Howard Morrison Quartet Profile

Chris Bourke
15 Jul 2019

In the early 1960s The Howard Morrison Quartet became an entertainment phenomenon by merging family-friendly music with uniquely New Zealand humour. Their success helped create New Zealand’s modern music industry. 

The Quartet was simultaneously a party with the boys next door and a slick, tuxedoed cabaret act. Honeyed, four-part harmonies were driven by a guitar strum that swept the nation, and their music incorporated Māori culture in a framework of acceptable pop. By celebrating – and spoofing – their culture, they brought te ao Māori into the living rooms and town halls of mainstream New Zealand, Pākehā and Māori.

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Howard Morrison Quartet - 'Christmas' (1960)
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The "Teen Beat" column in Joy magazine hails the Howard Morrison Quartet, Ronnie Sundin, The Keil Isles and Red Hewitt as the successors to Johnny Devlin, late 1959
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Autographed photo of the Howard Morrison Quartet from a tour in 1958.
Photo credit: Bill Fairs collection
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'My Old Man's an All Black!' - a massive hit for the Howard Morrison Quartet in 1960 - was subtly subversive in the era of "No Maori, No Tour" protests
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When The Haka Became Boogie - The Showbands (1990)
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Howard Morrison Quartet, from left: Noel Kingi, Wi Wharekura, Howard Morrison, Gerry Merito
Photo credit: Murray Menzies
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The Howard Morrison Quartet - Noel Kingi, Wi Wharekura, Gerry Merito, Howard Morrison
Photo credit: Viking Records
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The Howard Morrison Quartet's third Zodiac EP, released in 1959. It was recorded in the Morrison family home's living room by Eldred Stebbing.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg Collection
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Fresh from a royal command appearance, the Howard Morrison Quartet embarked on a national tour, supported by Bill and Boyd, and Wellington teenage pop singer Lyn Barnett. - Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Eph-E-MUSIC-Popular-1963-01
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library
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The Howard Morrison Quartet in a likely posed "playback" shot in 1962
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"It was a rousing welcome, the driver certainly had difficulty getting away. Oh well! Its not every day a ‘top-­pops’ recording group visits Napier” (Hawke's Bay Photo News). The Howard Morrison Quartet arrive in Napier in 1960.
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Pot-Pourri was the second Howard Morrison Quartet album for Harry M. Miller's La Gloria label, released in 1960 a mere three weeks after the first, marking the beginning of what was the most prolific series of releases by a New Zealand act ever - 28 singles, 8 EPs and 7 albums in 3 years.
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This Is Your Life - Sir Howard Morrison (1989)
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Howard Morrison Quartet, Christchurch Hospital 1961.
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
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The Howard Morrison Quartet and Red Hewitt's band storm Pukekohe in 1959
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The Howard Morrison Quartette visits Hawke's Bay, August 1960 - and struggles to leave. 
Photo credit: Hawkes Bay Photo News
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Harry M Miller presents Showtime Spectacular, an album featuring the Howard Morrison Quartet, Antoni Williams, Bob Paris and more, released on his La Gloria label, 1964. The album was not a live recording of the concerts, but a compilation of singles already released.
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The most famous of the Howard Morrison Quartet lineups: Wi Wharekura, Gerry Merito, Noel Kingi, Howard Morrison
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The Howard Morrison Story was a 1960 compilation album released by Eldred Stebbing on his Stebbing label made up of the Zodiac singles and EP tracks after the band had left for La Gloria Records
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Showtime Spectacular souvenir programme, featuring the Howard Morrison Quartet, 1962. Also on the bill were Toni Williams and the Keil Isles. 
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Four months after the Howard Morrison Quartet disbanded, Morrison performs in Gisborne with the Miss New Zealand show, 1965. 
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News, May 1965
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Howard Morrison Quartet, Napier, August 1960,from left: Howard Morrison, Noel King, Gerry Merito, and Wi Wharekura
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This 1958 EP by the Howard Morrison Quartet was the very first release by the band. Recorded for Zodiac by Eldred Stebbing, it was quickly followed by four singles Haere Ra E Hine, Deep Purple, Po Kare Kare Ana, and There's Only One Of You. The EP was issued in two different coloured sleeves, this being the first. A second EP, with another shade of green but the same imagery was used a few months later just to confuse.
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The original Howard Morrison Quartet: Laurie Morrison, Gerry Merito, Howard Morrison, John Morrison
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Rotorua blues: the Howard Morrison Quartet in Truth, 10 December 1963. 
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Advert for La Gloria label recording artists The Howard Morrison Quartet, Toni Williams, Bob Paris.
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Howard Morrison Quartet, My Old Man's An All Black, on Harry M Miller's La Gloria label,recorded live at Showtime Spectacular, Pukekohe Memorial Hall, 1960. Miller claimed he kept the doors locked until the Quartet - and audience - recorded a satisfactory take. 
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The Fabulous Howard Morrison Quartet - Four Popular Māori Songs EP, La Gloria, 1960.
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Māori Songs, the third La Gloria album, from 1962
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Mind If We Sing? a 1962 album on La Gloria. The Howard Morrison Quartet fell out with Harry Miller early in 1963 and the run of releases stopped.
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Howard repositioning for a solo career. This was the final original Quartet album, recorded live in 1965, without any imagery of the Quartet.
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The Howard Morrison Spectacular '63 was another big-selling national tour in which the Howard Morrison Quartet was supported by acts such as Peter Posa, comedian John Daley, and "lovely teenage singing sensation" Lyn Barnett. - Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Eph-C-CABOT-Music-1963-01
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The Sir Howard Morrison Story (2002)
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Howard Morrison Quartet in action.
Photo credit: Viking Records
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Howard Morrison.
Photo credit: Trevor King collection
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The Howard Morrison Quartet at the 1963 Miss New Zealand pageant.
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Labels:

La Gloria


Zodiac

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Members:

Howard Morrison - vocals

Gerry Merito - vocals, guitar

Wi Wharekura - vocals

Noel Kingi - vocals