The Hi-Revving Tongues Profile

aka Chris Parfitt and The Hi-Revving Tongues
John Dix
16 May 2016

The Hi-Revving Tongues are best remembered, perhaps inappropriately, for their 1969 chart-topping single ‘Rain & Tears’. The band can also lay claim to pioneering New Zealand psychedelic pop while their six-month residency at Sydney’s Whiskey-A-Go-Go gave them a decidedly hard edge and their stage show was one of the most spectacular of the era. But mostly they are remembered for an atypical strings-laden ballad that they rarely performed live.

Chris Parfitt was the voice and face of The Hi-Revving Tongues, although the founder and band leader was guitarist Mike Balcombe, who was a few years older than the predominantly teenage line-up. Parfitt was 16 when his family shifted from Lower Hutt to Auckland in 1964. A career in rock and roll hadn’t really appealed but he attended Claude Papesch’s music school and decided to take up bass guitar, receiving lessons from Bill Belton.

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Chris Parfitt at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at Ali Baba's, Cuba Street, Wellington, 1969, with The Top Shelf
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The Hi-Revving Tongues, New Plymouth, 1969
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The final page of the payment schedule for the 1970 Redwood Festival. The Hi-Revving Tongues are noted as "should be $40 but they took 20mins to set up + generally very uncooperative", whilst Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Molly and The Rumour were all docked for only doing half a set each.
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The Hi-Revving Tongues perform at the Loxene Golden Disc Awards, 1969
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Chris Parfitt, post The Hi-Revving Tongues, playing with Tolepuddle in Auckland's Albert Park, 1973
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The Cossacks at The Shoreline, Takapuna, 1965
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at The Whisky A-Go-Go, Sydney, 1969
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Chris Parfitt (left) with The Unknowns, Belview Hotel, Sydney, 1982
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at the 1968 Loxene Gold Disc show: Bruce Coleman, Rob Noad, Chris Parfitt, Mike Balcombe and John Walmsley
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The debut Hi-Revving Tongues album, issued via Philips in 1968 and credited to Chris Parfitt and The Hi-Revving Tongues
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Chris Parfitt with the Steve Tulloch Band, January 2016
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Chris Parfitt in a classroom taught by his daughter Heidi, 2008
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Species 9, Birkenhead, Auckland, 1966: Richard Sinclair (out of shot), Bruce Coleman, John Walmsley, Graham Colhoun and Chris Parfitt
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Chris Parfitt with Roger Skinner and Motivation, Birkenhead, Auckland, July 2015: Chris, Roger, Mal Finlayson and Neil Finlay
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Mike Balcombe's Not Some Of The Time was one side of the second Hi-Revving Tongues single, released in February 1968
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at Sydney's Whisky-A-Go-Go, 1969 with Richard Sinclair on drums
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The Hi-Revving Tongues, Ken Murphy, Ray Wolfe (sic), The Action, The Avengers and Mr. Lee Grant at the St. Heliers Hall
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Rob Noad at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
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The Vampires' first gig in 1965, with Chris Parfitt on bass
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at Sydney's Whisky-A-Go-Go, 1969
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The Tongues as a four piece, 1970: Graeme Thompson, Richard Sinclair, Mike Balcombe and Bruce Coleman
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The Hi-Revving Tongues, Nelson, Xmas 1969
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You'll Find Me Anywhere, from the second Hi-Revving Tongues single, composed by Chris Parfitt, his first composition to appear on disc
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Chris Parfitt and Rob Noad playing with Danny & The Diamonds at a Radio Hauraki gig at Auckland's Peter Pan (later Mainstreet), 1973
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The short lived Viking Ventura label headed by Barry Coburn. This was the first of two singles in 1970 by ex-The Hi-Revving Tongues frontman Chris Parfitt.
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The Hi-Revving Tongues - Rain and Tears (C'Mon, 1969)
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Lew Pryme meeting royalty in 1970. Behind him are The Hi-Revving Tongues.
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at The Sorrento, Palmerston North, 1968, in a tour promoted by Bari Gordon (formerly of The Breakaways)
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at the Battle Of The Bands, Auckland Town Hall, 1967
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The 1969 Loxene Golden Disc Group Award
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Mike Balcombe recording at Stebbings
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The Hi-Revving Tongues at the 1967 Battle Of The Bands, Auckland Town Hall: Bruce Coleman, Rob Noad, Chris Parfitt, John Walmsley and Mike Balcombe
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Chris Parfitt at the 1968 Battle Of The Bands, YMCA Stadium, Auckland. The arms attempting a rescue are promoter Russell Clark's.
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The Hi-Revving Tongues: Bruce Coleman, John Walmsley, Mike Balcombe, Rob Noad and Chris Parfitt
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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The second album by the freshly renamed The Tongues. Now a four piece, it was issued by Zodiac in early 1970. The cover shot was taken in His Lordship's Boutique in Wellington.
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John Walmsley and Bruce Coleman with friends as the band boarded the Angelena Lauro in Sydney to return to NZ, September 1969
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Former Hi-Revving Tongues members Chris Parfitt and Rob Noad, with Garry Clarke in Danny & The Diamonds, at Auckland's Station Hotel, 1975
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The Cossacks, Te Aroha, 1965: Chris Parfitt, Paul Edwards, Roger Morgan, Ken Williams and John Aikman
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The flyer for the second Hi-Revving Tongues single
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The Hi-Revving Tongues, Tom Thumb, Clap! and Ty Dallas at The Place, Wellington, September 1968
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The Sierras: Wayne Daverne, Mike Balcombe, Kerry Hawkesworth and Dave Wright
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Rain and Tears at No.1 on the NZBC chart
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Mr Lee Grant tops an impressive bill at an all-star Gigantic Rave!, July 1967. The venue is the Deaf Welfare Centre, Mt Eden Road, Auckland
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John Walmsley at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
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The Cossacks at the Orewa Soundshell, Xmas Eve, 1965: Nick Scott, Chris Parfitt, Promoter Benny Levin, John Ellis
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Mike Balcombe at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
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The debut single (The Psychedelic) Illusion, released in October 1967 as The High Revving Tongues. It was recorded by Wahanui Wynyard at Astor Studios.
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Chris Parfitt's first band in 1965, The Vampires. Chris is on the left. Photo taken in New Lynn.
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Bruce Coleman, Mike Balcombe and Rob Noad with friends aboard the Angelena Lauro in Wellington
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After renaming themselves as just The Tongues for the final album, the now-four-piece band reverted to the original Hi-Revving Tongues for both singles taken from it. This was the last, issued in August 1970.
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Chris Parfitt, Maroubra, NSW, 1972
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Members:

Chris Parfitt - vocals

Mike Balcombe - guitar

John Walmsley - bass

Bruce Coleman - keyboards

Rob Noad - drums

Richard Sinclair - drums

Graeme Thompson - bass

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Labels:

Allied International


Zodiac


Philips

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