Face of Tamworth: Cricketer and musician John Muller

John Muller and his proteige Josh Hazlewood.

John Muller and his proteige Josh Hazlewood.

John Muller’s list of achievements is so extensive, it’s hard to know where to start.

A talented musician, cricketer, real estate agent and mental health fundraiser, it's safe to say that Mr Muller is truly a jack of trade.

The beloved face of Tamworth recently put pen to paper, and jotted down his autobiography. 

John Muller, the cricketer

His love of cricket began at a young age, when the headmaster of Nundle Public School introduced him to the sport.

As crafty left-arm swing-bowler, he spent years in the region's representative sides and played against some of Australia's greatest crickets.

In 1954, he was a part of the North and North West team who took on the touring NSW Sheffield Shield team, which featured Keith Miller, Arthur Morris and a young Richie Benaud.

Mr Muller always dreamed of playing on the legendary Sydney Cricket Ground - and that dream came true after a stunning performance in 1960, where he took three wickets in Narrabri against the NSW Sheffield team, including that of captain Ian Craig.

One month later he was chosen to represent NSW Country, who took on the City team at the SCG - and from there, to Mr Muller's shock, he was picked to play the West Indies in Newcastle, again representing NSW Country.

His wife, Mary, was seated between two of the greatest West Indies cricketers to grace the field, Rohan Kanhai and Garfield Sobers.

Mr Muller's star kept rising in the cricketing world, joining a three month tour of the world with the Emu Club side.

The tour took him to every major city in Canada, saw him play 19 games in 21 days in England, hopping across the channel to Holland and finishing up in Hong Kong.  In total, he took 91 wickets.

Despite the world tour, one of Mr Muller's favourite cricketing memories happened in Tamworth. In 1963, Mr Muller single-handily tore apart the West Tamworth first grade side, taking all 10 wickets for North Tamworth, where he is a life member, for just 22 runs.

Not only a talented player, Mr Muller has groomed some of the region's finest cricketers, including the Bendermeer Bullet aka, Aussie fast bowler Josh Hazlewood.

John Muller, the musician

Around the same time Mr Muller first picked up a cricket ball, he began tapping the teeth of a piano.

It was from there his love of music grew.

Years later, his coworkers Bob Morrison, invited him to join the Police and Citizens Boys Club brass band, where he spent three years playing the  euphonium.

By coincidence there was an old saxophone lying in the music room at the club and Mr Muller asked Mr Morrison to teach him how to play it.

Mr Muller wrote out about 20 numbers and learn them. Out of the blue one day local band leader Lex Leicht invited him to join his band at the Tamworth Golf Club.

Mr Muller said he was shaking like a leaf when he played the 20 tunes for quicksteps, foxtrots, barn dances and gypsy taps. It was a long weekend and he also played on the Sunday night.

He was hooked and never looked back.

When Lex retired John took the opportunity to form his own band which featured various musicians over a period of 58 years. Some of his muso mates included Bruce Carmichael trumpet, Darrel Newby and Johnny Neal

trombones, pianists Les Smith and Sandy McGillivray, Maurie Benning and best mate Peter Harkins on drums and vocalist Geoff Doyle.

Mr Muller also had a passion for the Glenn Miller Orchestra - he even called his eldest son Glenn after his idol.

His dream came true in 1977 when he formed the 18 piece Johnny Muller Big Band, which stayed together for eight years, with his son Peter played alto saxophone.

He said a major highlight was being invited by Eric Scott of Hadley Recording Studios to make a CD of the band. It proved very successful with all 10 tracks being well received.

In 1997, Mr Muller came up with the idea of having a jazz concert at West Tamworth Leagues Club as a fundraiser for the Billabong Clubhouse. With the help of the generous Tamworth community, $260,000 was raised between 1997 and 2011.

With the exposure of the concerts John was able to pass on his expertise to many singers who grabbed the opportunity to further their careers. This included people like Rob McDougall, Felicity Urquhart , Aleyce Simmonds Gabriela Bonomo, Mim Gardiner, Roshanni Priddis and Ben Hazell.

The concert also featured many world class Aussie performers like Janet Seidel, George Washingmachine and pianist Kevin Hunt.

One moment Mr Muller will always cherish is when saxophonist Don Burrows invited him to do a duet of Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.

To celebrate his 80th birthday in 2015, Mr Muller held a concert at the Capitol Theatre, with all the proceeds going to Billabong Clubhouse.

Reluctantly Mr Muller made the decision to retire from playing in his band due to the persistent wooziness in his head caused from his battle with cancer, which also stops him from playing golf. 

John Muller, the man

John and his wife Mary with the Governor General Dame Marie Bashir in Sydney in 2006 when he received his OAM.

John and his wife Mary with the Governor General Dame Marie Bashir in Sydney in 2006 when he received his OAM.

Born on August 2, 1935, Mr Muller spent the first 12 years of his life in Nundle. His family lived in an old pioneer cottage which still stands today backing onto the Peel River behind the Caravan Park.

He moved to Tamworth at the age of 12 and says he left school after his fourth year at Tamworth High School

A hard working man, Mr Muller spent five years at TJ Treloar Co, three years at Falkenmires Music and Sports Store and 11 years at Pengilley's Radio and Electrical Company.

It was at Pengilley's where Mr Muller made the most important sale of his life - a young nurse named Mary Henderson came in to buy a record player. She got more than she bargained for, because the pair have been happily married for 56 years, and have had two children together.

In 1974, Mr Muller was approached by Terry Burke and John Smyth the owners of Burke and Smyth Stock and Station Agents. They were about to open Burke and Smyth Real Estate and offered John the job to help promote and manage the company.

When he retired 26 years later in 2000, Mr Muller reflected on the fact he had 4 jobs all in the selling game and only moved half a block in 46 years. 

Mr Muller was awarded an OAM in 2006 for his services to the community of Tamworth as a musician, representative cricketer, fundraiser and supporter of charitable, sporting, and youth organisations and the NSW Government award for Services to the Community in 2007.

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