Whenever Fred Botica is asked about his career in radio, he usually comes back with one cheeky line: “Sure beats working”.

So, it made sense that it was also the title of his book about his life, his Croatian’s family’s incredible story of how they ended up in New Zealand and how he went from signwriter to one of the most recognisable voices on Perth radio.

Thing is, Botica’s on-air career also meant some jaw-dropping off-air anecdotes of some of the biggest names in the music industry.

When asked to name 10 artists that he had a personal story about, he couldn’t.

Instead, he gave 12.

“In no particular order of favouritism,” he said as he listed them…

  • Led Zeppelin
  • Pink Floyd
  • Rolling Stones
  • Steve Winwood/Traffic
  • Little Feat
  • Tim Buckley
  • Steely Dan
  • The Cure
  • David Bowie
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop
  • Talking Heads
  • Neil Young
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Sure Beats Working is full of yarns such as this one, when Fred took Sting for an afternoon of smooth parasailing at the beach when, suddenly, the breeze kicked up…

“Everybody arrived after midday.

I had to pinch myself. Sitting on my lawn were Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland, Stewart’s brother who was their road manager, Bryan Adams, a few friends and some of the people involved with the concert along with Michael Chugg and co. who were the promoters.

We swam, threw Frisbees, ate yummy food, told jokes and generally enjoyed the company of a great bunch of musicians.

I had given Sting a windsurfing lesson on a previous visit to my place, and he wanted to get out on the water. He was a very fit man who kept active and loved water sports. But today there was only a very light breeze, so it did not happen.

I had a mate who ran a parasailing business on the beach, so I got him to head down and take up any volunteers. Sting was into it, and off he went.

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The sea was smooth as, and perfect for parasailing.

While Sting was up and out, a light onshore breeze kicked in, and there was a mild panic when they tried to get him to land in the shallows, but he kept getting blown over towards the beachside homes.

It was going to take a bit of clever manoeuvring on the part of the driver and it was taking too much time as far as Chuggy was concerned.

“Get Sting down from that fuckin’ thing. We are going to have to leave for the sound check soon. I don’t want my star fucking performer stuck up there all afternoon.”

We got him down safely, and all was well.”

Sure Beats Working is now available at Planet Books.

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