Miller had joined Christchurch group, The Playboys in Auckland in 1963 after the departure of singers Diane Jacobs (aka Dinah Lee) and Phil Garland, following a six-week residency deputising for Max Merritt and The Meteors at The Platterack.
That left Dave's drummer-brother Graeme along with guitarist Brian Ringrose (ex-Invaders), Mark Graham (rhythm guitar) and John O’Neill (bass). Kevin O’Neill then replaced Mark Graham. Jacobs and Garland had been vocalists with The Saints rock'n'roll band in Christchurch during the early 1960s before forming The Playboys, who had a successful career around Christchurch performing at the likes of Spencer Street, The Dolphin Lounge. The Caledonian Hall and later at The Laredo.
After a popular residency at Christchurch’s Laredo Room in 1963 and 1964, The Playboys headed north for good, lured by Māori entertainer Howard Morrison for his popular touring show. There were already two successful international groups called The Playboys so they became The Byrds – seemingly unaware of the American outfit –then Dave Miller and The Byrds.
Their first release was a snappy cover of Jimmy Reed’s R&B finger-snapper ‘Bright Lights Big City’, a big local hit for Zodiac Records and the first of three singles and an EP for the label. The EP featured blues standard ‘Help Me’, filmed with Dave Miller only in a rare clip. John O’Neill and Brian Ringrose left soon after, replaced by Al Dunster and Chris Collier.
Success in the clubs and as a backing band pushed them on until 1966 when Miller and guitarist Dunster decided to make the hop to Sydney. Miller would make an initial impact in Sydney as a compere and soloist, before forming The Dave Miller Set and landing a huge hit with the psychedelic mini-epic ‘Mr Guy Fawkes’ in 1969.
Dave Miller - vocals
Graeme Miller - drums
Mark Graham - rhythm guitar
John O’Neill - bass
Kevin O’Neill - rhythm guitar
Chris Collier - guitar
Al Dunster - bass
Brian Ringrose - guitar