Flying Wild — circa 1971
John Fielding, Ross Muir and Andre Jayet
John Fielding was replaced by Ramon York in Flying Wild and this group would morph into Ragnarok after Fielding's departure to the UK
From a commentary by Grant Gillanders in AudioCulture ....
The annals of New Zealand music rarely, if ever, mention Christchurch group Flying Wild. To the uninitiated they don't exist; to the initiated, they are merely a footnote in the Ragnarok story.
They were the first group to be given carte blanche access to Eldred Stebbing’s Jervois Road studio, six years before Th’ Dudes and Hello Sailor, and while they weren't the first New Zealand act to write their own rock opera, they were the first local band to perform their own opera in public. Their story is unique, as is the career of front man John Fielding. The Flying Wild story began at Christchurch Boy’s High School, where students John Fielding, Ross Muir and one other forgotten member formed a band. Fielding recalls: "Ross was a boarder at school, we used to borrow a speaker from his hostel as it was bigger than anything we had. At some stage we put an ad on the notice board at Begg's for a drummer and Andre Jayet turned up. We thought he was as bad as us, and we could all develop from the same level. In the early days we played the songs of The Yardbirds and The Kinks with more enthusiasm than musicianship, but we managed to get regular gigs around Christchurch, Timaru and Ashburton and even backed English comedian Warren Mitchell – aka Alf Garnett from the Till Death Us Do Part TV Series – for a gig at Mt Cook."
Inspired by The Who’s Tommy rock opera in mid 1969, the group wrote a four-act, 24-track, 90-minute rock opera titled Jones: The Birth And Death Of. The performance was based on the traditional Chinese opera with no movement or scenery between songs, and narration between the musical items. They described it as a biographical study of futility and loneliness, in which Jones, a utopian drifter, fights in the Vietnam War and then struggles with his life afterwards. Permission was granted by the Christchurch City Council for the group to perform the opera on the banks of the Avon River, near the Hereford Street bridge. "All I really remember was that it was a beautiful night and it sounded great in amongst the trees on the banks of the Avon," says Fielding. "There were a few noise complaints, so a few council officers arrived halfway through along with the Mayor, so we performed the last half at half volume, which still sounded okay." The group's intention was to find an interested promoter to stage the production and a record label to hopefully record it. The opera was even mentioned in the nationally distributed Playdate magazine, but no one in Christchurch had the ability to market it. Like the central figure in the opera, Jones: The Birth And Death Of died, never to be seen or heard from again.