In my life: NZ stars name their Beatles faves

Local musicians, including some involved in two Beatles tribute concerts with Auckland high-school students next week, talk about their Fab Four faves.

Kiwi musicians Peter Urlich, Jordan Luck and Mike Chunn stand outside the Auckland Town Hall in a similar area to the Beatles when they toured back in 1964. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kiwi musicians Peter Urlich, Jordan Luck and Mike Chunn stand outside the Auckland Town Hall in a similar area to the Beatles when they toured back in 1964. Photo / Greg Bowker

Jordan Luck

Your first Beatles memory?
I recall watching The Ed Sullivan Show and the Beatles performing (a video) Let It Be. I was intrigued that Ed Sullivan introduced Billy Preston as the fifth (or the new) Beatle. I figured Billy was the black one. It was my younger sister, Tamsin, who got me into them though -- 1972, in Tokarahi, she found With The Beatles in my parents' vinyl collection. It was played incessantly.

Your favourite Beatles song?
At the moment, it is Strawberry Fields Forever. I read that the song is actually two takes joined together, as John preferred the vocal front of one take and the latter vocal from another take. The tempo of the two takes were different so the latter half I think is sped up? Either way, No1 pop songs are seldom like this.

What do the Beatles mean to you?
Love and laughter.

Have they influenced you?
I hope so.


Mike Chunn

Your first Beatles memory?
On a school trip to Wellington in August 1964, our class went to see A Hard Day's Night. It was an epiphany! The theatre screamed! The magic ingredients -- three guitars and a drum kit. I wanted that. And they were chased by hundreds of schoolgirls. How could a 12-year-old kid from Otahuhu not want that?

Your favourite Beatles song?

As a bass player, I have to pick a fave McCartney song where he excels. Penny Lane has sublime bass. It's also an evocative song of their childhood world. I went to Penny Lane last year.

What do the Beatles mean to you?

They completely ruled my boarding-school world. They were the beam of light that I followed. It is impossible to exaggerate their influence on the 16-year-old boy's plans for an imaginative, musical life where adventure and freedom could be had.

Have they influenced you?

I emulate McCartney's bass melodies and tricks all the time. It is done with no shame. He is the master.


Peter Urlich

Your first Beatles memory?

I saw the movie A Hard Day's Night at the Oakley Brown picture theatre in Panmure in 1965. It blew my mind -- I must have been 8 and distinctly remember being so excited by the combination of visuals and brilliant music (I still am).

Your favourite Beatles song?

No, an outright favourite is not possible, they have so many different winners.

What do the Beatles mean to you?

They encapsulate a whole world of musical expression, they represent the magic of exceptional songwriting allied with an attitude toward life.

Have they influenced you at all?

Definitely. Th' Dudes were underpinned by them.


Jason Kerrison

Your first Beatles memory?

My dad was a huge fan. Mum was more into Cliff Richard. Dad tells me he would start the day by listening to the Beatles' records. I remember standing on the coffee table in the lounge in Regent St, Invercargill, pretending to be Paul McCartney while strumming my Mum's wooden tennis racquet singing along to the Stars on 45's Beatles remixes.

Your favourite Beatles song?

Taxman is the first to come to mind. It was one of the first conscious pop songs I ever heard. I realised the degree to which a writer could capture a time, place and opinion in a musical form. The groove was cool and it felt like an interesting departure from what I'd known of the Beatles tracks I'd listened to up to that point. I also like the Eastern sound of that frantic guitar solo. The song also reminded me of the theme to Adam West's Batman.

What do the Beatles mean to you?

To me, they're still the Rosetta Stone of modern day pop music. They're what we use to make sense of almost everything else.

Have they influenced you at all?

When I did some digging into who my favourite artists' songwriting influences were, the answer was often the Beatles. It seemed Neil and Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Bowie, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Blur and the rest had studied the Lennon/McCartney craft.


Don McGlashan

Your first Beatles memory?

My older sister had a Philips portable record player. It was beige and red plastic, the speaker was in the lid, and I loved it. I would sneak into her room whenever I could, take it out into the garden and listen to stuff. Initially, the only records she had were The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, but she soon started buying Beatles singles like there was no tomorrow. I particularly remember a B side called Anna, a beautiful Arthur Alexander song that the Beatles covered. I think it was on Please Please Me.

Your favourite Beatles song?

There's so many. This week it's I'll Be Back, a John Lennon song from A Hard Day's Night. The flamenco-ish beat, Lennon's dark voice with its heartbroken-but-threatening lyrics and the way the song wavers between major and minor keys still send shivers up my spine to this day.

What do the Beatles mean to you?

The Beatles was the first music I really listened to. I guess I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today if my sister had stuck to Julie Andrews. I might be running a children's choir, or be a nun. Or a German.

Have they influenced you at all?

You never hear songwriters saying they're overtly influenced by the Beatles. That would be like saying you're influenced by daylight, or food, or something. The thing is, they're such a big part of music in the last 50 years that not being in some way influenced by them would be almost impossible.


Tim Finn

Your first Beatles memory?

With the arrival of black-and-white television in Te Awamutu came some footage of this English band -- a news item -- they played some of their music and it was impossible not to fall in love with them.

Your favourite Beatles song?

It changes all the time. Currently it's The Word, probably because we are trying to learn it and the harmonies are amazing.

What do the Beatles mean to you?

They are the reason I've spent the last 42 years songwriting and performing.

Have they influenced you at all?

See above and when you start to learn properly the songs you thought you already knew, the love and respect deepens.


Eddie Rayner

Your first Beatles memory?

The radio introduced me to the Beatles - complete with the obligatory ''turn that bloody racket down'' order from my Dad.

Your favourite Beatles song?

My favourite Beatles song changes from time to time, according to my mood and age.

The White Album has been my fave from day one, and in particular its more distorted songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Helter Skelter and Everybody's Got Something to Hide 'Cept for me and my Monkey.

What do The Beatles mean to you?

The Beatles' songs will always be those by which all others are judged. In the 'live context, they delivered those songs faultlessly, often under horrific conditions...oh, and they always looked cool as well! Their songs and music, more than any others', remind me of an era long gone, when we felt joy and optimism..

Have they influenced you at all?

Consciously or not, you can't help being influenced by a band who's songs and music you love. I'm especially interested in arrangements and George Martin's arrangements made a huge contribution to the Beatles sound-every pop string quartet arrangement aspires to the perfection of Eleanor Rigby.


Fiona MacDonald

Your first Beatles memory?

Would have been about my ninth birthday I guess, my big brother Brent gave me With the Beatles. This was quite a radical thing to do. My entire record collection to this point consisted of one album, My best to you by Donny Osmond (favourite colour: purple, favourite number: 9).

I politely thanked him for it. Then one day I played it, and played it again, and again. It was like discovering a new colour. (It happened one more time when I first heard Billie Holiday's voice). That was really my initial step on the musical path I still follow. Elvis Costello was next then Diana Ross and the Supremes, all introduced to me, I might add, by the same lovely big brother.

Your favourite Beatles song?

Sorry, just can't pick one.

What do The Beatles mean to you?

They live in their own musical box, I don't think we'll ever experience their like again.

We constantly refer to so many other musicians and songs to THEM. A sequence of chords, a certain harmony, a lyrical phrase... their diversity has such breadth it's astonishing.

Their songs, like all the best songs, make us feel something, and generation after generation keep seeking them out to experience it all for the first time.

Have they influenced you?

As a performer not so much, but as a songwriter I sit in awe of their brilliance and don't even try to emulate it.


Jed Town

Your first Beatles memory?

My grandmother bought me A Hard Day's Night for my 7th birthday then took me to see the film. I was mesmerised, full stop.

Your favourite Beatles memory?

All You Need Is Love

Such an emotional beautiful thought and melody vocal by John.

What do The Beatles mean to you?

As Rick Rubin said, they are proof that a God exists in this troubled world.

Have they influenced you at all?

They were the number one influence. The way they sang and played music was inspirational especially the overall message too , which was "Love each other, be yourself".


Tama Waipara

Your first Beatles memory?

My parents have a hefty collection of Beatles vinyl that was played excessively by all of us. When the records weren't playing, my Dad would play their songs on guitar.

Your favourite Beatles song?

She's Leaving Home - arrangements, story, hmm, I guess that's true of almost every Beatles song. And the harp, George Martin...fwoahh.

What do The Beatles mean to you?

Definitely my childhood. Songs at school, listening sessions at home, first time I learnt to play D with a suspended 4th resolving to a 3rd on guitar was learning You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Have they influenced you?

In every sense, and I always come up short, as do we all, well, maybe not Stevie.


Dave Rowlands (Clap Clap Riot)

Your first Beatles memory?

My first clear memory of The Beatles was hearing a Beatles tribute act playing in Hagley Park for a thing called Strawberry Fields back in Christchurch.

I have a specific memory of them playing Norwegian Wood, for some reason that was the day The Beatles and that song first really struck me.

Your favourite Beatles song?

No Reply is up there. I love the albums when they started experimenting with using darker lyrics within some of their songs and the structure for that song simply kicks ass - the BRIDGE section "If I were you..." that punches in just takes the song to the next level.

What do The Beatles mean to you?

They are one of the only bands I can never get sick of, If you get tired of a particular album then you go later or earlier in their catalogue and get a completely different sound. You can listen to them all year round.

Have they influenced you?

To me they set the standard for songwriting. Some of the things they manage to pull off in their songs with regards to unusual timings or out of place chords still baffle me. Their always in the back of mind reminding me to try and challenge my writing every time I go to pick up the guitar.


Anika Moa

Your first Beatles memory?

My brother Richard was obsessed with them when I was growing up so they have been always there for me. The first song I heard was Help and it blew my brain. Was my go to karaoke song for years!

Your favourite Beatles song?

I love so many of them. Mostly John Lennon written ones (he's my favourite writer of the two) but Yesterday is my absolute favourite.

It is simple. The heartache is there and the meaning behind the song always strikes a chord with me. Makes me well up every time. Everyone has regrets, even Paul McCartney!

Have they influenced you?

They have influenced the way I write in a huge way. The melodies Paul uses, the depth of John and the pop smash hits they wrote. Fml it's amazing. I love simple pop songs. 3 chords, singalong melodies and a chorus that hits you in your heart!


Dave Dobbyn

Your first Beatles memory?

I'd heard She Loves You and Love Me Do as a 6-7 year old and flipped out. Fascinated with their accents and guitars. Their Twist And Shout really set me up for life - Lennon shredded his voice on that one. It gave us permission to shout and dance wildly.

I clearly remember watching the black and white NZBC news footage of their arrival.

My Dad put the fear of God into us when he announced "If I ever see a son of mine with hair like that, I'll hang him from the rafters!" He relented years later when I walked in with a large, white afro.

Your favourite Beatles song?

Today it's A Day In The Life, a near perfect blend of Lennon/McCartney.
Ask me tomorrow and it'd be some other genius Beatles song.

Have they influenced you?

The Sgt. Pepper album completely consumed me and opened me up to new sounds and thinking. Abbey Road is also a masterpiece of recording and collaboration.

I'd have to say, my obsession with the Beatles has been a great learning curve.

I have a deep love of their revolutionary recording history and technical excellence.
Also, I wouldn't be a songwriter without having learnt the craft from Lennon/McCartney.

What: A Strange Day's Night by the Play It Strange Charitable Trust
Where: Auckland Town Hall on June 24 and June 25

The Line-ups

Tuesday June 24
Don McGlashan
SJD
Mike Chunn
Fiona McDonald
The Camel Toes
The Backbeats
Tim and Harper Finn (Split Enz)
Graham Brazier
Jed Town
Grace Brebner
Kaipara College
Waves
Sacred Heart College Band

Wednesday June 25
Peter Urlich (Th' Dudes)
Jason Kerrison (OpShop)
Eddie Rayner (Split Enz)
Jimmy Christmas (D4)
Geoffrey Chunn (Citizen Band)
Rezonation St Cuthbert's Choir
Matthew Bannister (Sneaky Feelings)
The Backbeats
Jordan Luck (The Exponents)
Tim and Harper Finn (Split Enz)
Leza Corban
Fletcher Mills

- TimeOut

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