Zodiac Records owner Eldred Stebbing was disappointed to have lost the popular Keil Isles and always held Freddie’s powerful vocal style and showmanship in high regard. He signed Freddie and his as-yet unformed new band, sight (and sound) unseen.
Briefly called The Zodiacs until settling on Freddie Keil and The Kavaliers, in the early stages many musicians came and went, including John (Yuk) Harrison (bass), Marsh Cook (saxophone), Alfonso Keil (rhythm guitar) and Jimmy Langabeer (piano) before a more settled line-up eventuated.
As a seven-piece band Freddie Keil and the Kavaliers were prodigious recording artists and soon became one of the hottest bands around.
According to drummer Vic Williams, “Freddie assembled musicians who like myself at the time, were either still learning or had very little experience, he then took us all aside and taught us all to play in his style. At the time all I owned was a set of bongo drums. By the time of our first gigs I had scrounged enough cash from my parents to buy one cymbal, a bass drum and a snare drum, plus a bracket to attach the bongos to the top in lieu of a proper tom-tom. I then persuaded my mother to make 'leopard skin' covers for my cobbled-together kit.”
As a seven-piece band Freddie Keil and The Kavaliers were prodigious recording artists and soon became one of the hottest bands around – with their stage routine and matching satin two-tone western styled shirts that were hand made by Freddie’s cousins Eliza and Helga Keil.
The band held several residencies in Auckland including the downtown club the Shiralee. Once a month the group would tour the top half of the North Island. Most of the group members owned big American cars and would travel in convoy – you always knew when The Kavaliers were in town.
As the effects of Beatlemania changed the music scene forever, promoters were loath to pay for a seven-piece band. The Kavaliers had no option other than to trim the group down by letting go pianist Dave Smith and rhythm guitarist Billy Belton.
As a five-piece Freddie Keil and The Kavaliers carried on for a while before eventually breaking up leaving behind one album and 13 singles including several solo records including a version of ‘The Twist’ released in direct competition to Herma’s hit version.
Freddie moved to Rarotonga in the 70s where he started the first FM Radio Station in the South Pacific and periodically recorded with Bill Sevesi.
Freddie passed away in 1994.
Freddie Keil - vocals
Jimmy Murphy - lead guitar
Billy Peters - lead guitar
Brian (Tuffy) - bass
Dave Paul - saxophone
Dave Smith - piano
Vic Williams - drums
Jimmy Murphy ended up in the USA where he works as a musician and producer and is the father of Grammy nominee, country singer Jamie O’Neill.
Vic Williams went on to become a wine expert via a stint with 70s band Salty Dogg.