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Gillette-McKay

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Gillette-Mckay  —  Peter Gillette (Keyboards) and Larry McKay (Guitar)

In 1983 Larry McKay team   They played enthusiastically to over-full houses four nights a week until new drink-driving laws outlawed what was in those days the ruling norm at pubs - having a few beers and then driving off home without concern.   Many original compositions were conceived around this time, and they were performed by the boys as part of their regular set.  Peter and Larry's friendship has remained strong over the years, and it is of little surprise to those who remember the Larry and Peter duo at the Star and Garter, that they should re-kindle their enthusiasm for each other's music and get back into the studio to re-create those old numbers as well as putting together a whole raft of new material.  Listen to the tracks on their new Moontide album, and you will see what we mean!

 

Larry McKay

Larry was born in Christchurch New Zealand on November 11th, 1946.  His first group was The Vigilantes which he joined in 1961, and remained with until 1966 (apart from a stint with Johnny Campbell and The Detours in 1965).  He formed Page One in the mid-late 60s, playing lead guitar and handling lead vocals on the local pub-circuit until turning professional in 1972.  He joined Beam (official band of the Commonwealth Games) in 1974, playing for the Royal Family in the Christchurch Town Hall on windup, backing 9 top NZ artists.  He moved to Auckland with the band and did the first NZ colour TV show Free Ride (Saturday nights at 7:00pm on the only channel available) - teaming up with Ray Columbus, Mark Williams, Laurie Dee and The Reflections.  Guest bands on Free Ride included Blue Mink and The George Baker Selection.  Larry returned from Auckland to Christchurch in 1975, joining the popular Soul Agents at the Carlton Hotel - this turned into Weaver at the Hillsborough Tavern.  He then joined Friar Tuck whose vocal harmonies with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", The Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" and The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" packed the Redwood Hotel and later The Russley Hotel until noise problems forced a move to the Sandridge Hotel which was still packed!  Guest bands included Midnight Oil and Hello Sailor.  The band took a new direction musically when Pete Gillette replaced Eric Robinson on keyboards and the band was renamed Chasing Paper, specialising in covers of bands like Toto and Jethro Tull.  At the same time Larry was rehearsing with a 4-piece vocal group Shots with Eric Robinson and two outstanding female vocalists, Lynley Evans and Dyan.

 

 

Shots went on to win the group and gospel sections at the Gold Guitar Awards in Gore and made the final of the TV talent show Telequest.  Then there were two years spent with Soundtrack (featuring "Super Cyril" Edwards) at Cokers Hotel, followed by a year of playing solo at the Heathcote Valley Inn before he joined forces with Peter Gillette as Larry and Peter in 1983 at the Star and Garter Hotel.   They played to over-full houses 4 nights a week for 2 1/2 years until new drink-driving laws destroyed the ruling norm at pubs.  Larry then joined with Brian Smith (Friar Tuck's bassist now playing saxophone) as Icebreakers from which he retired after 2 years.  This albeit temporary retirement lasted for 11 years until The Vigilantes were reformed for the so-called Spencer Street Revisited concerts in Christchurch Cathedral in 2006.  The following year saw The Vigilantes on stage again at the 2007 ROCKONZ concert, and it is coincidental the he should again meet up with his old mate Peter Gillette.  The following year The Viglantes were awarded the prestigious ROCKONZ Southern Star Award, and Larry and Peter decided to get together again and write some new material.  The Moontide project is the result.  In 2009, Larry received yet another ROCKONZ Southern Star Award when Johnny Campbell and The Detours were honoured at the annual ROCKONZ awards presentations.  Most recently Larry has been working with a new band called Bob's yer Uncle with a residency at the Phoenix Tavern in Papanui, Christchurch.  The rumour mill says that Gillette-McKay may have a new album in the pipeline.

 

 

Peter Gillette

Peter was born in England on June 6th, 1944, and educated in Hong Kong, England, and Australia, starting his musical career with a 4-week fill-in for Malcolm Jones and The Silhouettes in Christchurch, New Zealand.  This was followed closely by a stint at Surf City with The Venturers - which included George Drayton (Bass), Ted Meares (Guitar) and Jim Whitfield (Drums), and Graham Hirst (Lead Guitar).  A change in bass player (Peter Hansen replaced George Drayton) saw the group move on to The Plainsman.  The Downbeats which featured Arthur Muir (Guitar), Don Clarkson (Guitar), Doug Petrie (Drums) and Paul Bradley (Bass) was the next port of call for the up-and-coming keyboardist.  Peter joined Peter Nelson and The Castaways in Wellington playing nightclubs and making recordings, before moving on to Sydney for a few years where the group featured on all major TV networks, and were regulars on Bandstand, It's All Happening, as well as Billy Thorpes TV Show.  The Castaways were resident at the The Hawaiian Eye NiteClub, The Whisky A Go Go, The P.A. Club, and negotiated a sucessful recording contract with EMI.  Peter played at the Smiggins Hole Ski Resort near Thredbo, NSW for 4 months with Dave Kennedy and Peter Skerrett, after which he returned to Sydney for one month playing hotels etc.  November 1968 saw the start of a four month tour of Vietnam.  Based at the Da Nang Hotel, the group (which again included Dave Kennedy) performed 14 shows a week with frequent trips on C130 Hercules aircraft.  He again went back to Sydney to team up with Len Ormsby (ex Castaways) in a group called The Traque - a two year residency at the Hawaiian Eye's Cheetah Room followed.

 

 

Christchurch, New Zealand was the next destination to join Chapta from 1971-73 on the Mojos/Ballins Hotels circuit.  Several south and north island tours backing major NZ artists resulted, with the highlight being a nationwide tour with Lulu.  Peter then joined Neville Barrie's Footsteps with Neville on guitar and John Clark on drums, and spent 5 years playing hotels, clubs, private functions (7-8 jobs per week!) and heaps of radio and TV commercials.  Freedom was formed with Doug Petrie and Lyall Barron and that group appeared at The Bush Inn before the next venture Moviez (with Pat, Leon and Jimmy Kearns plus Kerry Church) continued at The Bush Inn before a move to the Adam's Apple group (with Dave Kennedy, Jay Peters, Kerry Church and Paul Matthews).  Reality kicked in briefly (for 3 months) and Peter took over the music department of Sedley Wells in Riccarton, Christchurch, before again being caught by the music bug and forming a trio with Leon and Jimmy Kearns.  Chasing Paper with Brian Smith, Larry McKay, and drummer Peter Casserley, was the next focus.  Three separate two-year residencies were to follow with Allan Morrison at Cokers Hotel (in parallel with a Monday and Sunday stint at Henry Africa's) and the Star And Garter Hotel, before the Larry and Peter duo finally surfaced at the Star and Garter.  Alan and Peter then did two years at the Sequoia Restaurant.  1991 ushered in a period of cabaret-style combos and venues, which included Twiggers (Lyn and Peter, Peter Nelson, Tracey Gardyne, Brian Smith), and Lyn and Peter at The Sequoia and Hoon Hay 88 Restaurants.  Four years were spent as musical director for The Happy Half-hour Show (a musical variety show on Canterbury Television presented by the late Sandy Davis) - band members included Doug Petrie, Trevor Wright and Graham Wardrop.  1976-86 was consumed with the ultra-successful That's Country TV Series of which Peter was one of only two musicians who performed in EVERY show - over 200 programs were sold to Cable TV Networks in the USA, making That's Country one of the greatest NZTV productions ever.  Recently Peter has been running the Peter Gillette Keyboard School Of Music which has involved teaching at intermediate and secondary schools.