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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 (at that stage using his birth name Peter Trebilcock) had originally been in a group called The Metronome - moving on to join The Diamonds - who had been appearing at The Zodiac Lounge, Friendship House, and The Bay Hall (Timaru).  Diamonds' leader and bass player, Ray Messervy asked Peter to join, after vocalist Phil Money and drummer Wayne Allen left the group at the end of February 1964 - the time at which The Diamonds finished their gig at the Zodiac Lounge.  Thus, now with Ray Messervy on bass, John Pollard on drums, Ted Meares on rhythm guitar, Dave Henderson on lead guitar and Peter Trebilcock on vocals, The Diamonds took advantage of Ray Columbus and the Invaders' departure from Christchurch, which had opened the door for The Diamonds to move to entertain US servicemen at the US Deep Freeze Base, before starting their residency at the all new Safari Lounge in Tuam Street on Saturday June 20th, 1964.  Local newspaper advertising around the the opening of The Safari Lounge introduces Peter Nelson as New Zealand's Frank Ifield, and that appears to be the beginning of Peter's use of his mother's maiden name in his stage identity.  Rhythm guitaritst Ted Meares left after about 2-3 months, and was replaced by Jimmy Woods.  Fairly soon thereafter, John Pollard was replaced by Doug Petrie behind the drum-kit, and Kaye Bassett also came in as a female vocalist.  Jimmy left soon after, and was replaced by new rhythm guitarist Don Clarkson.  After several months at the Safari Lounge, North Island promoters Ian Dawson and Benny Levin offered the group (at that stage still The Diamonds) a contract to play in Nelson and Wellington, but Ray Messervy, Dave Henderson and Kaye Bassett all decided not to go.  Peter Nelson, Don Clarkson and Doug Petrie then joined up with lead guitarist Len Ormsby and rhythm guitarist Doug Henderson both of whom were ex The Falcons from Timaru.  Don Clarkson switched to bass, and the new band was named Peter Nelson and the Castaways - now without Kaye Bassett.

 
 

Early Peter Nelson and The Castaways - showing Peter Nelson,
Len Ormsby, Doug Petrie, Don Clarkson and Doug Henderson


Peter Nelson and The Castaways on tour


Peter Nelson and The Castaways - (now including Peter Gillette) back from Sydney and playing at The Safari Lounge, Christchurch

 
 

Once established in Wellington, Peter Nelson and the Castaways played locally and appeared on the local TV show Teen Scene.  The new band got its break at the end of 1964 when Ken Cooper of Prestige Promotions booked them to play at the Nelson Sports Hall for Christmas and New Year - also on the bill was Wellington country singer Jim McNaught, whose "Long Tall Texan" was a hit on HMV.  The group was spotted by a scout for HMV and immediately signed up to an HMV recording contract.  Come 1965 they were in Wellington and in an HMV recording studio laying down their first single Baby Can I Take You Home // I'll Never Be Blue, (a Gary Thain original).  Sundays were spent on stage at either the Taita or Porirua Youth Club.  More recording sessions would follow, the first of which delivered the single I'll Go Crazy // Down the Road Apiece (with Don Clarkson in the vocal slot), after which Don left, to be replaced by Doug Rowe, and very soon thereafter, organist Peter Gillette (who had been playing in The Opposition at The Plainsman when Peter Nelson and The Castaways left Christchurch), would join them in Wellington on the VOX Continental Organ.  The next recording session delivered Down in the Mine // So Don't Go.  This last single was an all Kiwi affair with Premiers' bassist Peter Hindmarsh having written Down in the Mine, and new bassist, Doug Rowe's So Don't Go.  After this they moved to Sydney where they were very well received.  They came back to New Zealand later and played in Auckland, Christchurch (Safari Lounge) as well as Timaru, before returning to Sydney, which explains the photo at The Safari Lounge with Peter Gillette in the band, he having joined after the group left Christchurch for the lights of Wellington.  Whilst in Sydney, a further change occurred with Doug Rowe leaving the group. and this necessitated Doug Henderson's move to playing bass.

 
 

Peter Nelson and The Castaways (Wellington)
Ormsby, Henderson, Nelson, Petrie + Rowe


Peter Nelson and The Castaways (Sydney)
Henderson, Gillette, Nelson, Ormsby, Petrie


Peter Nelson + The Castaways (Sydney)
Ormsby, Gillette, Nelson, Petrie, Henderson


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

 
 

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).

 
 

Peter Nelson and The Castaways - Sydney 1976


Peter Nelson and The Castaways - colour publicity shot


Peter Nelson and The Castaways - HMV publicity shot

 
 

Back to the future  —  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 the Christchurch Town Hall in 2007.  On both accasions, Peter Gillette featured on a genuine old L-100 Hammond Organ (thanks to Kevin Frewer allowing the old girl to come out of retirement for those nights).  The line-up, however, was one that never had previously existed with both Peter Gillette (Organ) and Don Clarkson (Bass) in the group at the same time.

 
 

ROCKONZ 2007


Christchurch Cathedral 2006


ROCKONZ 2007

 
 

Additional Peter Nelson and related groups information is available on the following individual pages, as well as the Audio Culture Website .....

 
 

Use links to supplementary data Peter Nelson + The Castaways   º    Renaissance Use links to supplementary data

 
 

Use links to supplementary data www.audioculture.co.nz/people/peter-nelson.html Use links to supplementary data