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Ritchie Venus + The Blue Beetles

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Ritchie Venus  —  the alter ego of Christchurch eccentric Michael Braithwaite reflects a career extending back to the mid 1960s when Ritchie Venus began his career playing in bands around Christchurch - the most notable of these being Green Ginger (who made two television appearances).  Among others Ritchie worked with Steve Apirana of the all-maori group, Butler, Malcolm Lane of Serenity, and Kevin Bayley (of Taylor).  After nearly a decade of playing in local bands, Ritchie began his solo career doing guest spots with a Rock 'n' Roll revival band circa 1974, and about 18 months later, he appeared in Wolfman Jack's Howlin' Disco, impressing the Wolfman with his Elvis performance.  That same year he did his first television performance as Elvis on a Telethon.  The following year, Ritchie played Pharaoh in the Christchurch Operatic Society's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" a performance which was described by a local newspaper critic as "excellent".  1978 saw Ritchie set a new high on the "Opportunity Knocks" applause meter, leading to more television appearances, including "Star Zone" and all of TVNZ's subsequent Telethons.  Venus's Elvis led to extensive television exposure, but it soon stereotyped him, so he desisted to concentrate on his own music.

Members of the band were - Ritchie Venus (Vocals), John Markie (Guitar), John Segovia (Guitar), Mick Elborado (Bass), M S Agro (Bass), Michael Vaile (Drums), Norman Duffy (Drums).

   

1982 saw his first record released  —  on the Flying Nun label, and Ritchie's band toured the South Island as backing group and opening act for Johnny Devlin, and the following year he toured the South Island with the Troggs, and in 1984 a further South Island tour took place with Ritchie in the cast of Robert Young's production of 'Godspell'.  In 1988 Ritchie took his act to America with Steve McCabe, where they performed on stage and in radio shows around Boston, Berkeley and San Francisco where Ritchie had his records released by Rough Trade.  The 1990s saw Ritchie branch out into motion pictures as well, appearing in 'Heavenly Creatures', 'The Frighteners', 'Snakeskin' and 'The Ballad of Ritchie Venus', a documentary about him made by Nathan Pohio for television, but which was shown in cinemas instead.  Music-wise, he performed regularly at the Wunderbar in Lyttelton, with his band recording for the Italian Omom label.  In 1998, Ritchie released Rocking To the Grave, a cassette containing six songs (since released on vinyl by Unwucht in Germany).  Several albums and numerous compilations followed including EMI's Christchurch the Music and Unwucht's K10.  Ritchie's film-making recently attracted some acclaim, with screenings of some at the Christchurch Art Gallery in 2010.  'Vigilante Fury 111' is believed to be the first narrative film about the earthquake of September 4th of that year, incorporating the true story of two men who conned him out of his savings.


Video Clip  —  Ritchie Venus and The Blue Beetles  —  You Don't Own Me   This clip can be found on Audio Culture's Ritchie Venus page.
Ritchie Venus (Vocals), John Markie (Guitar), Mick Elborado (Bass), Michael Vaile (Drums), recorded 21/7/87.
Production by Campbell McLay.  Filmed on 23/1/89 under the direction John Chrisstoffels.  Edited by John Chrisstoffels and Ritchie Venus.