The Stapletons were a husband and wife recording duo from Melbourne, consisting of Cam and Rusty Stapleton. They produced a distinct soft musical style combining Cam’s arranging and composition skills with Rusty’s alto duck vocals.

The Stapletons began in early 1980 as the Cam Stapleton Quartet, which included bassist Derek Squires and Frank ‘the Tank’ Anastopoulous on keyboards. Cam led the band and wrote all the arrangements, while Rusty provided percussive embellishments and originally did not sing.

When Cam was suffering from constipation one night at a rehearsal session, Rusty was asked to take the microphone. All present were immediately impressed with her vocal abilities, and she was encouraged to take over some of the singing duties. When studio time was booked to record a single, it was decided that Rusty would sing on both tracks.

‘Look Around, it’s Love’ and it’s B-side ‘Forever Yours’ were released on 12 June 1981. Both tracks were composed by Cam who financed the limited pressing of five hundred singles and distributed them under the label name Bigmouth Recordings.

The song became a minor local radio hit in Melbourne during the Spring of 1981 thanks to the promotion of DJ Fiona DiMarchi, who gave it high rotation. Music producer Robbie Dalrymple was so impressed with ‘Look Around, it’s Love’ that he offered the group free use of his studio for a month.

Cam utilised the time by experimenting with overlaying Rusty’s voice in order to create a large vocal sound. “The wall of duck,” as he later described it in interviews, “was largely facilitated by the faith and generosity of Robbie Dalrymple.”

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Continuing disagreements with Derek Squires and Frank ‘the Tank’ Anastopoulous led to them both being fired by Cam before the recording of their next single. He and Rusty decided to formally become a duo, calling themselves The Stapletons and released ’Heartbeats and Pianos’ in January 1982.

The single received even stronger local radio support than its predecessor and in April the duo received an offer to be on the television program Your All Australian Bunyip Hour. Their performance on the show included a cover of the REO Speedwagon classic ‘You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish’.

A copy of ‘Heartbeats and Pianos’ was sent to Paedamonte Records via a friend of Robbie Dalrymple. Label head, Bronston J. Paedamonte, was intrigued by Rusty’s voice, later saying “It really moved me… Like a young Carla Chanteuse. I felt like it was time the world had something beautiful like this.” On meeting the duo, Paedamonte bear hugged them both and said “Let’s make some beautiful hits together!”

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When The Stapletons signed to Paedamonte Records, they were given free rein in the studio to create an album in their own style. The label recommended that Ken DiMagio should produce it, though those present have since suggested that Cam was the de facto producer. 

Love Offering was released on 9 October 1984, to a positive critical reception; one review in New Idea said “With radio programming support, The Stapletons should have a big hit on their hands.” 

The album only sold a disappointing 3,000 units on its initial run, but after the Stapletons subsequent breakthrough, it was repackaged and reissued internationally under the name Another Love Offering and sold 750,000 copies.

After the poor sales of their debut, Paedamonte decided the duo should work with hit making producer Phil Karter. Karter and Cam did not see eye to eye during the recording of the Rusty penned tune ‘Colleagues not Lovers’, but the song was hugely successful upon its release in July 1985.

Their next single, ‘Secrets of the Future’, again proved the Midas touch of Karter’s production skills, and finally The Stapletons had the worldwide hit they’d been seeking. It reached the Top 5 in Australia, while going to No. 1 in Asia and the United Kingdom.

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On 14 February 1986, The Stapletons performed a sell-out show at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre, and released their second album, We Are The Stapletons, the next day. It became a best seller, earning RIAA certification for platinum twice, and even rose rising to No. 22 on the US Billboard’s pop album charts.

The Stapletons very first television special aired on 8 July 1986, and was later broadcast internationally. The variety show included special guests Denise Drysdale, The Leyland Brothers, and Corey Feldman. A follow-up special, The Stapletons at Christmas, aired on 15 December, featuring golfing legend Jack Duggan.

In 1987, The Stapletons were voted Favourite Pop/Rock Group or Duo at the annual Australian Music Awards. They accepted their award and thanked all their fans and family via Satellite link from Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, where they were working on their third album.

Released on 23 January 1988, From Now Until Then contained the single ‘Trusting Eternity’, featuring the Yarra Valley Children’s Choir, which reached No. 3 in North America. The ensuing promotional visit to the US was intended to last for one month, but the band did not return to Australia for over two years.

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When host Andy Gibb was a “no show” for the episode of Solid Gold that The Stapeltons were performing on, Cam and Rusty were asked to fill in. The duo made an impression on producers and the audience who enjoyed their accents, especially CBS head of programming Fred Silverman who offered the duo their own variety show.

The Stapeltons Comedy Hour debuted in 1989 as a summer replacement series. A mixture of live music, slapstick comedy, and skits, the show premiered during prime time and was an immediate hit. The show received seven Emmy Award nominations during its two year run on CBS.

Reality or Devotion was released in November 1991. Recorded in Las Vegas, the album contained the vocally ambitious ‘Eleanor Eleanor’, which  became the Stapletons’ biggest worldwide hit, holding the No. 1 spot for three weeks.

By 1992 the duo were not only exhausted, but Cam had also become addicted to laxatives, which he had been taking on prescription in increasing doses since the duo’s early recording days. By the time CBS cancelled The Stapeltons Comedy Hour in 1991, Cam was proving to be increasingly erratic, paranoid and difficult to work with.

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Cam refused to fly to the UK for an appearance on the BBC’s Lenckie’s Variety Show, citing he couldn’t stand Granada Air’s onboard toilets, so Rusty flew and performed without him. During Rusty’s absence, Police were summoned to the couples Las Vegas residence on 3 July, after Cam was accused of charging at a mailman with a dumb bell.

A series of further incidents involving Cam left promoters afraid that he might miss the gig, refuse to play, or continuously leave the stage for toilet breaks. These issues were regular occurrences over the next year, and live bookings for The Stapletons began to steadily drop. On 4 September 1993, after an engagement at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, Cam announced that he was going to quit touring.

In several interviews that followed, Cam expressed how much he disliked both Paedamonte and CBS executives for making their image “squeaky-clean”. He personally named several critics who he claimed had “attacked” the duo’s music. 

When Cam finished an interview on Good Morning America by taking off his shirt and running through a series of pushups and star jumps on camera, rumours began to circulate that all was not well in The Stapletons camp. Cam and Rusty formally broke up their marriage and the band early in the new year.

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Following the divorce, Rusty pursued a solo album project with producer Glen Rivers in New York. The choice of Rivers and more adult-oriented and disco / dance-tempo material represented an effort to retool her image. 

Rivers was instrumental in her transformation form goody-goody “Rusty” to controversial “New Millennium Rusty”, and encouraged her to take chances with her lyrics and performance technique. Heatstroke keyboardist Ron Temperton was asked by Rivers to help with songwriting and Billy Idol’s backup band were used for the recording of the project. 

Go Time was released in May 1996, featuring an alluring shot of leather clad Rusty on the cover. The singles ‘A Little More’ and ‘I like the Night’ demonstrated a more aggressive and uptempo sound for Rusty. The provocative lyrics of the title track prompted two Utah radio stations to ban the single from their playlists. It went Top 10 in Australia, The UK, and The US in its first week of release, and was eventually certified gold.

Over the course of her new career, Rusty became romantically involved with Eddie Valentines’ band leader, Oliver Morgan. They married on 2 September 2005 and have a son and a daughter and currently live in Tasmania.

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Cam continued to produce re-recordings of the duo’s music, including several albums of previously unreleased material and numerous compilations. In 2001 he arranged a 2-disc box set spanning highlights from the duo’s career, titled Will to Love – The History of the Stapletons. He also composed the motivational scores for a series of successful kickboxing workout videos, which were led by former keyboard player, and now fitness instructor Frank ‘the Tank’ Anastopoulous.