To most New Zealanders, Max Merritt is best known for ‘Slipping Away’, a Kiwi anthem from the mid-1970s.
But his career stretches all the way back to the very beginning of rock and roll in New Zealand.
In 1957, the Teenage Club was Christchurch’s first rock and roll venue and Max Merritt and The Meteors were the city’s first rock and roll band. Max became a local legend and a reluctant spokesperson for the rock and roll generation.
By 1959, 17 year old Max had a recording contract and his first album, “C’mon Let’s Go”.
A move to Auckland in the early 60s saw Max and his band The Meteors kick start the Top 20 club that would become the mainstay venue of NZ’s music legends. As the house band at Viking Records, Max and the Meteors can be heard on tracks by Dinah Lee and Peter Posa amongst others.
After slogging it out on the stage and in the studio, in the mid-60s, Max packed up his guitar to give it a shot across the Tasman. After successful stints playing with the likes of Billy Thorpe, Max’s career very nearly came to an end when the band were involved in a head on collision in which Max losing the sight in his right eye.
Max’s sound beefed up as the decade neared its end and the band became firm favourites on the Australian touring circuit and charts. Looking for an ever wider audience, Max and his Meteors next headed to the UK in 1970.
A combination of little progress in England and funds being embezzled left Max despondent. It was while struggling to support his family doing pub gig that Max penned ‘Slipping Away’ in 1975. Released under the Arista label, it would become his biggest and most enduring hit.
Under new management, Max disbanded the remaining Meteors and headed to LA for a fresh start. A return tour to Australia in 2002 saw him billed as the King of Soul and playing alongside heroes such as James Brown and Wilson Picket.
In 2007 Max was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disease but despite this he still managed to write and record new material as much as his treatment would allow.
Max sadly passed away on September 24 this year, but he was well aware of his induction and was incredibly thrilled and humbled by the honour.
From a teenage rocker in Christchurch to a globe-trotting musician admired across many countries, we are privileged to celebrate Max Merritt’s place in the NZ Music Hall of Fame | Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa.