Taranaki Daily News

Musician, businessma­n and promoter

- Graeme Duckett

Perhaps the most wellknown musician, businessma­n and promoter in Waitara’s history is Colin King.

Colin’s real story has never been told, and I’ve had the pleasure of talking in depth to Colin about his amazing life and career.

Born in Fitzroy in 1935 to Henry and Mavis King, Colin attended Fitzroy Primary school until his parents shifted to Brixton near the Waiongana Bridge. Colin biked to Waitara Central School at the age of 8.

Colin always had a love of music, his mother was a very competent pianist, yet his father couldn’t whistle a tune.

The family shifted into Waitara to Cracroft St, Colin started music lessons at the nunnery on Memorial Place.

Starting at 7.30am he spent 10 months learning to play

Remembranc­e, he says.

‘‘Any mistake meant a ruler or pencil across my knuckles,’’ Colin remembers vividly. ‘‘I swore I’d never ever play that piece of music again after that, she was cruel.’’

‘‘At high school I was a keen boxer and loved all sports. I wanted to be a Phys Ed teacher, but was called into the headmaster’s office and told, ‘You’ll never be a Phys Ed teacher Colin. You’ve got to be a teacher first. You’ll never be any good, you haven’t got the brains for it.’ That was a real put down.’’

Colin left school and started as an apprentice mechanic in the garage behind Mac McCallum’s petrol station in McLean St. Though keen on fixing engines his music got in the way.

‘‘After about three months I was struggling keeping up with playing at dances six nights a week and working as a grease monkey. We played at Opunake, Waverley, Mo¯ kau you name it. Mum said, ‘You have to make up your mind whether you want to be a mechanic or a musician’. I was paid 30 bob ($3) a week as a mechanic and earned 27/6d ($2.75) a night in the band, so I took the better paying job.

‘‘Must have been meant to happen as the garage was sold soon

after, and I took up music for a living.

‘‘I got a job with Ian Murray as a delivery boy. The hours worked for me and it gave me a bit of extra money. Ian was a great businessma­n and the staff were great to work with.’’

Many will remember Ian Murray, Norvin Chew, Ian Wilson, Anne Zeier, Frank Sharrock and Lesley Skelton who worked there.

Colin’s first gig was playing piano with Charlie Bailey on saxophone and Donny White on the drums at the dances at the Kairau Pa.

He then played piano with The Harmoniser­s’ original members, Bert Sharrock on piano accordion and Bob Crow on drums.

This was the beginning of Colin’s remarkable career.

Bob Thompson had a record and appliance shop in McLean St and Colin would call in after school to check out the latest recordings.

After Bob’s disastrous fire in 1957 when his shop burnt out, Bob, seeing how keen Colin was on music, offered to help him into his own business giving him valuable contacts and suppliers’ names.

Part of the deal with the record company was that Colin had to be an appliance agent.

‘‘Waitara needs a record shop,’’ Bob told Colin.

So, in 1957 when he was 22 years old, Colin set up shop in half of a building in Queen St.

Bob Thompson had access to American dollars that he offered to Colin to buy a new Falcon station wagon, Colin says. You needed overseas funds back then. .

Many of you will remember the lovely cabin cruiser boat Colin had called Miss Marlin.

‘‘I went half shares with my father to get it,’’ Colin says.

‘‘It was a double laminated kauri boat. We got it in Auckland. The crowd we bought it off delivered it down to Te Awamutu and we towed it home from there.

‘‘My father was the commodore of the Waitara Boat Club then. He shifted the observatio­n tower that’s there today onto the site. With the help of Peter Van Praagh, Owen Woods, my father and myself, we put the slipway in on the seaward side of it.’’

In 1957 Colin was the youngest member in the Rotary Club, and one of the original members of the Town and Country Club.

A little known fact is Colin introduced Johnny Devlin as the Elvis Presley of New Zealand in Whanganui.

The venue was booked, posters plastered around the place, and Colin gets a call from Johnny saying ‘‘I can’t make it.’’

Colin said ‘‘You’d better make it or I’m going to sue you, it’s all booked, tickets are sold, you’re going on stage, you’d better be here.’’

Johnny did turn up on the bus on time in his blue jacket with his guitar draped over his shoulder, and took to the stage wowing the crowd. He and Colin became good friends after that.

■ Next week: Part II of Life of Colin King.

 ??  ?? The Harmoniser­s, from left, Bob Crow, Neville Goble, Lou McDonald and Colin King.
The Harmoniser­s, from left, Bob Crow, Neville Goble, Lou McDonald and Colin King.
 ??  ?? Colin King amongst The Harmoniser­s.
Colin King amongst The Harmoniser­s.
 ??  ?? Bob Crow, Bill Crisp and Colin King.
Bob Crow, Bill Crisp and Colin King.

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