This popular C4 series counted down 100 moments in New Zealand music history, scouring the archives en route to number one. Taken from episode three, this musical moment covers the time bands Hello Sailor and Dragon shared digs. Musos Graham Brazier and Todd Hunter, alongside music writer John Dix (Stranded in Paradise), provide the goss on the early 70s 'Ponsonby Rock' scene revolving around Mandrax Mansion — where members of the bands lived, played and partied hard. Brazier quotes lyrics from an unrecorded song about the then working class suburb.
This consolidating episode of the archive-based New Zealand history series finds World War II at an end, the return of Kiwi servicemen and the country in an optimistic mood. That's sealed by the 1950 British Empire Games where New Zealand is third on the medal table. But rising prices and low incomes lead to more militant unionism, culminating in the fractious waterfront workers dispute of 1951. At the same time there's a new flowering of the arts. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is established and a new generation of writers and artists take centre stage.
In this short report for a 1990 edition of Holmes, Dylan Taite rocks back the clock to talk to New Zealand music pioneer Johnny Cooper. John Dix’s recently published history of NZ rock’n’roll Stranded in Paradise had resurrected interest in Cooper, the Wairoa-spawned singer who gained notice with a Bill Haley cover, then gave NZ its first homegrown rock’n’roll song with his tale of a Whanganui pie cart, 'Pie Cart Rock'n'Roll'. Aptly, Taite interviews Cooper at a Queen St cart where Cooper unslings his guitar once more: “Let’s rock and roll around the old pie cart!”
Tom Sharplin was the face of rock'n'roll revival in 1970s and 80s New Zealand. In 1980 his group won Group of the Year, and soon after they featured in popular TV show Rock Around the Clock. Here, for the finale of a gala to celebrate 25 years of Kiwi television, he performs rock classic 'Rip it Up' (first made famous via Little Richard, and later inspiration for the name of the NZ music mag). "Shag it on down to the union hall" run the lyrics; Sharplin — with help from Ray Columbus, Ray Woolf and many more — swings his hips and rips, shakes, rocks and rolls up the Michael Fowler Centre.
Head Like A Hole (aka HLAH) were a clap of heavy metal thunder over the jangly chords of the early 90s New Zealand music scene. Known for unhinged, "apeshit" live shows and outrageous clothing-optional antics, their flame died out amidst drugs and acrimony before a 21st Century reformation. This all-access passion project from director Julian Boshier was a decade in the making, tagging along with Nigel 'Booga' Beazley (and partner Tamzin), Nigel Regan et al, as the still rocking members of this distinctive Kiwi rock’n’roll family enter middle age: spats, moshing n’all.
The golden age of rock is recaptured in a studio mock-up of the Wellington Rock 'n' Roll Revival Club. Hosted by Paul Holmes (under the name Wonderful Wally Watson), the show features Tom Sharplin and his band. Dalvanius Prime also puts in an appearance, delivering a wonderful version of 'The Great Pretender'. The show mixes studio and location sequences, as it delivers hits made famous by the likes of 50s legends Bill Haley and Chuck Berry. Actors Marshall Napier and Brian Sergent are on hand to play a couple of bodgies, referencing the milk-bar cowboys of the era.
In the 1960s Mr Lee Grant topped the Kiwi music charts, and won a trail of screaming fans. He left to pursue an acting and singing career in England (including a close encounter with a propeller, in 007 film A View to a Kill). In this Michael Fowler Centre gala celebrating 25 years of television downunder, he returns to contribute an energetic cover of Spencer Davis Group classic 'Gimme Some Lovin'' (which was originally composed in less than an hour). Chicks Judy and Sue Donaldson — regular fixtures with Grant on 60s music show C'mon — join the fun in C'mon-style costumes.
In April 1984 Billy Idol visited New Zealand to promote his second (and most successful) solo album Rebel Yell. Interviewed by Radio with Pictures legend Karyn Hay, he answers her call for a closing rebel yell, talks about the origins of his name and early hit 'White Wedding'; argues he appeals to the intelligence of his audience; criticises racism towards the United States, a country full of "ordinary people who struggle everyday"; and argues that confidence and "a pretty heavy attitude" are key to survival in a music industry that is more concerned with money than art.
Award-winning web series High Road follows the travails of Terry Huffer (Mark Mitchinson), an ex-rocker washed up in Piha where he DJs from a caravan. This third season opener heads back in time to London, to tell Huffer’s origin story: tracking a big night at a pub and what follows — a confrontation with his Oscar-winning sister, actor Emma Thompson (played by Emma Thompson), and her actor husband Greg Wise (playing Greg Wise). A fed up Thompson drops some choice swear words, compares her brother to Keith Richards, and exports him to New Zealand to sort himself out.
Fresh off roughly a decade of performing overseas, legendary Kiwi rock'n'roller Johnny Devlin sits down with The South Tonight's Spencer Jolly to talk about his Rock Revival tour of NZ. He recounts stories of past tours, where fans ripped shirts off his back, and notes his 1972 tour has also had its moments — some of the entourage were injured on last night's concert. Devlin seems in two minds about continuing touring: he talks about retiring from it if promoters won't pay for his family to join him. Devlin would still be performing when he toured with Ray Columbus in 2006, 34 years later.