In their brief but action-packed existence Airlord secured serious commitment from their record label, recorded an LP that has grown in critical stature over the decades, and performed a small but highly praised number of shows. Yet today little is known of the band.

The prog-rock band, a relative rarity for New Zealand, was put together by Steve Mackenzie. “I was born in Taumaranui but got into school bands in Hamilton,” he says. “I named my first band Genesis, until I found an English band of the same name in the NME. We became Ryot, the name for an Indian peasant cultivator! We played covers of the rock hits of the day – Steppenwolf, The Rolling Stones etc.”

Steve Mackenzie, Airlord.
Airlord (L-R): Brad Murray, Rick Mercer, Ray Simenauer, Alan Blackburn, Steve Mackenzie.
Photo credit: PAColl-9882-001-001, Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Festival Australia release for Airlord, 1977.
Airlord - Pictures in a Puddle sheet music.
Airlord on the rocks at Kiama, NSW, filming the video for 'Pictures in a Puddle', 1977.
Airlord - Clockwork Revenge (Infinity, 1977)
Rick Mercer, Airlord.
Airlord - Pictures in a Puddle, filmed at Kiama, a rocky coastal location on the NSW coast famous for its blowholes. (1977)
Airlord promotional image. From left to right: Brad Murray (bass), Steve Mackenzie (vocals, guitar), Rick Mercer (drums), Alan Blackburn (keyboards), Ray Simenauer (vocals, guitar)
Airlord, clockwise from left: Steve Mackenzie (vocals, guitar), Rick Mercer (drums), Brad Murray (bass), Alan Blackburn (keyboards), Ray Simenauer (vocals, guitar).
Airlord - Is It Such A Dream (Infinity, 1977)
Airlord keyboardist Alan Blackburn.
Airlord's Alan Blackburn (keyboards) and Rick Mercer (drums).
Ray Simenauer, Airlord.
Airlord - Pictures in a Puddle (Infinity, 1977)
Airlord and friends at a music industry event. From left: Alan Blackburn (keyboards), Brad Murray (bass), unknown, Rick Mercer (drums), unknown, Ray Simenauer (vocals, guitar), Steve Mackenzie (vocals, guitar).

Steve Mackenzie - vocals, guitar

Brad Murray - bass

Ray Simenauer - guitar, vocals

Alan Blackburn - keyboards

Rick Mercer - drums




Steve Mackenzie’s school band Genesis once featured a young Neville Jess, who later found success drumming for Think.

Alan Blackburn’s best friend at school was Kerry Jacobson, future drummer for Dragon.

Ray Simenauer’s brother Rob provided the distinctive vocal segment in the opening credits of the Grunt Machine TV series.

Ray Simenauer’s father Wilfred played cello in the NZSO in the 1970s.

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