The manager of the Howard Morrison Quartet, Harry M Miller, had a brainwave before taking the band on his Showtime Spectacular package tour of New Zealand in 1960. He approached the cinema chain Kerridge-Odeon to suggest they go as partners in the tour. The Quartet would be top of a bill that featured rock’n’roll as well as traditional pop performers. With television beginning to make an impact on cinema attendance, impresario Sir Robert Kerridge liked the idea: he would supply the theatres, Miller would supply the artists.
To publicise the tour, Miller went to the National Film Unit to suggest the Quartet should be filmed performing several songs; the Quartet would do it for free, but the clips could be used as shorts in the cinemas. With Kerridge-Odeon co-promoting the Showtime Spectacular tour, the film clips were given plenty of exposure.
The clip opens showing the backing band, Toni Williams and the Tremellos. On piano is Claude Papesch (later it would be Robert Walton). Toni Williams is second from right. The two items the Quartet perform are ‘Marina’ and ‘Grenada’. Note the silk suits, by Anthony Squires: Harry M got them on contra.
After the tour – the idea became his cash cow – Miller released the Showtime Spectacular album on his La Gloria label. Very little of the material came from live recordings from the tour – instead, they are earlier releases on La Gloria, repackaged. On my copy, the vinyl sounds recycled as well. But it does contain Rama White’s great ‘Language Song’ – a pop song delivered with all the ferocity of a haka.