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Australian Story -

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TIM ROGERS, MUSICIAN: Hi there. I'm Tim Rogers, chief scruff of the rock band You Am I. Tonight's
Australian Story is about a friend and a colleague of mine who, rather tellingly as a band manager,
took the rock band Jet from obscurity to international stardom. However recently he's been on a
personal journey that's been equal parts horrifying and truly inspiring. This is David Powell's

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: I don't dare to hope because he's going in for another surgery and that churns
up all of the 'once bitten' sort of feelings. They're not minor surgeries but... they shouldn't be
life threatening, but to me every one is.

DAVID POWELL: I'm actually really, really happy, for once I suppose, to go actually under the knife
for - touch wood - the last time.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: There's part of me that is very fearful. David now is chronically ill, that's
his status. We're meant to be together and I know this is a strange time in our relationship now.
No matter what state Dave is in I love him.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: Oh David was a sweetie. He loved anything to do with soldiery and pilots.
He was going to be a pilot you see.

DAVID POWELL: That's all I really ever wanted to do.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: But unfortunately David had a problem, an ear infection that started, it
must have been when he was a babe or something and caught an infection.

DAVID POWELL: That kind of meant that I was never going to be a fighter pilot. The thing is that I
went through high school doing maths A, B, phys. and chem. in the idea of getting into the Royal
Australian Air Force and it was never going to happen because I was never going to pass the

MYF POWELL, SISTER: When we were teenagers Dave and I decided to join a band together. He had a
very strong work ethic. It was all about being you know as good as it could be and he used to drive
me crazy.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: He would have jobs that relate somehow to the music then he ended up at
the Duke of Windsor and he was working on the bar there and that's where the rock bands used to

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: The first time I met Dave was really, saw Dave he was playing at the Duke of
Windsor in a reggae beret with these big sideburns and long hair at the time and I thought he was
just - he was an amazing guitarist. I thought he was good looking.

DAVID POWELL: I shouldn't say weaselling but I kind of like, got myself into her band. That
obviously caused a certain dynamic but there was - she played bass you know, I was very much going,
I think you could be a star.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: When Dave joined my band I knew it was the beginning of the end of the
relationship I was in.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: He said that's it, she is the one, and that's fine I will marry her and he'd
never said that before.

MARY MIHELAKOS, MUSIC WRITER: In 2002 the Duke of Windsor became one of Melbourne's main venues.
They had a lot of new bands come through and a scene started there and one of the bands that stood
out at the time were Jet.

DAVID POWELL: The first that I'd heard of Jet, they weren't Jet, they actually didn't have a name.
And I'd just gone, what! They don't have a name? How untogether is this band.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: He's just so confident Dave, you know that you think that you've
done something wrong when he's talking to you almost.

DAVID POWELL: They gave me a demo by this stage and I've gone I love it, it's great but you've got
to have a name and they came back and they said Jet, what do you reckon? And I said perfect,
fantastic, I love it. I love it, I love it. Jet, it's small, just a small word, can blow up big,
it's great, I love it.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: So we just sort of always kept aiming for the next, what's next,
what's next, what's next. So at that point what's next was getting a manager and that's where Dave
came into our lives.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: Dave was in our band. He was in his own band, Valve, and then all of a sudden we
heard of Jet and he started booking them at the Duke, bumping other bands off to get them on at the
right playing time and the right, so we realised he had something going on.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: The Duke of Windsor became our headquarters. Dave would be taking
calls from you know, executives in Los Angeles from the keg room you know, that was his office.

DAVID POWELL: When every major label in the world, bar one, is interested in your band, you're
going to get the best deal possible.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: Dave - he always had a girl around. I remember in the first year
there was probably like two or three girlfriends easily.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: I didn't really get to know Leah that well for quite some time.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: It became this whirlwind with Jet and the next thing really was for me, Dave was
going to LA.

MARY MIHELAKOS, MUSIC WRITER: At the beginning of 2003 Dave and Jet boarded planes for Los Angeles
and recorded the Get Born album.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: Just crazy adventure after crazy adventure and Dave was always in
the middle of it coordinating everything, you know.

MARY MIHELAKOS, MUSIC WRITER: In a space of a month or two he made a lot of stuff happen for Jet. I
don't think they would be where they are today without Dave Powell.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: It was like being on school camp with like with a crazy guy

(Extract from home video, Hollywood, 2003)

DAVID POWELL: I'm taking a video today of Jet starting their first album in LA. First time I've
actually plugged in and we're all ready to go. Okay let's see how the boys are. There's Nic on the
first day of his recording for the album.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: (In shower) Oh you are there!

DAVID POWELL: Yeah, how you doing?

(End of extract)

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: The best ones are the crazy ones. He'd wake us up to go to the
studio and he'd drive us down there and he would just basically do everything that every manager
after that never did basically. It was like a little family, it was like a family.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: Chris really, really looked up to Dave and I guess Chris being the
youngest member of our band as well, Chris always gravitates towards personality types like Dave I
guess is fair to say. I think my relationship with Dave was maybe a bit deeper - theirs was more

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: All the stars aligned for Jet. They have sold over a million records.
Their debut album Get Born has gone nine or 10 times platinum.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: We'd done a co-management deal with Dave and another company called
Winterman and Goldstein. Their international experience was something that we thought would be
really handy for the band because Dave hadn't managed a band in America or in Britain and it's all
really different, you know, the way things works is very different, so first of all that was I
think the beginning really of the end of our relationship with Dave.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: It was pretty naive of us to assume that having two separate
management companies was a legitimate option that was going to last.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: They tried to work together and then gradually you know, they were
just telling us things that you know, was really difficult and they were finding it difficult to
get through to him and get certain ideas through to him and they basically just sort of convinced
us that it would work better if it was just them.

DAVID POWELL: I got a call from the band's lawyer saying that the band would like to meet up to
talk over the management contract with me and my partner, my business partner at the time, and I
had a sinking suspicion that something was amiss.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: We talked about the meeting and about telling Dave and stuff and I
just, I just said oh I couldn't go. I've chickened out of a few things like that.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: You start playing in a band thinking nothing more than playing gigs
and having fun and writing music and it's all a big sort of party and at one point you realise
there's a lot more at stake here and it could go away at any minute as well and this is a serious
opportunity and something that we can't waste.

DAVID POWELL: And I said look it's okay, it's okay Nic. I know what you're about to say and I'm
absolutely fine with it.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: Typical of Dave, recognised how horrible I was finding having you
know, being charged with the duty of... and made it as easy for me as possible you know. A
testament to him as a human being.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: David decided to not challenge the contract and walked away and wished them all
the best.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: It really was the moment where the innocence of it all was lost
though. To be completely honest I don't think it was ever that fun after that either.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: It was completely Dave's decision to do that, that's part of why I love David,
is he's a genuinely really nice person but he probably missed out on considerable income - future
earnings from that first album. I'm not really sure whether Jet knew at the time what Dave gave up
to manage them. The situation we're in now, I've... you know, it can keep you up at night if you
let it. Dave was kind of left floating. There wasn't much going on in the industry that was going
to give us a real wage at the end of the week so he took on an office job because he knew you know,
rent and baby coming and that's what he had to do. He wasn't too happy about telling people what he
was doing. I think he looked at it as a bit of a failure, a big step backwards.

DAVID POWELL: I'd kind of like, separated myself from the rock industry or the music industry - the
late nights, drinking, smoking all of that stuff. We had you know our second child on her way and
with no time I was just going well, I've got to do a nine to five gig. So I was riding to work, I'd
even done like a half marathon at one stage, so I was really, really fit and then I got this kind
of like, these fevers.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: At the beginning of 2009 there was the fear, the epidemic of Swine Flu.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: We took Stella for her swimming lesson and, because I'd not long given birth,
Dave got in the water and he came out and he was shivering uncontrollably.

DAVID POWELL: So I was going, oh I don't feel good, I don't feel good. I do remember picking her up
and taking her to the showers and like and you know going, jeez I'm really feeling dizzy.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: And I said you know, I'm not taking the kids into an emergency room with all
these bugs going around.

DAVID POWELL: I took a cab in and they thought, oh look it's just a flu go home take some Panadol.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: The following day, Monday, he started to not be able to sleep. We went and saw
the GP. We rang Nurse on Call.

DAVID POWELL: This time I said, look my sister can come over and take me to emergency so she did.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: And they took one look at us and said, listen if it's swine flu you've got to
go down to Heidelberg swine flu clinic. So we got back in the car drove down - by the time we got
him into the clinic and as we're admitting him the nurse said hold on he's going and he collapsed
in the clinic.

DAVID POWELL: And they immediately called an ambulance.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: That was really the first intimation of the enormity of what was going to
unfold but we still didn't know.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: The atmosphere in emergency was pretty crazy. They're overworked, it's
extremely busy. They were very fearful that it still was swine flu.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: All I sat there all gowned up, masked up, all over night and I watched him
in the bed in pain, sweating. The nurses came every so often.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: By seven/eight o'clock that morning a male nurse, he said its pneumonia and
we've got him on antibiotics and the bug doesn't like the antibiotics. And I said well do you know
when this bed's going to... you know, he looks incredibly uncomfortable. I just thought at least
when he gets into the hospital he might start to feel better because if anything he looked worse
than the night before and he said, well we'll have to get him in bed in the next hour because the
hospital gets a huge fine if they're in emergency for anymore than 24 hours. They took him to the
spinal unit because that was the only isolated room they had available at the time.

DAVID POWELL: I lied back on the bed and just looked at my chest and it was just heaving and I just
started building up all this panic and I just was feeling so bad.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: He managed to get out, "don't want to see Mum and Dad just need to concentrate
on breathing." The nurse hit the medical alert switch on the wall and she said look there's a lot
of people are about to come in. There had to be 20 people around the bed.

DAVID POWELL: I was just screaming to them I don't know what I've got but can you just at least
knock me out.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: Ten days after being sent away from emergency with two Panadol he was in
intensive care.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: I couldn't believe the enormity of it. I just didn't know what was
happening. This is my son David, you know he'd had the flu he'd been unwell and I thought it was
pneumonia you know, what is happening what was happening?

SIVEN SEEVANAYAGAM, CARDIAC SURGEON: When I saw David first he was unconscious. The heart valve was
leaking severely, the heart was failing, he was already in an infection shock as well and his
kidneys were failing, his organs were failing.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: David's heart was just ripped apart by a bacterial infection and it was the
type of bacteria that normally causes pneumonia in the lungs.

SIVEN SEEVANAYAGAM, CARDIAC SURGEON: I had to have a brief chat to his parents and his partner Leah
and at that time we had to tell him that the chances of him surviving were pretty remote.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: And I just said just save my boy's life... (Crying) You know, just give us
back our son.

SIVEN SEEVANAYAGAM, CARDIAC SURGEON: We opened his chest and I then opened his aorta. My heart sank
because what we saw was something that I had not encountered before and I did not know where to

MYF POWELL, SISTER: After they'd worked on him for 16 hours they sat us down and said it's not
looking good. He's, David is the sickest man in Melbourne.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: When you hear that someone like, is possibly going die, it's a
possibility, and you think about never being able to talk to that person again and also for me
there's probably a little bit of things that I wanted to say to Dave and hadn't had the chance and
I just - it was - I was a wreck.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: Dave was invincible, you know. He lived life like not many people
get the chance to do or even when given the chance, don't take it. Never in my wildest dreams would
you ever think for second that something like this would happen to someone like that.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: By January he'd, January 2010, within six months he'd undergone two open heart
surgeries that were over 16 hours in length. He'd survived two major strokes - one which took out
half his eyesight and one which would have killed him if they hadn't have removed his skull.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: If Dave hadn't been sent away from emergency the first time he presented, I
don't think any of this would have happened.

SIVEN SEEVANAYAGAM, CARDIAC SURGEON: I don't think there was any way of recognising that this was a
far more serious chest infection. Because of the heart problems and the destruction of the heart
was all bacteria and definitely had nothing to do with swine flu.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: His heart surgeon Dr Sieven - just an incredible human being and I don't think
David would be alive if it wasn't for that man.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: I had that huge regret that we weren't officially husband and wife, that we
hadn't managed to do that.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: The phone rang and it was Leah and she said, we're going to get
married and would you, you know play a song at the wedding. Just turned out, happened by
coincidence to be the day of The Big Day Out in Melbourne and we went to the rehabilitation centre.

CHRIS CESTER, JET DRUMS/VOCAL: It was a shock to see him that way because I hadn't seen him you
know, and to see him in a suit that looked like it was five times bigger than him purely because
he'd just lost so much weight.

(Excerpt from wedding ceremony, January 2010)

CELEBRANT: By the authority vested in me I now pronounce you to be husband and wife. You may kiss
your bride.

(End of excerpt)

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: When the band started playing and Nic started singing, it was amazing. I just
turned into Dave and just cuddled him and I guess you could say it was our wedding dance because
everyone said, you know you we were kind of dancing, we were rocking but it was that moment I got
to have with him, oblivious to everyone else in the band who was sort of around us at the time and
it was beautiful. But I got to look in his eyes and you know, I think I said you know, now I'm your

DAVID POWELL: Even though I was still very, very sick you know, and I think I had to have surgery
the next day but it's still one of the best days of my life, if not the best day of my life.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: It was a bit tough to sing that actually. It's pretty hard to sing
about love and remaining together when you know, the future's in doubt.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: They did at one point try and put his original skull back in, I think that was
in March 2010, and unfortunately good old hospital golden staph infection meant that they had to
remove it and that was the first time I saw David really break down.

DAVID POWELL: After 12 months, I'm probably like I'm a little bit at the end of my tether with it.
I've come in and out and in and out and in and out of hospital and I've waited so many times.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: David shouldn't even be picking Leroy up and he is and it's like trying to
control mayhem, without the ability to you know... and yet I have to constantly have the answers to
the next thing that's going to happen and I don't even know half the time.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: Leah's changed. She's gone from being someone who was probably more in the
background to someone who had to, she had to take charge.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: Dave claims to cook the most amazing green curry you know, to mankind so
hopefully he's fit enough to cook me one of those green curries.

DAVID POWELL: A bit nervous because, you know I haven't done this kind of thing for a while.

LEAH COOPER, WIFE: I immediately felt very self conscious because they hadn't visited our house
before and also a bit defensive because they've had better success than us, so I felt a little
revealed. The way I feel toward Jet now is they're nice guys and I do enjoy their success. I'm
disappointed that Dave didn't have the success that they did, but I'm not bitter and it's in the
past. Now it's just friendship.

NIC CESTER, JET GUITAR/VOCALS: In terms of our own journey as Jet there's a lot of strained
relationships after these years and I think just a bit of distance would be fortuitous for all of
us. I wanted it to be more like it was, you know I want the naivety back. Dave is nothing but

DAVID POWELL: I'm going to have cranioplast and that means a titanium plate put into my head to
cover over where my brain is - (taps head) that's just skin. I do fear death, I have to say that I
do fear death but I fear death more for Leah and my children because my children, I want to be a
father to them. I'm comfortable with who I am and what I've done. We all have regrets but I'm -
there's not many. I think I've had a pretty good life. I'm feeling like I think it went fairly much
to plan unless you're all a dream and I'm feeling alright, you know.

MYF POWELL, SISTER: It is a beautiful love story. I don't think anything would tear them apart to
be honest with you, they've really shown an incredible strength and commitment.

MARYILLA POWELL, MOTHER: I hope this story has a happy ending, yes. I trust it will be a happy
ending for David and his family.


David Powell has just been asked to manage a new Melbourne based rock band.

He says Jet members contributed substantially to his major medical costs.