From singing in bell bottoms with an afro in the 1970s to now being the lead singer of arguably New Zealand's most iconic bands - Dragon, Mark Williams has stayed cool for more than four decades.

And Rotorua will get the chance to see him again in exactly one week when he graces the Lakeside 2019 stage.

The show, this year themed Waiata Mai #pastpresentfuture, epitomises Williams - he has been our past, our present and if he keeps gigging the way he's going, he'll definitely be the future.

Williams burst onto the charts in 1975 with the hit Yesterday Was Just the Beginning Of My Life and followed it up in 1977 with the cover of Buddy Holly's It Doesn't Matter Anymore. He then left New Zealand for Australia to further his career, which included hits such as Show No Mercy.


In 2006, he became the lead singer of the reformed New Zealand and Australian band Dragon - think songs such as April Sun in Cuba and Rain - and remains their front man gigging all over New Zealand and Australia today.

Speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post this week from his home in Sydney, Williams was genuine when he said he couldn't wait to get back to Rotorua.

The 2012 line-up of the New Zealand band Dragon. Photo / File
The 2012 line-up of the New Zealand band Dragon. Photo / File

As a youngster based in Auckland, his band at the time, Faith, would often frequent Rotorua and the surrounding towns and cities as the backing band for talent quests.

"I've got a real connection with Rotorua and it goes back a long time."

Some might remember him in Rotorua in 2000 when he launched the then theme song for the city, alongside Lakeside 2019's co-artistic director Rewa Ututaonga, Feel The Spirit Manaakitanga.

Williams, now aged 64, said he couldn't believe how lucky he was to still be doing the job he loved.

"It's just fantastic, we are still playing and touring but we do it in a very gentlemanly style now but it's just wonderful to be doing the gigs and it's still going strong."

At Saturday's concert Williams promises locals will get to hear all the favourites they are used to.

Last year's Lakeside fireworks. Photo / File
Last year's Lakeside fireworks. Photo / File

Williams said he would have loved to have stuck around Rotorua longer, but unfortunately it will just be a fleeting visit for the rehearsals and show as he needed to get back to Sydney to continue post-surgery rehab for a hip injury.

But fear not, despite more than 40 years of swinging those hips, Williams promises there's plenty more gigs in him yet.

Lakeside co-artistic director Leon Wharekura said Williams was one of those artists who career had spanned many decades and he had been able to stay current and popular during that time.

The songs of Dragon featuring Mark Williams as the lead singer will ring out at next weekend's Lakeside 2019. Photo / File
The songs of Dragon featuring Mark Williams as the lead singer will ring out at next weekend's Lakeside 2019. Photo / File

"Not only was he a huge 70s and 80s star but he carried that through until now with Dragon. His songs have resonated through the decades and it's only fitting he be part of this show as the headline act along with the Koi Boys.

"Mark often came to Rotorua so has a connection here and the bottom line is we just love him, so for Rewa and I to have the opportunity to bring him back, well, it was just a no brainer."

With just one week to go before the big show next weekend, Wharekura said he was glad they had pre-planned as much as they did.

"It feels like there's a baby on the way and everyone is anticipating its arrival. This baby, though, is going to be a fabulous explosion of talent."

Lakeside 2019 details

-Saturday March 9

-Entertainment from 5pm, show starts 7pm

-Rotorua Village Green

-Free outdoor concert with ticketed reserved seats at the front

Lakeside 2019 line-up
Mark Williams - artist
The Koi Boys - artists
Suzanne Lynch - artist
Yandall Sisters: artists
Daniel Nathan - artist
Krissie Knap - artist
Jamey Ferguson - artist
Jack Grace - artist
Elisha Hulton - artist
Atutahi Potaka-Dewes - emerging artist
Hinerongonui Kingi - emerging artist
Leon Wharekura - artistic director
Rewa Ututaonga - artistic director
Turanga Merito - choreographer
Howie Morrison Junior - MC/artist
Tom Poata - MC
Drury Lane - dance troupe
Dance Central - dance troupe
Lakes Performing Arts Company - dance troupe