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Renaissance

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Renaissance circa 1971
John Gordon (Keyboards), Billy Kristian (Bass), Peter Nelson (Vocals), Brian Robertshaw (Musical Director - Electric Piano, Trombone, Trumpet, French Horn),
Wally Scott (Guitar, Saxophones and Flute), Steve Tebbutt (Drums)

 

Renaissance  —  Steve Tebbutt, Billy Kristian, Brian Robertshaw, Peter Nelson, Wally Scott and John Gordon

 

Peter started his Asian jaunt in Bangkok in 1968 and spent 3 months gigging on US military bases around Thailand before flying to Hong Kong to join Little Sammy and the In People as their lead singer.  The band had a residency at The Den in the Hilton Hotel, reputedly the top room on Hong Kong Island.  But the deal went south when Sammy decided he really didn't want to go to the UK after all, leaving Peter out of a job, BUT he had been spotted by the manager of the Scene Disco at the Peninsula Hotel, across the harbour at Kowloon, and Peter was offered a one-month contract, working Tuesday, Friday and Sunday with local favourite band The Lotus, with whom he had performed on Hong Kong TV in his first month in the colony.  The Lotus were to be one of the best bands Peter worked with, and they seized the opportunity to learn a whole new repertoire of blues and soul material.  Within weeks Peter and The Lotus were playing six nights instead of three and filling the basement venue - with its money-was-no-object sound system, and the word got around.  Soon the Kowloon in crowd, who had started catching the Star ferry across the harbour to The Den or the Mandarin Hotel, were coming down to the Scene instead - there they could party on without worrying about catching the last ferry back.  Eventually Peter got to front the In People.

 

With BB King - Mugen, Tokyo 1971


Renaissance circa 1970
Wally Scott, John Gordon, Peter Nelson, Brian Robertshaw, Billy Kristian, Steve Tebbutt


Renaissance II - Furama Hotel 1973/74

 

A three-month contract with local television company Rediffusion for a show called Tonight with the In People eventuated, and Peter was asked to go to England so he could be the UK entry in the 1969 European Song Contest, which would later become the Eurovision Song Contest.  Unfortunately Peter could not secure an open round-trip air ticket, so he could get home if things didn't work out in the UK.  The band began to fall apart, with some giving up and heading back to Australia, leaving Peter to find replacements, including former Invaders Billy Kristian and Wally Scott, but the last straw came when Sammys brother Tony, the drummer and band leader, failed to show one night and was found to be on a plane to Australia - unbeknown to the rest of the band who were due on stage and couldnt find their drummer.  In order to keep the contract at The Den, Peter formed a new band - Renaissance.  The Den put Peter in front of all the right people, and his regular television appearances also helped a lot.  EMI Hong Kong, bought some of the masters of his earlier Australian and New Zealand recordings and released them in south-east Asia.  Then, when the Hilton contract ended in October 1969, Renaissance got a six-month contract to open a new nightclub (The Marco Polo) in Bangkok, and yet another at the new Singapore Hilton in Orchard Road.  That was called the Spot Spot, and it ran for nine months.  From there, they headed to Tokyo and its famous Mugen club, where they shared the bill with, among others, BB King and the Bar-Kays - they also did their first colour TV show, on the TBS network.

 

Hawaiian Hut - Ala Moana Hotel 1971


Album publicity shot 1976


Safari Nightclub - Siam Intercontinental Hotel 1971

 

The next big offer came from the Ala Moana Hotel in Hawaii, a 12-month contract for six nights a week in the 1600-seat Hawaiian Hut, the biggest venue in Honolulu, but in June 1972, as the contract was nearing its end, things fell apart.  Peter was left with no choice but to return to Hong Kong, where he opened the new Furama Hotel with a new Renaissance II (seen in the photograph above from left) Peter Nelson (Vocals), Greg Lyon (Bass), Mick Kenny (Trumpet, Flugal Horn and Keyboards), Roberto Pettaccia (Drums), Peter Thoms (Trombone), Andrew Oh (Saxophone and Flute), and Lance Dixon (Keyboards)  —  but work was drying up by 1974 as hotels began the switch from live music to disco.  Peter quit the stage and went behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, installing sound systems and curating music for entertainment venues.  In 1976 a self-titled album was released, with backing on some songs by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra - tracks included Feelings, Sailing and No Regrets.  Various TV commercials and film themes also regularly put him back in front of a microphone.  Peter returned home to New Zealand in 1996