Jimmy Hill

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Jimmy Hill - drummer with Ray Columbus and The Invaders, Max Merritt and The Meteors and latterly Headband
..... shown here with The Invaders - Billy Karaitiana (Kristian), Dave Russell and Wally Scott

The following narrative was published on November 10th, 2000 by John Dix

Jimmy Hill was born on September 29th, 1943 and died on Tuesday November 9th, 2010.  Jimmy was 57.  In 1982, strolling past a backstreet pub in Surry Hills, Sydney, I recognised the blond locks of Kiwi muso Dave Russell, playing bass and looking as laidback as usual.  I couldn't see the rest of the band but the vocals sounded familiar.  Inside, I came across another friendly face: Jimmy Hill, singing and playing guitar.  The line-up was completed with a drum machine.  During the break that followed, Jimmy nodded towards the drum machine and said, "John, don't you go home and tell everyone who my drummer is."  He was grinning as he said it but it was no small irony that one of New Zealand's best rock drummers was playing with a drum machine.  But Jimmy Hill wasn't just a drummer, he could sing, play guitar, and at least one of his compositions, Love Is Bigger Than The Whole Wide World, is a Kiwi classic.  When Jimmy Hill died unexpectedly on Tuesday, it was his good friend Ray Columbus who put out the word on this side of the Tasman.  For years, Jimmy's friends have known of his dodgy ticker so the news wasn't entirely shocking.  What has been shocking are the circumstances leading to his death.  In October last year, Jimmy was playing a gig in the Blue Mountains when the stage collapsed, damaging his left leg - the injury led to complications and he spent the last year of his life in and out of hospital.  Last week he entered Gosford Hospital to have an ingrowing toenail removed, but what should have been a simple operation turned sinister when poor blood-circulation from his injury led to gangrene.  The toe was amputated and Jimmy's health declined.


Jimmy Hill - Early Ray Columbus and The Invaders
Brian Ringrose, Ray Columbus, Bill Karaitiana,
Jimmy Hill and Dave Russell

Jimmy Hill - Max Merritt and The Meteors
Viking Records promo for "ZIPPITY DOO DA" circa 1966
Max Merritt, Peter Williams, Billy Karaitiana and Jimmy Hill

Jimmy Hill - Tommy Adderley and Headband
Billy Kristian, Jimmy Hill, Dick Hopp, Tommy Adderley
and Ron Craig


Jimmy was born in Mataura, Southland, in 1943 and in the late-50s was playing drums with an Invercargill group, the Flares.  The guitarist was the late Wally Scott and in 1963 it was Scott who pulled in Hill to join Christchurch's top band, Ray Columbus and The Invaders.  That year, the band conquered the rest of New Zealand and in 1964 were the top attraction in Australasia with chart-topping gold records She's A Mod, Till We Kissed and teenage hysteria, Jimmy Hill was a pop star.  Years later, Jimmy told me he couldn't walk down the street without being mobbed, but he battled to pay the rent.  In 1965 Hill and Invaders' bassist Billy Kristian accepted a bigger paypacket with Max Merritt and the Meteors in Sydney.  After six months he returned to Auckland and joined the Keil Isles and later the C'Mon Showband.  He played with Rainbow and Headband (who recorded Love Is Bigger Than The Whole Wide World); he fronted his own band, Jimmy and The Jets and, clutching a guitar, switched musical codes to sing on the TV series That's Country.  In 1981 he moved to Sydney.  It was heart failure that killed Jimmy Hill, a man with a big heart, always polite, always smiling, always willing to give a hand or advice to younger musos. He was one of the good guys and, yes, a great musician.


Jimmy Hill
Polydor 2069065-A 1977
Who Put The Funk In The Country

Jimmy Hill
Polydor 2069065-B 1977
Have Another Drink Cowboy

Jimmy Hill
Polydor 2069065-A 1978
Love, Love, Love

Jimmy Hill
Polydor 2069065-A 1978
Hot Shot Willie