A funky Wellington band that played with Dalvanius and the Fascinations in the late 1970s and recorded an album in Sydney, Collision’s self-titled 1978 album has become an internationally sought after rare groove classic.
The core of Collision, brothers Ali Morgan (guitar) and Hira Morgan (sax, percussion) and cousins Colin Henry (drums) and Charley Hikuroa (bass), came from Tokoroa. They initially got started in 1969 as heavy funk band Shriek Machine, but that incarnation split early in 1973.
Collision’s 1978 album is a rare groove classic.
Ali Morgan then formed the rhythm and blues band Scan with Colin Henry and Phil Whitcher. Hira moved to Wellington and joined the band Tarkus, but by the end of 1973 the four Tokoroa musicians were back together again, Wellington-based and known as Collision, with Phil Whitcher on keyboards (from Scan, where he had played Hammond organ).
Collision was resident at the Speak Easy Bar in 1973 and 1974 and soon developing its own distinct sound, with influences from James Brown to Earth Wind & Fire. By the time Mike Booth (trumpet) joined in 1975, the band was doing guest spots on the TV shows Ready to Roll and Grunt Machine.
In 1976 when Dalvanius was looking for a backing band for his national tour, Richard Holden of Lion Breweries recommended Collision, which was now playing the Lion Tavern down the road from the Parliament buildings and various Wellington discos including Uncle Albert's. The band’s funky sound was perfect to back Dalvanius and the Fascinations on their 1976 New Zealand tour of Lion hotels. There were recording offers for Collision in New Zealand but the band chose to head to Australia with Dalvanius in February 1977.
Their Digs were very Kings Cross: above a brothel.
The airfares to get Collision to Sydney were paid for by the owners of the Les Girls nightclub in Kings Cross and the band had to make weekly repayments during its six-month residency at the venue.
The band’s accommodation was very Kings Cross: above a brothel. Dalvanius had his own flat in the Cross. The club’s infamous Les Girls drag show finished at midnight and at 1am Dalvanius and the Fascinations did a one hour show with Collision, and the band then did four more 20-minute sets, finishing at 4.30am.
A month after its arrival in Sydney, Collision was signed to Festival Records, which had also released new recordings by Dalvanius and the Fascinations on the Infinity label. Collision had a brilliant year in 1977, recording its debut album and playing with Dalvanius and the Fascinations and on tours or concerts by the Commodores, Tina Turner, Osibisa and the Spinners.
The band also played on the classic Dalvanius and the Fascinations single ‘Voodoo Lady’/‘Checkmate On Love’. Dalvanius co-produced the Collision recordings with Festival Sydney's in-house producer Richard Batchens.
1978 started well with the nine-piece aggregation playing the Isaac Hayes/Dionne Warwick dates at the Melbourne and Sydney Hilton hotels in February. However soon after that tour Collision split, just as its debut album was being released.
Nick Bollinger included the Collision album in his 2009 book 100 Essential New Zealand Albums. Collision wrote four songs on the album and the covers included ‘What'd I Say’ (Ray Charles), ‘Mr Music’ (Ticket) and ‘Love Is Forever’, which first appeared on the 1977 Mark Williams album Taking It All In Stride.
The band’s highly regarded album is sought after by funk music fans and DJs because the rare album only had a low key release, with the New Zealand release being little more than token.
The renewed awareness of Collision led to its inclusion on the groundbreaking 2017 New Zealand funk compilation Heed The Call – Whakarongo, Nga Tamariki!. A reunion of most members of the band is to take place at The Others Way festival on Auckland's K Road on 31 August 2018.
Ali Morgan passed away on 4 July 2023.
Collision with Dalvanius and the Fascinations
Murray Cammick Collection
Shriek Machine c.1971-72. The band would evolve into Collision. Left to right: Ali Morgan, Ricky Nichols, Colin Tahau Henry, Hira Morgan and George Marsh
Collison and Dalvanius with The Commodores in Sydney in the mid-1970s
Simon Grigg collection
Collison in Wellington, 1975
Tokoroa band Shriek Machine, who would later form the core of Collison
Collision with Dalvanius, Auckland
Photo by Murray Cammick
Charley Hikuroa - vocals, bass
Colin Henry - vocals, drums
Ali Morgan - vocals, guitar
Harry Morgan - saxophone, vocals
Mike Booth - vocals, trumpet
Phil Whitcher - keyboards
You Can Dance, You Give Me Love, Love Finds Its Own Way