BILL SEVISI (R.I.P.)

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First published April 2016

Kiwi music legend Bill Sevesi passed away on 23rd April 2016, aged 92.  The Tongan-born songwriter and steel guitarist composed more than 200 songs over his career which spanned six decades and he helped to popularise Hawaiian style music in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.  Bill was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Read an NZ Herald article about Bill's musical life here

 TRIBUTES

The Late Bill Wolfgramm took me to Bill Sevisi's recording studio way back in the late 60's/70's.  From memory it was in a Garage (I think) I found Bill Sevisi a really nice person.  Now he's gone to visit and play with my dear friend Bill W, who I've known all my life as he was a friend of my late Father who worked at Lewis Eady's on the Musical Instruments counter.  Very sad time of late eh?  Thinking of Bill and his Family and friends. - Errol Timbers
So long old friend, some of the greatest years of my life was with you and the Jesters (Will Jess and the Jesters was the name of the band for recording) God Bless. - Ronnie Sundin
Just currently on tour with my Private Conversations show...and I just want to honour a superb man...with such a wonderful love of his music and people ..this was Bill Sevesi.  May he rest in peace - Gray Bartlett MBE
I was saddened to hear this.  Didn't know him personally but as a lad I often went to the old Orange ballroom where Bill Sevisi sometimes called his band Will Jess and the Jesters.  They backed Ronnie Sundin who was one of our first pop stars.  RIP Bill. - Ian Saxon
Sincere condolences to the family of this great musician & music pioneer.  Used to watch him at the Orange in the early sixties playing his great Island music.  A true N.Z. music legend.  R.I.P. Bill. - Ray & Chrissy Woolf
Another legend musician gone.  R.I.P. Bill.  I worked with him too.  You will be missed by us older musos who had the pleasure of working with you. - Patrick Harrison
Condolences to Billís wife, family and friends and also my friend Ronnie Sundin who recorded some awesome hit records back in the late 50ís under Billís fabulous backing.  I have a lot of Billís music I air on my radio station in Rotorua, Radio Cindy 107.7FM. RIP Bill. - Ray Tombs
A sad day but perhaps somewhat anticipated as Bill was a fair age.  I first came across Bill when as Freddie Keil and the Kavaliers we worked at the Orange Ballroom in Newton Rd [we did Thursday nights].  Bill had the main band there for years and it was his venue where his band with many great players passing through reigned supreme for a large part of the 60's.  Bill had a number of band names "Will Jess and the Jesters", "Bill Sevisi and his Islanders" were the main ones I recall.  He was a talented musician playing Hawaiian steel, electric guitar and ukulele with great style.  But, most of all I remember Bill with his soft island accent and his gentle way of speaking being a great band leader and a beautiful man.  RIP Bill Sevisi a true icon of NZ music for so many years. - Bill Belton
Farewell Bill.  A true legend of New Zealand music.  Rest easy. - Alan Galbraith
(email me your tribute to Bill and I'll add it in - andy@nzmusos.co.nz)

 

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