Singer-songwriter Greg Johnson made his recording debut in short-lived duo This Boy Rob, before forming his first band with the remnants of 80s synth-pop act Car Crash Set. A fixture on the early-90s Auckland club scene with lounge act Bluespeak, Johnson has recorded a string of albums in his own right. He is a five time APRA Silver Scroll finalist and winner of the 1997 songwriting award for 'Liberty'. Now based in Los Angeles, he returns to NZ regularly, where his performances have included the popular Cocktail Club concerts.
Greg Johnson — not to be confused with the Kiwi musician of the same name — began as a standup comic, then reinvented himself as one of the country’s busiest actors and voice artists. On-screen he has provided a distinctive take on the gruff Kiwi male over three years of Shortland Street, as a QC on Outrageous Fortune, and with an award-winning appearance on 90s series City Life. He also played the boarding house manager in big screen drama The Insatiable Moon.
Actor Greg Johnson began his career as a stand-up comedian. His first acting role was in the film The End of the Golden Weather. Since then, he has appeared in a wide range of TV shows, films and commercials, and is perhaps best known for roles in Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune and Go Girls. He has won two acting awards, for performances in TV series City Life, and 2010 movie The Insatiable Moon.
Inspired by the words of poet James K Baxter, ‘Let Time Be Still' was one of 12 songs recorded for 2000 tribute album Baxter. With help from studio whizz Joost Langeveld, Greg Johnson goes for a spare, percussive approach which puts the lyrics of Baxter's early love poem at front and centre. The video merges blue-washed images of Johnson in and around Jerusalem, with the long-haired, mokoed object of his affection. In 2010 the poem was given a more classical treatment by composer Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal.
Auckland troubadour Greg Johnson won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1997 with this moody, tortured love song from his fourth album (and first for a major label), Chinese Whispers. The elegant, uncluttered video was directed and edited by Jonathan King. The video was shot in the Auckland suburbs of Newmarket and Parnell. With a narrative straight out of Hitchcock, Johnson is cast as narrator — and both the victim and accomplice of a blonde femme fatale in what appears to be a murder ... with a mysterious handbag the only clue.
This cautionary tale about the perils of lost love comes from singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's third album Vine Street Stories (named for the address of the Auckland house where it was recorded). Director James Holt (a flatmate at the time) shot the clip on 35mm and gave it a rich, golden-hued setting of brocades, leathers, candles and curtains to showcase musicians including Pagan Records founder (and broadcaster) Trevor Reekie and Johnny Fleury (father of Zowie) on Chapman Stick. Boh Runga contributes vocals (around the time she formed her own band Stellar*).
Written and recorded in less than a day, Isabelle became Greg Johnson's biggest single to date, despite the fears of guitarist and label boss Trevor Reekie that a lack of drums limited its radio chances. The enigmatic lyrics — memory, cities under siege, a woman from Zagreb — are complimented by moody images of future Shortland Street actor Josephine Davison, and the band in obligatory sunglasses. Director James Holt now directs commercials around the globe.
The lyrics to Greg Johnson's ‘Looking out on Monday’ pay tribute to the satisfaction of sleeping in, and skiving off work; they also mention recognising that “failure is in your lover’s eyes”. Johnson's long time musical collaborator Ted Brown appears in the video as the friend who pops over to Greg's place (in Los Angeles?) to say hello. 'Looking Out on Monday' is taken from 2008's Seven Day Cure, which NZ Herald critic Russell Baillie called “one of the most fully realised Johnson albums yet”. The track was included in Dustin Hoffman / Emma Thompson romance Last Chance Harvey.
This music video features Greg Johnson sitting in front of a kaleidoscopic green screen, while the backdrop changes through green paddock to wavy blue, and everything in between. Alongside the Kiwi scenery, Johnson sings of a woman he is extremely keen to know better. The clip’s final shot reveals a different locale than expected. 'Cut to the Chase' is taken from 2000 album Sea Breeze Hotel, which NZ Herald writer Russell Baillie praised as expressive and wide-ranging.
These two clips provide a handy introduction to a Kiwi musical classic. The first clip sees John Rowles showing how he can hold the long notes, as he performs 'Cheryl Moana Marie' on a self-titled live special from 1976, made for state television. In the second clip — an excerpt from 2008 Buto Productions documentary The Secret Life of John Rowles — the singer recalls coming up with the chart-topping 1969 ballad, an array of Kiwi musicians provide their own take on it, and Rowles' sister talks about the ups and the downs of finding fame as a child, through someone else's song.