View and listen to the Artists on the Imperial roster below.
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Alastair’s first steps on his musical journey was a memory as a small child of being hooked on Del Shannons ‘Runaway’. The moment he discovered his calling - seeing a band play at Auckland town hall in 1964 - The Beatles. His tastes were further honed by a love of the blues, and as a dedicated 16 year old ran the first NZ Blues Festival in 1968 - possibly the first music festival in NZ.
In the early 70’s whilst at university studying Art History Alastair formed the prog rock band Orb, with Paul Crowther, Eddie Rayner and Peter Cuddihy and later Wally Wikinson. The band dissolved, with Paul, Eddie, and Wally joining Split Enz - Alastair was also asked to join, but declined, going on to form ‘Space Waltz’ around his collection of songs.
Alastair Riddell and Space Waltz won the NZ music award for best new act in 1975
This accolade was bestowed on the back of 2 performances on the NZ talent show ‘New Faces’ in 1974 - which resulted in the huge number one single ‘Out On The Street’ only one of a handful of NZ songs to be certified equivalent of a million seller in NZ.
The Album ‘Alastair Riddell’s Space Waltz’ got thrashed on the turntables of the young and disaffected across the country, its stand out mix of Glam, Prog and Distopian themes of Science Fiction where like nothing seen in the Southern hemisphere at the time, and has endured as a cult classic - it has even been re-released worldwide by UK label RPM records.
Alastair released a second self-named album in 1978, which spawned the hits ‘What good does it do me’ and ‘Wonder Ones’. Alastair followed it up with 1982’s ‘Positive Action’.
The early eighties were spent playing music in the US and the UK, after which he met and married an English model, Vanessa, and returned to NZ where he concentrated on raising a family of 4 children in Titirangi, West Auckland.
In the latter half of the 2000’s Alastairs’ musical popularity in NZ culture has been borne out with tracks appearing in the films ‘Boy’ and ‘In My Fathers Den’, as well as TV series ‘Jacqui Brown Diaries’ and ‘Underbelly New Zealand’.
Alastair has spent this decade honing a new skill - that of directing and shooting Film. His first feature ‘Broken Hallelujah’ is in post production, and his short film ‘ The Last Stop’ premiered to a full house at the Academy Cinema in Auckland in April 2012. It has subsequently been picked up for broadcast by Sky Rialto Channel and the Trinity Film Festival in the USA.
One of new Zealand's strongest exponents of volume, wah wah, delay, and fuzz guitar Billy TK has reached legendary status in New Zealand. In the late sixties, as a member of the Human Instinct who cribbed their early material and sound from Doug Jerebine's 1969 demos. Hailing from Palmerston North his guitar style changed when he first heard the Pretty Things and became a member of The Sinners. By the late 60s his sound had naturally morphed into a heavy Hendrix sound. Developing his style in the early Human Instinct with volume, delay, and overdriving his amplifiers.
After leaving the Human Instinct in 1971 recording three albums with them, the second two of which he wrote material for. Billy then formed Powerhouse with an expanded band and consciousness. They recorded for HMV with most of these tracks being collected on a recent EMI collection. The early 80s saw him working as a producer in Los Angeles.
We recently uncovered some recordings from the mid nineties he recorded with Flying Nun's King Loser which are long overdue for release. Billy still continues to write and record material.
Born on New Zealand’s North Island in rural Tangowahine, he cut his teeth on guitar from the age of 12, instructed first by a half-Maori, half-Greek guitarist who introduced him to everything from George Van Eps to Hank Marvin. Then one day, he found Doug teaching him. Even when he was only in high school, Doug was ready to play out. Throughout the early 1960’s he was hopping around in Auckland bands, including The Embers and The Brew. At the same time Doug dove deeply into the virtuosic sitar sounds of Vilayat Kahn and Ravi Skankar learning to play that instrument as well. The interest spurred his spiritual beliefs and Doug eventually decided his true path (at least that time) was with Krishna consciousness. While on the road to India, however, he stopped in England to see if he could make something big happen musically. There he fell in with another London-based Kiwi-transplant, aspiring impresario Dave Hartstone, who in 1969 encouraged Doug while he recorded what would be known as the Jesse Harper record. Doug played and sang all parts but the drums, and the results were spectacular on all fronts.
In 1969 music was breaking hot and heavy all around. Atlantic Records was right at the forefront, responsible for bringing Cream and Led Zeppelin to the literal masses. Atlantic’s late, legendary Ahmet Ertegun heard the sounds of the mysterious Jesse Harper over the telephone and figured he’d found the closest thing to Hendrix he’d ever sign. A meeting was arranged in New York to formalise an arrangement with acting manager Dave Hartstone. Unfortunately Ertegun got word of some shady Hartstone hangers-on, and that scared him off. Atlantic cooled on the next Hendrix and Jesse Harper record never saw the light of day.
The swiftly tilting nature of the mercurial 1960’s fell hard on Doug Jerebine. He found himself merely scrapping by – auditioning for Jethro Tull, roadie-ing, and taking random gigs as bass player, most notably with Jeff Beck. Deft and down with the changes, Doug’s time in the Jeff beck Group was cut short due to an on stage amp malfunction. After another unsuccessful go with a group and his solo record ultimately shelved, Doug’s spiritual yearning finally drew him to India, where he lived for the better part of 40 year’s, unheard from in the western world save for covers of his songs and the inevitable (and invaluable) bootlegs.
Knightshade is a metal/hard rock group formed in Te Puke in the early 1980s. The band based themselves in Hamilton in the mid-1980s when the lineup changed. The lineup then consisted of Wayne Elliott (vocals), Alan Grady (drums), Rik Bernards (guitar), Jon Bell (bass), Paul Martin (guitar). Paul Martin left the band and Gavin Lind joined. This was the lineup that performed and recorded the majority of their work. They had several top 20 singles and supported many major touring acts including Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Bon Jovi & The Angels.
Formed in May 1970, Ticket were New Zealand's ultimate acid band.
By mid-1971 Ticket had built up a big following in the South Island so they headed north. Their reputation preceded them and concerts at Universities along the way were well attended and received. In Auckland the band came to the attention of promoters Barry Coburn and Robert Raymond. With new promotional power, the group supported Daddy Cool on their tour, and then headlined Coburn-Raymond's National Blues Rock Convention held at the Wellington Opera House, which was broadcast live on radio.
In October 1971, Ticket played New Zealand's first international outdoor concert at Auckland's Western Springs supporting Elton John in front of 20 000 people.
Ticket recorded and released their first single "Country High"/"Highway Of Love" with "Country High" spending five weeks on the National charts in December 1971, peaking at number 12. The follow-up single was "Dream Chant"/"Awake".
In May 1972, their debut full length album, "Awake" was released.
In June 1972, Ticket crossed the Tasman, to perform a month long residency at Sydney's Whiskey-Go-Go. While in Australia, a single was released there, "Awake"/"Country Radio", on Atlantic Records. Also while in Melbourne, the group recorded their second album, "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie". This was self-produced and recorded at Channel Nine's 16-track studio. The album was released in late 1972.
Arrived in Auckland some time in 1979, drawn up from Christchurch by the jolt of energy their friends Toy Love had added to an already lively punk scene. There were a party as much as a band, a joyous celebration of good times & bad behaviour, eking out a handful of originals with an inspired lashing of covers to fill any dance floor
Auckland punk mined sixties pop, nuggety b-sides and early seventies glam to come up with a witty mix of knowing nihilism and deliberate stupidity. Art school and bogan coexisted. Bands like the Spelling Mistakes, Terroways and Proud Scum could generate the cartoon punk many of their fans desired but with a knowing wink
The South Island bands brought a different sound, an Antipodean strain of Velvet Underground infection. They made no attempt at fashion statements. There were still hippies where they came from, and if you din't like their clothes, the had no others, so stuff you poser.
Guitarist Mark Wilson who had taught most of his fellow band members the rudiments of their craft, had been in the Basket Cakes, aka the Detroit Haemmoroids, with Toy Love bassist Paul Kean. As Auckland punk was making its dark decent into the mayhem of the bootboy period, they presented as a self contained gang of their own. The dynamic was helping by having two sets of brothers, Steve & Eric Marsden and Mark and Neil Spence. The fact Steve and Eric were twins added another chemistry
Its 1964 and Brett Tauri has ended up in Queens playing gigs and a studio session with Brook Benton. He had arrived into Philadelphia on the steam ship Whangaroa in 1963 and made his way up the east coast from Philly to New York.
On returning to NZ Brett reflects .. I brought back a Gibson overdrive,a wah wah pedal (orbiter) and a 64 Fender start which I loved and that was about all.
The trip to America was a long one and if I remember rightly it was on the Union steamship Co Whangaroa , just a normal ship of the day and not all that many travellers but it was great fun.
Once in New Zealand I bought a Jansen session man ( Les Paul copy)and a Beatmaster (Telecaster copy) Beautiful guitar used on No more now) and an Antoria twin pickup semi accoustic (used in the first Battle of the bands because no one else was using them) and when the Smoke was formed we were sponsored by Fountain sound (New Lynn) with Fountain thunderbird amplifiers (quite amazing amps for the day 50 watts with twin 12 inch celestion speakers).
They even built me a 16 speaker (8 inch speakers) very tall speaker box and told me to blow it up if I could. America aside I think the "Smoke" was my most enjoyable time playing.
The Smoke released Never Trust Another Woman in 1968 which made the Top 20 and was followed by Control Your Love
The New Loungehead
This seminal band mashed up triphop, acid jazz and jungle and burst onto Auckland's urban club scene in the late 1990s. They recorded only one influential, award-winning album for the Deepgrooves label and were revered nationally for their extended instrumental sets, which featured two drum kits, DJs and live delay effects. Several of the group members (Godfrey De Grut, Chip Matthews, Dan Sperber, Matthias Sudholter, Isaac Tucker) have enjoyed further success in music in New Zealand and the UK.
The Hollow Grinders are the Surfin' Band from a Southern Land! Since 1996, the Hollow Grinders have been New Zealand's best (and frequently only) instrumental surf band. They play mostly original tunes in a style that is about two thirds traditional California-style surf and one third something else (the something else varies). They've been described as "surf rock", "surf punk", "garage surf" and many other double bangers, but they prefer just plain old "surf".
Zaine Griff, rock zelig made his professional start in New Zealand with an early line up of The Human Instinct. The then ambitious teenager headed to the UK where he knotched up a considerable list of achievements. Touring bass player for the Kinks, and the Soft Machine’s Kevin Ayres; bass player for David Bowie on re recordings of Bowie hits, and a pivotal part of the UK new romantic movement recording with the likes of Steve Strange, Ultravox, and Japan not to mention his first two albums NAME & NAME - both recorded by the legendary Tony Visconti.
Zaine now resides back in New Zealand. His most recent album Mood Swings was recorded in Auckland, London and Tokyo. It follows on the heels of successful shows in the UK and Japan.
“I set out to make an album that was reminiscent of my time in London in the eighties” says Griff. “Having played in Tokyo also gave the album an international feel.”
Bill Sevesi (28 July 1923 – 23 April 2016) was born Wilfred Jeffs and a master of the steel guitar. Through his playing career he was known as Wilfred Jeffs (and the Islanders) becoming Bill Sevesi & The Islanders. He even backed teenage rock and roller Ronnie Sundin as Will Jess (& The Jesters).
Born in Nuku'alofa, Tonga to a Tongan mother and a Liverpudlian father he dedicated his musical career to the steel guitar and the music of the islands on way-too-many to list albums, EPs, and 45s that evoked the sound of the South Pacific.
"During his long career, Sevesi fostered many other talents, including the Yandall Sisters and Annie Crummer. His efforts for bringing music to the community were acknowledged with many awards, and two that were very special to him were the Creative New Zealand Pacific Islands Artist Award in 1997, and the Gerry Byrd Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 for his contribution to the steel guitar. In September 2015 Bill Sevesi was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Bill Sevesi passed away in April, 2016."