The Knaves


The Lifebuoy Hit Parade, which began in 1946, mostly scooped up US or UK hits for its weekly ZB broadcasts, but New Zealand recordings made their mark from the start. There was a giant, if subtle leap forward for the industry when a smooth, close-harmony local group called The Knaves covered Vaughn Monroe’s 1949 Billboard chart-topper, ‘Riders in the Sky’, and became the first New Zealand record to top the programme’s hit parade.

In post-war New Zealand, radio was king. Flick on the wireless and you would hear a mixed selection of popular tunes: maybe Burl Ives or Harry Belafonte singing folk songs, Bing Crosby or Perry Como crooning ballads, Mario Lanza doing operetta, the Andrews Sisters’ wartime hits, orchestral numbers, jazz, sentimental ditties, novelties, and old-time parlour favourites. 

The Knaves in an Auckland radio studio. From left: guitarist Dick Hobday, MC Wally Ransom, Claude Ker, Buster Mowbray, Lee Humphreys, Peter Young, and bassist Bob Ewing.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves pictured with nurses at the Wakari Sanatorium during their sojourn in Dunedin. From left: Phil Maguire, Claude Ker, Thomson Yandall, Lee Humphreys, Buster Mowbray. 
Photo credit: RNZ Sound Archives
Vicky Ker's account of her husband Claude's stint as a "Boy Wonder".
The Knaves - Busy Line (HMV, 1950)
Vocalist Mavis Rivers and pianist Nancy Harrie, with the 1ZB radio band, Auckland. The MC, beside the piano, is Wally Ransom; the rhythm section is Frank Gibson Sr and George Campbell; the bandleader, at right, is Len Hawkins. The vocalists at the back are the Quintones, three of whom became Knaves: Buster Mowbray and Phil Maguire at left, Lee Humphreys far right).
Mavis Rivers and The Knaves - The Birthday Waltz (Tanza, 1950)
The Knaves - Jolly Old St Nicholas (Tanza, 1951)
The Knaves top the bill at a variety show raising funds for the Ngāruawāhia war memorial, January 1952.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves - Busy Line (HMV, 1950)
The Knaves with Hughie Gordon on tin whistle (L-R): Thomson Yandall, bass; obscured; Hughie Gordon; Peter Young; Lee Humphreys; Dick Hobday, guitar.
Photo credit: Robin C Wood/RNZ Sound Archives
The Knaves visit Rotorua to perform at the Ritz, a dance hall on Amohau Street, 23 January 1953.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves' Claude Ker, aged 14.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves wait for the red light. From left: Thomson Yandall, Claude Ker, Phil Maguire, Buster Mowbray.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves - Molly Malone's Wedding (Century Records, 1950)
The Knaves (L-R): Thomson Yandall, Claude Ker, Phil Maguire, Lee Humphreys, and Buster Mowbray.
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
Concert programme, 1951
Photo credit: Manda Topp collection
The Knaves, with Thomson Yandall, bass player, early 1950s. From left: Claude Ker, Phil Maguire, Thomson Yandall, Lee Humphreys, Buster Mowbray. 
Photo credit: RNZ Sound Archives
The Knaves - You Shouldn't Orta Done It (Tanza, 1952)
Members:

Lee Humphreys

Claude Ker

Clive Arndt

Doug “Buster” Mowbray

Phil Maguire

Thomson Yandall

Bob Ewing

Dick Hobday

Labels:

Tanza


HMV


Century Records

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