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.
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.
'The White Rabbit' was two minutes of surf guitar meets country music that made Peter Posa a household name in the 1960s, and led to encounters in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In May 1984 Posa got out his golden guitar and performed the beloved guitar instrumental to an enthusiastic audience, on TV show That’s Country. In 2012 he told Stuff’s Vicki Anderson: "It was heaven to play at the Christchurch Town Hall. The better the acoustics the better you play." Posa had a late career resurgence in 2012 when a 'best of' album debuted atop the Kiwi album charts.
In the 1980s country and western music was a big part of the Kiwi music landscape, and arguably its best-loved star was Patsy Riggir. 'Beautiful Lady', from 1983 album Are You Lonely, was a song she wrote herself (unusual in a genre then heavy on covers). It won Most Popular Song at the 1983 NZ Music Awards, where Riggir was named Composer of the Year, and was a finalist in the APRA Silver Scroll Awards. This performance is from a 1985 variety gala celebrating 25 years of television in New Zealand. The following year Riggir would front six-part TV series Patsy Riggir Country.
The 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games were a huge event for New Zealand, and for local television (they helped launch colour telly). The Games needed a song; young performer Steve Allen was commissioned to provide it, after winning a 1973 contest on music show Studio One. The catchy song became synonymous with the event, and a huge hit; later it was reprised to promote the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Here Allen performs the song at a 1985 gala celebrating 25 years of Kiwi television: belting out the "peace and love" message, backed by a large choir and orchestra.
Sharon O'Neill performs her first single 'Luck's on Your Table' on this television clip from 1978. O'Neill's composition was the one that won over the New Zealand arm of CBS Records, who signed her as their first local act the same year. By the time O'Neill appeared on this Ready to Roll awards special, she'd already gained experience before the television cameras, miming cover versions of overseas hits for Ready to Roll. This time O'Neill performs amidst assembled plants at Avalon TV studios, with a flower in her hair. O'Neill's debut album This Heart This Song emerged the following year.
Longtime country music collaborators Brendan Dugan and Jodi Vaughan covered American singer Townes Van Zandt's ‘If I Needed You’ on a 1982 single. Here they perform the song for a 1985 variety show celebrating the 25th anniversary of television in New Zealand. Vaughan shows no signs of vocal chord surgery she had undergone months earlier. The duo had recently decided to go it alone after success on — and Dugan's high profile departure from — TV show That’s Country. Dugan was named Entertainer of the Year by the NZ Entertainment Operators’ Association in 1985.
Featured here are two performances of 'Nothing But Dreams' by Tina Cross. The first sees Cross in sequins at the 1979 Pacific Song Contest, in front of a global television audience estimated at 50 million. Cross was 20; she'd first sung on TV at age 16. Carl Doy's composition took away the top prize for Best Song, against entries from six other countries. The second clip is from a 1985 Michael Fowler Centre special, celebrating 25 years of television in New Zealand. By now Cross was in new wave duo Koo De Tah. That year they scored an Australian Top 10 hit with 'Too Young for Promises'.
“Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly…” In 1970 a musical paean to getting your nature buzz topped the charts. ‘Nature’, by The Fourmyula, became a Kiwi classic: in 2001 an APRA poll voted it the best local song of the past 75 years. This 2010 Close Up report, from Auckland’s Montecristo Room, sees presenter Mark Sainsbury introduce the band's second performance of 'Nature' in Aotearoa (the band were overseas when it topped the charts). He quizzes composer Wayne Mason, and drummer Chris Parry recalls encountering The Clash while working in the English music scene.
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'.