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Rykenberg: mystery musicians


Identifying the full range of musicians photographed by John Rykenberg and his staff is a difficult task. Some are famous; many combos are ensembles put together for a one-night stand. Some groups feature singers drawn from the audience. So we are hoping readers of AudioCulture will help us to spot faces they recognise and spread the word to other people who might be able to help. Please contact us via our Facebook page, or email us at: info@audioculture.co.nz

This image shows an early line-up of The Quin Tikis playing at the Māori Community Centre. We believe the guitarist back left is Bill Rawhiti (Raffety), the drummer is Gimmick Cameron, and the guitarist back right is Gigi Waaka – is this correct and can you name any of the others?

Update: we’ve been informed that the musicians shown in this early shot of the Quin Tikis are, from left: Ronnie Cooper (front left); Bill Rawhiti (back) left; Johnny Cameron (aka Gimmick, drums); Hector Epae (at microphone); Gugi Waaka (back right); possibly Stu Buchanan (saxophone).

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg, 1269-L591-2

Often, it is the singers who worked with multiple bands that are hard to identify since they’re not listed as a regular member. For example, who is this beat-era singer with The Playdates at Picasso Coffee Lounge? And who is the man playing claves/wood blocks beside her?

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E161-21

Here’s another shot of the same person, playing the bongos.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E157-27

Next up, who is this singer performing with the Joe Rickit group at the Bel Air?

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Bel Air nightclub in Queen Street, showing the Joe Rickit Group. Bill Williams on bass, Joe Rickit on lead guitar, Buddy Wilson on rhythm guitar, Tommy Williams on drums. - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E155-7

This next photo is also at the Bel Air, which recognisable from the egg cartons lining the back wall of the stage and the odd stalagtites hanging from above. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who remembers this odd stage set-up, or the singer and acoustic guitar player that seem to have joined the Joe Rickit group for this show.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E171-32

In the image below, a family member has confirmed that the singer is Lyn Barnett. She is performing with the Premiers, from Wellington, at the Oriental Ballroom on upper Symonds Street. The drum kit belongs to Jimmy Hill of the Invaders. 

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The Premiers: (from left to right) Mike Shackleton, Peter Hindmarsh, Jimmy Ellyet, Andy Shackleton. - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-W240-10

A helpful reader identified the next two photos as being taken at Heaven and Hell. The guitarist on the riser is Bill Raffety/Rawhiti (early member of the Quin Tikis) and the drummer is most likely Karl Mokoia (Mohaka). However does anyone out there recognise any of the other musicians? 

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Unidentifed musicians at an unidentified venue. - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E136-12

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A different singer with the same unidentifed musicians at an unidentified venue. - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E136-11

Here’s another unidentified duo playing at the same spot.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E146-34

We are fairly sure the steel guitar player below is Mauri Chan, who released music through Zodiac in the 1960s. However, can you identify the ukulele player (or anyone else shown) or the location of the next two shots? It has been suggested it might be the Polynesian Club on Pitt Street – this was a popular venue not only for cultural events like this one, but also as a place where musicians would turn up to jam in the wee hours after their paid gigs had finished.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E146-5

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E146-9

Some have suggested that the location in the next two shots is the Picasso Coffee Lounge, but it doesn’t match other images we’ve seen. Does anyone recognise it? The musicians are also unknown.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-W239-11

- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection

The dine and dance venues were very busy venues in this era and a parade of musicians went through them – often picked up on the night to fill a spare slot in the band. For this reason, it’s often hard to know who is who. This next shot shows Paul Lestre on violin at the Hi Diddle Griddle, on K Road. Les Still is the bassist, and Neil Dunningham the drummer; it is highly likely the pianist is Nancy Harrie. But who is the singer?

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-B734-27

The next shot is of a venue called Hungaria. Doesn’t that drummer look like he’s having a chill time? But who is he and who are his bandmates?

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-B720-5

These last shots are at private parties, so perhaps our chances of familiar faces being identified are slim, but they’re such great photos that I still thought it was worth sharing them.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-B118-36

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-Z370-17

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The pianist, John Wilcox, got in touch through a friend to identify himself! - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-E149-35

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The Bluetones. - Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-B103-2

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-B108-1

AND, last but not least, my favourite of all! I look forward to hearing from you all. via email at info@audioculture.co.nz or our Facebook page. Thanks again to the team at Auckland Libraries for helping unearth all these great shots and we look forward to hearing from all our readers.

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- Auckland Libraries, Rykenberg Collection, 1269-K198-1

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