Barry Coburn Profile

Murray Cammick
22 Apr 2014

In the 1970s, the young man about town was Barry Coburn – he was the new school to Phil Warren’s old school.

The 1970s was a whole new thing, pop was out and rock was in. Coburn, with business partner Robert Raymond, delivered cooler than cool Western Springs concerts including Elton John in 1971 and Led Zeppelin in 1972, as well as the 1973 Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival. Coburn started the coolest indie label, White Cloud Records, and managed Split Enz. He also toured blues giants Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Freddie King.

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Coburn Artists advertise in Hot Licks, 1975
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Coburn Artists, July 1976
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British bluesman Duster Bennett and Barry Coburn as the Western Springs Blues Concert was about to start in 1975
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Led Zeppelin, Auckland 1972
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Barry Coburn writes to RipItUp in 1989
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The Dick Frizzell designed Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival poster
Photo credit: Design by Dick Frizzell
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Split Enz 1975 with Barry Coburn (third from left)
Photo credit: Murray Cammick Collection
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Beech in 1974 in Christchurch. Managed by Barry Coburn, their singer Brent Parlane would go on to be a country star in Australia in the 1980s.
Photo credit: Photo by Kevin Hill
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The short lived Viking Ventura label headed by Barry Coburn. This was the first of two singles in 1970 by ex-The Hi-Revving Tongues frontman Chris Parfitt.
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Early this century, Barry Coburn took the vinyl 78s of his father’s radio programs to Nashville’s Country Hall of Fame and transferred the recordings to digital files. Coburn then took them to Georgetown Masters, a historic multi-million dollar mastering studio on Nashville's Music Row. The late Denny Purcell – the mastering engineer trusted by Neil Young – re-mastered the Merv Coburn Orchestra to CD. Coburn told writer Larry Le Blanc, “I had just got the CD and I was playing it at home one night when Steve Cropper and Jim Horn were over for dinner. Jim said, ‘Is that a Duke Ellington record? I haven’t heard that before.’ I said that it was my dad. Jim was like, ‘What?’”

Barry Coburn signed legendary NZ luthier Peter Madill's band Minglewood to Viking.

The co-producer of the The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival went on to become the associate producer of the movie Schlinder’s List. Coburn’s former business partner Robert Raymond purchased the film rights to a book by Australian author Tom Keneally – “Schindler’s Ark” – and then on-sold the rights to Steven Spielberg, gaining himself an associate producer credit on the Hollywood film.

A North American writer attributed the staging of the “Now Are Hear” Festival to Barry Coburn. The correct transcription of the writer’s audio would be “Ngaruawahia” Festival.

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White Cloud

Downunder Records

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