The Plague (1970s) Profile

Richard von Sturmer
16 Apr 2021

The Plague was formed in February 1978, soon after I returned from a year overseas in Europe. While in London I studied movement with Lindsay Kemp and mime with Desmond Jones. I also found myself caught up in the energy of the punk movement, which was reaching its peak at the time. London felt like the vibrant centre of the universe.

In contrast, everything and everyone in New Zealand appeared to be merely existing under the shadow of Muldoon’s National government. In reaction to the nailed down and narrow-minded state of the nation, several of us took up instruments we couldn’t play and launched ourselves as Auckland’s first theatrical/political punk band. 

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The Plague on the main stage, Nambassa Festival, Waihi, 1979.
Photo credit: Photo by Gerald Couper
The Plague in the Civic Theatre, Auckland, October 19th, 1978, at the premiere of David Blyth's film Angel Mine. Richard von Sturmer at left, Gray Nicol on saxophone and Mark Bell on guitar.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague playing Sundays at Charley Gray's Island of Real, Auckland, February-March 1979.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague onstage at Nambassa Festival, Waihi 1979.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
Andrew Snoid (Andrew McLennan), The Plague. Guitarist Mark Bell is in the background.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague at Nambassa Festival, Waihi 1979.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Snoids: Charlotte Wrightson (left) and Sarah Fort.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
Mark Bell, The Plague.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague and the Warm Jets at the Maidment Theatre, Auckland, 21-22 July 1978. Poster design by Sally Griffin and Miles McKane.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
Watch: The Plague performing at Nambassa Festival, 1979
The Plague - poster art.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague – Richard von Sturmer (vocals) and Tim Mahon (guitar) onstage at the Maidment Theatre, Auckland, July 1978.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague performing at Mainstreet Cabaret, Auckland.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
The Plague's Snoids in an embrace while Tim Mahon looks on.
Photo credit: Richard von Sturmer Collection
Trivia:

Although not listed as a member, Don McGlashan played horns on stage with the Plague, sometimes running between gigs and appearing still dressed in his orchestral tuxedo.

In 1980 Sarah Fort joined The Features' Jed Town in multi-media art rock group Fetus Productions.

Andrew McLennan kept the "Snoid" stage name when he replaced Richard Driver as singer in Pop Mechanix in 1980. He later joined the Swingers in Australia, and formed Coconut Rough – which also included former Plague and Whizz Kid guitarist Mark Bell.

Members:

Richard von Sturmer - vocals, lyrics

Tim Mahon - guitar, bass

Mark Bell - guitar

Andrew McLennan - vocals

Gray Nichol - saxophone

Ian Gilroy - drums

Charlotte Wrightson - vocals

Sarah Fort - vocals

Miles McKane - vocals

Sally Griffin - vocals

Adrian Hart - drums

John Schmidt - bass

David Parkyn - guitar