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Th' Dudes: photos by Murray Cammick


In the early days of Rip It Up when these photos were taken, Auckland lived in the shadow of Hello Sailor. They were suave, sophisticated rock musicians that were placed on a pedestal by fans and media. A young band like Th’ Dudes were also in awe of Hello Sailor and gained a “Hello Sailor wannabes” tag in some quarters. But who didn’t want to be Hello Sailor or wear the boots they wore?

The age difference between Graham Brazier and Ian Morris was only five years. In 1977 Ian Morris was the recording engineer at Stebbing Studios when Hello Sailor recorded their debut album. Morris won the Engineer Of The Year Award at the 1979 New Zealand Music Awards.

Hello Sailor were usually dressed to kill, their sense of style cohered while the Th’ Dudes in their early days wore a clash of clothing styles. I recall a recent conversation with their always-stylish manager Charley Gray when he said it annoyed him that people had the gall to say that he told the band what to wear.

When Rip It Up magazine debuted in June 1977, I was a 23-year-old music fan and a fresh-out-of-art-school magazine publisher. My music heroes were inevitably older than me, people I looked up to and respected in life. One had to learn to “respect” younger musicians to stay in music journalism.

I took live photos of Th’ Dudes with original bassist Peter Coleman but the first group photo of the band was after bassist Lez White joined. The photo was taken after a mid-week Windsor Castle gig and it was a bit of a failure as, during the session, more young musicians showed up. The drunk Scavengers crossed the road and started heckling, “take our photo” etc. In fact, the Scavengers photo was the better photo from the night.

A superior photo opportunity was organised but the timing may have been too early in the day for gigging musicians. The shoot was outside Charley Gray’s Island Of Real café in Airedale Street, an all-ages venue that was 200 metres down the road from the first Rip It Up office. It seemed to be the perfect chance to try a Beatles-style running towards the camera photo. I was having difficulty witnessing the lack of physical co-ordination of one band member running in boots, so I abandoned that idea. One of the more palatable photos from that series is seen here for the first time. Photos of the band in the alley beside the café were used in the October 1978 Rip It Up.

For a photographer, there is a key difference between The Beatles and Th’ Dudes: there were four Liverpool lads and there were five Dudes. I am not the only photographer that thinks it is a lot easier to photograph a band with four members, than a band with five. There’s something cosmic causing humans to exist in pairs, leaving one leftover soul to look lost or unloved in every photo. The problem does not relate to nurture but to numbers.

In 1979 writer John Dix wrote the behind-the-scenes story “Dayz in the Life of Th’ Dudes” for Rip It Up’s June issue. This was a good opportunity to take some photos that were not stage shots. The images were nothing special as the behind-the-scenes photo access was a sound check where the only larger than life personality (and beer gut) was road manager Keith “McFrenzy” McKenzie.

The band’s manager, Charley Gray, wanted to read the story prior to printing, probably in case Dix focused on “sex and drugs”. This was an unacceptable request at the time. It was agreed that he could check for “factual errors” but we would not change any views expressed by the writer.

Th’ Dudes wanted to supply their own photo for the June 1979 cover of Rip It Up and they commissioned a very fine photo taken by fellow Elam graduate, and renowned artist, Paul Hartigan. Words (and adverts) took priority in Rip It Up and my photos were the usual postage-stamp size we associate with early issues of the magazine.

When Th’ Dudes decided to split and do their final gigs at Mainstreet on the last weekend of April 1980, the band and Charley Gray were no longer on the same page. He left early in the evening not wishing to celebrate their final performance or maybe he knew that Ian Morris intended to perform the final set of the evening naked. Several musicians from the punk genre including Karel Van Bergen, Ljinon Manson and Chris Orange were present to show respect and to help Th’ Dudes drink their rider.

The final gig – a Sunday night, ending a multi-night booking – was not the auspicious occasion that Th’ Dudes deserved, but the punk contingent and the road crew joined them on stage during the last set and fun was had by all. The photos appeared in the May 1980 issue of Rip It Up. One image has Peter Urlich looking towards the ceiling as Ian Morris wanders the stage wearing only his 1964 Fender Stratocaster guitar.

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Peter Coleman is on bass in their first performance at the Island Of Real Café. From left: Ian Morris, Bruce Hambling (drums, obscured), Peter Coleman, Peter Urlich, Dave Dobbyn. - Murray Cammick

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Peter Urlich front of stage, Th’ Dudes’ first time at the Island of Real Café, Airedale Street. Ian Morris (in shadows) is behind him, with Bruce Hambling on drums. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes at the Auckland University café with Lez White on bass, a dancer and a concrete beam. From left: Ian Morris, Peter Urlich, Lez White, Dave Dobbyn. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris and Peter Urlich, Th' Dudes, at Island of Real. Photo appeared in Rip It Up, April 1978. - Murray Cammick

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“Let’s try a running shot like The Beatles in the 60s?” From photos taken in Airedale Street that were never used, 1978. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes, Island Of Real alley shot as used in Rip It Up, October 1978. - Murray Cammick

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Dave Dobbyn on lead vocal with Th’ Dudes, Island Of Real: a café by day and all-ages venue at night. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes took it to the ’burbs – this shot was taken at Mt Roskill Hall. From left: Lez White, Dave Dobbyn, Peter Urlich, Ian Morris (obscured). - Murray Cammick

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Less flares and more Iggy Pop by the time Th’ Dudes played an Orewa Hall. From left: Dave Dobbyn, Lez White, Peter Urlich, Ian Morris. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes live at an Orewa hall. Peter Urlich in mid-bounce with Lez White at left, Dave Dobbyn (obscured), and Ian Morris at right. - Murray Cammick

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Drummer Bruce Hambling, pictured when Th’ Dudes played the Music Expo at Ellerslie Racecourse. - Murray Cammick

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Another never used set-up, 1978. From left: Bruce Hambling, Peter Urlich, Ian Morris, Lez White, Dave Dobbyn. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes in the Island of Real band room, same day as the alley shot and used in the September 1978 Rip It Up. From left: Lez White, Dave Dobbyn, Ian Morris, Peter Urlich, Bruce Hambling. - Murray Cammick

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Ciggy stardust: Th’ Dudes road manager Keith “McFrenzy” McKenzie at work, Island of Real, May 27, 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris of Th’ Dudes soundchecking at Island of Real with sound engineer Paul Streekstra, May 27, 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris, with road-crew brother Rikki Morris side of stage, Island of Real, 27 May 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Peter Urlich and Lez White,  Island of Real, 27 May 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris, Th’ Dudes, Island of Real, 27 May 1979. His 18 year-old brother Rikki looks on from side of stage. - Murray Cammick

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Dave Dobbyn in his peroxide phase. Th’ Dudes, Island of Real, May 27, 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Dave Dobbyn, peroxide phase close-up. Island of Real, 27 May 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris receives Engineer Of The Year Award at the 1979 NZ Music Awards at the White Heron Hotel, Parnell. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris and Peter Urlich, Mainstreet Cabaret, Queen Street, circa late 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Peter Urlich and Ian Morris looking tired, Mainstreet venue, circa late 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Peter Urlich glowing in the spotlight, Mainstreet, circa late 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Ian Morris and Peter Urlich on fire at Mainstreet, circa late 1979. - Murray Cammick

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Oh, no! Ian has taken his clothes off for the last set of their final gig, Mainstreet, Auckland, late April, 1980. - Murray Cammick

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Peter Urlich looks to the heavens while Ian Morris keeps an eye on his frets. - Murray Cammick

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Guests Ljinon Manson on vocals, Chris Orange plays bass and Ian Morris is wearing a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. - Murray Cammick

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Karel Van Bergen of The Features sings while Dave Dobbyn wears less than usual. - Murray Cammick

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Dave Dobbyn does not appear to be under the influence of Weet-Bix on Th’ Dudes’ final night at Mainstreet, April 1980. - Murray Cammick

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Th’ Dudes’ final gig, Mainstreet. There to help Dave Dobbyn out are the always reliable road crew Glenn Nacey and Keith McKenzie. - Murray Cammick

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