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Mr DJ Twist

May 28, 2014

Tony and initialsTony Eagleton’s group Tony and the Initials was a prolific recording act and live drawcard in Wellington in the early 1960s. This week Tony passed away; the Initials’  drummer Harry McConnachie died in February. Here is the opening of the entry I wrote for AudioCulture – where the rest can be read, with some great photographs and music links.

Tony and the Initials seem to have gone down as little more than a footnote in the 60s pop boom. But at the time they were a substantial live name in Wellington, and they left behind a catalogue of strong-selling, well regarded recordings.

Import restrictions were harsh in post-war New Zealand. But in return for exporting meat and butter to Britain in the early 1960s, New Zealand received many small luxuries: Beano and Victor comics,Beat Instrumental magazines, Morris Minor cars, HP sauce … and rock and roll in the form of heavy vinyl records and the occasional musician.

Tony and Initials advertIn 1960 Tony Eagleton arrived as a crewman on the Dominion Monarch, the ship that also brought Tommy Adderley. During the first wave of rock and roll in Britain, Eagleton played guitar in groups backing Marty Wilde and Tommy Steele. Wanting to visit his brother in New Zealand, he signed on as a seaman with some musical friends. They performed together on the voyage out, and enjoyed their time in New Zealand so much they decided to emigrate, and try to earn a living as a band based in Wellington.

They called themselves Tony and the Initials, allegedly because when they all turned up for rehearsals they were all wearing initialled handkerchiefs in the breast pockets of their jackets. This was rock and roll, UK style, when the clean-cut Shadows ruled. […]

More here at AudioCulture. In the photo above, Tony Eagleton is second from the left; Andy Shackleton is third from left. His site Memories of New Zealand Musicians is well worth checking out for good stories and photos. The advertisement is for a gig at the Caltex Lounge, a Wellington dance hall above a petrol station at the bottom of Taranaki Street (beside the Green Parrot). It has only recently been pulled down.

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