Tim Murdoch Profile

Murray Cammick
1 Feb 2018

The music business in New Zealand has had some larger-than-life characters and Tim Murdoch was one of the most colourful. A record executive known for his largesse in entertaining the musicians and minions in his orbit, Murdoch was managing director of Pye Records and, from the mid-1970s, the founding MD of WEA Music New Zealand Ltd (now known as Warner Music). For 11 years he was also president of the recording industry bodies which evolved into Recorded Music New Zealand.

Murdoch loomed large over the New Zealand record business from the late 1960s to the 1990s, and his death on 30 January 2018, aged 75, was felt equally by musicians and industry colleagues. He loved to entertain and was a master of the long lunch, holding court at upmarket Auckland restaurant the French Café and, from the 1990s, Ponsonby café Santos.

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The recording industry board meets in the late 1970s. Standing are Phil Warren of Prestige, left, and Tim Murdoch of WEA, right. To Warren's left is Eldred Stebbing. At the back is Patricia Bell of APRA; beside her is John McCready of CBS. Beside Murdoch, obscured, is Fred Smith of Rianz. 
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Toy Love signing with WEA Records (NZ) and DeLuxe (Australia), 1979: Alec Bathgate, Jane Walker, WEA's Tim Murdoch, DeLuxe's Michael Browning, Paul Kean, Mike Dooley, WEA's Terence Hogan and Chris Knox
Photo credit: Ian Dalziel collection
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From left: Tim Murdoch, president of RIANZ and head of WEA Records, Prime Minister David Lange, and Tony Chance, chief executive officer of RIANZ; c. 1987. Photo by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
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Newspaper advertisements for two films about surfing directed and produced by Tim Murdoch: Out Of The Blue (1967) and Seven Sundays (1970).
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At the French Cafe, Auckland, 1990. From left: Tim Murdoch, Francesa King of WEA, Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, and Janet Dawes of Mushroom. 
Photo credit: Janet Dawes collection
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WEA boss Tim Murdoch presents Herbs with platinum albums. Back, left to right: Murdoch, Dilworth Karaka, Tama Lundon, Fred Faleauto, Maurice Watene. Front: Willie Hona, Thom Nepia.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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John Hanlon at the 1976 APRA Silver Scrolls with his then partner and Tim Murdoch. Murdoch signed Hanlon to the boutique Family label in 1973, part of the Pye Records group then headed by Murdoch. By the time this photo was taken Tim Murdoch had moved to WEA New Zealand as Managing Director. John Hanlon recorded one single for WEA, Twenty Six Years, in 1976.
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Tim Murdoch and Mike Harvey, 1978 Apra Silver Scroll
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Tim Murdoch, 1980s
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Tim Murdoch, head of WEA Records, and Fred Smith of HMV/EMI. Smith formed the New Zealand Federation of Phonographic Industries in 1957; it became the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand in 1978. 
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Tim Murdoch and his partner Catherine, December 2016
Photo credit: Roger Liddle
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Cris Simmons, Ian Saxon, Pat Simmons, Bill Belton and Pye/WEA boss Tim Murdoch - Santos cafe, Auckland
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Citizen Band is awarded Most Promising Group at the 1978 RATA Music Awards at the White Heron, Parnell, Auckland, by artist Shona McFarlane with WEA Records' Tim Murdoch looking on
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Tim Murdoch and his 16mm movie camera, 1960s. Many amateur 8mm movies were made by surfing enthusiasts, but few attempted 16mm films, due to the cost and expertise required. From Luke Williamson's history of New Zealand surfing, Gone Surfing; used by permission.
Photo credit: Luke Williamson collection
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Prime Minister David Lange, left, shakes hands with Tim Murdoch, president of RIANZ, in 1987 at Vogel House, Wellington. The occasion was the donation of a New Zealand music library - with sound equipment - for the prime minister's residence. On this evening, Lange was also dealing with a crisis relating to the Rainbow Warrior bombing the year before. In the centre is Tony Chance, chief executive officer of RIANZ. Photograph by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
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WEA Records' Tim Murdoch and United Building Society's Tony Kunowski at a RIANZ function prior to the 1985 New Zealand music awards, which were sponsored by United. 
Photo credit: RIANZ
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Two key players in the New Zealand music industry for several decades, Phil Warren with Prestige and WEA Records boss Tim Murdoch in 1976
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Piha, Auckland, 1962 (L-R): John Paine, Tim Murdoch, and two unidentified friends. In 1964 Paine and Murdoch hosted the makers of the classic surfing film The Endless Summer. The MAD magazine is the issue of April 1962. Photograph (c) by Alan Godfrey
Photo credit: Alan Godfrey
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Mixing business with pleasure: Tim Murdoch in a WEA publication, mid 1970s
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Street Talk at Mandrill Studios, Parnell, with Kim Fowley and WEA Record's Tim Murdoch: Stuart Pearce, Jim Lawrie, Tim Murdoch, Kim Fowley (front), Andy MacDonald, Mike Caen and Hammond Gamble
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RIANZ boss Tim Murdoch at the Ready To Roll NZ Records Awards, 1978.
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Tim Murdoch, a portrait by Jocelyn Carlin, who was often on assignment for WEA New Zealand in the mid 1980s. Used by permission (c) 1986 Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
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Tim Murdoch surfing at Piha, 1961. Photograph by Alan Godfrey
Photo credit: Alan Godfrey
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Talking with the taxman, Vogel House, Wellington, 1987. Tim Murdoch, centre, representing the New Zealand recording industry, presents Prime Minister David Lange with a library of local music. The person on the right is the director of a New Zealand audio company who donated a turntable and speakers. The album Lange is holding is Second Thoughts, by Split Enz. Photo by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
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