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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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
A young Ricky May, probably taken in New Zealand 
Ricky May - It's The Christmas Man, RCA 1986
Ricky May and Julian Lee Orchestra, 1988
Ricky May at the Colony nightclub, Auckland, 31 December 1961.
Photo credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1269-E164-11
Shaking The Blues Way
Downtown
Gonna Build a Mountain - Countdown 1966
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.
Lazy River
Ricky May in Australia in the late 1960s
Singer Ricky May at Colony Club, 1961.
Photo credit: Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E164-10