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Midge Marsden - Give It A Whirl Interview

Interview – 2023

Midge Marsden began performing music during the heady days of the 1960s. As part of band The Breakaways, he was a pioneer in bringing rhythm and blues to New Zealand's isolated shores. 

In this extended interview, recorded for 2003 television series Give It A Whirl, Marsden covers many topics, including:

  • Early days hunting down "exotic" music while living in the Taranaki, and using money from the paper run to buy an electric guitar

  • Seeing Max Merritt, and the influence of Hawaiian and country music on New Zealand (4 minutes in)

  • Meeting Johnny Cooper through a talent quest, losing his first job for a music opportunity with Dinah Lee, and a lost guitar resurfacing 30 years later (12 minutes in)

  • The Breakaways being one of the first local rhythm & blues bands, and searching for the "real thing" via imported records (19 minutes)

  • The adoption of rhythm & blues in the Auckland and Wellington music scenes (25 minutes)

  • The high quality of Kiwi recordings in the 1960s (31 minutes)

  • Getting new gear, thanks to bands visiting from England (35 minutes)

  • Working as a live band during the 60s revolution of music (37 minutes)

  • Why roots music has always had a keen following in New Zealand (43 minutes)

  • How The Fourmyula set the standard for original songwriting (46 minutes)

  • Seeing Dragon and Split Enz during the live boom of the 1970s (51 minutes)

  • Thoughts on New Zealand bands going overseas (54 minutes)

Read more about Midge Marsden and The Breakaways, on AudioCulture (NZ On Screen's sister website)

This interview was recorded for the 2003 season of TV series Give it a Whirl. All audiovisual content is copyright to Visionary Film & TV, and may not be reproduced.
For some reason, New Zealanders seem to adopt roots music quite readily. We’ve been first in many aspects of alternative music over the period of like maybe 30 years. I don’t know why that is — maybe it’s our isolation...
– Midge Marsden