In the 1970s Kiwi music was making more impact, and artists’ confidence was increasing with more self-penned tracks. In May 1975, the Official NZ Top 40 Music Chart – based on a weekly survey of music sales – was introduced. Every local number one song from the 70s is represented in this Spotlight. There’s a nice little extra on John Rowles’ ‘Cheryl Moana Marie’, a snippet of John Hanlon’s ‘Lovely Lady’, and The Fourmyula perform ‘Nature’ for only the second time in New Zealand. There’s also a 1998 interview with Craig Scott, including a taste of 1970 chart-topper ‘Star Crossed Lovers’.
“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.
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.
Craig Scott quickly rose to fame as a New Zealand pop sensation, before retiring in the mid 70s to the great disappointment of his fans. In this 1998 Breakfast interview he spends time before the cameras on his favourite golf course, describing life before and after stardom. Then working in video for Warner Brothers, he discusses the perks of being a star, and life after fame. The interview features excerpts of his number one hit "Star Crossed Lovers". Reporter Lucy Hockings moved the following year to the UK, where she became a producer and presenter on BBC World News.
Captured on a single camera, Wellington band Hogsnort Rupert perform their number one hit 'Pretty Girl'. That their performance is interspersed with Christmas footage rather than anything more appropriate to its subject matter suggests that this clip was made for an end-of-year show acknowledging the song's status as New Zealand's biggest-selling single in 1970. It also won that year's Loxene Golden Disc Award. And, of course, it offers a chance for viewers to see the late Alec Wishart performing his immortal line "Come on, my lover. Give us a kiss."
“Do you love me Pinocchio, tell me lies and your nose will grow”. This musical riff on love, trust and honesty was a hit for singer Maria Dallas in 1970. Originally there were no plans for it to be released as a single; it became hugely popular after Dallas performed it on music talent show Studio One. Here she revisits the song 15 years later, as part of a 1985 variety show at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre. The concert was a celebration of the first 25 years of television in New Zealand, including the musical artists who had made their mark on screen over the years.
'L'Amour est l'Enfant de la Liberte' became a major 70s smash after it won television talent quest Studio One. Composed by Shade Smith, and sung by his twin brother Gerard, it topped the charts for six weeks in 1971, and became a fixture on Kiwi radio and TV. Sales of over 30,000 copies made it one of the biggest selling local songs of the era. Here, the band revisit freedom’s love child 14 years after birth, with a short rendition for a variety show at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre. The show was made to mark 25 years of television in New Zealand.
“Watch out young love!”. Even in black and white, Alastair Riddell’s pouting David Bowie riff brought a shock of rock'n'roll verve to the ‘New Faces’ talent section of Studio One — a popular TV show more used to singing families and novelty acts. The judges were mostly bemused by the glam rock onslaught and only grudgingly allowed Alastair Riddell's band to get through to the finals (where they buried them). But rock fans took notice of the x-factor and EMI quickly signed the band. Within weeks 'Out on the Street' had become the first local chart topper in three years.
This short clip marks the only known footage of John Hanlon performing his biggest hit 'Lovely Lady', via NZBC talent competition Studio One. The song ended up placing second, but went on to spend 20 weeks in the NZ charts. It reached number one, and won the 1974 APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award. Despite his immense success — he won another Silver Scroll the following year, and earned multiple RATA awards — Hanlon has faded somewhat from New Zealand’s cultural consciousness, since concentrating from 1978 on a career in advertising.
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.
By 1978 UK chart success and an extended club residence in Hawaii were behind John Rowles; he was broke and looking for a hit. His earlier smash 'Cheryl Moana Marie' had been named after two of his sisters. For his comeback Rowles reprised the gesture, penning a song to sister Tania. The single topped the New Zealand charts for four weeks. This clip sees him donning a green suit to mime 'Tania' for local music show Ready to Roll. His 1978 album This is My Life did well on both sides of the Tasman, priming a 20 year stint in Australia performing on the Leagues club circuit.
Jon Stevens performs the song that turned him into an overnight pop star. 'Jezebel', written by little known UK songwriter Edwin Howell, was his debut single. It spent five weeks at number one, knocking Michael Jackson's 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' from the top slot to get there. This performance is introduced by TV presenter Roger Gascoigne and features a guest appearance from a disembodied saxophone. But the real showstoppers are Stevens' trousers which appear to have been sprayed on and, surely set more than a few fans' hearts aflutter.