They may not have been able to read music, but being blind didn’t stop The Radars from becoming one of Auckland’s longest-lasting musical institutions.
The group was formed in 1962 at the New Zealand Foundation for the Blind’s Parnell Institute, by students who wanted to play more than brass band tunes.
Niuean drummer Feau Halatau, guitarists Ray Lemon and Andrew Taylor, bass player Neville Taura and saxophonist Harvey Baker started with rock and roll, then quickly picked up Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes and other hits of the day.
They achieved a long-term residency at the Picasso nightspot until 1967, before switching to the Auckland Trades Hall’s weekend dances and then to the Gluepot in Ponsonby until the mid-70s.
In 1967 and 1968 they recorded singles for Zodiac and Allied International. In 1983 they revived Polynesian party favourites ‘Tahiti Nui’ and ‘Chululu Chululu’ for Epic and the latter won them the Māori and Polynesian category at that year’s New Zealand Music Awards.
Over the years other blind and not so blind musicians passed through their ranks, including James Tapini, Selwyn Davies, Mal Edwards and Billy T James. They also backed up other musicians, including Ricky May and John Rowles.
Neville Taura, Harvey Baker, Feau Halatau, Andrew Taylor, Ray Lemon