Citizen Band Profile

Murray Cammick
8 Jan 2015

They were called Citizen Band but they were no ordinary citizens. Brothers Mike and Geoff Chunn both had a Split Enz pedigree and Brent Eccles and Greg Clark got a glam rock start in Space Waltz. In old-school 1970s rock parlance, they were a supergroup.

Citizen Band were part-new-school and fitted snugly into the worldwide wave of groups who looked back to the 1960s for inspiration. Ironic in name and nature, they packed the Auckland Town Hall in 1979 despite their single releases not making it to the NZ Top 40 Chart.  

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Citizen Band - Rust In My Car
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At the end of the 1970s Citizen Band were one of the biggest live acts in Auckland – and beyond – and one of the hardest working, playing halls, schools, pubs and universities and gathering a very devoted live following.
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The 1980 live album CB Bootleg was recorded in front of an audience at Mandrill Studios. With the band in Australia it received little New Zealand promotion, spending a solitary week in the charts, at No.48.
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Brent Eccles, Greg Clark, Mike Chunn and Geoff Chunn, circa 1978
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Graham Parker shows Mike Chunn the chords and lyrics for his song Protection, September 1978. Citizen Band recorded it for their second album.
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It was the perfect fit: Citizen Band sponsored by Citizen Watches. From left - Mike Chunn, Brent Eccles, Greg Clark and Geoff Chunn, 1978
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The Citizen Band Fan Club
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Citizen Band Mk.2: Brent Eccles, Geoff Chunn, Greg Clark and Roland Killeen
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Mike Chunn backstage at Wellington Town Hall.
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The classic Citizen Band line-up, 1979: Brent Eccles, Geoff Chunn, Mike Chunn and Greg Clark
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Mike Chunn at Mainstreet, Queen Street, Auckland.
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The New Zealand Herald reports the September 1978 Town Hall show
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Citizen Band, 1978: Mike Chunn, Brent Eccles, Geoff Chunn and Greg Clark
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Warren Sly, Greg Clark, Geoff Chunn, Brent Eccles and Mike Chunn, 1977/78
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Geoff and Mike Chunn as Citizen Band play to a packed Auckland Town Hall, September 1978.
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A 1979 CBS Australia publicity shot: Brent Eccles, Greg Clark, Geoff Chunn and Mike Chunn
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The debut Citizen Band album was issued with a green border by Mandrill. This was replaced by a blue border for the 1979 CBS reissue.
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Citizen Band in a 1ZM show, recorded at Radio New Zealand's Radio Theatre in Durham Lane West, Auckland, and broadcast a couple of weeks later on Bryan Staff's show
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Citizen Band warming up for a summer tour
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Home Tonight was the final Citizen Band single, released in November 1980, with Roland Killeen on vocals
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Citizen Band in 1979: Geoff Chunn, Brent Eccles, Mike Chunn and Greg Clark
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CBS sign Citizen Band
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Citizen Band at The Gluepot, Ponsonby, February 1979
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Citizen Band is awarded Most Promising Group at the 1978 RATA Music Awards at the White Heron, Parnell, Auckland, by artist Shona McFarlane with WEA Records' Tim Murdoch looking on
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Citizen Band's Geoff Chunn at Mandrill Studio, 1979 with producers Jay Lewis and Glyn Tucker Jnr looking on
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Citizen Band in late 1980: Greg Clark, Geoff Chunn, Brent Eccles and Roland Killeen
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A Citizen Band Campus Tour poster from 1979
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Greg Clark recording at Mandrill
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Citizen Band signing with CBS Records, early 1979: Mike Chunn, Brent Eccles, CBS boss John McCready, Geoff Chunn, CBS staffer Gaynor Crawford (holding the reissued debut album) and Greg Clark
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Radio With Pictures Sweetwaters special (interview with Mike Chunn and Citizen Band live clip 9 minutes in)
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Producer Jay Lewis during the Just Drove Thru Town sessions at Mandrill in June/July 1979
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Citizen Band on the main stage at Nambassa, 1978
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Citizen Band: Geoff Chunn, Brent Eccles, Greg Clark and Mike Chunn
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The September 1979 RipItUp ad for Citizen Band at the Auckland Town Hall
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The second Citizen Band album, Just Drove Thru Town, was produced by US producer Jay Lewis and issued in August 1979
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In 1978 Mike Chunn published a free newsprint zine, “Keeping it Kiwi”, initially to promote Citizen Band tours, but broadened the editorial to cover other local musicians.

When Warren Sly was a student at Glendowie College he talked the Prefects into letting him do the weekly bible reading at the assembly. He walked on to the stage with a giant bible and like a great orator, read a very lengthy spiel of nonsense from the Apocrypha, a discredited portion of the original 1611 King James Bible.

NZ rock albums were so rare in 1978 that Francis Stark wrote an essay length review of Citizen Band’s debut album in the September 1978 RipItUp. Stark praised the group for “the willingness to deal with recognisable local themes” (translates: NZ stories like Shortland St) and “the absence of geographic tinges in the singing” (translates: they don’t sing in American accents) and their use of “the melodic and rhythmic vocabulary of Ray Davies or The Beatles rather than Lou Reed or The Commodores.”

When CBS reissued the debut album in early 1979 they changed the border colour from green to blue.

In the 2015 New Year Honours, Mike Chunn was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to music and mental health.

Mike Chunn spent 11 years as Director of NZ operations for the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), retiring in late 2003. He founded and is CEO of Play It Strange Trust and has published several books, including the Split Enz biography Stranger Than Fiction.

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Geoff Chunn - vocals, guitar

Mike Chunn - bass, vocals

Greg Clark - guitar

Brent Eccles - drums

Warren Sly - keyboards

Roland Killeen - bass

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