Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sneaking it out of the shop: a life in music journalism

18 Responses

  • Bruce Buckman,

    Jeez Russell, I had that exact same Nuclear Free Pacific T-Shirt, bought at Victoria Park Market I think.

    Since Jan 2012 • 96 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, it'll be difficult for Audioculture to post this (rights and all), but I just stumbled across this and I might as well post it here. Me on Radio With Pictures in in 1986:

    Intriguingly, there's a touch of the the "old", slightly reedy, New Zealand accent in my speech.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    love it

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    remembering watching RWP with Dick and him seeing for what sounded like the first time how he came across on screen.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Terence Hogan,

    I enjoyed the Audioculture piece Russell. Don't worry about the goatee, I've still got mine.

    Melbourne • Since Apr 2014 • 3 posts Report

  • kiwicmc,

    nothing wrong with the goatee, eventually we’ll be back in fashion…

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The mullet in the 80s

    I would be unkind about that, but in the mid-80’s my scalp resembled the place where morbidly obese and tragic hedgehogs went to die. So, no more snarking historically unfortunate dos…

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Venetia King,

    Great piece, thanks for sharing Russell. Is it just me or did you & Jordan Luck look like brothers in that photo with the other Dance Exponents?!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report

  • Hebe,

    I enjoyed your piece Russell. A life well-explored: the 80s haircuts were collateral damage for us all! Isn't life an odd circular business?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Virginia Brooks,

    Rip it up was a great mag back in the day. Thanks for the writing Russell. Glad to hear the mag is going to be free for all again.

    I remember catching the bus into town as a teen - finding RIP - coming home and tuning into BFM on my clock radio (because no-one else played that kind of music at the time) - could only get reception in one corner of the room-
    The suzzy roach song by the Roaches was popular - 'I worked in the Laundromat, the one that suzzy roach does her at. I hate her guts...'
    Good teen girl angst song (or something like that).

    The strips comic magazines were another nz creative gem from that time.

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report

  • 81stcolumn,

    In late 1987, I got another record store job, this one working out the back at the big Virgin store in Marble Arch. Richard Branson had just taken the company public and the accountants had begun to arrive, but there was still a touch of the counter-culture about the place and the people who worked there, who nearly all seemed to be on the way to one dream or another.

    Looking at the time line you only just missed the days of the “Virgin Party”.

    Richard Branson used to run an annual employee party at the Manor just outside Oxford. As I understand it the majority of employees were invited an interesting mix of airline staff, music sales and industry peeps. It was a ticket only affair and the tickets were sent out before the event. Proper popstars and management went up to the Manor itself and everyone else partied in the grounds. There were marquees, bouncy castles music free food and drink etc. The event ran from early afternoon until late, it was credited as quite a night too.

    I was there for what was probably the last year that it ran, doing some security and goforing on the day. I started on the gate with Richard meeting greeting and directing traffic; red tickets to the grounds green tickets up the drive and a walkie-talkie to check “the list”. It was interesting watching how Branson stood at the gate for at least two hours shaking hands and switching on his seemingly sincere smile for incoming celebs etc. A good proportion of the Cooltempo and Virgin roster turned up during the day and were directed up to the manor (one well known band then signed to WEA showed up crammed into a yellow Vauxhall Chevette – those were the days). Mid afternoon Richard was off to party and I was left on the gate with a couple of others.

    Shortly after Richard took off, people started arriving in numbers, all with tickets. Then a lot of people started turning up with tickets, I mean a lot of people. I got called away from the gate and got sent for supplies. Over the next couple of hours a handful of us took a truck and cleaned out some off-licenses, the better part of a cash and carry along with several fast food outlets. The food and drink still ran out because there by was by now a huge number of people all turning up with tickets. We tried rationing the food and drink and then had to shut the gate altogether (which resulted in the main road back to Oxford being blocked at one point). There was a near riot in the grounds with people trying to leave and other hungry, thirsty people wanting satisfaction. At one point I was stood on a trestle table that got charged as two slabs of warm canned lager arrived (I tried to defended myself with a yellow fluoro jacket!). The Police eventually turned up and shut everything down. It appears that a disgruntled employee or printer had printed several thousand extra tickets and they were being given away on street corners in Oxford and London.

    While my experiences of Richard Branson were mixed, I always admired the fact that he kept writing the cheques and running the credit card for as long as possible that day. I also know that when it got ugly, it was scary and we were lucky that nothing serious happened. I guess a combination of the police, the accountants and the scare put an end to what was quite an employee party in its day.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report

  • Grant McDougall,

    Bloody great write-up ! RIU was a real font of knowledge and info for provincial kids around the country in those pre-internet times.

    Slight mistake in the Judith Tizard pic, btw: It says "1996" but National were in gov't then and won that year's election, too. "1999" maybe ?

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Slight mistake in the Judith Tizard pic, btw: It says "1996" but National were in gov't then and won that year's election, too. "1999" maybe ?

    Well spotted Grant. It's 1996 but JT was minister in waiting. Fixed.

    Here's another that might work for you too:


    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • David Cohen,

    Russell, I don't think you mentioned two local magazines that existed well before RIU: Hot Licks and, much earlier still, Playdate, among whose contributors was one Max Cryer.

    Brooklyn • Since Jan 2009 • 10 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to David Cohen,

    a happy medium...

    Playdate, among whose contributors was one Max Cryer.

    Roger Donaldson and Max Thomson were Playdate photographers, also.
    Russell did a piece here on Playdate editor, Des Dubbelt, back in 2003
    - including a reprint from his 1994 Planet article...
    ...which goes on to precis the history of Chacha as well.

    I remember Playdate being on sale at the Regent Theatre in Chchch, and I still have copies somewhere (hopefully) along with a rare copy of its short-lived fashion contemporary Vogue New Zealand - Weetbix ads just didn't look right in a Vogue

    Here is a 1960 Des Dubbelt article that Chris Bourke reprinted on his fine Bluesmoke blog.
    Which probably contains the seeds for the name of Roger Jarrett's Hot Licks ('74-76)

    Here, the joint was jumping. Hot jazz licks floated out on to the street

    Rip It Up and Shake! - were, of course, Sam Cooke songs...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Roger Donaldson and Max Thomson were Playdate photographers, also.

    And its chief sub was Tom McWilliams, who long ran the Listener subbery.

    I only met Des Dubbelt the once, when I wrote the Planet story, but my goodness he was a gentleman.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell,

    Great piece. Thanks :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Stupid,

    Great to see you rocking' the AXEMEN Muldoon poster along with the mullet :-)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 75 posts Report

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