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First published in February 2009, last updated April 2010
Peter can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Peter's website at www.ready2rollmusic.com
Peter's Top 10 Star Picks of the 60's and 70's
Howdy and KiaOra!
Peter Grattan here, now based in Florida with plenty of spare time, I thought I'd salute a few of my musical buddies and share some memories... an eternal beach boy and a kiwi forever, I was born in 1951 near Liverpool, never knew The Beatles but after a year in Egypt and getting caught up in the Suez Crisis where my Dad was Nasser's prisoner for 4 months we moved to NZ in 1957, probably on the same boat that dropped the Bee Gees off in Sydney. My mother was an amazing pianist in the style of Nancy Harrie or Crombie Murdoch. She had taught the Queen to drive huge K2 ambulances in WW2... I have a royal pic of Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor and Sergeant Woods... like Phil Collins, I have to thank her for being a driving force, both musical and supportive.
I started music at St Peters in Cambridge, in a brilliant choir and playing classics on piano. But then came Ringo and my love of Drums. Certainly no Buddy Rich, I was drummer/singer with The Clan, Marble Arch, Green and Yellow, Motivation, Apparition, Disraeli Gears, Peter Posa, First Impression, Charlie Brown, Jolly Roger, PG and The Hot Tips and entertained many thousands of kiwis. These bands were all 'legends in their own lunchtimes' but what a great bunch of guys!
My first 'drumming gig' was at Oratia School with the orchestra in 1963 aged 12, on home made bongos playing Blame It On The Bossa Nova. When my folks moved to Whangarei I had to go too. So at Whangarei Boys High in 1966 four kids formed Cliff and The Clan... for a shy, gangly teen, music was a real confidence builder; a chance to forget school, to get out and rock! Billy T was there, and Reg Ruka who loaned us his bass amp if I'd do his French homework! We had trusting, supportive parents who made us matching tartan trousers... Cliff Andrews was 16, owned a Jansen Invader and looked like a teen idol, Gary Williams on Teisco bass sang like John Rowles, Johnny Calder had a huge Maton Capri and was the girls' fave... what a time to be 14... and the music was awesome; Friday On My Mind, Good Vibrations, Summer In The City..... we soon became the hottest band in town. My heroes back in '66 were Nooky Stott, (I sneaked in and saw The Rebels rehearsing at Whangarei Town Hall for The Impact Show... that was the end of my A's in Latin and French!) and Brett Neilsen, (we backed Maria Dallas on a show with The LaDes at the A and P Hall, loved his Rogers kit!). The Clan guys still play and my oldest music mate Johnny is now John Lee Calder, a top jazz bassist singer in Sydney, check out his CDs.
But I must mention Harry Mann who played in Whangarei with a beautiful Ludwig Ringo kit he'd let me use. I played on with my 20 pound Olympics until I moved back to Auckland and bought the exact set from Kingsley Smith for 180 pounds, 10 weeks salary for my dad! But Harry was a real inspiration. The Clan used to open for his band at Club 46 and The Sky Lounge, some weeks as a 5th former I'd earn as much playing as my Dad who was manager for Goodyear!
But in early '67 Dad was transferred back to Auckland, that was the place to be, Radio Hauraki would soon be on air and staying at school was not an option. In early '67, Mum had the job of running her 15 year old son to auditions with Ray Woolf and The Fairsect, both gigs I was offered but couldn't do without a car! I lucked out on a day job, joined Harry M Miller (my Mom knew his Mom) and toured with The Animals, DDDBMT etc., then Pitney, Bassey, Shelley Berman, Who and Small Faces.
Then I turned 17! During this time I played with Marble Arch and the incredibly gifted Paul Hewson, first guy I knew to write his own stuff, I went on to join The Green and Yellow who beat 50 Auckland bands to win the 1967 "Battles", they got conned out of the prize, a trip to London, when the Australian promoter disappeared. The contest was re-run in Wellington and The Fourmyula went to Abbey Road instead! The Green and Yellow were back in '69, winning the Auckland Battle AGAIN, stupidly signed a management contract with Dave Dunningham prior to the 69 National Final so of course Benny Levin wasn't going to pick us as winners... The Cellophane from Wellington won, we were second but beat ChCh's Revival with the stunning Eddie Hansen on guitar. They were the best band by far! When Green and Yellow split I filled in with The Apparition and Disraeli Gears, two hot young North Shore bands, then had a spell with Roger Skinner.
My mom knew Peter Posa's mom so we met up and I became his drummer, we did the Salem album Guitar Pops; took a year in Lew Smith's home studio in Henderson, I think Pete took four months waving through the glass from the control room, getting the snare sound he wanted! Although plagued by back pain from a recent car accident, Posa was a genius, a perfectionist who recorded dozens of band tracks before he picked the 14 songs for the album; Beatles, Creedence songs etc., with Bob Wynyard on guitar, Len Whittle keys, and Kev Haynes on bass. Try and find this gem... boy, did I learn a lot from those guys about recording, listening and playing simple.
I landed a day job as Stock Controller with Pye RCA Records in 1970, ordering all the pressings from Waihi, Rob Guest was in the warehouse, I quit to tour The Pacific with Posa and Robin Ruakere. Posa was like Elvis in Fiji and Noumea. We rode a Dakota to Vila in The New Hebrides with passengers strap hanging and boxes of chickens in the aisle. Posa and I put a duo together in Australia with Peter Skerrett on bass, three Peters in a band is rare! On my return to NZ I became a sound engineer for Eldred at Zodiac, did a lot of jingles with Mr Sloggett and rejoined The Arch, did some rockin' at Grannys and the first ever outdoor rock fest at Redwood Park with Robin Gibb. Then headed to Australia again to play in a very unhappy ANZAC Show Band up and down the coast, 'travellin' in a fried out Combi.' Tony Williams sent Andie, (a Stevie Nicks type singer and my first love,) and I to play in Darwin but after a week we had to get out quick as the club owners were embroiled in some dodgy drug dealings. Andie and I hitch hiked back to Melbourne, 3500 miles and 3 weeks later we got back to Melbourne and headed for NZ and a residency with First Impression for 3 years, 7 nights a week at Auckland's Travelodge.
Then came 1975 and I was one of those who had to choose whether to go the route of 'serious' players like Streettalk, Hello Sailor and Dragon etc. or get a 'proper job' so I joined TVNZ. (Mum spotted the ad for staff in The Herald!) 300 applied, three of us were picked. TV2 launched with that first great Telethon, remember Split Enz and "Maybe"? Later I devised and launched Radio With Pictures, produced Here's Andy, took time off to take my trio Jolly Roger on two world cruises for CTC Lines. I came back and directed a new RadPix with Dr Rock, bought The Foundry Cabaret with two friends, hired Jimmy and The Jets as house band while I deejayed, got married for the first time to Helen who worked for Polygram, we met at Split Enz launch party for True Colours.
Then after a year in TVNZ Sports working with the illustrious Grahame Thorne, and directing horse races with Glynn Tucker and Phil Leishman I was given the task of creating a new pop show for the 80s. So I produced Shazam! for four years, formed PG and The Hot Tips with Gary Bayer and Viv McCarthy of The Rebels, my all time favourite guitarist and bass player! We found time to tour with Dick Emery, play Telethons and record three PG and The Hot Tips singles on the CBS label in the mid 80s, (plus one on Reaction with Liam Ryan on keys) and buy a Waihi beach house out of the band fund! We played in Fiji and got caught in the '82 hurricane, which gave me a taste of what I'd be in for when I moved to Florida 20 years later. Working onstage with all of the above mentioned, plus Kevin Fury, Dave Jordan, Murray Duncan, Rex Smith and John Walmsley and many others has been a thrill.
I cherish those Shazam! days of producing vids for the kiwi icons from Dobbyn to Fagan to The Exponents and The Cats, initiating a televised Battle of The Bands which brought us Jackie Clark and Peking Man, and High School music video contests. Working with Phillip Schofield was an honour, debuting Russell (Le Roq) Crowe on TV was interesting and producing the Enz With A Bang specials was unforgettable. Go Neil! Phillip left Shazam! for London and superstardom, I hired the lovely Pip Dann who later married the amazingly talented Brent Hansen.
In 1986 I married for the second time; Julie was a Miss Auckland, runner up Miss NZ. She'd also been a runner up Miss NZ Universe so, like me in The Green and Yellow, she had experienced the disappointment of almost winning twice! I got over to London and backstage at Live Aid to film for Shazam! and in '86 was granted two years leave from TVNZ so we left for London, a 3 month trip around Europe and then directing at The BBC and Thames TV, producing Star Search, Sale of the Century and the Live from London / NZ House Telethon links where I finally met up with "Mr Lee Grant". Bogdan "Bog" Kominowski has become like the older brother I never had and he is singing better than ever! Bog was asked to succeed Ozzie in Sabbath but said no, I've heard his tapes with Iommi and the guys. He was also offered the gig with The Hollies for their 40th Anniversary World tour. Check Bog out on You Tube, not just singing, but being lifted and thrown by Grace Jones in View To A Kill.
In 1989 I was hired as TVNZ Head of Entertainment, overseeing 600 hours of TV across two channels with a $15 million annual budget. Not happy times with Julie preferring to stay in London, TVNZ down-sizing etc., so after three years I left for Washington DC. I married again in The Caymans to Helen, a kiwi who headed National Geographic's International Division. I set up a business buying and selling vintage drums and got to play with some awesome musos like guitarist Danny Gatton, Ronnie Johnson (Van Morrison) and Raff Ravenscroft (the sax man in Baker Street.) I was drumming in 10 piece horn bands playing Motown with the best, plus gigs at top Washington area venues and embassies, visit www.washbest.com. Back in London in the late '90s I worked with Mick Fleetwood, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Canal+ on various projects and recorded a CD of original songs.
I returned to NZ in 2001 and bought a home on Ruby Bay near Nelson where I organized the Mapua MusicFests and an Akaroa JazzFest. I tried to set up a NZ Music Hall of Fame and am glad someone has managed to get it going, I launched a Music and Arts trust in Nelson but decided to head back to the USA and make the most of my Green Card.
I now live and play guitar and keys in SW Florida www.ready2rollmusic.com. Plenty of country club gigs here, huge communities of hundreds of homes full of baby boomers and those a few years older! They love the music I like to play. I literally 'had a ball' recently, playing in Washington DC as part of a 10 piece band to 2,000 people for one of The Presidential Inaugural Balls. Obama is here in town tomorrow and we all hope he can turn things around for the good of all.
As we head into 2009 it is amazing to look back and realize how so much has changed yet so much has remained the same... music keeps you young and for me it is as much a thrill to play a Beatles song today as it was in '66. Thanks for reading a rambling summary of what one baby boomer did with 45 years of his life, and thanks to our loving partners, I now realize how understanding our wives must be to tolerate husbands who choose to bang drums, strum guitars or tickle ivories!
I'd love to hear from any old 'waiata warriors' and invite you to visit Florida, you're always welcome, there are plenty of beach bars to jam in and we have a little beach place available here, www.vacationrentals.com#13896. C'mon over!
I hope this inspires a few of you to add to Andy's wonderful site and keep the musical memories alive!
Peter G Grattan
THE LA DE DAS: Cliff and The Clan, our Whangarei band, was in awe of them, had tartan trousers just like there's! We played support and backed Maria Dallas for the Loxene Gold Disc Show. A one hour rehearsal for Maria and we were playing Tumblin Down and 5 other country classics with The La des watching offstage. We were in awe of Bruce's Ekosonic organ, and Brett Neilsen had the biggest.... ride cymbal I've ever seen, I hit it and it hurt my wrist! But what a buzz getting to play his red onyx Rogers kit. We lost Phil way too young and now Trevor has gone but Bruce, Brett and Borich are rockin' on!
THE FOURMYULA: Our Wellingtonian nemesis, The Green and Yellow won the 1967 Battle of The Bands fair and square against 49 other bands in a 24 hour Auckland Town Hall marathon. But the next day the promoter skipped back to Sydney with a bundle of cash and leaving a pile of debts with no promised boat trip to London. So Mcdonald and Cooper took over and ran the event in Wellington, inviting us to drive down and re-compete. A long Vauxhall Velox trip to play against hot bands in their hometown? No way said our singer Rex Smith! The Fourmyula won and deservedly went on to fame, giving us NZ's finest song, 'Nature'.
LARRY'S REBELS: Supporting the Rebs at Okara Park. Lew Pryme stealing my little green Beatle cap! Roaring round Whangarei in Johnny Calder's Morry 1000, Morris and Hugh Lynn plus beers in the back seat, too scared to tell Larry to stop throwing the empties out! Playing support to them from Warkworth to Ohope, and working on the Animals, Dave Dee tour, where Paul and Barry Ryan wanted to take them to London but Benny nixed it. On the tour bus with Pitney with Larry beating Gene at poker. Years later, having Viv as bassman in PG and the Hot Tips, and playing as a duo in little London pubs, awesome band mate!
MR LEE GRANT: The Green & Yellow was advertised to supported 'Mr Lee' at his YMCA farewell concert in late '67 but after the disappointment of winning The '67 Battle but losing the prize we split. Reformed a year later to win the '69 Auckland Battle. So I was not destined to actually meet Bogdan until I produced the Live from London NZ Embassy Telethon links in 1989. 1500 Kiwi revellers, Leo Sayer, Madge from Dame Edna, Eastenders, Coro St folk... he arrived with Simi, a gorgeous 20 year old model with the longest legs. Pip Dann and Phil Schofield were hosting, Andrew Shaw was in the van back in NZ and we were tight on time. NZers hadn't seen Bog in 20 years, and Pip intros him, Andy says " No time, crossing to Dunedin, CUT". Bog was never seen. But despite that we became 'brothers', and did a 20 minute Elvis set at my Big 50.
ALLISON DURBIN: She was a doll! Just the right amount of 'naughty' and what a voice! I kept her pic from Playdate on the bedside table. Who knows where she could have gone with a Nashville break... she might have been a billionaire like Shania. But back in '68 the closest I got to even talking to her was sneaking admiring glances as we rehearsed in a grotty Panmure school hall. We shared Pitney's tour bus but Ali was into Hauraki DJ Ross Goodwin. Anyway, I could only dream, our 16/19 age gap was too great!
PETER POSA: What a star... 20 albums BEFORE 1970! Now a Te Awamutian, he lived in Henderson Valley amongst his Dad's grapes. Wonderful family, his Mom sure could cook, began my love affair with garlic. I got to drum his last album of the Golden Guitar era, 'Guitar Pops.' Posa playing Creedence was amazing, a perfectionist we spent a year recording, he had swapped his Gretsch Tennessean for a red Gibson 335, and when we met up he was into a new Yamaha amp with an elliptical speaker. We hauled it all around the Pacific and to Oz where I got to play with Pete Skerrett on bass in the Snowy mountains and to race around in his gold Falcon 351GT. Three Petes! Skerrett was Mike Perjanik's fave bassist and I got to go to a few sessions in Sydney, back Farnham and meet Little Patty! God bless you Pete and your lovely wife Margaret.
DINAH LEE: Saw her on TV aged 13, wished I could do dee bluebeat too! Jim Haddleton gave her a unique look but international fame eluded her. In '73 her guitarist Gary Bayer returned from Oz after they'd had a miserable, freezing winter in London. We teamed up to play through into the '90s. Gary was the happiest guitarist I've ever met, we toured and backed Dick Emery and recorded four PG and The Hot Tips singles on CBS, all proceeds to Telethons. Not that any actually sold! But we did a gig in Swanson, Dinah turned up, and wowed the locals with an impromptu set. I said 'lets form a rock outfit called Dinah-mite!' Sadly it never happened!
DALLAS FOUR: I remember being in the TV audience at a Cmon '67 Show when they played "That Man's Got No luck." The hallowed Studio One was to be my place of employment from 1975 thru 86, but back then I was just a kid wanting to drum like Jimmy Ford. They were a more mature version of our band, (or 'group' in those days). The Clan had been going two whole years and was split between Whangarei and Auckland through the winter of '68. A long commute for gigs, and being in Auckland I lined up work including The Monaco on Federal St which was packed when the D4 played their classy style of rock. Definitely New Zealand's Tremeloes or Four Seasons, their harmonies blew us away. They seemed much older than us, and should have had a successful career on the Asian hotel circuit.
HARRY M MILLER: He never played a note but became NZ's best known entrepreneur. Luck and timing plays a big part in our lives. I lucked out on leaving school in early '67, my Mum worked at George Courts in the office and helped Harry's Mum, Sadie, with her accounts. No one else would as she was a little 'difficult'. Mum said I was destined for a career in show biz, Sadie said 'he needs to work for Harry.' I did, and spent a year working all the shows, from The Animals through to The Who, I joined a week after the amazing Walker Bros., Roy Orbison, Yardbirds tour. My job was to do the ads, liaise with party bookers at businesses throughout NZ and stick press clippings in scrap books. Harry had huge books for ALL the tours which would be worth a fortune now! Based in Sydney, I finally met HMM six months later in his Auckland office. He threw me some suits and said "get these dry-cleaned fast!" Harry sent me a copy of his 1980s biography last year as I had loaned mine to dear Ernie Leonard and never got it back. Its a good read!
KEVIN MOORE: Mr Rock n Roll Television. The creator of the C'mon Show, a tough Yorkshireman with a heart of gold and an instinctive feel for what people wanted to see on TV. The Green and Yellow got a spot on his C'mon '69 but we never showed up at rehearsal the day before taping, we had a gig at Rutherford High School. KM came down on the studio floor with his pipe and quietly berated us, saying he would give us no help and we would look like the bunch of amateurs we were. And we did! In 1975, KM became my boss, he brought Kevin Cameron (Sky), Chris Bailey (Drama), Ricky Stratful and me through the then archaic TVNZ system as 'producer trainees'. In late '76, he was visionary enough to allow me to launch Radio With Pictures using the sixty or so rock vids from record companies not suitable for playing on "Here's Andy" (Shaw) which I was producing. A pioneer of independent production who was poorly treated by 'the powers that be in Wellington', he quit TV and got into antiques, but those Kevin Moore years were truly memorable!
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