JIMMY ELLYETT

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First published in December 2007, last updated June 2009

Photos & Memorabilia - Crescendos, Premiers, Dallas Four, Gugi Walker Quartet, Rhapsody, Auckland 60's and 70's Reunions

My mother played the piano when she was young, but didn't play at home while I was growing up.  I started playing the guitar when I was 13 and played with Roger Skinner while we were both still at school.  I recall paying 15 shillings for my first guitar! 

I started my toolmaking apprenticeship in 1958, and during this time I worked alongside Reece Rogers - who let me try out his electric guitar.  I thought it was great, and bought myself a Jansen guitar (I can't remember the model).  Reece and I formed a four piece band playing Shadows music.  I remember practising in his garage at Onehunga.  

I then joined up with the Crescendos.  I also recall buying an Auckland made tape echo unit from Lewis Eady's around this time.  It wasn't terribly reliable, and I had to make a few modifications to it. 

When I was about 20, I used to go to the Top 20 Club and the Shiralee, watching groups such as Max Merritt and the Meteors and Ray Columbus and the Invaders.  

When the Premiers were auditioning lead guitarists I decided to give it a try, and was lucky enough to be chosen.  Although we were pretty well paid at the time (30 pounds a week), we had to play live for 30 hours a week as well as find time to rehearse.  One friend I recall from those days is Glen Daisley, who worked behind the bar. 

When the Premiers disbanded at the end of 1965 I never played the guitar live again.  I joined up with the Dallas Four on keyboards, playing at the Platterack.  While I was with the Dallas Four we toured New Caledonia and Tahiti. 

I decided to try my luck in Australia, and joined up to play keyboards (an Echosonic organ) with Johnny O'Keefe, who was forming a four piece band (Gugi Walker Quartet) to tour the east coast.  We started in Cairns and travelled down the country as far as Tasmania.  To this day, I still have the tailored suit that was made in Sydney for this tour, by a tailor who was known as "the 3rd best tailor in the world".  Unfortunately it doesn't fit me any more! 

I came back to New Zealand in 1967/68, and joined up with Kevin Neems - once again playing keyboards.  We played together for 16 years. 

In the mid 80ís I joined Rhapsody and played with them for about 3 years.

I finally joined up with Bill Bacon, before 'retiring' in 1992. 

I still play the piano for my own enjoyment.

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