The Hayes Brothers


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. Taryn Craigie

    Pete and Mike used to come up to Taylors Arm when I was a kid and played with my dads band ‘ the Top Town Tremblers, Pud Laverty, Bobby Randall, Wayne Usher and my dad Frank Murphy at the Pub With No Beer. I remember as a little kid back in the 80’s dancing the night away around the bonfire at Pud’s place listening to their incredible music and stories!! All great men gone way too soon xxxx I wish I had some recordings of their music as it was phenomenal.

  2. Jim Mitchell

    I met Peter when we were working with an insurance broker in 1963, we were the same age and hit it off as mates straight away.
    Soon my weekends were spent at the John Street house with Peter, Mike, their mum and anybody and everybody in country music. There were Friday and Saturday gigs and of course the Sunday Morning Dick Cranbourne Show.

    I have great memories of those times to these days. Peter also introduced me to Alan and Russ Hawking with whom I remained good friends until their passing.

    Peter and I parted ways after a few years but around 10 years ago I was at Tamworth and met the Davidson Brothers, I asked them if they knew Peter, I was promptly told, “knew him! – mate, he’s the reason I play the banjo!”

    It was an honour to have known both the boys.

    • ock battisson

      How lucky was that Jim, great memories, just found myself a copy of bluegrass ramble, Pete, Mike & Roy Taylor, great Australian artists,real life story there, someone should document the Hayes Brothers.

  3. Val Tolputt

    I had no idea Mike was a muso, let alone that he had a brother. I’ll definitely follow that up. As for Mike, I lived for the ‘Prickle Farm’ broadcasts. They aired when I was living next door to the pub in the small town or Peeramon in Queensland. Apart from the pub we were the only house in town. Loved the humour he put into the everyday trials we also lived. Ironically many years later my sister and her family were doing the same on their acres at Laggon. Then somewhat later my daughter at the small town of Gwabegar. I would so love to ge my hands on those stories to listen to again & share with my daughter in Tregeagle. Prickle farming of course.

    • M<ichael Oliver

      Uncle mike was awesome if not aloof ! it was hard to extract information if you wanted to learn you had to have the right attitude is what i got from my uncle but share his gift he did in the form of completed music, uncle peter was much more giving in a giving sense he was like his mum like that

  4. Jennifer Barski

    I had not been on this page for a while and how lovely it was today to see these beautiful words and comments from people who shared their memories of my Dad, Mike Hayes and my Uncle Pete. I am the eldest of Dad’s 7 kids and the stories and memories are so precious to me. Dad was among many things a great “yarn spinner” and it is only fitting that in remembering him we share our “yarns” about him. Thank you

    • Mr GERALD P O’CONNELL ( mum was a Hayes)

      Hi Jenn
      I have just discovered that my sister and I are related as Michael and Peter are my step uncles. Jack Hayes remarried after my grandmother died. Funnily enough I am also a muso and was drawn to radio. I love folk music here in Scotland. As they say it is a small world and I look forward to hearing more of their music. If anyone can send me information about the bluegrass I would love that.

  5. Michael Oliver

    My Dad was the sole orphan to be “adopted” by Paula and so the title Brother was bestowed upon him, he moved to Paula’s after the home was shut down and so we visited Peter and Mike and Vise Versa from time to time when they moved back to NSW. For me one of my prolific memories is of what people called the Prickle Farm , it was an old repurposed shop in Laggon on the side of a steep hill, we were there for 3 days from memory, Janet (michael’s wife) was spinning wool from the farm and making jumpers for sale and Mike was working in Sydney as an ABC Correspondant and travelling to and fro so we were invited to visit on a long weekend and i was young and didnt see mike much, dad and peter were close but nonetheless they were both ‘uncles’ equally loved and as such uncle mikes reputation preceeded him and lazing around one sunday arvo i picked up his dobro and asked him “can you teach me to play uncle mike?” his answer was to resonate with me for the rest of my life it was “take it and go away and play, when you feel it come back and we will start”!!. Times with pete and indeed very early memories of paula’s kind presence are numerous, too many to recount but i gained a well rounded experience in music and indeed life through them and thanks is not eonugh to say, my eternal devotion is.

  6. Wonita

    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

    • Michael Oliver

      great people. the best times of my life were spent with the hayes family. i was fortunate enough to call them family and so much i accomplished is attributed to their influence. bless them all rip

    • Phil Dick

      Wonita – I still have great memories of your dad when he was working 3DB as well as pubs on Friday Saturday nights – and your mum, dad and yourself in the house in Coburg – cheers Phil

  7. Mike Jackson

    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.

    • Maree Hayes

      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.

  8. Jeff Rambler

    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!

  9. Sandy Rogers

    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.

  10. Barry Roy

    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..

  11. Taryn Craigie

    Pete and Mike used to come up to Taylors Arm when I was a kid and played with my dads band ‘ the Top Town Tremblers, Pud Laverty, Bobby Randall, Wayne Usher and my dad Frank Murphy at the Pub With No Beer. I remember as a little kid back in the 80’s dancing the night away around the bonfire at Pud’s place listening to their incredible music and stories!! All great men gone way too soon xxxx I wish I had some recordings of their music as it was phenomenal.


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