Ricky May Profile

Chris Bourke
19 Apr 2013

Ricky May was a vocal virtuoso, a jazz-pop singer who electrified Auckland nightclub audiences while still in his teens, and became a star in Australia almost immediately after moving there in 1962.

He was born in Auckland in 1943 and was destined to be a musician. His Māori mother was a pianist, who died when he was just eleven. His father Keith “Kotcy” May was a saxophonist and the leader of his own dance band, the Rhythm Rascals.

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A young Ricky May, probably taken in New Zealand 
Ricky May and Julian Lee Orchestra, 1988
Ricky May at the Colony nightclub, 31 December 1961. Billy Farnell's piano is in the background.
Photo credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1269-E164-12
Ricky May at the Colony nightclub, Auckland, 31 December 1961.
Photo credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1269-E164-11
Gonna Build a Mountain - Countdown 1966
Lazy River
Watch: Ricky May special, TVNZ, 1983. The musicians were not credited in the original programme, but their peers have named most of them. They include Mike Walker, piano; Billy Kristian, bass guitar; Billy Nuku, drums; Brian Smith, saxophone; Murray Tanner, trumpet; Merv Thomas, trombone; Pete O'Gara, trombone; Tuhi Timoti, guitar. The bandleader and arranger is Tony Baker.
Shaking The Blues Way
Singer Ricky May at Colony Club, 1961.
Photo credit: Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E164-10
Ricky May - It's The Christmas Man, RCA 1986
Ricky May in Australia in the late 1960s