Show Chapters

Craig Scott, 1970: The Singer Goes Round and Round


Auckland, 1970

“Sing for your supper” harmonise The Mamas and the Papas as Craig Scott sits on his bed sanding down a model aeroplane. The room is small and sunny. The high, old walls are decorated with pictures of The Beatles and other groups. In the corner is a record player, a sewing machine and a broken piece of mirror. On the table, almost lost in pieces of model aeroplane, sits a koala bear. The aeroplane is Craig’s pride and joy.

“If I have time to buy the motor this afternoon, it should be finished by the weekend,” he says hopefully. From the next room, sounds of ‘In The Summertime’ drown out The Mamas and the Papas. Craig lives with The Inbetweens, who are rehearsing with Larry Morris for lunchtime shows in a city store.

Being a pop star has its advantages, but it also involves a lot of hard work. Since Craig Scott moved to Auckland, he’s been busy with rehearsals for Happen Inn, public appearances, interviews for press and radio and recording sessions for his new LP. Craig has been in the limelight since the success of his first single ‘Star Crossed Lovers’, but his sudden popularity doesn’t seem to have changed him. He is rather modest about his success. He’s much more interested in what is happening around him than he is in himself.

Playdate followed Craig through a typical Friday afternoon and discovered that being an up-and-coming pop idol not only involves talent – it also requires considerable stamina.

Friday 2.15pm

After walking for 10 minutes through the NZBC offices in Durham Street, we finally manage to locate Dallas Cuthbert on the fourth floor. She ushers us into an interview studio and roughly outlines the form the interview will take. Next door, through a glass panel, Jim Smith is on the air with his afternoon programme, and behind him is yet another studio. Dallas cheeks with the latest Hit Charts and discovers that Craig’s Gold Disc entry ‘Let’s Get A Little Sentimental’ is No.1 on the Auckland chart. She tests the tape for feedback and the interview begins.

They talk about Craig’s new LP which, at the time of the interview, is almost completed. Produced by Peter Dawkins, the record is a mixed bag which includes folk and semi-protest songs, ballads, soul numbers and “happy songs”. Craig is flying to Wellington the next week “to put it in the can”. He also hopes to release a new single (a track from the LP) before Christmas and another one shortly after Christmas. When the interview is over, Dallas rewinds the tape and plays it back. Both she and Craig seem happy with the result, and it’s just as well, as the car has been parked in a Five Minute Parking Zone for the last 40 minutes.

Friday 3.30pm

Radio Hauraki Offices, Caltex House. We are greeted in the lobby by Good Guy Ian Magan, and shortly after, Ward Austin joins us. Ward, one of Australia’s leading disc jockeys, has moved to Auckland to work with Radio Hauraki. Ward and Ian show Craig through the new offices – the studio, the board room, the record library, the newsroom. They explain how the news service will work and indicate a spot on the waterfront where they hope to build a helicopter landing. Ian points out that the good guys have lost touch with the local pop scene since they closed down some months ago. He invites Craig back to record an interview with Ward. On the way out we pass Hauraki’s Radio Broadcasting Licence proudly displayed in the main office.

4.20pm

In a small coffee bar downtown, Craig takes time out for a much-needed cup of coffee, discovers he likes yoghurt, and runs through the agenda for the rest of the day. The next stop is the Mascot Recording Studios in Newton, for a two-hour rehearsal with the band for Happen Inn.

5.00pm

The musicians arrive and settle themselves in the main studio. Conductor Neil McGough reminds everyone that there will be talking only when necessary. All the artists must be on call, and Craig stands in a corner going over his lyrics while Chic Littlewood and Suzanne of The Chicks run through their numbers. For rehearsal, the artists sing with the band in the big studio, but when the programme is recorded, the singers work in a sound-proof box with the backing diverted through earphones. Craig’s first number is ‘Bachelor Boy’. One run through and everyone seems satisfied with the sound. His next number, the Edison Lighthouse song, ‘She Works In A Woman’s Way’, requires a little more work.

Craig seems at ease working with a big band. There are very few hold-ups and when he has rehearsed his numbers, Craig quietly slips out of the studio. No one gets the star treatment here. Everyone is too busy working together to get the job done. The time is 6.45pm. A hungry Craig Scott goes home for a meal, before setting out for a night’s work. He still hasn’t bought an engine for his model aeroplane.

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First published in Playdate, October 1970, and reproduced here with permission.

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