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Dion Murphy

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Full Names:  Dion Shennan Murphy
Hometown:  Christchurch
Career Began:  1958
Groups:  The Sapphires, Dion Shannon and The Shamrocks, Sabra
Worked with:  Ray Columbus, Ray Wolfe, Tommy Adderley, Toni Williams
Residencies:  Copper Cat, The Embassy, Tavern Rachel, Russley Hotel, The Hermitage, The Terminus, Timaru, The Clarendon Hotel, The Hillsborough Tavern, The Zetland Hotel, Noah's Hotel Waitangi Room, The Christchurch Town Hall Restaurant
Shows:  ROCKONZ
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Award presented 2009 Award presented 2009

Dion started his musical career by winning many Christchurch juvenile singing competitions and in 1958 joined a new band led by Robin Hope (Guitar) called The Sapphires.  The group included Fred Mummery (Piano), Mike Green (Bass), Murray Johnston (Drums).  In 1958, the band obtained a residency in a local coffee lounge, in lower High Street, Christchurch - called the Copper Cat, which was owned by Adam Ferkatovich.  Dion at that time, sang duos with another local musician/singer Maurice Cook (Cookie).  In 1959 "Cookie" left the band to take a position with Max Merritt and the Meteors and Dion teamed up with the female singer, Cecile Wylde in the same band to sing duo songs.  The band then reformed, to become "Dion Shannon and the Shamrocks" with both Dion and Cecile singing solo and duo songs.  The Copper Cat was one of the original night spots in Christchurch and it became a favourite spot for musicians such as Howard Morrison and the Howard Morrison Quartet to drop in for "coffee" after their local gigs, as the hotels closed at 6 o'clock and the Copper Cat stayed open till 2am in the morning - a rarity in 1959.

 

Dion and The Shamrocks at The Copper Cat


Dion + Cecile with The Shamrocks

 

Dion at this time was fully committed to his boxing career, working his way from amateur lightweight Canterbury Champion to amateur lightweight New Zealand Champion and continuing on to become the undefeated Professional New Zealand Lightweight Champion by 1962.  As a result Dion had a very high public profile from his unbeaten professional boxing career, with crowds of over 4,000 attending his local fights, and this added to his singing profile with magazine articles boasting headings such as "The Singer With The Saturday Night Punch".  Dion and Cecile married in 1961 and moved initially to Auckland in 1965, then on to Hamilton in 1969, with Dion concentrating on his career as District Commissioner of Apprenticeships.