Jeff Rea Profile

Glen Moffatt
27 Feb 2017

Few New Zealand musicians have taken a career path like that travelled by singer-songwriter Jeff Rea. Little known in his home country, Rea went from jamming Uriah Heep and Doobie Brothers covers with New Zealand punk pioneer Alec Bathgate in Tapanui in the 1970s to working up to 300 dates a year all over the United States with country music superstar Gary Morris in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the early 1980s, Rea had already released his debut album and become a regular on TVNZ's That’s Country before he met Morris on the series in 1983 and discovered they shared a love of the same artists. Within 18 months Morris had convinced Rea to try his luck in the US, where he progressed from Morris’s sound-truck driver to his monitor engineer to bandleader.

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Jeff Rea recording his debut album at Tandem Studios, Christchurch, 1982
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Jeff Rea on the TVNZ show In Search Of A Song, 1988
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Jeff Rea in the 2010s
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Part-time radio announcer Jeff Rea as he appeared in the Otago Daily Times in November, 1989
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Gary Morris - Every Christmas (with Jeff Rea on acoustic guitar, Nashville, December 1992)
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Jeff Rea's debut album First Steps, 1982
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Jeff Rea in the title role of Jesus Christ Superstar, 1987
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In the studio recording Dusty Spittle's Kiwi Storyteller LP, 1980. From left: unknown, Jeff Rea (front), Pete Hansen (rear), guitarist Dave Johnston, unknown, Spittle's then wife Merelda, Dusty Spittle, pedal steel guitarist Jim Lange.
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Jeff Rea in a promotional shot for television show That's Country, early 1980s
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Gary Morris - Bread and Water (written by Gary Morris and Jeff Rea)
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Gore band Andromeda, 1979. Left to right: Archie Vetters, Jeff Rea, Evan Campbell.
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Gary Morris - Miles Across the Bedroom Tonight (written by Gary Morris and Jeff Rea)
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Jeff Rea in the 2010s
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A Jeff Rea promotional shot. 
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Patsy Riggir is cradled by fellow That's Country stars (from left) Noel Parlane, Jeff Rea and Dusty Spittle
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Jeff Rea (right) with his one-time employer, mentor and great friend Gary Morris
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Jeff Rea on That's Country (1982)
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Jeff Rea on That's Country in the early 1980s.
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A Jeff Rea promotional shot from his time in Nashville
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Trivia:

Four of Jeff Rea’s songs (two written with Gary Morris, one each with Jon McElroy and Dottie Moore) appeared in the 1998 TV movie A Place To Grow, which starred Morris as a singer.

In March 2015, Musical Theatre New Zealand (MTNZ) presented their Merit Award to Jeff Rea for outstanding service to musical theatre, which has included stints as sound technician, musical director, actor and vice-president for the West Otago Theatrical Society.

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Music World