As part of a 25 Years of Television in New Zealand concert, Kiwi country music great John Grenell returns to his 1964 single ‘Streets of Laredo’. The classic cowboy song has inspired cover versions, parodies and reinventions over more than a century. Grenell dedicates this 1985 performance to “the late and the great Mr Tex Morton” — the Kiwi showman and country music star had passed away two years earlier. Grenell himself was taking an extended layoff from recording; three years later he released album Silver, followed by his beloved version of 'Welcome to Our World'.
Toyota launched its classic Welcome to Our World campaign in late 1989, to support the company's sponsorship of the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the Sesqui 1990 festival. This version was put together for the 1995 America’s Cup and Rugby World Cup. But there is minimum product placement in the heart-warming montage of Aotearoa landscapes and people, set to country singer John Grenell’s baritone take on the Jim Reeves song. The Geoff Dixon-directed campaign ran for a decade; the song topped the Kiwi charts when it was released in early 1990.
The three day Nambassa Festival, held on a Waihi farm in 1979, is the subject of this documentary. Attended by 60,000 people, it represented a high tide mark in Aotearoa for the Woodstock vision of a music festival as a counterculture celebration of music, crafts, alternative lifestyles and all things hippy. Performers include a frenzied Split Enz, The Plague (wearing paint), Limbs dancers, a yodelling John Hore-Grenell and prog rockers Schtung. The only downers are overzealous policing, and weather which discourages too much communing with nature after the first day.
This live TV spectacular documents an 18 October 1981 Royal Variety performance in front of the touring Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh. Performers in St James Theatre included Ray Columbus (in That's Country mode), Sir Howard Morrison and John Rowles. Dance is represented by Limbs and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, while McPhail and Gadsby and Billy T James deliver pre-PC gags. There’s a show stopping all-singing all-dancing finale, and what seems like the entire roster of NZ showbiz of the time lines up to greet the Queen, including Lyn of Tawa.
Howard Morrison gets the surprise of his life in this emotional reunion of his showbiz friends and whānau. Veteran This Is Your Life presenter Bob Parker consults his big red book to revisit all of Morrison's major career milestones. Known as 'The Sinatra of New Zealand' and 'Ol' Brown Eyes', Morrison was a New Zealand entertainment icon. The show brings back his first singing teacher, his Mum, Kahu, his sisters and many friends from the industry. The show is a roll call of major NZ entertainment figures who come to pay tribute to 'Mr Entertainment'.
TVNZ ventured back into country music for the first time since That’s Country with this short series presented by actor and musician Andy Anderson. Very much a down home cousin to its big budget predecessor, it eschewed glitz and glamour to focus firmly on live studio performances (with no retakes allowed). Music director Dave Fraser presided over a crack resident band and guest performers included Midge Marsden, Beaver, Dalvanius, Suzanne, Sonny Day, Hammond Gamble, Brendan Dougan and John Grenell. Five episodes were produced but only four broadcast.
Punk rock was breaking and musical styles changing, but in New Zealand country music was appointment viewing at 7pm on Saturday. That's Country ran from 1980 to 1984. Hosted by one-time pop singer Ray Columbus, the show featured both local and international talent including Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggir, Emmylou Harris and George Hamilton IV. An American offer to buy the show and install a US presenter were resisted. Instead the show was sold to a Nashville cable TV network, in a New Zealand first; That's Country soon had an audience of 30 million in the States.
Geoff Dixon began making commercials in the 70s — the decade he launched legendary ad company Silverscreen Productions, whose clients included Cadbury, Toyota, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. Ranging across New Zealand and beyond, his work includes iconic images of South Island back roads, Barry Crump crashing utes through the bush, and Michael Hurst singing a war cry for the Kiwi bloke.
Malcolm Kemp's expertise at covering live events took him from New Zealand to the sports department of the BBC. The one time head of entertainment at TVNZ masterminded TV coverage of concerts, Top Town competitions, elections, World Expo and the Commonwealth Games.