Les Thomas Profile

Chris Chilton
2 Dec 2019

Even at the peak of his musical powers in the 1960s and 70s, Les Thomas was never a household name. But he was the first choice to play pedal-steel guitar for a long list of New Zealand’s best-known performers.

The Invercargill-born Thomas backed, toured and recorded with the biggest names of the time, both national and international, from Peter Posa, Howard Morrison, Paul Walden and John Hore to Susan Raye, Slim Dusty and Burl Ives.

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Les Thomas and the Countrymen, 1970s: Maaki Goodwillie, Bill Tipu, Colin Thomas, Robert Paraki, Les Thomas.
Photo credit: Les Thomas collection
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The Southern Ramblers with Les Thomas at left.
Photo credit: Les Thomas collection
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Les Thomas.
Photo credit: Les Thomas collection
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The Tunesmen in the studio, with Les Thomas third from left.
Photo credit: Les Thomas collection
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Max McCauley with The Tunesmen, Caroline Bay Soundshell, Timaru, 1960s. From left: Colin Thomas, Ross Buchanan, Max McCauley, Les Thomas. Photo credit: Max McCauley collection
Photo credit: Max McCauley collection
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Inaugural NZ Country Music Recording Artists Awards winners, Invercargill, 1980. Back, left to right: Les Thomas, Greg and Richard Harrison (Ovation), Maaki Goodwillie, Nola McCrorie, Cole Wilson and Colin McCrorie (The Tumbleweeds), Gray Bartlett, Eddie Low, Noel Burns, Ian Murdoch. Front, left to right: Max McCauley, Helen Harrison and Neville Tosach (Ovation), Patsy Riggir, Suzanne Prentice, Brian McCauley, Noel Parlane. Photo credit: Max McCauley collection
Photo credit: Max McCauley collection
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