Phil Lazenby remembered as inspirational man

PINK overalls and big handlebars.

That’s how Chris DeAraugo remembers his introduction to Phil Lazenby.

The 14-year-olds lived in the same neighbourhood and both “wanted to be rock gods’’.

They pulled up alongside each other on pushbikes and discussed their common goal to be the next Beatles – and from that day on, the pair spent every spare minute jamming in garages, playing in bands and ultimately taking similar career paths.

“He was a really good drummer and played in bands until he developed hearing difficulties,’’ Chris said.

But it wasn’t always Phil’s talent with the sticks that got him places – it was gift of the gab, and natural ability to market a product, particularly the band Harlem.

“Harlem got all the best jobs in Bendigo,’’ Chris said.

“We were a support act to 

AC/DC and Hush, not because we were the best music, but because we had the best marketer and hustler.

“We weren’t that good, but Phil talked us up.’’

Phil loved AC/DC and Eric Clapton – and would belt out a solo performance with flashing drumsticks and lights to Clapton’s Let it Rain.

Chris recalls Phil always performing his solo with perfection, the same approach he took to everything in life.

“Philip was so sensitive to doing everything right,’’ Chris said.

“He was a beautiful and complex man and his willingness to help others was extraordinary.’’

Chris recalls Phil learning of a group of disadvantaged youngsters who could not afford musical instruments.

The forever selfless Phil quickly set about gathering old instruments and restoring them.

“The number of people he helped in so many ways, including to get into homes, or work through real estate, was extraordinary,’’ Chris said.

“When my brother Paul opened a car yard in Kangaroo Flat he was short of cash and maxed out with the banks, and Philip lent him the money out of his own pocket – it was a handshake agreement.

“Paul to this day says that if he didn’t have Philip at the start he would not have been able to do what he has done today.’’

When Chris was first involved with Lead On Australia, which aims to strengthen the relationships between young people and the community, Phil was the first to put his hand up to help.

Josh Hercus was one of the young people deeply touched by Phil’s commitment to Lead On.

“Over the past eight years I have had the pleasure to be guided and supported by such a wonderful community-minded man,’’ Josh said.

“I first met Phil through the community organisation Lead On, of which he was a board member and strong advocate for giving the youth of Bendigo the opportunity to shine and make a positive impact in their town.

“After working on my first project under Phil’s guidance at RegionalOne Credit Union, where his drive, passion and work ethic were a true inspiration, Phil acted as both a mentor and a friend to me like so many other young people in the Bendigo community.

“His contributions to the business community as well as the young people of Bendigo will be sorely missed.

“My thoughts go out to his family and friends as well as the Bendigo community, which has lost a true local hero.’’

Luke Owens from the Bendigo for Homeless Youth organisation was also one of the young people to speak warmly of a man who made a difference to his life.

“Phil, in the 18 months that I knew you, I developed a great liking for everything that you stood for,’’ Luke said. “Thank you for being my mentor throughout 2012 and teaching me how to be a leader in so many areas of life. 

“I remember last year when I chose to defer my university studies last year to run Bendigo for Homeless Youth full-time and you sat me down for one hour and guided me through what I had to do to reach my goals, and to most importantly, take care of myself.

“Not only would our project not have been successful without you, but you personally assisted me with an iPad and gift cards each week to cover my food and groceries.

“Although there was 34 years between our ages, we got along like a house on fire and I was truly humbled to be in your presence.

“You were one of a kind, Phil, and I, along with the Bendigo community, will truly miss you.  However, your legacy will absolutely live on.’’

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