Kim Willoughby

Kim Willoughby was 18 years old and working in a blood lab when her flatmates asked her to be the singer in their band The Gurlz. By saying “yes” to their proposal, a successful career in music, dance, acting and entertainment unfurled. While best known for her work with When the Cat’s Away in the late 1980s, she has worked with the country’s most celebrated entertainers and musicians.

Growing up in an ungentrified, diverse Ponsonby through the 1970s, she attended Ponsonby Primary and shared the classroom with a literal “melting pot” of pupils. Her earliest musical education was the waiata and poi she learnt from her teachers.

Kim Willoughby.
Kim Willoughby and Bunny Walters in TV Guide.
When The Cat's Away's tour group on the Asian Paradise tour, 2001: George Gorga (front of house sound), Robbie Barclay (production manager), Dave McIvor (crew), Marty Reynolds (lighting), Tony Flett (stage), Paul Lopez (crew), Colin Burrell (monitors), Rick Brown (stage), Ian Magan (promoter) and sprawled across the band, Chris Tate (sound). In front: Sharon O'Neill, Debbie Harwood, Kim Willoughby, Margaret Urlich and Annie Crummer.
Photo credit: Photo by Mark Roach
Matthew Hunter and Kim Willoughby in Queen City Rocker, 1986.
Kim Willoughby in torch-singer mode. 2000s.
The Gurlz, the early 1980s. From left: Carol Varney, Debbie Chin, Greig Blanchett, Kim Willoughby.
Kim Willoughby in the Kuhtze band, a DB-sponsored act which released an EP in 1986. Other members included were Tony Waine and Andy Dickson of the Narcs, Paul Dunningham of Mi-Sex, Greg Clarke of Citizen Band, and Simon Alexander of Chrome Safari. 
Kim Willoughby on the cover of Hattie's Live Music Guide, May 1992.
Kim Willoughby, 1990s.
Kim Willoughby: singing remains her greatest pleasure.
Watch: Netherworld Dancing Toys - For Today - with Kim Willoughby and Annie Crummer on backing vocals (1985)
Kim Willoughby and Sonny Day.
Kim Willoughby and Moana Maniapoto, APRA Silver Scroll awards, Auckland Town Hall, 2000
Kim Willoughby, Debbie Harwood, Rikki Morris, Annie Crummer, Regent Hotel, 1990.
Photo credit: Debbie Harwood Collection
Kim Willoughby, Summer Fun Fiesta, Napier, 2007.
Watch: When the Cat's Away on tour (1987)
Kim Willoughby on Hui Pacific, 1984
Beaver and Kim Willoughby, 1980s. 
Watch: Kim Willoughby in Queen City Rocker (1986)
Watch: The Gurlz - Out of Bounds (1982)
Kim Willoughby with Hello Sailor – Dave McArtney at left, Graham Brazier and Harry Lyon.
When The Cat's Away, 2001: Debbie Harwood, Kim Willoughby, Annie Crummer and Margaret Urlich
Photo credit: Photo by Anthony O'Dwyer
Kim Willoughby with Golden Kiwis, an occasional band featuring musicians with long CVs. The backline is (L-R): Ian Morris, Tony Waine, Harry Lyon, Rikki Morris, and Ricky Ball.
Kim Willoughby - Look Around Again / Have You Ever Seen the Rain (CBS 1990)
An early When The Cat's Away publicity shot: Dianne Swann, Debbie Harwood, Kim Willoughby (front), Margaret Urlich and Annie Crummer.
Photo credit: Paul Ellis
Four Benny award winners and other friends celebrate Eddie Low's 70th birthday, Cambridge, 2015. From left: Gray Bartlett, Brendan Dugan, Dennis Marsh, Eddie Low, Kim Willoughby, and Tom Sharplin; at right are three of Rusty Greaves's 14 children: Michelle, Kevin and Lex.
Photo credit: Gray Bartlett collection
Ian Morris, Kim Willoughby and Mark Roach, Apra Silver Scroll, 1999.
Watch: When The Cat's Away - Asian Paradise (2001)
The Gurlz were a popular live band in Auckland in the early 1980s, releasing an Ian Morris and Paul Streekstra produced EP on Harlequin's Ze Disc label in 1982. From left: Carol Varney (drums), Kim Willoughby (vocals), Greig Blanchett (guitar), Debbie Chin (bass), Shelley Pratt (keyboards/vocals).
Photo credit: Roy Emerson
Kim Willoughby photographed for the Live in Paradise tour, 2001
Photo credit: Anthony O'Dwyer
Kim Willoughby.
Kim Willoughby with the Tuxedo Swing Orchestra.


Kim Willoughby was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2021. The Hall of Fame is an initiative of Recorded Music NZ and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), whose support of AudioCulture enables the site to stream music content.

Kim Willoughby and Ian Morris’s daughters Julia and Maude perform and record as the duo Lexxa, releasing the album Toxic Love in 2019.

Among the many recordings to which Kim has contributed backing vocals are Greg Johnson’s Sea Breeze Motel, Wayne Mason’s Same Boy, and Right Left and Centre’s anti-tour single ‘Don’t Go’ (the b-side of the latter, ‘You’ve Got to Move, Cecil’ featured Willoughby with Annie Crummer).

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