Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Hooked on New Zealand: Strip club debut was not quite what the Dr Hook ordered

Dr Hook frontman Dennis Locorierre's unique voice on such hits as Sylvia's Mother made the band world famous. Photo / Getty Images
Dr Hook frontman Dennis Locorierre's unique voice on such hits as Sylvia's Mother made the band world famous. Photo / Getty Images

Dr Hook frontman Dennis Locorierre has been hooked on New Zealand since the band's bizarre New Zealand debut 40 years ago.

The Sylvia's Mother singer arrives next month with his chart-topping US band for a five-date whirlwind tour.

And he has never forgotten the time Dr Hook touched down in the country for the first time in 1975 and were whisked straight to a press conference at a massage parlour and strip joint on Auckland's North Shore.

"A lot of strange things have happened to us down the years but that one will be forever burned into my memory," Locorierre said. "I guess the promoter thought we were wacky guys so decided to have us meet the local press in a wacky venue."

Things got even more strange when the local newspaper's photographer couldn't make it and a children's photographer was dispatched instead.

"The guy had a camera that belonged in a museum," he said. "I think made just after the days when they used to light gunpowder to get a flash.

"He didn't say a word to us and because he was used to working with kids he kept pulling faces at us and making all these strange noises instead of just telling us what he wanted.

"When he took the first picture the flash nearly blinded us and we all cracked up laughing."

Locorierre said the band were even more mystified when the photographer packed up his gear after taking just four pictures.

"I asked him if he'd managed to get a shot and he looked at me as if I was an idiot and said, 'What do you mean? I've got four', and walked off.

"The photo made the front page of the paper the next day and it was fantastic because we are all laughing so much in it. It is still one of my favourite shots of the band."

Dr Hook are still led by original lead vocalist Locorierre, whose unique voice on such memorable No 1 hits as Sylvia's Mother and Sexy Eyes made the band world famous.

Those two classics are just the tip of the iceberg of what fans can expect in a two-and-a-half hour show which features all of their smash hits, such as Cover of Rolling Stone, Only Sixteen, When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman and A Little Bit More.

"I know people love the Dr Hook sound on those original recordings and that's what we're bringing back to them, just the way they remember it and want to hear it performed live," Locorierre added.

• Dr Hook kick off their New Zealand tour at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson on May 18, followed by gigs in Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland.

WIN WITH THE HERALD ON SUNDAY

The Herald on Sunday and Showcase Entertainment Group Ltd are offering five readers the chance to enjoy Dr Hook live.

We have five double passes to the band's gig at Auckland's Aotea Centre on May 24.

Visit: winwiththeherald.co.nz, and use the keyword Hook. Entries close at 5pm on Wednesday.

- Herald on Sunday

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