The Rockets Profile

David Lindsay
3 Sep 2018

The origins of The Rockets lay in two Hastings musicians getting together early in 1960 to make music. Guitarist Fred Neale and keyboardist Athol Munro were joined by Johnny Dick on drums, and called themselves The Shadows (Cliff Richard’s group was yet to use this name). Another early member was rhythm guitarist Des Hall. When Dick left in 1960, he was replaced by Craig Alexander; at the same time, Hall was replaced by John Lindsay. Both the new recruits were 15 years old.

Later that year, 2ZC disc jockey Keith Richardson was asked to compere a show in Napier. His wife Sylvia took the booking, and was asked if she knew a suitable band. She said she did, though in fact she only knew Fred Neale. A few frantic phone calls were made to organise a band. After Keith told Fred and Athol about The Shadows in the UK, Fred became fascinated with Hank Marvin and wanted to emulate his guitar sound. The Hawke’s Bay band was renamed The Rockets because of the post-Sputnik interest in space travel; the musicians also wanted to include some covers by the British Shadows. 

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Bob Catherill, The Rockets.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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John Lindsay, The Rockets.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Fred Neale and John Lindsay, guitarists in The Rockets.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Ad for an appearance by The Rockets at the Assembly Hall, Hastings. Note the light-hearted descriptions of each member’s talents.
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The Rockets on their jalopy.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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An early publicity photo of The Shadows. From left: Fred Neale (guitar), Johnny Dick (drums), Athol Munro (keyboards).
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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The Rockets pose for a publicity photo, joined by Keith Richardson at back left.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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A late period publicity photo of The Rockets. From left: Des McLoughlin (rhythm guitar), Rudy Pederson (bass), Noel Henderson (drums), Fred Neale (lead guitar), Grant Kamau (saxophone).
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Athol Munro, The Rockets.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Poster design for The Rockets' second release, 'The Ruby and the Pearl'.
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Guitarist Fred Neale, The Rockets.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Leon Clapperton, The Rockets
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Craig Alexander, The Rockets
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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The Rockets - The Ruby and the Pearl (1962)
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The Rockets - Gonzales (1961)
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The Rockets - Journey To Midnight (1964)
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Flyer for the first Rockets release, 'Gonzales' b/w 'Johnny Guitar'.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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The Rockets: John Lindsay, Grant Kamau, Craig Alexander, Rudy Pederson. (Absent: Fred, Sylvia, dog)
Photo credit: Keith Richardson collection
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The Rockets' recording contract with HMV (NZ) Ltd, signed on 1 October 1963 by their manager, Hawke's Bay DJ Keith Richardson. 
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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The Rockets pose for a publicity photo. L to R: Rudi Pederson (kneeling), John Lindsay, Fred Neale, Craig Alexander.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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Pictured in a Hawke's Bay dance band in 1960, the same year The Rockets formed, are Athol Munro, left, and Bob Catherill, on saxophone. The other members are Hans Gitmans and John Dick; in the background is the MC, Syd Jagers. The occasion is the joint Napier and Hastings McKenzie’s staff social, 1960.
Photo credit: Hawkes Bay Photo News, September 1960
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Teen Scene 27 August 1963 - a story from the Rockets Fan Club president.
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The Rockets, 1962. From left: Rudy Pederson (bass), John Lindsay (rhythm guitar), Craig Alexander (drums), Grant Kamau (saxophone), Fred Neale (lead guitar).
Photo credit: Keith Richardson estate
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“What cool cats!” Midge Marsden said of this photo of the original Rockets in their outfits designed by Sylvia Richardson. Back row, from left: Leon Clapperton, Athol Munro, Craig Alexander, John Lindsay. In front: Fred Neale, Bob Catherill.
Photo credit: Publicity photo
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Labels:

HMV


Pacific

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Members:

Athol Munro - keyboards

Fred Neale - lead guitar

Leon Clapperton - bass

John Lindsay - rhythm guitar

Craig Alexander - drums

Bob Catherill - saxophone

Rudy Pederson - bass

Grant Kamau - saxophone

Noel Henderson - drums

Des Hall - guitar

Des McLoughlin - rhythm guitar