Teenage guitarist John Williams of Larry’s Rebels was not yet 20 when the premier New Zealand pop act broke apart. A lifetime lived already, he would later recall.
Larry’s Rebels were New Zealand’s Animals. Our Paul Revere and the Raiders. The top notch local pop band with bluesy bite, who released a handful of vital discs, and for a brief few years were all over the media, the charts and the nation’s bedroom walls.
They were Auckland’s first great homegrown pop band of the modern pop era; hard working and electrifying live. Their incredible run of hit singles made them both radio mainstays and our most successful chart act of the 1960s.
With Larry Morris out front, strutting, preening, riding the powerful lyrics for all they’re worth as the defiant howl of John Williams’ feedback dipped from one speaker to the other. Filling out the Rebel’s sound was Denis ‘Nooky’ Stott in drums, Terry Rouse on Vox organ and Viv McCarthy on bass.
Originally an instrumental group in 1962, the sound and name of the group changed with the addition of Morris. A break from none other than Max Merritt landed them a residency at Auckland’s Top20 where a Beatles/Stones rivalry developed with fellow Hall of Famers, Ray Columbus & The Invaders.
Signing with new manager Russell Clark changed the work rate up another notch with the band touring relentlessly in NZ with the likes of Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers, Tom jones, Herman’s Hermits and The Yardbirds; the latter’s guitarist Jimmy Page striking up a friendship with Williams.
The touring continued into 1967 and tours with likes of Eric Burdon and The New Animals saw the Rebels follow them to Australia, followed by more touring in New Zealand and the release of their first and only studio album.
By 1968 the gruelling performance schedule was taking its toll and Rouse became the first to leave the band; Morris departed in 1969. The band tried to carry on but finally called it a day at the start of 1970 having left an indelible mark in the Australasian music scene.
We are honoured to welcome Larry, John, Denis, Terry & Viv – Larry’s Rebels – into The NZ Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa.