The core of Collision, brothers Ali Morgan (guitar) and Hira Morgan (sax, percussion) and cousins Colin Henry (drums) and Charley Hikuroa (bass), came from Tokoroa. They initially got started in 1969 as heavy funk band Shriek Machine, but that incarnation split early in 1973.
Ali Morgan then formed the rhythm and blues band Scan with Colin Henry and Phil Whitcher. Hira moved to Wellington and joined the band Tarkus, but by the end of 1973 the four Tokoroa musicians were back together again, Wellington-based and known as Collision, with Phil Whitcher on keyboards (from Scan, where he had played Hammond organ).
Collision were resident at the Speak Easy Bar in 1973 and 1974 and soon developing their own distinct sound, with influences from James Brown to Earth Wind & Fire. By the time Mike Booth (trumpet) joined in 1975, the band were doing guest spots on the TV shows Ready to Roll and Grunt Machine.
In 1976 when Dalvanius was looking for a backing band for his national tour, Richard Holden of Lion Breweries recommended Collision, who were now playing the Lion Tavern down the road from the Parliament buildings and various Wellington discos including Uncle Albert's. The band’s funky sound was perfect to back Dalvanius and the Fascinations on their 1976 New Zealand tour of Lion hotels. There were recording offers for Collision in New Zealand but the band chose to head to Australia with Dalvanius in February 1977.
Their accommodation was very Kings Cross: It was above a brothel.
The airfares to get Collision to Sydney were paid for by the owners of the Les Girls nightclub in Kings Cross and the band had to make weekly repayments during their six-month residency at the venue.
Their accommodation was very Kings Cross: It was above a brothel. Dalvanius had his own flat in the Cross. The club's infamous Les Girls drag show finished at midnight and at 1am Dalvanius and the Fascinations did a one hour show with Collision and the band then did four more 20-minute sets, finishing at 4.30am.
A month after their arrival in Sydney, Collision were signed to Festival Records, which had also released new recordings by Dalvanius and the Fascinations on the Infinity label. Collision had a brilliant year in 1977, recording their debut album and playing with Dalvanius and the Fascinations on tours or concerts by the Commodores, Tina Turner, Osibisa and the Spinners.
The band also played on the classic Dalvanius and the Fascinations single 'Voodoo Lady'/'Checkmate On Love'. Dalvanius co-produced the Collision recordings with Festival Sydney's in-house producer Richard Batchens.
1978 started well with the nine-piece aggregation playing the Isaac Hayes/Dionne Warwick dates at the Melbourne and Sydney Hilton hotels in February. However soon after that tour Collision split, just as their debut album was being released.
Nick Bollinger included the Collision album in his book 100 Essential New Zealand Albums (2009). Collision wrote four songs on the album and the covers included 'What'd I Say' (Ray Charles), 'Mr Music' (Ticket) and 'Love Is Forever', which first appeared on the 1977 Mark Williams album Taking It All In Stride.
The band's highly-regarded debut album is sought after by funk music fans and DJs as the rare album only had a low key release, with the New Zealand release being little more than token.
Charley Hikuroa - vocals, bass
Colin Henry - vocals, drums
Ali Morgan - vocals, guitar
Harry Morgan - saxophone, vocals
Mike Booth - vocals, trumpet
Phil Whitcher - keyboards