It’s a warm day in the Western Sydney suburb of Rouse Hill. I am not familiar with the area, so when I pulled up to the address that Brian McCombe had given me for his apartment, I surely think I’m lost. I’m surrounded by shops and restaurants. Surely this isn’t where he lives? I turn around and see my subject walking towards me with a big grin on his face. As Brian approaches, I know that I am in for a wonderful interview.
I wasn’t in the wrong place, as it turns out. There are apartments above the Rouse Hill Town Centre where 67-year-old Brian resides. I am amazed as I walk into his apartment and see his impressive trophy cabinet, which I will get to in part two. There are many signed canvases and framed images on his wall along with framed photos of Brian with many different famous faces.
Brian grew up in Riverstone. He is the son of Lillian and Sam who have both passed away. Growing up, Brian had a fairly ordinary childhood until his entertainment story began when he was 13 years old. He started to play the drums in his school band and continued to do so for 17 years. “I love entertainment and keeping others entertained,” Brian tells me. He gave up the drums at the age of 30 after his son was born but he doesn’t miss it because he has found other ways to fill that entertainment void.
Brian married at the age of 26. The marriage resulted in two children together Melissa and Matthew and 2 grandchildren Olivia and Ava. Sadly the marriage ended after 27 years. But since then, Brian has met Sue and they have been together for 5 years. I meet Sue during my interview with Brian. I can tell just how much she enjoys the entertaining life of Brian McCombe. “I’ve introduced her to so many people and taken her to so many shows. I always get asked to go somewhere on the weekend and bring Sue along,” he tells me.
Brian often talks in tangents, but it affirms his passion for life and entertainment as well as his energetic personality. Brian’s real career began in the 1990’s when he started doing ads for the electrical company he worked at, Chandler’s. It was not too long before Brian became synonymous as ‘King Brian’. “The lady who owned the business didn’t really want to be on TV, so I started doing it.” He enjoyed the ads and the sudden fame that they brought. “Being an ex-musician, it didn’t bother me so I really enjoyed doing them.”
So how exactly did the ‘king’ come about? “They thought of the idea on the Queen’s birthday and they gave me a crown to wear. We went through different kings from Elvis to Neptune”. The ads were mostly broadcast on Channel 10 and radio stations 2UE and 2GB. To this day, many customers still refer to him as ‘King Brian’. The ad campaign was Brian’s first foot in the open door to the world of entertainment.
Since then, Brian has met many people and done many different things for the entertainment industry and charities. In fact, it is rare that a day goes by when he isn’t attending an event. So it’s only fitting that our next topic of conversation happens to be Brian’s charity event.
Coming up on the 2nd March for the 13th year in a row, Brian will be hosting his annual Kidney Fundraising Golf Day. 13 years ago, he was invited as an ambassador to the day. “When we finished, I asked the crowd if they all wanted me back next year.” The unanimous answer was yes. It is held at Fox Hill Golf Club. During the time that Brian has been involved in the charity day, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised. The big money maker of the night are the auctions along with the raffles. The raffles bring in around $1600 on the night. One year, they made $25,000. Due to his connections, there are some pretty big ticketed items up for auction each year. During our interview, I notice a large canvas that is signed by radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O. This will be going into this year’s auction along with a meet and greet and tour of the studio with Kyle and Jackie O. There are also a pair of very high, bright yellow pumps sitting on his bench. These are signed by Ita Buttrose and are expected to go for a sizeable figure on the night. “There’s 22 teams booked in this year,” Brian tells me. He also tells me how each year there is an Elvis impersonator who entertains the audience. Unfortunately, the usual Elvis, John Collins, is unable to perform this year but Brian assures me that there is an excellent stand in for him.
Brian intended to give the charity day up after 10 years but 3 years later he is still hosting it. “This year will be last. But I don’t know because I love doing it. We’ll play it by ear.”
Brian is also involved with work for the Cancer Council and Variety Club and holds charity work close to his heart. Later, over lunch at the Griddle Restaurant, he and Sue tell me about the Cupie dolls that Sue makes and hand delivers to the sick children at Westmead Children’s hospital. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that even the security guards there know Brian. “I’ve always believed that what you give out, you get back. I’ve always been like that. It’s a great way to live.”
Our conversation continues to flow as Brian tells me more about his entertainment life and being so widely recognised. Although he still works part-time at The Good Guys in Blacktown after more than 50 years of service in electrical retail, Brian always manages to find time to do and see things.
Brian regularly visits the Channel 10 morning show ‘Studio 10’. “I know a lot of the entertainers on board. I have a photo with them at the end of the show. I’ve also made friends with a lot of the regulars who go to the show.” In fact, when Brian and Sue recently took some time out to go on a cruise, the crew from Studio 10 kept asking him when he would be returning, a sign that Brian’s presence is most welcomed.
Before Studio 10, Brian used to be given 16 tickets for ‘This is your Life’ each week. He has also attended ‘Dancing with the Stars’. With Brian, it really is a case of who you know not what you know. Having met the likes of Celine Dion, Tim Webster, Ray Hadley and Rove McManus, Brian certainly knows a lot of people, but he never forgets those within his community.
Being a local to the Blacktown area and community and having worked in the area for so long, I’m not surprised when Brian tells me that he has a hosting spot at the Blacktown City Council Show. “I do the Showgirl quest. For a few years I was the judge and now I ask the questions. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that and it keeps you in touch with the community.”
Brian is always sure to give local businesses a shout out too. Whenever he attends an event or a restaurant, he is sure to give them a mention on Facebook. He is always very happy to help with the exposure of people with up and coming talent. When he attended Dancing With the Stars, aside from getting a photo with his look-a-like Darryl Somers, Brian introduced them to a young dancer Natasha, who now owns her own dance studio. Because everyone knew who Brian was, they kept asking who this beautiful young woman was that he had brought with him.
Brian says that meeting people and families in a round-a-bout way through his work is something that he enjoys. “I promote them all, anyone new. They love it. I like the enjoyment they get out of it,”. This is probably why he suggested we go to his friend John’s restaurant ‘The Griddle’ in Rouse Hill for lunch. Brian frequents this restaurant and the staff all know him by name and ask him what he has planned for the day. It’s not hard to see why Brian promotes this business so much because both the food and service are impeccable.
With all the success that Brian has had, it’s only fitting that he has an impressive trophy cabinet. Known as the most photographed man on Facebook, my discussion will continue with Brian next week as he takes me through his trophy cabinet and more of his achievements.
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