SIR HOWARD MORRISON
SIR HOWARD MORRISON was born on August 18, 1935 in Rotorua, one of six children born to Temuera Morrison, a former Maori All Black, and entertainer Kahurangi Morrison (also known as Gertrude Harete Davidson).
His dream of becoming a professional entertainer was sparked by Maori culture groups and concert parties, it was at Whakatu in 1954 that Morrison replaced Kahu Pineaha in the Clive Trio (with Isabel Cowan and Virginia Whatarau). He also joined Te Awapuni Maori Concert Party. This gave him his first taste of touring the country.
After touring Australia with the Aotearoa Concert Party, he put together a group with his brother Laurie, cousin John, Gary Rangiihu, Chubby Hamiora and Wi Wharekura to contest and win Rotorua’s Christmas carnival talent quest. Morrison, Rangiihu and Hamiora then added guitarist Gerry Merito to contest a talent contest in Hamilton as the Ohinemutu Quartet, coming third.
In 1957 Morrison married Rangiwhata Ann Manahi (Lady Kuia) in 1957. They had two sons and a daughter. It was also the year he got more serious about his music, forming the Howard Morrison Quartet with his brother and cousin and Gerry Merito. It caught the eye of Auckland entrepreneur Benny Levin, who toured them nationally on a rock and roll package show and as support to American comedian Stan Freberg.
Levin put them in producer Eldred Stebbing ‘s Auckland studio on a single by single deal with Zodiac Records. Their first record, ‘There’s Only One of You’, came out in 1958 on 78 and 45, but it was the second, ‘Hoki Mai’ coupled with ‘Po Kare Kare Ana’, which took off in Auckland and Rotorua.
In 1959 Harry M Miller spotted the band playing its regular Saturday night gig at Auckland’s Colony dine and dance restaurant and became its manager, setting up La Gloria records to release its output.
Looking at the success the band had for Zodiac with ‘The Battle of the Waikato’, Miller suggested it parody another Lonnie Donegan song, ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’. ‘My Old Man’s an All Black’, a humorous protest at the exclusion of Maori from the team for the1960 rugby tour of South Africa, was recorded cheaply at a concert at the Pukekohe Town Hall and went on to sell 60,000 copies.
Miller shifted to Australia in 1963, but Morrison was reluctant to follow. The quartet disbanded in 1964 and Morrison went solo, touring the country with American artists Ben E King, Gene McDaniels and Dee Dee Sharp and with the Miss New Zealand Show.In 1966 he acted in Pacific Film’s musical comedy Don’t Let It Get You with a young Kiri Te Kanawa as well as the Keil Isles, the Quin Tikis and Lew Pryme. This performance helped Morrison earn the Entertainer Of The Year award.
In 1968 he released two solo albums on Joe Brown’s label, Born Free and Power Game, as well as a duet album with country singer John Hore, Take Ten. He switched to RCA in 1969 for Getting It All Together.
In 1982 Morrison recorded a television special in Hamilton. The spin off album and single on RCA gave Morrison his greatest solo success, with ‘How Great Thou Art’ or ‘Whakaaria Mai’ topping the national charts for five weeks.
In 1990 Morrison was knighted for his services to entertainment, with the investiture ceremony at his home marae of Ohinemutu. In 2006 he received an honorary doctorate by the University of Waikato.
To Sir with Love was his last concert in Rotorua at the Convention Centre in 2009. Sir Howard Morrison died on September 24, 2009, and is buried at Kauae Cemetery in Ngongotaha, Rotorua.
Sir Howard Morrison received his Boulevard Star on the 3rd JULY 2011
received his Boulevard Star on the 13th AUGUST 2010