What’s just as good, if not arguably better, than being a prominent figure of Australia’s late 70s/early 80s post-punk scene?
Being an Aussie post-punk that’s just scored half-a-million dollars tax-free. And it isn’t thanks to the royalty cheques.
Pierre Sutcliffe, who was a founding member of alt-rockers The Models as well as several punk-era bands, has won a whopping $503,000 on Channel Seven’s afternoon game show Million Dollar Minute, believed to be the biggest cash win on a weekday quiz show in television history, as Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Before he was a breaking TV records, Sutcliffe was known as ‘Pierre Voltaire’, playing bass for The Models after dropping out of school at the tender age of 14 (twice over) to follow his dream of becoming a rock star. Though he gave the band their name, he quit before they went on to gain charts success, like #1 hit ‘Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight’, due to the usual ‘creative differences’.
Sutcliffe also played in several Australian underground bands, like Models precursors JAB and Teenage Radio Stars, fronting The Fabulous Marquises, as well as short-lived late 70s group the Little Cuties, which featured Mr. Voltaire alongside Nick Cave and early Bad Seeds Mick Harvey and Rowland S. Howard (as chronicled in the book, The Ballroom – The Melbourne Punk & Post Punk Scene). “Even if you have a No. 1 hit in Australia, the money doesn’t last long.”
‘Mr. Pierre’ was even immortalised in the 1986 cult Michael Hutchence-starring movie Dogs In Space, played by another Bad Seed, Aussie musician Hugo Race.
But even with all his musical history, Sutcliffe says that the cult music lifestyle didn’t exactly bring with it financial security. “Even if you have a No. 1 hit in Australia, the money doesn’t last long,” he tells Sydney Morning Herald. “I didn’t put much (money aside) or have a superannuation plan.”
As the operator of a sporting business, Sutcliffe has been ‘getting by’ until his Million Dollar Minute scoop, claiming his $500k after correctly answering five multiple choice questions at the end of a 10-episode streak (watch the moment of triumph here).
Sutcliffe, who shares his winnings with his five children and wife, had the option to gun for the show’s titular jackpot of $1 million, but would have left with ‘only’ $75,000 if he’d stumbled on the questions. “Fuck, that would kill me; you pay off a few credit cards, buy a cup of coffee and it’s gone. That’s why I pulled the pin,” he explains.
“Now my family’s future looking a million times better – well, half a million times better – than it was a couple of months ago,” he says, telling Herald Sun, “the next step will be moving closer to golf courses and vineyards and perhaps enable my kids to fulfil their dream of opening a cafe.” A goal he can now hum to to the tune of half-a-million.
Check out Pierre Sutcliffe humming a very different tune, ‘Honeymoons’ as the frontman for The Fabulous Marquises, from a 1980 television broadcast below.