Former Dargaville High student Mark Williams began singing on TV's Free Ride while still a teen. Released in 1975, his self-titled debut album became one of the decade's biggest local sellers, thanks partly to number one single 'Yesterday Was Just the Beginning of My Life'. Tiring of hostile reaction to his androgynous look, Williams relocated to Australia in 1977. His next album made little impression there, but song ‘Show No Mercy’ later became a sports stadium classic. In 2005 he began singing for band Dragon.
With his soulful pop and sexually ambiguous image, Mark Williams was a sensation in 1975 as he topped the singles chart with 'Yesterday Was Just The Beginning Of My Life' and followed it with NZ's best selling pop/rock album of the decade. By 1979, he was based in Australia but he returned home to record this TVNZ special in a Wellington night club. The image is toned down but, backed by a seasoned band, Williams puts in an energetic and polished performance (which includes 'Yesterday' and his other number one 'It Doesn’t Matter Anymore').
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
This was the song that rocketed Mark Williams to fame, and the top of the New Zealand charts. The accompanying album became the biggest selling local pop/rock release of the 70s. Williams has described how Kiwis reacted to him with "either absolute adoration or absolute disgust". Having relocating to calmer climes in Australia, he returned to Wellington in 1981 and recorded a live TV special — from which this version is taken. On first hearing the demo, Williams was not impressed; but the song transformed after the call was made during recording to "swing it a bit".
Released in April 1977, 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' became Mark Williams' second number one single. The singer funks it up in bell-bottoms and afro, while circled by cameras on the set of long-running music show Ready to Roll. Abandoning the violins of the Buddy Holly/Paul Anka original in favour of percussion and horns, producer Alan Galbraith's arrangement demonstrates that breakup songs can be catchy indeed. By the end of 1977, Williams and Galbraith had decamped for Australia. Williams would ultimately take over vocals for Dragon.
For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."
Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.
Lew Pryme's life was a wild ride that took in everything from rock and roll to rugby before it was cut short by AIDS in 1990 (he was 51). This moving documentary interviews an ailing Pryme reflecting on his journey and (still secret) sexuality; it follows him from Waitara to becoming one of the most popular hip-swinging music stars of the 60s. He went on to manage singers Mark Williams, Rob Guest and Tina Cross; and in the early 80s he became the first executive director of Auckland Rugby Union, introducing cheerleaders and 'pizazz' to Eden Park.
This 1978 documentary casts a critical eye over a depressed NZ music industry, and asks what has changed since its 60s glory days of pop stars, screaming fans and C’mon. By the late 70s, few musicians are earning a living and chart hits have dwindled (although the recording industry is bullish). Ray Columbus waxes lyrical about ‘She’s a Mod’. Kevan Moore and Peter Sinclair are sanguine about TV’s role, a finger is pointed at radio airplay, and the careers of Craig Scott, Mark Williams, Sharon O’Neill and John Rowles are considered. The only thing not in short supply is blame.
Paul Holmes presents this episode of the show which honours and embarrasses famous people: this time the star is singer Rob Guest. The episode was made in 1998, at the height of Guest's career in Australasian musical theatre. It features excerpts from Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and appearances by musical colleagues, friends and family. Guest is good-humoured throughout; he gives a gracious speech and performs an impromptu song after the closing credits. Rob Guest passed away after suffering a stroke in October 2008.