Eldred Stebbing, sound engineer and pioneer. Died aged 88.

Eldred Stebbing was wired for sound.

After leaving school in the early 30s he worked on a production line making radios, and later in the decade he and his brother Phil started a sound system company supplying audio equipment for public events.

It was from these humble beginnings that he would go on to become one of the trailblazers of the local recording industry and help launch the careers of Howard Morrison, Ray Columbus and the Invaders, and Th' Dudes, among others.


Mr Stebbing owned Stebbing Recording Centre in Jervois Rd and founded Zodiac Records in 1960.

After World War II he started the Stebbing Record and Sound Company Ltd manufacturing 78 records.

Around this time he began experimenting with recording in the lounge of the family's Avondale home and making radio ads.

But it was in 1958, after setting up a recording studio in the basement of the Stebbing family home, now located in Herne Bay, that kick started the work he would become most famous for.

It was here he recorded songs such as the La De Das' How Is the Air Up There, and most famously, the Invaders' She's A Mod and 'Til We Kissed.

In a story about the Invaders from earlier this year Mr Stebbing's son Robert recounted the Kiwi ingenuity that went into recording 'Til We Kissed.

"There was only a single door from the garage into the basement studio, and we couldn't record the timpani because it wouldn't fit through the door so we had to record it out in the garage."

Ray Columbus said Mr Stebbing not only gave the Invaders an early break but helped get the local music industry up and rolling.

"He came and checked us out when we first came to Auckland in December 1962 and when we came back in March'63 we already had a contract. He saw the potential in us and went for it."

Other bands such as Max Merritt and the Meteors, the Underdogs, and Human Instinct also recorded in the basement studio throughout the 60s.

Among the first acts to sign to Zodiac Records were guitar maestro Peter Posa, singer Allison Durbin and wild beat band the Pleazers.

The label is still operating with its most recent releases being the Ray Columbus and the Invaders Definitive Collection, which came out to coincide with the band's Legacy Award win at this year's Music Awards, and This Was The Howard Morrison Quartet, a collection of the group's earliest songs recorded by Mr Stebbing.

In 1970 he built Stebbing Recording Centre, which became a hub for recording music and ad jingles, including the iconic tune for the Crunchie train ad.

He is survived by his sons Robert and Vaughan and their families.