The Keil Isles Profile

Chris Bourke
11 May 2013

The Keil Isles’ place in New Zealand’s music history has often been understated, even though they were a drawcard in Auckland playing rock and roll well before Johnny Devlin left Wanganui.

Why? Possibly because they were mostly an Auckland phenomenon, or that cover versions dominated their set lists, or just that New Zealand’s rock history needed an iconoclastic lone ranger like Devlin to be its first star.

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The Keil Isles circa 1961/62. Clockwise from bottom left: Bill Fairs, Klaus Keil, Lou Miller, Brian Henderson, Olaf Keil and Herma Keil. Tina Millar is in the centre.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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Herma Keil, 1967
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Herma in the 1967 C'mon tour programme
Photo credit: Murray Cammick Collection
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Keil Isles in Gisborne
Photo credit: Gibsborne Photo News
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The Keil Isles in Oct. 1961 with the Cliff Richard & The Shadows NZ tour party. (Rear L-R) Doug and Leo deKroo, Andy Ellis, Brian Henderson, Lou Miller, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, Judy Cannon, Frankie Davidson, (Centre L-R) Herma Keil, Cliff Richard, Jet Harris, (Front L-R) Olaf Keil, Bill Fairs, Hank B. Marvin, Klaus Keil
Photo credit: Graham Gibson collection
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The Keil Isles, mid 1960s - front: Jimmie Sloggett, Herma Keil, Dave Williamson, centre: Brian Henderson, George Barna, Doug Jerebine, back: John Blake
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1966 album recorded for Salem Records, one of the earliest releases on the label founded by Peter Caithness in 1965. In the late 70s Salem was purchased by Viking Records, for whom the Keil Isles had recorded 5 albums, 7 EPs and numerous singles between 1961 and 1965.
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The Keil Isles in Wellington, circa 1964. Left to right: Herma Keil, Lou Miller, George Barna, Brian Henderson , Klaus Keil and probably Doug Jerebine.
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The Keil Isles change labels from Viking to Philips in October 1964, as noted in Coundown magazine. They would record only one single for Philips, a cover of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue, before moving to the new Salem label.
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The Keil Isles in the early 1960s. Clockwise from bottom left: Bill Fairs, Olaf Keil, Lou Miller, Brian Henderson and Klaus Keil. In the centre is Herma.
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The Keil Isles' 1963 Viking EP, Do The Limbo
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The Keil Isles' debut album for Viking, Take Off, issued in 1961
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The always suave Herma Keil, 1966
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Eliza Keil
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Herma Keil
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Herma Keil and the Keil Isles support The Seekers at the Founders, Hamilton, 1966
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The Keil Isles (without Herma), 1967. L to R: Roger Skinner, Brian Henderson, Billy Karaitiana (AKA Billy Kristian), Jimmy Hill
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The Keil Isles circa 1961/2. Clockwise from lower left: Bill Fairs, Brian Henderson, Olaf Keil, Lou Miller, Klaus Keil and Herma Keil.
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Teen Beat hails the Howard Morrison Quartet, Ronnie Sundin, The Keil Isles and Red Hewitt as the successors to Johnny Devlin, late 1959
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Founding member Olaf Keil later worked for Fender guitars in the USA, custom-building instruments for Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Jimi Hendrix and others.

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Olaf Keil - guitar

Freddie Keil - guitar

Herma Keil - guitar

Klaus Keil - drums

Rudolph Keil - bass

Heke Kewene - piano

Eliza Keil - vocals

Lou Miller - bass

Bill Fairs - saxophone

Dave “Red” Williamson - drums

Warren McMillan - bass

Brian Henderson - piano

Roger Skinner - guitar

Billy Kristian - bass

Jimmy Hill - drums

Norman Akers - piano

George Barna - saxophone

Doug Jerebine - guitar

Jimmie Sloggett - saxophone

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