that was my introduction to bluegrass – loved it ever since. Thanks fella’s!

  4. The Hayes Brothers double CD collection is now available as a re-release.
    See http://australianbluegrass.com/shop/product/hayes-brothers…emory-lives-on/

  5. Where to start with this wonderful pair.
    In the 70’s,Mike came down to Canberra from ABC Darwin and would appear from time to time at folk clubs and concerts. A skilful musician, and a great songwriter, I particularly remember him at that time for his song Brindabella Morning. A wistful song comparing my favourite bit of the ACT region to the Northern Territory.
    Later, he and wife Janet ran a couple of Prickle Farms, the first at Gundaroo just outside Canberra and the second (I think) at Laggon. NSW.
    There, Mike created a wonderful series of comedic broadcasts, at least one book and two TV programmes based on the trials of raising a young family on a bush block.

    My favourite tale was of the morning old Matt was found naked wandering down the main street of Gundaroo. The Queanbeyan constabulary rushed out and arrested him and he duly appeared in court where he pleaded guilty as charged.
    The magistrate asked if there were any extenuating circumstances whereupon Matt proceeded to reel of a list of problems he in dealing with his many offspring. At about child number 7, the magistrate stopped him and asked how many children he had.
    “18 your honour”, was Matt’s reply.
    At this the magistrate banged his gavel and boomed “Case dismissed — this man was in his working clothes!”

    Back to Mike Hayes the musician — I was fortunate enough to have recorded most of my albums in an era when real sounds from real musos were the only way so, when I wanted to add some Bluegrass and Country sounds to my kids’ albums Mike was an obvious choice. He added instrumentals, brilliant high harmonies and yup, a fabulous splash of humour.
    Sadly all good things come too an end and when my playing partner/wife and I split up I turned again to Mike and asked him if he was able to fill in on a 10 week tour of Victorian schools. He declined but suggested his brother Pete.
    So it was that I headed off on a tour with a musician I’d never met before — no script and no chord charts but oh what a musician!. I only had to concentrate on entertaining the kids.
    With no idea what I was going to sing next, in what key or time signature Pete provided the sort of rock solid accompaniment that normally takes hours of rehearsal to achieve. The absolute gobsmacking moment was when I realised he was weaving an intricate harmony around my ocarina playing.
    He was playing a standard tuned guitar with no capo and I was playing in F#!!
    Peter was equally at home on fiddle and banjo too. My favourite memory of that tour though was the day a principal of a school went up to Pete and said in a hushed tone, “You’re Pete Hayes of the Hayes Brothers aren’t you?” Pete nodded and the teacher went into a five rave on how good they were then rsced home to get his well-worn copy of a Hayes Bros record for Peter to sign.

    • Greg McGrath says:

      Thanks Mike.

      I have heard many such stories of the Hayes Brothers over the years. This is why it was important to create this web site. It not only attempts to preserve the history, but provide opportunity to acknowledge those you were at the cutting edge in those early days of Bluegrass Music in Australia.

      Thanks for the additional information and sharing the memory.

      Ann and I remember your many adventures to Mount Isa in the 70’s and 80’s. We were active members of the Mount Isa Folk Club in those days.


  6. maree hayes says:

    Thank you Mike for your lovely words about Peter. A well as being extremely talented he was always humble and very surprised when praise was bestowed upon him. I don’t think there is anyone who knew him and played with him who still doesn’t miss him as he left such a lasting impression.

  7. They were the pioneers of bluegrass in melb town & part of 3DB country music show on 3DB early Sunday morning & I was lucky to be their family friend and spent many great days n nights listening to them play at parties n get together’s & even the photo you used belongs to me taken up at Tamworth the last time I saw my gorgeous friend Pete -rip 💙🌹😇

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