After the break-up of The Pleazers in June 1967, singer Shane Hales joined the Auckland band The Jamestown Union. After a few months Shane formed his own band called Shane with ex-Pleazer Gus Fenwick (bass), Mike Wilson (guitar) and Glen Absolum (drums) and they held down a residency at Auckland’s 1480 Village.
Shane (the group) recorded a one-off single ‘The Town of Tuxley Toymaker’/'Breakin’ My Back’ for Zodiac Records in early 1968 which became a Top 10 song on the Auckland Hit Parade.
Meanwhile television producer Kevin Moore had been casting his net far and wide looking for a replacement singer for London-bound Mr Lee Grant for the second season of C’mon.
Gene Pierson had the inside running and had been assured by Moore that the job was as good as his. Pierson was playing a gig that weekend and invited Kevin Moore and the show’s booking agent Phil Warren to come along. Backing Pierson that night was Shane (the group). Moore and Warren stayed long enough to be impressed by Shane’s showmanship and vocals and offered him the job instead.
The series started in mid-1968 and Shane became a big part of the show’s success. At this point Ray Columbus became Shane’s manager and record producer, under the wing of Phil Warren's Fuller agency. Warren would manage Shane until the early 1970s.
Their first collaboration was the Columbus-written track ‘I’ll Take You With Me’ backed with ’Mountain of Love’. The follow-up single was the John Denver track ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’, given a major facelift courtesy of an imaginative arrangement by Bob Gillett.
‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ bubbled under on the national charts and went Top 5 in Auckland.
After the 1968 season of C’mon finished, Shane was kept busy over the summer months with several national tours including the C’mon 68 tour.
Within three weeks ‘Saint Paul’ had stormed to No.1 on the national charts where it stayed for six weeks.
By the time of the next series of C’mon, Shane was hot property and was offered a record contract with HMV.
Shane’s first single for HMV was ‘Cuddly Toy’, which he recorded under duress; after all, The Monkees’ version had been out for 16 months. What was the point, he asked his new record company, only to be told in no uncertain terms “do as you are told.”
If HMV were a little haphazard and played safe with Shane’s previous record then they came up trumps for the follow-up. ‘Saint Paul’ was an obscure Terry Knight track based on the “Paul McCartney is dead” rumours that were circulating at the time.
With a headful of ideas but only four tracks at his disposal, producer Peter Dawkins quickly ran out of tracks and was forced to have Shane record his vocal at the far end of the studio while squeezing as many HMV staff members into the other end of the studio as he could, as backing singers.
Within three weeks ‘Saint Paul’ had stormed to No.1 on the national charts where it stayed for six weeks. Shortly afterwards ‘Saint Paul’ won the Loxene Golden Disc Award for the best local record of 1969.
Shane’s debut album Rainy Day Man and his follow-up single ‘Lady Samantha’/‘The Drifter’ were recorded and released before the end of 1969 with ‘Lady Samantha’ debuting in the Top 20 in the last week of the 1960s and eventually reaching No.3 in the new year.
Shane’s second album Natural Man was released in 1970 with the title track as a single. Two more singles were released in 1970 – ‘Heya’ by the Shane fronted studio-only group Zonk – and the upbeat ‘Get It Together’/‘Tired of Running’.
With ‘Saint Paul’ doing well in Germany, Shane and his musical director Bruce "Phantom" Robinson decided to set sail to Europe on a cruise ship.
With the Statue of Liberty fading into the distance, Shane had to be restrained from swimming ashore.
While on route ‘Heya’ was released in the USA where Cashbox magazine gave it a “newcomer hit pick of the week” recommendation and commented that, “It should hypnotise the teen market.”
There was a brief stopover in New York and as Shane’s ship set sail an urgent message arrived from United Artists that ‘Heya’ was starting to gather momentum and that gigs had been arranged at the Gaslight Club in New York City. With the Statue of Liberty fading into the distance, Shane had to be restrained from swimming ashore.
When the ship docked at Southampton the United Artists offer was still on the table but Shane had to decline as he was committed to a two month tour of Germany with British chart toppers Christie and Canadian pop singer Andy Kim.
After a long and successful tour, Shane returned to London and signed with Red Bus Music as a songwriter (Red Bus also handled Ray Dorsett of Mungo Jerry fame).
Back home Shane’s fianceé, Jan Campbell, who worked at Radio Hauraki, died in a car crash. Devastated, Shane flew back home, only to miss her funeral. Unable to cope with the grieving process, Shane threw himself into recording a new album for HMV.
Shane’s third album Straight Straight Straight was the result of a 24 hour session and included most of the songs that Shane had written in London as well as two heartfelt dedications to Jan – 'I Didn’t Get To Loving You’ and the poignant ‘Sixteen Seasons’, a reference to their four years together.
HMV weren’t overly impressed with Shane’s rockier alternative direction as they were still trying to groom him to be a pop singer, a direction that Shane wanted no part of.
“Leave that stuff to Craig Scott,” was his response.
Shane returned to London staying there until 1974. Returning to New Zealand, new manager Barry Coburn placed him on the short-lived TV show POPCO, and booked him into a series of cabaret gigs around the country.
Frustrated by this direction, Shane returned to the UK at the end of the year, where he stayed for the rest of the seventies, forming the group Killa-Hz. In 1980 Shane fell off stage during a performance and broke his pelvis, which forced Killa-Hz to disband. Shane returned to New Zealand in 1981.
Three singles were released by WEA in New Zealand in the early eighties, ‘Starting Out All Over Again'/'You Can't Change Me’, ‘Don't Play That Song Again'/'Too Good To Stop Now’ and a 12-inch single ‘Total Man'/'Another Night With The Boys'/'You Can't Change Me’.
In 1986 Ode released a single ‘We've Got All Night'/'Tear It Up’.
In 2001 EMI issued the CD Saint Paul – The Very Best Of.
In 2010, Shane recorded an album at Stebbings called Full Circle, which was released on the re-activated Zodiac label. Shane Hales is still a working musician in Auckland and also owns a West Auckland tiling company. He is the host of the weekly TV show Rocking The Planet.
'St. Paul' was a Top 10 hit in Germany in 1969, making Shane one of only three New Zealanders to have a major hit outside Australasia in the 1960s (the other two were John Rowles and Jay Epae)