One of the most enduring bands to grace the New Zealand stage will celebrate its 55th anniversary in Hamilton this weekend — with something close to its original line-up.

New Zealand was a very different place in 1964. Pubs closed at 6pm, shops stayed open to 9pm on Fridays, supermarkets were a novelty, most people didn't have a TV, cell phones and the internet were unknown and many families didn't have a car.

Today a piece of Hamilton and New Zealand musical history, the Mods formed from the remnants of The Surf Boys in December 1963, with a line-up of the Reynolds brothers Wayne and Neil, with Kevin McNeil and Mike Griffin.

Griffin left and guitarist John Bisset joined a few months later and so began the original Mods performing their first big public show at The Starlight Ballroom in August 1964 during Hamilton's 100th centenary.


The band secured its first recording opportunity with the famed Stebbings studio in 1965.

In the same year they became the first group to back the late great Ray Columbus after his band The Invaders was disbanded.

The Mods in the 1960s (from left) Kevin McNeil, Wayne Reynolds, Neil Reynolds and John Bisset. Photo / Supplied
The Mods in the 1960s (from left) Kevin McNeil, Wayne Reynolds, Neil Reynolds and John Bisset. Photo / Supplied

In mid 1966 they were booked to play support for US sensation Sonny & Cher's New Zealand tour but the musical differences within the band started to surface and so they decided to split and go their separate ways.

"It was probably indicative of many groups of the era, who in searching for fame and fortune, found only frustration that the gap between the rest of the world and New Zealand was too great to conquer and so fell by the wayside," McNeil said.

"This was a great shame for the Mods as not only were they very popular, they were also very proficient at their craft, rated highly by not only their fans but by other musicians," he said.

Over the following nearly half-century the band and its members mixed with many members of New Zealand's musical royalty and reformed with varying line-ups on a several occasions as the Mods II in the 1980s, 1994 and 2004 for their 40th.

In 2014 the four original guys returned to the studio and recorded three new tracks to make up a 12-track album to celebrate the group's 50th birthday.

One of these is a cover of the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates hit song Shaking all Over sung by Wayne, the other two are originals from Kevin, Hey Girl and Back in 64, the story of the band.


Member McNeil said the coming Sunday anniversary gig is expected to attract band members from the 90s and 2000s.

"I believe 55 years is an accomplishment and as we have such a great following for the band it will be quite a day.
"I understand that well over 200 people are coming. We will have our 50th anniversary CD available for sale.
The music from the original four guys will be all 60s favourites plus a couple of original compositions."

• The Mods, 55th anniversary celebration, can be experienced at Biddy Mulligans 17b Hood St, 4pm to 7pm, this Sunday, October 6.