Sir Duke celebrate 40 years

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Nostalgics of the big bar boom of the 1970s will be able to turn back the clock as popular Central Hawke's Bay band Sir Duke celebrates its 40th anniversary over Labour Weekend.

Drummer Neil Sloan, who has been with the group since its founding days as a Waipukurau band known as Theme, is expecting five of the originals and almost all others who have performed with the group for the commemorative gig at the River Park Event Centre, east of Waipawa on Sunday afternoon and evening.

The band took the name of Sir Duke from the song of the same name on the Stevie Wonder album Songs in the Key of Life in 1976, and adopted part of the hit as its intro and outro.

Despite being based in Waipukurau, it became one of the most popular pub bands in Napier, where they held a nine-year residency at the Leopard Inn on Marine Parade.

At the peak of summer the band travelled to perform for their hundreds of Leopard Inn faithfuls six nights a week, sticking mainly to cover music.

Mr Sloan said that in later years as the scene changed and the band continued with a turnover of members mainly from the rich musical scene in Central Hawke's Bay the ban tried a change of name to Ex S.D., but fans would not adopt the change, and wherever the band went it was still referred to as Sir Duke.

There were many highlights, but one of the biggest came just two years ago when Sir Duke was a support act for the The Mission's British and Irish Invasion concert in 2014.

The other originals expected for Sunday's reunion, which starts at 2pm, are lead vocalist and guitarist Pik Atkinson, who is still with the band, Neil Rogers, who is making the trip from Australia, Max Sherlock, and Barry Robertshaw.

With Messrs Sloan and Atkinson the current lineup is completed by Pat Mahoney, Cougan Renata and Janeene Toner.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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