Electric Sunshine


Started by Phil Cullen who began lighting while at school in 1966.

The first effect lighting show was in December of that year, in the U.F.S. Dispensary hall in Victoria Ave Chatswood (now demolished).

The site is now the entrance for the Chatswood Chase Shopping centre.

Phil had seen a lightshow at the Lane Cove Town Hall that was lit by a lighting company from Mosman called Rubber Monkey Lighting.

The guys who ran the company were Didge and Ross. In those days ONLY the stage was lit and the room was left in white light.

In those days it was a big thing in Australia to light the stage in moving coloured lights, for a band, and an even bigger thing to light the entire room with coloured effect lights. Overseas at that time it had begun.

Didge and Ross had made all their own equipment, as indeed everyone had to do in those days, because even putting coloured paper over the ceiling lights was a pretty big thing to do.

Didge's father was a sheet metal worker and Didge saw the potential to place coloured lights behind diffused perspex plastic.

Phil was very impressed and decided at that moment that coloured effect lights were the way to go...

Phil was 14 years old at the time . Didge had a slow revolving four colour changing side of stage unit which had a 150 watt light source behind it. Phil was amazed at this and spent the whole night thinking about
what to do with this and how to take it beyond.

The legendary Purple Hall at Chatswood was where we did many shows in the 1960’s, it was at the rear of St Pius X College Chatswood, Next to the Girls primary school.

Phil continued to do lighting up to and during 1970 at his school when he completed his higher school certificate.

By this time he was also doing lighting at many other high schools through his contacts.

We rented the back room of the hall which in Clanwilliam St, Willoughby in 1969 and it was owned by the uniting church. Rent was a modest $15.00 per week.

The minister was suspect about things because I came back at 2 or 3 in the morning and woke him up with all the noise.

Phil Salmon and John Gunton specialised in lighting in and around Epping in NSW (Sydney) They had begun

their lighting company (Purple Cloud) in complete separance to Phil's Mac Enterprises.

Phil later registered Mr. Mac The Lightshow Genius, much to the dismay of the Bank of NSW at Cabramatta who held his cheque account. (The bank asked him to KINDLY close his account as it was an "embarrassment to the bank" Actual Quote. ! )

We are talking early 1970's Phil had his workshop in 1971 at 16 Bridge St Epping. In the 'famous' Purple coloured house that was named in Parramatta Council.

During 1971 Phil moved to Epping.

This was the famous purple coloured slate roof house in the middle of the Epping Shopping Centre.

Before the days of noise laws. Remember? you could turn up the music (or as we did have a band rehearse in the back of the place) and when the police came you could tell them anything and they basically left and that was that. In 1971 Epping was the place to be.

Being in the middle of the shops meant make as much noise as you can. After all it was commercially zoned. Not that it worried us at all. We never contacted the council at all right up till when the owners were faced with an eviction notice to move us out.

Phil had Mac lighting registered at the time and traded as Mr Mac the lightshow genius and tried to put disco and effect lighting in reach of every person in the street.

Throughout the 60's Phil did school dance and small band lighting work mostly in council and school halls and community centres.

The big break came in 1971 with the Fairlight Easter 3 day music festival at Mittagong in the NSW Southern Highlands. It was a Woodstock hippie pop, type festival and had 33 bands over 3 days and nights. It ran 23 out of 24 hours with one hour for stage cleaning.

The site was 200 acres in size (big)! The problems never really began until the electricity supply authority cut off all the power at the site and we had to tie generators up trees to keep everything going.

Phil was one year out of school.

The promoter was ripped off and no one was paid. After that things shot off, the 70's began with a bang and the promise of big things to come. It was a good era; 1% unemployment 1% inflation and everyone had a bright future.

Disco and fun parties were the rage. No Noise laws and the authorities had not quite woken up yet to what the young were really up to.

Phil named Mac Enterprises after his Art teacher at his school St. Pius X at Chatswood in Sydney - Col McDonald or "Mac" as he was known.

Phil moved workshop quickly in the early days- 1968-69 Willoughby 1970-71 Epping 1971-72

Drummoyne 1972-73 Lane Cove 1974 Hunters Hill 1975 Cabramatta 1977 Then in 1977 we sold the name MAC to mobydisc and began advertising the name electric sunshine as our main name.

Turmoil followed - Gladesville- 1977:

Moved five times in Gladesville till 1980 when we arrived at West Ryde.

1981 Rushcutters Bay 1982 Pyrmont 1983 Ultimo 1984 Glebe 1985.

Then things began to settle down. We stopped getting thrown out of places.

In 1987 we moved back to Pyrmont (after the complex at Glebe was sold to a developer who expressed an interest in demolition - at 4am)

This large building, which was at the end of Glebe Point Rd, next to the water, was shared by about 50 other business organisations ranging from us to a guy out the back called Rocket Man who was (true story !!)
trying to build a big space type rocket; but no one could really find out more about it...

We couldn't get insurance on anything and the fire brigade used to come down once a week on a faulty fire alarm call and shake their heads and say if you smell smoke, Run!

You'll have about 3 minutes to get out.

It was an enormous space.

Phil Cullen - October 2020

Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia

Ad in Sydney "On the Street" magazine around 1985

Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia

Band in late 1960's on stage with rear projection

Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia


Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia

1994 - Pyrmont workshop, Phil and Hugh

Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia

1988 - Pat and Phil, Annandale workshop

Electric Sunshine Light Show, Australia

The 'enormous space'