Dave Miller and The Byrds

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Dave Millar and The Byrds - (or was it The Playboys)
Graeme Miller (Drums), John O'Neill (Bass Guitar), Dave Miller (Vocals), Kevin O'Neill (Rhythm Guitar) and Brian Ringrose (Lead Guitar)

The following narrative is taken from an article in local Christchurch SCENE newspaper supplement December 1965 - no author identified


Very much by popular demand the top local group in the country would be The Byrds, which as many of us know, was founded in our own city of Christchurch three years ago, as The Playboys.  Now this, kids, is one of the real gas groups in the scene, and they have at some time or other held the rhythm for most of the teenage dances and nitespots throughout our fair dominion.  We had a real swinging jam session the other day, and decided to feature a few of the titbits we gleaned. So ... here goes!  The first break in Christchurch came when the group was offered residency at the newly-established Laredo nitespot ... where the group stayed until turning professional later in the year, and moving to the big smoke of Auckland, in November, 1964.  Almost immediately they were signed up to tour the North Island beach resorts with The Howard Morrison Quartet, following which heavy bookings kept the group flat to the scrapers Auckland-wise.  December 1964 brought the change of name to The Byrds - mostly because of group in America, England and Australia, which had previously captured the name The Playboys - incidentally, the American group The Byrds had only been formed for 9 months, and actually recorded Mr Tambourine Man even before their first public appearance.


At the Hora Hora Hall :  Kevin O'Neill (Rhythm), Brian Ringrose (Lead), John O'Neill (Bass)
Dave Miller (Vocals) and Graeme Miller (Drums)

At The Shiralee Auckland:  Kevin O'Neill (obscured), Brian Ringrose (Lead), John O'Neill (Bass),
Graeme Miller (Drums) and Dave Miller (Vocals)


Only in January and February of 1966 did The Byrds make a really great impact on the Auckland scene and consequently took over residency in one of the Big City’s top teenage nitespots.  Shortly following this, offers to record the group were made, and the first single, Bright Lights, Big City was recorded for Zodiac.  Moving very rapidly to 13th place on the Auckland Top 20, it reached No. 1 on 1ZB’s Teen Parade, and No. 2 on 3ZB's New Zealand Hit Parade, showing considerable chart reaction throughout the country.  Maybe a short description of the group would fill you in, at this stage:  DAVE MILLER: Leader and vocalist (age 23), GRAEME MILLER: Drums (age 21), AL DUNSTER: Rhythm Guitar (age 19), KRIS COLLIER: Bass Guitar (age 2O), BRIAN RINGROSE: Lead Guitar (age 20).


Brian Ringrose (Lead), Graeme Miller (Drums), Dave Miller (Vocals),
Chris Collier (Rhythm Guitar) and Al Dunster (Bass)

Graeme Miller (Drums), Chris Collier (Bass), Dave Miller (Vocals,
Al Dunster (Rhythm) and Brian Ringrose (Lead)

Graeme Miller, Chris Collier, Dave Miller, Al Dunster,
and Brian Ringrose


Demand for personal appearances increased rapidly, and the group made many public appearances with wellknown acts throughout the North Island.  Suddenly the group was approached for TV appearances, and to date they have appeared on all of NZ's recent TV shows, such as Teen Scene, On The Beat Side, and New Faces.  It was at this stage that the group recorded their second hit single for Zodiac, How You've Changed - reverse side Wake Up Little Susie.  Hit Parade ratings were not as good, but sales indicated a very strong following!  Then the O'Neill brothers left the group, and Al Dunster, rhythm guitarist and falsetto voice for the close harmony group The Dallas Four flew back from Sydney to join The Byrds.  Also Kris Collier moved from the Napier-based group The Messengers to take up bass.  Demand for public appearance forced the boys to relinquish all positions in Auckland and hit the road for a one-night-stand series throughout the country.  Only during the return appearances was the latest single No Time (reverse Love is All I Need) recorded together with an E.P. that was released that month.  And, believe it or not, No Time moved straight into No. 1 slot on 1ZB’s Teen Parade (first week in) and settled there for a duration of more than three weeks.  The first real national move came in the form of New Zealand’s spot light in place four on the Lever Hit Parade, plus national ratings on the V.O.5 Show.  Both sides moved to the Rotorua Hit Parade during the first week of release, and then the Taranaki Pop Parade in place eight.  So. on the strength of NZ reaction, overseas releases were then being made on the Zodiac International label.  November and early December saw the group back home in Christchurch for a few (pitifully shorts) appearances, but was mostly for the sake of a much need holiday.  They all had a real gas time, though, and had time to call in on us and many other friends.  Parties and rhythm sessions made it all a pretty busy holiday.  Guest appearances have the group heavily committed until their departure early next year and kept the whole bunch at sixes and sevens down here right till they left for Wellington engagements on December 15th.  The last New Zealand appearance was at Waihi during Christmas and New Year with The Howard Morrison Group.  Shortly afterwards there is be an extensive recording session with the disc manager (when he came hack from Australia to produce an L.P. plus a new single: then it was off to Australia for all!  But Sydney was a tough nut to crack, and the author thought that the lads may hit Melbourne first, and rely upon their reputation to carry the torch to the capital.  In their first three years, their music had been just tops.  Locals said "Keep at it, fellows!  The bright lights in Christchurch are right behind you all the way."