Community / 2nd September 2021
Chicka: the man behind the music
Charles Maiden, better known as ‘Chicka’, has had a memorable music career and at the age of 78 he doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
Chicka has played guitar in several bands over the years and across the north west region, performing alongside some of the biggest names in the Australian music scene, as well as some international stars.
Chicka reminisced about his chance encounter with the legendary grandfather of Australian country music, Slim Dusty.
“I was showing cattle at the Wagga Wagga Show when I was 19-years-old. When I finished with the cattle I decided to go for a wander around,” Chicka said.
“The local music shop was setting up some gear, so I gave them a hand - one of the guys from the Slim Dusty Show came up and asked if I knew anyon with a local band.
"Well, it just so happened that our band had won the talent show earlier that year!
“I think back then we were called the Downbeats. They were looking for someone to fill in for them and we did that Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.”
It was another twist of fate that saw Chicka play along side legendary Indigenous performer, Jimmy Little. Chicka was in the town of Yass at the time, around 1964, when Little was meant to be performing at the local RSL Club.
Chicka got wind that the musician was having problems, after some of his gear was stolen. With the performance in doubt, Chicka came to the rescue and lent Little the equipment needed.
Years later Chicka was a member of Zods, the resident band at the Gunnedah Services Club, which played there every weekend. Little was booked to play a gig there and soon sent an invite to Chicka to sit in and perform with him on stage.
“The club would often book artists from elsewhere, like Sydney and other areas. The Jimmy Little Trio was one of them,” Chicka explained.
That’s also how Chicka met the Emmanual brothers - Tommy and Phil.
“They played a gig there at Gunnedah as well. They were Gunnedah boys, but were living in Parkes, I think, at the time,” Chicka said.
“I still remember they were only really young. Probably 12 and 14.”
It was work that initially brought Chicka to Coonabarabran, but it was the love of his life that kept him here. Chicka ran into his now wife, Pat, at the 1974 rugby league presentation night.
“We knew of each other, but we didn’t really know each other,” he said.
“I went up and asked her for a dance. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
The couple moved away briefly, but the town soon called them back and they have lived in Coonabarabran since.
Chicka still plays every day in his dedicated music room and even performs on a semi-regular basis at local venues. Having had such a colourful music career, Chicka said it was his time in the band Zods that was his highlight.
“We still get together every now and then, although two band members have passed away,” he said.
“Actually, the last time we played together was at the funeral of one of our bass players.”