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First published in March 2011

Robin can be contacted at 

Photos and Memorabilia - The Falcons

Hi. I was born on 5 November 1946 on the Chatham Islands.  Ukuleles were popular back then and, as a seven year old, I would muck around with all three chords I knew.  We had a party at our house one night and I sheepishly picked up a guitar and, to my surprise, discovered that the same three chords sounded ok on the instrument.

Someone told me to “play something” and I thought to myself, “Are they talking to me?” I had barely touched a guitar before.  I ended up playing two songs that night, to which everyone joined in singing Hang down your head, Tom Doolie by ‘The Highwaymen’ and Bimbo, Bimbo by Jim Reeves.

To my delight, the guitar was standing in the corner of the room the next morning so I picked it up and mucked around till my fingers hurt.  From then on I would watch my older cousins play and memorise the chord formations, then sneak off and practise them over and over.

An older gentleman taught me some other chords and explained that they could be played in different parts of the neck and also that there were minor and 7th formations as well.  He also mentioned something about augmented chords, which confused the daylights out of me.

Five years later, my family left the Chathams and moved to Titahi Bay, Wellington.  We took in a boarder and I shared my room with a young man called Howard Hakaria – the local postmaster.  Howard had a beautiful slim-line, semi-acoustic guitar and let me practise on it as well as teaching me more chords and lead licks.  We played stuff like The Honky Tonk by Bill Doggett, Walk, don’t run by ‘The Ventures’ and Wheels by ‘The String-A-Longs’.

In 1962, our family moved to Kilbirnie where I attended Rongotai College.  I would drive my parents mad by playing The Shadows’ records on our ‘La Gloria’ stereo (perhaps mono) system so loud that the neighbours would complain.

I cut my teeth playing lead guitar with a band called ‘The Navados’ and we did the odd gig for family 21sts and weddings, earning about one pound and ten shillings ($3) each per night.  A year later, Blake Thompson phoned me and asked me to fill in for ‘The Falcons’, playing bass guitar.  I refused the offer and insisted that I play lead guitar and that he play bass.  He said that they had two bookings and I would be earning two pounds ten shillings ($4.50) per gig.  I accepted immediately and continued playing bass guitar for The Falcons until we disbanded in 1972.  (See ‘The Falcons’ profile.)

After this, I formed a group called ‘Transit’ with Tom McDonald, then took a well-deserved break from active music, only to come back onto the scene 10 years later with revived energy and quickly made up for lost time.  I joined a group called ‘The Night Owls’, then went on to form three successful Wellington line-ups: ‘Jigsaw’, ‘Room To Move’ and ‘Dr Feelgood’.

This year, 2011, I am still musically active (after all, I am only 64) and have been quite busy playing in an Italian group – The Mediterranean Trio – performing traditional Italian folk songs.  Surprisingly, the trio is quite popular.  I still do the odd gig with Dr Feelgood but as a trio – with guitar, bass and a vocalist against backing tracks.

I am at this moment forming a new line-up.  Some of us have played together in different line-ups over the years and our (younger) drummer is busy learning some of our older songs.

As a hobby, I get out my red-and-white Fender Stratocaster and play some Shadows’ instrumentals along to excellent backing tracks, and use a specially-programmed digital echo unit to (try) and get that magic sound just right.

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