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First published in July 2007, last updated February 2011


Peter can be contacted at


Photos & Memorabilia - Premiers, Wellington 60's Reunions


I remember the effect of music way back when as a toddler in Coventry UK, I’d sit under her stool when Grandma played piano.  She was fiery and  French.  I was about three years old.  After moving south to Kent, Dad bought an old upright.  The influence of Gran and Dad must’ve stirred something as there wasn’t much that interested growing up other than music.  Dad had his own band during and after the war.  An accomplished tenor sax player.  Instruments fascinated me such that harmonicas, recorders, ukuleles were birthday/Xmas presents. 

Miramar, New Zealand, years later, confess to little if any scholastic ability.

By then, Dad had me with a wonderful tutor, Harry Botham.  A generous, lovely man, principal bassist for the National Orchestra.  He taught me cornet, trumpet, trombone and the rudiments of guitar.  Harry was the man who changed everything, although it would take me years to realise.  Lessons always ended with me doing dreadful trumpet improvisations while he slapped away playing solid fours on his double bass. 

As a twelve, thirteen and fourteen  year old, I had no idea he’d planted the jazz bass seed in my head.

Early credit

Belongs to Miramar, Tom McDonald’s Skyrockets band and the kindness they gave to a gaggle of wannabe players.  Without getting up and playing (bumbling) on their instruments during the supper break, we’d never have got a start.  (A courtesy we were much later to extend to Larry’s Rebels at the Top 20 in Auckland.) It was a year or two of fate, luck and weird.  Through Libretto and Swampdweller membership to the formation of Ken Cooper's Premiers.


Amp’s and tricky stuff via Neil.  A gifted, fine musician.  Built amplifiers.  In his tiny bedroom shack, down the back of his parents house.  Neil was music, soldering irons, electric meters, bits of wire, speakers, resisters, volume controls, valves and…..genius.  He made all things electronic.  And we played through the amplifiers he manufactured.  Couldn’t afford or get the factory Fender, Selmer or Vox gear.

Peak output was about 25 watts…perhaps 17/18 watts undistorted.  Was thought way too loud.  25 watts worked for the Shadows and Stones.  So, worked for us.

Apart from acquiring our Fenders, the second most defining moment was Neil’s alone.  His sudden, instant understanding of what had been a mystery.  The sustain notes of Hank Marvin.  Was in the electricians workshop at Wellington Hospital where we were both employed.  Afternoon tea, I think.  Can still see Neil, head down listening to his bench radio, white overalls, bent over, all ears.  Shadows, Apache.  Then, “That’s it!” he exclaimed.  He’d got it.  Tape echo.  Built his own machine, refined it and built another.  Certainly stepped things up a notch or three for the band.  Put us ahead with a fat lead guitar sound and the reverb Neil has also made.  There was though, the incurable fault of the ever breaking tapes.  Years later solved with disc echo.

Top 20 Club

Is Andy’s and Tommy’s.  Arriving in Auckland we had nil time to get up to the speed required.  Was a shock.  Big money, killing hours.  Weight loss and sweat such that our blue custom designed uniforms rotted on us.  We’d found and adopted our Jim.  The little guy with the big sound.  A bespectacled fuzzy haired ball of loyalty, dry humour and willingness.  Andy has covered much of that period.  For me, Tommy was the deal.  Professional, funny, respected and respectful.  A lovely man.  Sartorial, pitch perfect, well rehearsed, made us sound good.  He lived rock and roll, blues and jazz.

We played a Christchurch gig shortly before he died.  I was his bass player.  Nothing was different.  There he was, out in front as usual.  Cathartic.  The man and his harps.  I was lucky to stand behind and play for him that one last time. 

Special.  After the gig I hugged him.  He wasn’t well.  He said “Hey, dig the bass, man.” Then, “ The 20, not bad eh? I loved you guys had it down and didn’t mess about.”

Was referring to rehearsals.


Belongs to Mike, backbone of the group.  Through the Swampdwellers and Premiers.  Ever reasonable, always sensible.  Without him, we’d have canned out in Auckland.

Random recalls

Eternal wait for MV Mariposa to arrive with our Fender set on board, picking them up from Begg’s Wellington.  (And Mike and me, yelling, laughing ecstatic we actually had the genuine article.  They smelt wonderful.)  

Camping at the Nelson Sports Hall with Jim McNaught. 

Endless drudge, playing Lower Hutt Town Hall, an acoustic horror.

Dance steps, blow waves, hair spray.  Peter Tuck.  ( And his enormous, white, left hand drive monster V8 limo.)

Clive Cockburn and Murray Wood.  Musicians who didn’t know then, they already knew.

Lou Parun, John England. 

Dave Fraser.  Master musician, drummer, pianist, arranger.  MD for Roger Whittaker.  Ken was tour manager.  Following the afternoon Christchurch sound check at the Town Hall auditorium he played Quincy Jones’ intro to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” on the Steinway, solo.  Hairs up the back of the neck.     

Des Britten, Palmerston Nth YMCA singing a passable Del Shannon “Runaway.”

HMV Wellington, recording with Frank, mono tape, two mic’s, acetate pressings to take home.

Mum And Dad.  She was our best fan.  Kept a scrapbook I didn’t know about until much later.  Dad, “Too loud son.  Turn it down.” 


Was moving to Jazz in Christchurch.  Playing real music.  Complex chords, rhythms.

The guys; Alan Gault (vibes), Derek Knibb (drums), Roger Whyte (piano), Dennis Bryson (reeds/flute), Harry Voice ( piano/drums), Stu Buchanan (reeds/flute), Harley Scott (guitar), Graeme Cooper (piano/midi’s/computers/vocals), Ian Edwards (reeds/flute), Bob Heinz (guitar), Gerald Marsden (trumpet), Tony Lewis (trombone), Tangi Williams (guitar) and apologies to those whom I’ve not listed.

More Random Recalls

Recording at Viking Records Studio, Auckland with MD Mike Perjanik, panel technician/owner Ron Dalton.  Can’t remember the drummer, Jim Slogget was sax and Murray Tanner trumpet.  Dave ? guitar.  Various sessions with Dinah Lee, Sandy Edmonds, Pete Posa.  Basic two track set up with limited overdubbing, echo and reverb.  Think Ron might have been experimenting with new toys like compression or limiting.

Jamming jazz back stage no amp’s, Dave Fraser, Posa guitar, and Peddlers drummer Trevor Morais, sticks on the wall.  Had the Fender bass hard against a wooden door to get volume.  Security guy wandered past muttered, “You guy’s are nuts.”

Posa and me during Roger Whittaker’s tour retuning his pair of gorgeous 12 string Martins before every show.  Roger would come on, pick one of them up, strum a couple of chords and announce, “Magnificent.”  Neither Posa or me said a word.

The night at Wellington Town Hall, big Hi-Fi club dance, 2500 plus, audience.  Middle of some tune, Neil in full flight and wham….the tremolo arm broke off his Strat.  We ground to a miserable halt.  Was something so hilarious about the moment, but Neil didn’t see it.  Yet he went back stage and somehow fixed it.

Opening the Rolling Stones Auckland concert.  We took a collective decision not to attempt the big rock sound.  Went for the subtle and got away with it.  Played the Searchers, “Just a little rain.” The later party we had at the 20 for them was madness.  Hundreds of kids jammed Vulcan Lane trying to get in.  Bill Wyman was the nice guy.

Tuki Witika becoming an “honourable working member” of the Premiers while Andy was recovering from appendicitis.  Tuki surely saved the day, so to speak, and fitted in so very well.

Disagreement bringing Laurie Lewis into the Premiers, losing Andy.  Didn’t work for me so I left.

Waffles to die for, they were (at the Step-Aside).  Probably would these days as they were loaded with lashings of cream.  For more serious fare, we often went to a café in Courtney Place.  Can’t remember the name, but it was owned and run by a short, squat Greek bloke you simply didn’t dare mess with.  Most of the guys lusted after his daughter who waited tables.  She was lovely, a really nice girl.  And on the wall they had the little juke-box tune selector gizmos.  With the flip slats that gave about five current pop hit tune per side to pick from to play.  An all up choice of about forty records.  Great steak, eggs and chips.

My favourite after-hours haunt, not involving food was The Sorrento Club.  There I heard live jazz for the first time and was hooked for ever.  The Nick Smith Trio.  Magic.  But the coolest guy in the trio for me was Dave Fraser, drums.  He just had “it,” made drumming look so easy.  Years later I was to work for Dave on tour.  Gifted multi musician, composer, arranger, MD and gentle man.

Roger Whyte.  “ Still as percussive.”  High praise from a master pianist.  Helped him out on a hotel gig after a few years apart.  Our time, five years, together was a learning for me.  The guy was so talented.  Without a doubt, he taught me jazz, if that’s possible.  His musical knowledge was staggering.  My musical debt to him is in that he “sensed” into me, what I couldn’t read.  A unique musical relationship as we both knew what the other was going to play.  For jazz, he was way up there.  Still is.

Harry Voice.  Owner of the renowned “Hillman Lounge.”  When I arrived in Christchurch I had no idea where this Hillman lounge was.  Wasn’t in the phone book, but all the musos knew it, said nothing.  Roger kept saying we’ll go to the lounge but it was weeks before I was introduced.  Harry was playing the Shirley Lodge hotel.  The lounge turned out to be a Hillman car with flagons of atrocious cheap sherry under the seats, glasses in the glove box.  Roger was too experienced so managed to drive home.  Dennis passed out.  Haven’t a clue how I got home.

Later, a wintry day Harry, Dennis and me did something for Radio.  We ended up outside the Avon Rowing Club, down behind the building, relatively out of sight.  Was about 4pm.  Had to empty Harry’s drums out so we could fit in the “lounge.”  Usual thing.  Muso’s, sherry, lot’s of jokes.  Got home somehow.  Three in the morning next day Harry phones.  “ Hi, Pete.  Where the hell are my drums?”  He went back and got them.  Later told us they were soaked with dew and had to fit new skins.  Clever musician, lovely pianist too.

Graeme Cooper.  A wonderful, no nonsense superb musician.  Can’t remember how we hooked up.  I’d heard he was a taskmaster.  Was back in the late 60’s.  And the hard case, Warwick Earle, his then drummer.  Got all his kit in a Fiat Bambina.  Cymbal stack poking out the roof. Good guy.  Said I’d better know my stuff.  “Is Coop’s that bad?” I asked.  “No, he’s that good.”  He certainly was that. The kindness of the man I will never forget.   Nor Mary, his wife. Truly, lovely people.

No encore

That’s me done. A small ripple in a big pond.  Happy to have been there.

(For Graeme Cooper - R.I.P. Coops)

Christchurch Bands


Roger Whyte Trio

Roger Whyte; Piano, Herbie.

Dennis Bryson; Flute, Sax, Clarinet

Peter Hindmarsh; Bass, Fender Jazz/Precision Fretless.


Marine Jazz Pickups

Harley Scott; Guitar

Stu Buchanan; Sax’s /Flute

Derek Knibb; Drums 

Peter Hindmarsh; Bass

Graeme Cooper; Keyboards

Warwick Earl; Drums

Mark and Tom Kahi; Guitars
Ted Meager; Drums
Gerald Marsden; Trumpet

Tony Lewis; Trombone



From my Mother's Scrapbook 




(May 1961, source unknown)

And The



For One Night Only --

TOMORROW (THURSDAY) MAY 11th -- from 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
at THE GLIDE RINK, Kilbirnie

Dancing to the Premiers!

It's a "Sock Hop" -- the latest -- dancing in your old socks on the Glide Rink Floor.  Hear N.Z's Top Show Band -- "Tony And The Initials" playing their Lever Hit Parade number F.B.I. (Kiwi Label)

A night of fun for all.  High-class entertainment!




(August 1961, flyer)
By Popular request:- Ken Cooper’s Fabulous “PREMIERS” of Hi-Fi club fame are returning to Karori on Saturday 5th August (after the 2nd Rugby Test) for another night of revelry at the Karori School Hall, Donald Street at 8pm.

Football Fans! Fun Lovers! Friends! – after following a feast of Football by the fleet-footed flying Frenchmen don’t forget to roll up to the brightest spot in Wellington and rock your cares away.

Popular Prices  5/- single
                          7/6 double

Schoolgirls in uniform----Free!!!!

Fruity Fanta and Cooling Coke on sale.



(September 1961, flyer)








5/- single        7/6 double


Roll up friends.  It's going to be the



(Early 1962, source unknown)


Eastern suburbs residents have reason to be particularly proud of four local boys --- Neil Harrap, Peter Hindmarsh, and Mike and Andy Shackleton who, together with pianist Barry Millage of Khandallah form what is perhaps the top band in Wellington-The Premiers.  Formed in March 1961 and managed by Ken Cooper, the Premiers whose ages range from 16-21 years were all original members of two other bands, The Swampdwellers and the Librettos bands, particularly active in the Miramar and Seatoun areas. 

The first big break for the boys came in April of last year when they backed popular Maori singer Ted Bennett in the Naenae Boys’ Talent Quest.  Ted who won the quest, received an HMV recording contract enabling him to cut his first bigselling disc, "Clap Your Hands" backed by "Wimoweh".  It was the Premiers who supplied the big band backing sound to this recording - a disc which became almost the New Zealand equivalent of a Gold Disc.  Following the release of "Clap Your Hands" a wealth of engagements arose for the band - appearances in Ted Bennett shows and with Des Britten and his popular Hi-Fi club dances. 

It was in July last that the band played to an audience of nearly 4,000 - the occasion being the first large scale Hi-Fi Club dance at the Wellington Town Hall with proceeds going to charity.  Another highly successful event was the Hi-Fi Club’s Otaki barbecue sponsored by the Catholic Schools in that area at which the Premiers were the guest band.  During the past year the Premiers have been a familiar sight at Sunday afternoon youth clubs in the Wellington district.  Regular playing engagements were fulfilled at Lower Hutt’s Capistrana (sic) Club and the Taita and Miramar youth clubs where in an atmosphere of youthful friendliness the boys have left a deep impression. 

Further big events in the past year were a November weekend spent in Dunedin as guests of entertainer Joe Brown and a Christmas engagement playing to holiday crowds at Paraparaumu Beach.  In Dunedin, the boys received several encores playing to a capacity audience in the Town Hall and were fortunate in having their programme broadcast that same evening. 

At Paraparaumu they again proved their popularity entertaining at St Patrick’s Hall, The Blue Moon and Palm Grove.  A rather novel event was their dance held on the Paraparaumu skating rink—in the pouring rain!  As for plans this year….. There is to be a TV radio session in the near future, hopes of new recordings and a New Zealand tour with one of the big shows later in the year.  Already the boys expect to be busier than ever filling their regular round of youth clubs and dances.  Let’s hope that the Premiers have another very successful year ahead of them.


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