My earliest recollections of music of any description are probably of my Mum and Dad singing old traditional country songs, while Dad played thumb style on a battered old guitar. I had a fascination for his large collection of 78 rpm records and was often found on my own, loading them on to our old stack-up gramophone, playing the songs of Wilf Carter, Tex Morton, and Buddy Williams, over and over.
I was really taken with the "one voice one guitar" cowboy style and at a really early age just knew I had to master the art of yodelling.
It was while playing in a country/covers band in my late teens that Denise came into my life. Soon we were inseparable and with her encouragement I entered a country-music awards competition and went on to win several of these events around N.Z. Things were happening now and I was invited to participate in the N.Z. television show That's Country as a regular and was privileged to share the stage with such people as Johnny Russell, Connie Smith and Emmylou Harris.
By now I had come to the attention of the NZ recording company Music World who believed I had the potential to produce a successful recording. At first I was a little reluctant of their concept of an all yodelling album, but from day one Yodelling Man was a runaway success, going on to win the award for the highest selling album in Australasia at the Tamworth N.S.W. Awards in 1987. It was really nice to get that "Gold Guitar". I was also presented with a "Gold Disc Award" by Music World for sales exceeding 50,000 copies.
By now however, the realities of raising a young family, paying mortgages and meeting commitments were such that more and more time was needed to run my business as a new home builder, while the guitar was staying in the wardrobe for longer and longer periods. It had become apparent just how difficult it is to successfully live off the proceeds of music in this small country of ours.
In the intervening years we have kept up our enjoyment of music and have managed to produce two albums Southbound and Born To Be A Cowboy, both of which have done well for us and continue to sell. In fact we have several tracks from both albums being played all over the world at this time.
Our fourth album You're Everything To Me produced and recorded at Manuka Studios in Auckland N.Z., while not so much a change in direction is largely a reflection of deeper feelings and life experience. Accordingly it is based around seven of my originals.
These days I am singing a far greater range of the easy listening genre than the country cowboy I started out as, although the early material remains an important part of what I do. I look back at the wonderful times we have had and the many wonderful friends we have found on the journey. But I also look forward to exciting times ahead. In fact an invitation to Canada in July 2008 to perform at the prestigious Calgary Stampede before an audience in excess of ten thousand has definitely been a career highlight for me. To stand on the same stage as Wilf Carter just blew me away and now, even after the event it still seems like a dream to me. The Calgary Stampede draws in over 1.2 million people over the ten days and the Stampede ground just hums with music, cowboys and cowgirls. Truly an awesome event. It has definitely opened doors for us with several overseas opportunities including bookings in the USA. The Calgary Stampede is the largest rodeo event in the world and attracts over a million visitors every year.
Our album This Ole House was released in January 2009, followed by Mule Skinner Blues in 2010. Squarely aimed at continuing requests we have had over the last few years, thus combining some older nostalgic country songs with some "newies" and the odd original. This is a formula that is working very well for us, particularly for our growing American fan base.
A big highlight for 2010 was working in the USA with big names such as Vince Gill, George Hamilton the fourth, The Time Jumpers and getting to know people such as Marty Stuart and Leroy Van Dyke. On this, my first tour of the Mid-west states including Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska, I was inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame along with country music star Bill Anderson and Patty Page of How Much is That Doggy in the Window fame. I felt very honoured to receive this prestigious award.
2011 proved to be another highly successful year as I was again invited to the United States to take part in a series of music festivals culminating in Nashville Tennessee. A highlight of this trip was performing at the Station Inn with legendary American country music star Vince Gill and The Time Jumpers internationally acclaimed western swing band - all of whom are opry performers in their own right.