Peter Morgan History

"I have always loved music and singing. Mum and Dad always knew I wanted to be a singer. I was always singing. It makes me happy.

I remember Dad telling me how he always loved playing the guitar. My Uncle Dick told me when Dad was young they used to call him "Musty"cause he was "hot as mustard". During the war Dad played in the show bands. Shortly after the war, when Dad was in Japan he played with The Mills Brothers. When The Mills Brothers came to New Zealand on tour they asked Dad to join their band and to tour with them. Dad declined because he had just met Mum. He'd fallen in love and he didn't want to leave Mum. Then along came my brothers and sisters and me all nine of us.

I remember Dad used to play the piano accordion as well as the piano and guitar. We used to have jams at home and my uncles would turn up and they'd bring the drums. It was always a lot of fun. Mum and Dad would sing. Mum had a beautiful voice. Mum and Dad would always sing in beautiful harmony together. We all had banjos and ukuleles and we'd all have a singsong with my brothers and sisters. We always had gatherings like that. It was a lovely way to be brought up with music.

Peter Morgan at School

I remember I was 3 years old and Dad taught me how to yodel. Dad and my older brother Chuck would play the guitar and they had a little routine where the two of them played on the one guitar. One would play the rhythm and the other would play the melody and then they'd swap. Dad would stand behind Chuck and lean over him and play so there were 4 hands on the guitar - very tricky. I still have a tape of it. It's really special.

My Dad used to sing a lot of Nat King Cole and Burl Ives. Dad would sing Burl Ives' Pearly Shells I love that song. Dad liked jazz and of course the Mills Brothers. My Dad and my uncles were a great musical influence for me, especially my Uncle Johnny Bradfield and his wife, my Aunty Millie Bradfield. They're in their 80's now and they still do gigs together. We used to go over to their place when I was young and all these fantastic musicians used to turn up and we'd have jams with them in their little studio out the back. I was very lucky I had that influence. My Aunty Millie and Uncle John played at the Sorrento Restaurant on top of an old Maori pa, One Tree Hill. My brother Chuck and Howie used to play with them too. I remember I was about eleven or twelve and I would go with them and they would invite me up with them to have a sing. I used to sing 'Ben', some Beatles songs and my favourite song at the time 'Born to be Wild'.

My Dad's brother, Uncle Dick told me that Dad tried to teach him flash jazz chords but he was too stubborn to learn them because he just loved the blues. I remember a few of my friends and I were at a pub with my Uncle. I about 16 and my Uncle was singing the blues. He was singing BB King and Bob Dylan songs - he was a great blues player."

When I was thirteen, my parents sent me to a Maori Boarding school Hato Petera. We were poor but my Dad was able to get a grant so I could go. I was very lucky but at the time I didn't think so. The other boys at my old school always asked what I did wrong to be sent away and so I thought I was being punished. I asked Dad and he said when he was young he wasn't allowed to learn or speak Maori. When he was at school he was caned if he spoke Maori. So Dad didn't teach us Maori and so that's one of the reasons why he wanted me to go to Hato Petera.

At Hato Petera I was in the school band and this made a lot of the other boys a bit jealous, so I used to 'cop a hiding' from the other boys every week. That put me off school but not off music. When the lights went out at night at 9pm the senior boys used to come in and get me out of bed for rehearsal. We would go down to the common room and eat, have cups of tea and rehearse to midnight. I remember it felt like the best part of the whole world to me. I'd get back into bed around 12.30am and the other boys would say 'You're dead Morgan' and then I'd sometimes get another hiding the next day. But I also had minders the senior musos.

The band was great, it was a show band. We used to do gigs. We did the school ball at West Lakes Girls. They hired us to play at the ball I don't know where the money went, probably to the Brothers of the school. We didn't care. We played music because we loved it. We did variety shows. We would always open with a few traditional Maori songs and then get into the music that was on the radio at the time, like "Mendocino"and "Help me make it through the Night".

On Sundays at Hato Petera it was family visiting day. My brother Chuck used to come and visit and he would teach me some guitar chords. I remember he taught me the chords to 'Ben'. I remember after this visit one of the seniors called me to come to the common room. He wanted me to teach him the chords Chuck had shown me. So they used to think he was pretty cool and I thought I was pretty special.

I played rugby at school we all did. One day my mate and I didn't feel like playing rugby so we went into the church. I said 'they can't pull us out of here to play the game, the church's a sanctuary'. And so we had a picnic under the alter and chatted about music and laughed. Then we had to sneak back before the end of practice. Music was always on my mind. It was always a big part of my life.

When I came home from Hato Petera after Dad died, I used to love hanging out with my brother Chuck and his band. I used to sing to mum all the time. I used to sing Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, they were her favourites. Mum loved Janis Ian and Anne Murray who had a song called 'Snowbird'. That was her favourite song. It has beautiful lyrics.

When I was fifteen, my sister Carolyn was singing with a band that became Charisma. I used to sing with them occasionally. Then when I was sixteen, some muso friends of Carolyn got me a gig with Prince Tui Teka. We were doing a tour of the east coast of New Zealand. It was great - it was a very steep learning curve. I'll never forget what the guys in the band taught me on that tour. They would say "The intro and the tags are the most important part of the song. The beginning and the end are really important because that's what they're going to remember". When I saw Prince Tui Teka perform I realized what they meant. He could hold such big notes and when he'd finish he'd take a bow and the crowd would go off.

After the tour with Prince Tui Teka I joined Charisma. I remember one night I was doing a gig with Charisma. At the time I had a day job putting nuts on bolts in a factory and I was earning $22.50 per week for a 40 hour week. That night for the gig with Charisma we were paid $25.00 each and so I earned more than my week's wage in one night, as well as free food, free drinks and we hada great time. That night I thought to myself 'something's not right here. $22.50 working in a factory all week or $25.00 for one night and have a great time and do something I love'.Eighteen months later I was playing music full time.

Peter Morgan's old band charisma

Charisma was a perfect start to my music career. We had a lot of laughs and we were great mates. We were always playing practical jokes on each other especially when we were on tour. We had so much fun and we loved the music. I was the youngest in the band and still living at home. We played at most of the well known venues in Auckland including Backstage, Shanty Town, The Crypt and The Royal George Hotel. We also toured the north island playing at the popular pubs and clubs. Barry Wetini and I shared the vocals. Charisma was the only band in the country at the time that had two lead vocalists. The rest of the band also used to sing harmonies. There was Andy "Finky"Burns on keyboards, Louis Farrac on guitar, Steve Ututaonga on drums and Graeme Sait on bass. Barry and I played the congas and percussion. We were singing all the top 40 songs and this lead us to performing on the tv show "Ready to Roll". In those days the artists singing the songs didn't have video clips so they employed local bands to perform the latest songs. We performed Steely Dan, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers, Santana and 10CC. They were all great songs and I'm still singing some of them today, 30 years later.

After about 3 years Charisma disbanded and we went our separate ways. Barry, Andy and I joined the Tuhi Tama Band and Tama Renata. We worked at a club called Cleopatra's. What made this band unique was it had 4 lead singers me, Barry, Josie Rika and Erana Clarke. My mates Betty-Ann and Ryan used to come and see the band. Betty-Ann and Ryan were just starting out with their band Ardijah. Later I did a few gigs with them as well.

After the Tuhi Tama band I went solo and became They had a nightclub downstairs called The Peppermill and I worked with the resident band Hona. I used to do floorshows I sang and played the congas. One of my best mates, Kit Panting was in the band. Kit and I are still good mates today. Everybody used to work there doing guest spots or floorshows. There was Annie Crummier, Aromoana, Ritchard Eriwata, Prince Tui Teka, The Hi Marks and The Yandell Sisters. That was just some of the awesome variety of entertainers that performed there. It was fantastic working at the Peppermill. When the band wasn't playing, there was a DJ playing. The club was totally devoted to music. In the early eighties it was one of the hippest clubs.

I then went on to sing at the Auckland Sheraton Hotel and had a resident gig at Stanley's. Later I joined the "Gotham City Express"an eleven piece jazz funk band and we recorded an album. I also sang at Whangarei's top nightclub "Pips", Rotorua's Tudor Towers and Auckland's Sorrento Cabaret.

Those early years were some of the greatest. Being around all those great musicians, joining Charisma and doing the floorshows and cabarets was the best experience for me. I was so fortunate growing up with my family. Music was an important part of our family life. When I started working I was able to do what I loved and still am."

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