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John R Campbell Collection


The Librettos - formed in Wellington and including Christchurch's Dave Diver on drums
Lou Parun (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Dave Diver (Drums), Rod Stone (Lead Guitar) and Brian Peacock (Bass) - the group's most successful iteration

Master guitarist Rod Stone, singer/guitarist Lou Parun, bassist Brian Peacock and drummer Dave Diver were already Wellington's top group, fast taking off to national fame after a spot on a well received 1964 national tour with Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas and Cilla Black, presenting a string of consistently well attended shows around Wellington, and at Teenarama (the hot teenage dancehall of the era).  The years of struggle around Wellington were paying off, and the rock band with the operatic name had been there at the beginnings of the group sound era in New Zealand.  Formed in 1960 by singer Roger Simpson, pianist Dave Clark, guitarists Rod Stone and Johnny England with bassist Paul Griffin and drummer Andy Shackleton, who was later replaced by Gordon Jenkins.  When Gordon Jenkins also departed, he was replaced in December 1963 by a young opportunistic Christchurch drummer, Dave Diver, late of The Tempests, who'd approached Rod Stone to offer his services during a brief stint in Wellington.  Johnny England was reluctant to go fulltime, and was next to leave.  He eventually released the single Jezebel // Linda Lu as Johnny England and The Titans (incorrectly spelt on the record as The Titians, who were in fact The Premiers going incognito), and joining The Verse 5 in the late 1960s.  He was replaced by solo singer Lou Parun, who was a veteran of four solo singles for Lexian Records, some backed by The Librettos.  Rod Stone also had a solo single on Lexian - Skye Boat // Friendly Persuasion (Stone says it was effectively an early Librettos release).


Nelson Sports Hall - Dave Diver, Paul Griffin, John England and Rod Stone

Brian Peacock, Rod Stone, Lou Parun
and Dave Diver

Nelson Sports Hall - Dave Diver, Paul Griffin, John England and Rod Stone


Much to the concern of Dave Diver, The Librettos lost a talented bass player in Paul Griffin.  Diver had moved to Wellington for The Librettos and he could see them disbanding.  In came Brian Peacock, late of Nelson's The Downbeats, and with Peacock, the group gained a strong stage presence and eventually a songwriter.  He also prompted a change in sound with more beat and R&B songs finding their way into their sets.  The classic Librettos line-up was now complete and with their sound plugged into the fast flowing current of pop, they edged past rivals The Premiers to become the top Wellington group.  Confidence brimming, manager Ian Dawson (of Dawson-Cooper Associates), arranged an audition at HMV Records where The Librettos quickly signed up to the label and to Castle Publishing.  This was a boon for the band as the previous line-up had been turned down as recording artists.  Through 1964 into 1965, The Librettos cut four singles at HMV studios with engineer Frank Douglas - Funny Things // Young Blood, the minor hit, Baby, It's Love // It's Alright.  An album, Let's Go With The Librettos, with six Stone and Peacock originals (notably I'm Gonna Say Yeah and I'm A Dog) appeared in February 1965.  Overexposed in New Zealand, The Librettos with manager Ian Dawson moved them to Sydney in March 1965 after turning down a second series of Let's Go with TVNZ.  With no contacts outside the EMI/HMV link, The Librettos started the graft again.


At The Rotorua Soundshell Ballroom

HMV Release "Let's Go" 1965

At Rotorua's Ritz Ballroom


They were sacked from the Sylvania Hotel after three nights for playing too much Beatles and mod style music. After that, The Librettos scrambled for work, taking part-time jobs as they searched for a break in the developing Sydney teen scene, where they were competing with hundreds of similarly hungry groups.  Dawson's dubious managerial doings and the hard times soon got to Dave Diver, who headed home in September 1965.  He briefly joined The Countdowns and the embryonic Avengers, before settling back home in Christchurch's Five Degrees.  His replacement was young Australian Craig Collinge, a drummer studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.  The Librettos eventually landed a spot at a dive called The Sound Lounge in King's Cross, followed by a spell at the notorious Suzie Wong's where they replaced the equally notorious The Missing Links.


Additional Librettos information is available on the Audio Culture Website .....


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