Arthur Pearce Profile

aka Cotton-Eyed Joe, Turntable
Nick Bollinger
11 Feb 2020

Gene Pitney called it “the weirdest show I have ever heard in my life”. As Cotton-Eyed Joe and Turntable, New Zealand radio pioneer Arthur Pearce was always with the music and ahead of the times.

In 1960s New Zealand there was only place one could hear reverb-soaked surf music, blistering blues shouters, Phil Spector B-sides or James Brown’s funk, and it was probably the only place on earth where one would hear all of these in the same half-hour. That place was Big Beat Ball, a weekly radio programme on Wellington’s 2YD.

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Arthur Pearce with jazz legend Duke Ellington, Auckland, 1972. Pearce is holding the sheet music to Ellington's 'Black Butterfly', for which he wrote the lyrics.
Photo credit: Pearce family
Arthur Pearce at the NZBC microphone, Wellington, c. 1970. His jazz show 'Rhythm on Record' ran for 40 years on the National Programme.
Photo credit: Pearce family
Louise Warren of EMI (NZ) Ltd presents Arthur Pearce with a special disc to mark his retirement after 40 years broadcasting; Wellington, 1977.
Photo credit: Marama Warren archive
Autographs for Arthur Pearce from Duke Ellington musicians Harry Carney, "Cat Anderson", and Johnny Hodges - Auckland, 1972. 
Photo credit: Arthur Pearce papers, Alexander Turnbull Library
Arthur Pearce with US bandleader Bob Crosby, the brother of Bing Crosby. From the late 1930s Pearce used Crosby's recording 'Woman on My Weary Mind' as his theme tune for 'Rhythm on Record'. 
Photo credit: Dennis Huggard Archive MS-Papers-9018-35_Pearce-03
Arthur Pearce in the mid-1960s. At the time he was presenting his jazz programme 'Rhythm on Record' as well as his cutting-edge pop/R&B show, 'Big Beat Ball'. By day he worked at the family firm, importers Levin & Co.
Photo credit: Dennis Huggard Archive MS-Papers-9018-35_Pearce-05
This quartet of broadcasters were stalwarts of jazz on NZBC radio in the 1960s and 70s. From left: Keith Edmondson, Arthur Pearce, Ray Harris, and Cav Nichol, September 1970.
Photo credit: Dennis Huggard archive MS-Papers-9018-35_Pearce-01
The 1965 Loxene Golden Disc judges: John Lash (from Charles Haines Advertising), Neville Chamberlain, Arthur Pearce (broadcaster), John Monaghan (New Zealand's Billboard magazine columnist) and Bob Bothamley (NZBC manager in charge of Head Office Dance department)
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Arthur Pearce in the NZBC studio, Wellington, 11 September 1970
Photo credit: Dennis Huggard archive MS-Papers-9018-35_Pearce-04
Duke Ellington writes "good luck" to jazz broadcaster Arthur Pearce, Auckland 1972.
Photo credit: Arthur Pearce papers, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Arthur Pearce photographed in 1977 at the time of his retirement after 40 years presenting 'Rhythm on Record' on the YA stations (later known as RNZ National).
Photo credit: Chris Bourke collection
Arthur Pearce (far right) with his son Paul and US bandleader Bob Crosby, Hawaii, 1970. Crosby was the brother of Bing Crosby, and had a hit with 'South Rampart Street Parade'. In the late 1960s Paul Pearce worked for HMV in Wellington as an A&R man.
Photo credit: Dennis Huggard Archive MS-Papers-9018-35_Pearce-02