Peter Nelson + The Castaways

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  PN + Castaways   PN + Castaways Down In The Mine   Award presented 2007

Peter Nelson Collection


Peter Nelson and The Castaways - Spencer Sreet Revisited Concerts 2006

Peter Nelson and the Castaways originated in Christchurch, where Peter had previously been in another Christchurch group called The Diamonds, which consisted of (in order from left in the image below) - Ray Messervy )Bass), Don Clarkson (Rhythm Guitar), Doug Petrie (Drums), David Henderson (Lead Guitar), with Kaye Bassett and Peter Nelson (Vocalists).  They released one single in 1963 which was Ventures In Paradise / Lucille, both sides were instrumentals.  When The Diamonds split up, Peter Nelson and The Castaways with Kaye Bassett was formed, and the new line-up consisted of Peter Nelson and Kaye Bassett (Vocalists), Len Ormsby (Lead Guitar), Don Clarkson (Bass), Doug Henderson (Rhythm Guitar) and Doug Petrie (Drums).  On moving to Wellington in 1965 (at which time Kaye Bassett left), they became known exclusively as Peter Nelson and The Castaways.  Peter Gillette on the VOX Continental Organ (who had been playing in The Opposition at The Plainsman when Peter Nelson and The Castaways left Christchurch), was recruited into the band, and he then also moved to Wellington.


An early shot of Peter Nelson and The Castaways

Peter Nelson and The Castaways on tour

Peter Nelson and The Castaways (Christchurch)


Peter Nelson and The Castaways (Sydney)

Peter Nelson and The Castaways (Sydney)

Peter Nelson + The Castaways (Wellington)

Live on Australian TV (Channel 7) "It's All Happening"


Once established in Wellington, Peter Nelson and the Castaways played locally and appeared on the local TV show Teen Scene.  They recorded two singles, Down The Road A Piece / I'll Go Crazy and Baby Can I Take You Home / I'll Never Be Blue.  By this time the band had substantiated utilising the following line-up: Peter Nelson (Lead Vocalist), Len Ormsby (Lead Guitar), Don Clarkson (Bass), Doug Henderson (Rhythm Guitar), Doug Petrie (Drums), Peter Gillette (Keyboards).  Peter Nelson and the Castaways made a strong reputation for themselves with their quirky choice of their own originals mixed with rhythm and blues.  Their biggest hit was Down In The Mine written by Peter Hindmarsh of Wellington's Premiers.  Another single was released, Goin' Out Of My Mind / Skye Boat Song, then the group took the plunge and left for Australia in 1966.  Peter Nelson left them soon after to find fame as a solo artist in Hong Kong and around Asia and was replaced by new vocalist Frankie Stevens, after which the band changed it's name to simply The Castaways.



Christchurch Cathedral 2006



There were still two singles to be released as Peter Nelson and the Castaways. They were Knock On Wood / Old Man Mose and At A Time Like This /A Little Lovin' Somethin', both released in 1967.  As The Castaways they released the singles Any Little Bit / Early Morning in 1967 and One More Fool / Baby What I Mean and Angelica / Love Is A Hurtin' Thing for EMI in Australia before returning to New Zealand in 1968.  During their time in Australia, Len Ormsby was replaced by Reno Tehei, Doug Petrie by ex-Twilights drummer Laurie Pryor, and Peter Gillette by Lance Dixon.  Peter Nelson had moved to Hong Kong where he became a high profile entertainer, working rooms like the famous Hilton Den, the Peninsula's popular Scene Disco, and The Mandarin Hotel, for many years before returning to Christchurch to be close to family.  More recently Peter Nelson and The Castaways got themselves back together for the Spencer Street Revisited Concerts in Christchurch Cathedral in September of 2006, and for the first ROCKONZ Concert in 2007 in the Christchurch Town Hall.  Peter Gillette is featuring on the Hammond Organ (thanks to Kevin Frewer for allowing the old girl to come out of retirement for the night).


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