Upper Hutt-born singer Jon Stevens pulled off the remarkable feat of having consecutive number ones on the New Zealand Top 40 with his first two singles. 'Montego Bay' was the second (taking over from 'Jezebel' in January 1980). It was a cover of a one-off 1970 hit for American Bobby Bloom, written for the second largest city in Jamaica. The cut-out palm trees of the studio set were as close as Stevens and band got to the Caribbean. 'Montego Bay' stayed at the top of the chart for two weeks and was voted 'Single of the Year' at the New Zealand Music Awards.
Havoc and Newsboy took the malarky of their 90s youth show on the road in this 1999 series. This episode sees the pair talking intelligence. In Wellington they spy on Keith Quinn, simulate an earthquake and hang out outside Defence HQ with journalist Nicky Hager, to talk SIS surveillance and silver protective curtains. The intrepid duo follow Hager's leads to "the most secret place in New Zealand": the Waihopai intelligence base near Blenheim. “We went and did a dance, trespassed and left our masks on the front gate”. On the ferry en route, Newsboy pays homage to song 'Montego Bay'.
In 1979 Jon Stevens arrived from nowhere (actually Upper Hutt) to score the first of two consecutive number one singles: 'Jezebel' and 'Montego Bay'. Keen to develop a roster of local acts, Stevens' label CBS paired him with their first local signing, singer/songwriter Sharon O'Neill. The result was ballad 'Don't Let Love Go'. Stevens and O'Neill were both soon living in Australia, where Stevens formed rockers Noiseworks, and O'Neill got into extended contractual battles with the Australian arm of CBS.
Jon Stevens (brother of singer Frankie Stevens) was born in Upper Hutt in 1963 and worked at EMI's record pressing plant as a teen. His own recording career got off to a stellar start when his first two singles ('Jezebel' and 'Montego Bay') were consecutive number ones. After recording an album in LA he moved to Australia in 1981. Since then he has fronted Sydney rock band Noiseworks for six years, played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and replaced the late Michael Hutchence in INXS from 2000 to 2004.
In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.