Johnny and Millie Bradfield Profile

John Dix
7 Apr 2017

In August 1961, just weeks away from a proposed shift to London, Millie Bradfield explained to the Auckland Star’s John Berry why she had decided to forego the career-boosting move. “It’s very simple,” she said. “Suddenly I realised that I couldn’t stand to be away from my husband Johnny, even for a few months. I’d only be half a person without him.”

In September 2007 a who’s who of Auckland jazz musicians gathered at a West Auckland rugby league club for Johnny Bradfield’s wake. In mid-evening, unannounced, Millie Bradfield took to the microphone and joined Chuck Morgan, one of Johnny’s protégés, for a rendition of ‘Route 66’, nailing it as always. It was a poignant moment, and it was the last time that the great Millie Bradfield performed in public. She died in her sleep on 28 August 2013, aged 82.

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Millie Bradfield at home
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Johnny and Millie Bradfield - What A Difference A Day Makes
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Hawaiian dancers, Auckland: Millie Bradfield is at the top left
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Millie and Johnny Bradfield perform at the Alhambra, Ponsonby
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Millie Bradfield, 1950s
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Johnny and Millie Bradfield
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From left: Richard "Chuck" Morgan, Bobby Griffiths, Johnny Bradfield
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Johnny Bradfield with the instrument he called "his second wife"
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Millie and Johnny Bradfield perform at the Alhambra, Ponsonby, on their 50th wedding anniversary. On the piano is Len Whittle, their son-in-law
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Millie and Johnny Bradfield at the Alhambra, Ponsonby; on drums is their grandson, Hayden Wharewaka
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From left, standing: Nuki Walker, George Tumahai, Lester Still, Nancy Harrie. Millie Bradfield is centre, front, with her husband Johnny standing behind her. At front left is the Hi Diddle Griddle bandleader Paul Lestre
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Johnny and Millie Bradfield - I'll See You In My Dreams (Sentimental Journey concert, Ardmore Army Base in Auckland, June 1992)
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Millie Bradfield with cabaret artist Kahu Pineaha
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Millie and Johnny Bradfield sing their duet 'I'll Never Be Free' at the Alhambra, Ponsonby
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Millie Bradfield and Lou Mati, bandleader and proprietor of the the Polynesian Club, near Pitt and Beresford Streets, Auckland
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Millie Bradfield, centre, with Whirimako Black in red. Jacqui Fitzgerald is at far left; beside her is Millie and Johnny's eldest daughter, Linda Bradfield. Taken on a Jazz and Blues Night at the Gables in Herne Bay, Auckland
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Johnny Bradfield at right; the other two musicians are unidentified
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Millie Bradfield singing at the Gables, Herne Bay, Auckland; on guitar is Ben Tawhiti
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Millie Bradfield with a member of the Kini Quartet
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Johnny and Millie Bradfield - Making Believe (Sentimental Journey concert, Ardmore Army Base in Auckland, June 1992)
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Auckland nightlife, late 1950s. From left: Millie Bradfield, pianist Val Lamont, unidentified, Johnny Bradfield 
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A jam session at the 50th wedding anniversary of Lou and Hilda Mati. Lou was the proprietor of the Polynesian Club, near the corner of Pitt and Beresford streets, Auckland. Sitting in front are Don Branch (usually seen behind a drum kit), Derek Neville on clarinet, and Millie Bradfield. At the back, from left, are Bobby Griffiths on piano (usually a trumpeter), Bert Penney on bass, and Chuck Morgan and Johnny Bradfield on guitars.
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1950s Hawaiian style: from left Johnny Bradfield, Tommy Kahi, unidentified ukulele player, Mark Kahi
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Millie Bradfield in traditional Maori costume, photograph by Case Jackson
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Johnny and Millie Bradfield - You'll Never Know (from the Sentimental Journey concert, Ardmore Army Base in Auckland, June 1992, celebrating the 50th anniversary of US troops visiting in 1942)
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Millie Bradfield in traditional Maori costume, photograph by Case Jackson
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At the Hi Diddle Griddle cabaret-restaurant on Karangahape Road, c. 1960. Standing at left is Nuki Walker, beside him is George Tumahai on maracas, Johnny Bradfield is the guitarist. 
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Trivia:

In 1949, Johnny Bradfield played on a session for Tex Morton at Astor Studios, Auckland. Also in the band were George Campbell, Tommy Kahi, and Bill Sevesi. Among the songs recorded were three originals by Morton: ‘The Stockman’s Prayer’, ‘A Soldier’s Sweetheart’ and ‘A Rollin’ Stone’.

Johnny Bradfield spotted Daphne Walker singing at an Auckland talent quest in 1949 – she was a close friend of Millie’s – and asked her to join Bill Wolfgramm’s band for live broadcasts and recordings for Tanza.

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