BRIAN BUSHBY's MEMORIES

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Written in September 2009, first published May 2010

Memories From The Sixties and Early Seventies 

What an absolutely wonderful period to be involved in the field of music and dance.  Probably unsurpassed by any period either before or since for its creativity, colour, diversity, intensity, enthusiasm and gaiety.  It seemed as if every suburb in every city and every small town and every village in New Zealand spawned its own rock and pop bands.  New dances were devised almost bi-monthly and clothing designs and hairstyles constantly went through many changes; often outlandish but always driven by whim and fun.  Girls particularly were incredibly attractive and vibrant.  Those of us who were there certainly remember the Go-Go girls and the Hippie maidens with a very deep fondness.  Oh, if only we could go back to those days, even for just one fleeting month. 

When I was twelve or thirteen in '60 or '61 I heard an instrumental tune on the radio by a relatively new band called 'The Shadows'.  The tune was 'Apache' and immediately turned my then casual interest in music into a much more serious pastime.  A short while later I saw a picture of The Shadows in a magazine and was infatuated by their image and especially their red Fender guitars.  I had not seen such amazing looking guitars before.  Hank Marvin in particular became iconic in my mind and I instantly got the feeling that music (especially guitar-driven music) was now a passion.  From this defining moment until the present day I have enjoyed a lifetime of incredible pleasure from music of all kinds.  I personally owe a great deal to Hank Marvin as I know also do many thousands of other guitarists and music followers world-wide from these days including numerous famous names. 

Some friends and I, namely Kerry Willard, John Tekira and Paul Brunton from the Paremata and Porirua localities of Wellington City formed a band in 1967 which was firstly called 'No Thoroughfare' and later became 'The Latter Rain'.  We played popular music which was rhythm and blues based and also penned many of our own tunes.  Self-written music was not very common amongst New Zealand bands in the middle sixties but as musicians we always gained more pleasure from watching the public enjoying our own tunes than we did from covers.  Self-penned music became increasingly popular though upon the obvious ever-expanding successes of The Beatles. 

The Latter Rain played at many local events and venues but one type of event which we especially enjoyed was the trend for 'Jamboree' evenings where up to five different bands would share the stage during the course of the night.  Some of the groups whose names have long since become just pleasant memories were 'Jason Tory', Mike and The Beavers', 'The Spyce Of Lyfe', 'Mellow Rage', 'The Overnight Thing', The St Louis Blues Movement', 'The Dedicated Four', 'The Strange Treat'. 'The Soul sect' and 'Mothers Worry'. 

Many of these 'Jamborees' took place at suburban venues such as The Porirua Community Hall and the 'Upper Hutt Town Hall' rather than notable music and dance establishments of the time such as 'The Place', 'The Catacombs', 'Ali Babas', 'The Oracle', 'The Psychedelic Id', 'Clares Cabaret', 'The Empress Ballroom' 'The Sheridan', 'Danceland' and 'The Downtown Club' amongst numerous others.  The drink available at the 'Jamborees' was orange juice or Coca-Cola as legislation disallowed alcoholic beverages being offered and licenses to do so were all but impossible to obtain.  The fact that alcohol was unavailable did not in any way though impair the dance-goers abilities to enjoy themselves. 

One of the main difficulties of the period was securing a reasonable standard of premises in which to perform band practice sessions.  Somewhere where the band could sound dreadful or make mistakes away from the ears of the public while selecting and learning new material.  The 'Latter Rain' owes a great deal of thanks to both the Paremata and Plimmerton Boating Clubs and the Paremata-Plimmerton Rugby Club for allowing the use of their premises for practice purposes. 

One unexpectedly enjoyable modern trend that took place was the invitation from some local Churches to permit pop bands to entertain the youth congregation (often accompanied by their parents) inside the Church on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.  We would carry out arrangements of known religious songs to the melodies of recent and current top-ten hit tunes.  These occasions were attended by very large groups of youngsters and adults and quickly became enormously popular.  We would see Scout, Cub and Girl Guide groups as well as sports teams and many other representatives from community supported activities. 

Playing in a band in the sixties and early seventies was an extraordinary pleasure during an extraordinary time in history.  The world youth finally had their own music; their own fashions, their own ideals, their own financial means from jobs and of great importance, their own cars for immediate transport in order to go wherever whenever. 

Thank you so very sincerely from the deepest feelings of my soul to Hank Marvin, The Shadows, my fellow members in the Latter Rain and to each and every participant in the Wellington and New Zealand music industry all those years ago for contributing to the promotion of one of life's most precious gifts and during the greatest of musical times.

Brian Bushby

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