Capture by A photoblog


Auckland Rock City

I was too young for Zwines. I never made it to Liberty Stage or the Rumba Bar. In 1979 I desperately wanted to see Toy Love and the Terrorways at the State Theatre on Symonds St - my mates from school all went - but not me.

Since then I have seen bands play in church halls and war memorial halls, in practice rooms and living rooms, parks and festivals, backyards and graveyards. There have been pubs, clubs, cafes and dives. At the start of this project I began to list some of the venues I knew of, and also some of the places the musicians lived, wrote their music, rehearsed and recorded. Then I got out there with my camera.

The result is not a definitive look at Auckland's musical landmarks. These are the places where our shared musical history and memories collide with personal significance for me. I concentrated on buildings and locations that are extant, because many of the venues are now either gone or unrecognisable, or are buried beneath carparks and apartments, or beneath Britomart and the Downtown mall.

Thanks to Graham Reid for his article on Elsewhere that got me thinking about this. Thanks also to John Baker.

Feel free to capture and add the memories and photographs of your own musical landmarks, wherever you live.

Jonathan Ganley

Black American soldiers based in Auckland during the Second World War socialised at the segregated American Negro Club, which was located through this doorway on the ground floor of Hampton Court, at the corner of Federal St and Wellesley St. Eldred Stebbing recalled jazz bands playing there, a 'fairly seedy sort of situation' and frequent visits from the Military Police. (Source: Chris Bourke, from his book Blue Smoke - The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music, p125.) Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The Squeeze, an unlicensed club located in the basement of this building on Fanshawe St. In late 1979 this was the first place I saw bands playing in a venue that wasn't a North Shore church hall. In 1981 the basement became the first home to Bill Latimer's recording studio, The Lab. Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

This stone building in Durham Lane - amongst the oldest remaining Victorian buildings in the central city - hosted a long line of rock clubs in the sixties and seventies - from the Top Twenty (1965) and the 1480 Village to Granny's and Zwines (1978) just over ten years later. For me, the mystique of Durham Lane began the day I bought the AK79 album at the Record Warehouse, just around the corner. "...downtown at Zwines was were it really began, with Babe's Disco playing boogie down below, punk and disco often clashed in Durham Lane outside. It was suggested to more than one unwary punk that he donate his leather jacket in return for a peek at a gang member's knife. The balcony at Zwines never did collapse (the way the council threatened that the Town Hall one would), but it was burnt to a cinder when Babe's was fire-bombed later in the year ..." (Source: Bryan Staff, from the AK79 album sleevenotes) Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

Terraced houses on Parnell Rd - in 1974 this was home to an early incarnation of Split Ends. The band rehearsed in the downstairs room of the house on the left. (Source: Mike Chunn, from his book Stranger Than Fiction : The life and times of Split Enz) Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The neon sign on the Stebbing Studio building in Jervois Rd has always been a musical landmark for me, the Stebbing name linking the present with the past, and with New Zealand's musical history ... The Invaders, The La De Das, The Underdogs, The Pleazers, Th' Dudes. The Jervois Rd studio opened in 1970. Before that, Eldred Stebbing recorded the acts for the Zodiac label in the basement of his family home in nearby Saratoga Ave. (Source: Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The Windsor Castle, Parnell. From the late seventies until the late eighties this bar on Parnell Rd saw acts ranging from Toy Love and the second wave of Auckland punk, to Th'Dudes and Street Talk, and from Childrens Hour and Fetus Productions to Bird Nest Roys and the early Headless Chickens. The bells would ring at 11pm (on Friday and Saturday, but 10pm on Thursday) to indicate the bar was now closed and it was time to drink up and go, or else risk a close encounter with the Team Policing Unit. Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The Toby Twiss sculpture of Mayor Dove Myer Robinson gazes at the spot in front of the Auckland Town Hall where Robbie himself gave the Beatles a Mayoral welcome to Auckland in 1964. The Town Hall has seen performances by many fine acts over the years - from Johnny Cash and Gene Vincent in 1959, to the Fab Four, the Who, the Stones, Lou Reed, Talking Heads, the Fall, Nick Cave, the Sugarcubes, Kraftwerk ... In a controversial move, Mayor Robbie banned dancing in the Town Hall in 1979, and it fell to Citizen Band, at the height of their popularity, to get a sold-out concert up on their feet and raging. Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The Legion of Frontiersmen Hall, Bond St. Built in the 1950s, the hall served as field headquarters for local Legion members, but by the 1970s also served as a venue and practice room for many Auckland musicians. Split Enz rehearsed there in their early days, but it was also where the Clean recorded 'Boodle Boodle Boodle' in 1981. That record alone secures this hall a place as one of my Auckland music landmarks. Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012

The Kings Arms, Newton. The history of this Auckland venue can be traced through the gig posters located high on a wall above the door. If a group played in Auckland anytime in the last twenty years, have a solid following that won't fill the Powerstation, utilise overdriven guitar and/or have pop sensibilities bursting out of a wall of noise, you probably saw them here. Long may we continue to do so. Photo: © Jonathan Ganley 2012