Bill Lake Profile

Chris Bourke
4 Sep 2018

At a board meeting of the stalwarts of Wellington’s R&B scene, Bill Lake would sit near the top of the table. From the moment he stepped off the boat from Australia in 1967 – over half a century ago – Lake has been heavily involved in the dissemination of blues and roots music in the city. He has also been a leading songwriter, for groups in which he has been a member – The Windy City Strugglers, The Pelicans, and The Living Daylights among them – and for many other artists.

Lake describes himself as having “parallel careers”. As well as a dedicated songwriter, guitarist and band leader since the late 1960s, Lake has been a scholar – of Mississippi country blues, and of philosophy. His PhD on Wittgenstein has been a lifelong project, so too has writing songs about characters that are unmistakeably from Wellington – as are the musical settings.

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Bill Lake, 1975, Patanga Crescent, Wellington. 
Photo credit: Rick Bryant Collection
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The Pelicans, 1984. From left: John Niland, Andrew Clouston, Andrew Cross, Stephen Jessup, Nick Bollinger, Bill Lake, Tim Bollinger. Taken by David Gurr in the Dominion Museum, Wellington. 
Photo credit: Nick Bollinger collection 
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The cover of Bill Lake's 2017 album 'As Is Where Is' – painting by Steve Hemmens, who played bass in Gutbucket and Mammal.
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection 
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Windy City Strugglers, at the National Folk Festival, Wellington, 1969. From left: Rick Bryant, Mike Rashbrooke, Geoff Rashbrooke, and Bill Lake.
Photo credit: Nick Bollinger collection 
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In the lower image, Windy City Strugglers Nick Bollinger, Geoff Rashbrooke and Bill Lake being filmed for Costa Botes's documentary 'Struggle No More'. The photo, by Arthur Baysting, appears on the cover of Russell Campbell's book 'Observations: studies in New Zealand documentary' (VUP, 2011). 
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Mammal, 1973. From left: Mike Fullerton, Robert Taylor, Bill Lake, Rick Bryant, Tony Backhouse and Mark Hornibrook. 
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection
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Pelicans on the Radio With Pictures North Island special (1984, NZ On Screen)
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Mammal, 1972. Left to right: Bill Lake, Mike Fullerton, Rick Bryant, Patrick Bleakley, Tony Backhouse, Robert Taylor
Photo credit: Rick Bryant Collection
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Windy City Strugglers, August 1969. From left: Bill Lake, Rick Bryant, Geoff Rashbrooke, Mike Rashbrooke. They are performing at the 11th annual New Zealand Universities Arts Festival, held in Dunedin. 
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From left: Ross Burge, Andrew Delahunty and Bill Lake of The Windy City Strugglers, 2006
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Jamming behind Rick Bryant's flat at Patanga Crescent, Thorndon, Wellington, January 1975. From left: Bill Lake, Greg Taylor, Rick Bryant; the conga player is Rob Clarkson, later with the Warratahs.
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Bill Lake with Geoff Rashbrooke (centre) and Rick Bryant of The Windy City Strugglers, 2006
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The Windy City Strugglers, 2006. From left: Andrew Delahunty, Ross Burge, Bill Lake, Geoff Rashbrooke, Nick Bollinger. 
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Mammal mark one, 1970. From left, Bill Lake, an audience member, Simon Morris, Tony Backhouse. 
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The Windy City Strugglers, 2008. From left: Bill Lake, Rick Bryant, Nick Bollinger, Stephen Jessup, Andrew Delahunty.
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Bill Lake, Mammal, 1971.
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Mammal, 1971. From left: Patrick Bleakley (obscured), Robert Taylor, Bill Lake standing, Mike Fullerton, and Paul Davies, the band's driver, with binoculars.
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection
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The Windy City Strugglers, 1995. From left: Andrew Delahunty, Bill Lake, Andrew Delahunty, Rick Bryant, Nick Bollinger, and Geoff Rashbrooke. 
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Bill Lake, the Pelicans, 1983
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The Pelicans, 1984. From left: Stephen Jessup, David Armstrong (obscured), Bill Lake, Nick Bollinger. 
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Bill Lake, while recording the Mammal album 'Beware the Man' with Sam Hunt; 1972
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection
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Rick Bryant and Bill Lake, 1989
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Making Music with Bill Lake (2005, NZ On Screen)
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A short northern tour for Bill Lake and the Right Mistake, launching 'As Is Where Is'. The poster is by artist Chris Grosz, who also played support. 
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Bill Lake and Rick Bryant
Photo credit: Murray Cammick Collection
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The Pelicans, from left: David Armstrong, Tim Nees, Nick Bollinger, Bill Lake, Andrew Cross, Tim Bollinger, Simon Lewis, Stephen Jessup.
Photo credit: Gary Steel collection
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Mammal, 1972 (at Lucifer's Nightclub). Left to right: Rick Bryant, Bill Lake, Patrick Bleakley, Mike Fullerton, Tony Backhouse, Robert Taylor
Photo credit: Rick Bryant Collection
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Bill Lake - Grandma's Music, 2017
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Original Sin, Battle of the Bands, Hart Hall, Lower Hutt, 1967. L to R: Rick Bryant, Norm McPherson, Rod Bryant, Aff Fraser, Simon Morris, Bill Lake.
Photo credit: Buchanan Studios
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The Pelicans, 1983. At back, from left: Nick Bollinger, Stephen Jessup, Steve Hunt. In front: Bill Lake, Tim Nees, and saxophonist Peter Famularo.
Photo credit: Matthew McKee
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The Original Sin performing in the student union building, Victoria University of Wellington, 1967. From left: Simon Morris, Steve Robinson, Rick Bryant, Rod Bryant, Bill Lake and Norm McPherson.
Photo credit: Steve Robinson collection
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Bill Lake, the Pelicans, 1984
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Bill Lake, 2006.
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Bill Lake - Beautiful Feet (2015)
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Bill Lake and Living Daylights, 1988. From left: Alan Norman, Ed Ware, Bill Lake, James Daniels, and Nick Bollinger. 
Photo credit: Nick Bollinger collection 
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Kelburn International Airport Ceremonial Guard Band, August 1967. Back row, from left: Mike Rashbrooke, Geoff Rashbrooke, Bill Lake, Simon Morris. Front row: Steve Robinson, Mitch Park, Lindy Mason
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Early Mammal, 1970. From left, Bill Lake, Simon Morris, and two members of the audience. 
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection
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Mammal recording at NZBC's Broadcasting House, Wellington, 1972. From left: Patrick Bleakley, Robert Taylor, Rick Bryant, Bill Lake, Mike Fullerton and Tony Backhouse. 
Photo credit: Bill Lake collection
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Gutbucket, left to right: Bill Lake sitting in on harp, Lawrence Cooper, Steve Hemmens, Mike Fullerton, Rick Bryant, Bernard Schmidt. 
Photo credit: Rick Bryant collection
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Blues 101 at the National Folk Festival, 1969, with (L-R) lecturers Colin Heath, Bill Lake and Max Winnie
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