The summer of 1987–1988 was like an economic “phoney war” similar to that we just experienced, 20 years on, with the 2007–2008 financial crisis. In the months following the 1987 share-market crash, we were waiting for the impact to hit. One of the casualties was surely the Neon Picnic rock festival, which went belly up hours before show time.
That’s Chris Bourke, across at his Distractions blog, which, I’m thrilled to say, is back in action as he has delivered to the publishers, and I am hugely anticipating, his book on NZ pre-Rock’n’Roll history — slowly, very slowly, we document, despite official ennui, our social past.
He also links to Andrew Schmitt’s fascinating history of Rock’n’Roll Festivals in NZ at the NZ History site.
I was one of the few who had a good story from Neon Picnic. My partner in clubs (we had The Playground at the time), Tom Sampson, had been asked to work on the festival, doing stage sound, by Oceania Audio, who had the main stage contract. Which left me in Auckland running the club.
I was gagging to see James Brown again. I’d seen him in London in 1980 and wanted more.
Mo Cammick, one of my best mates, the editor of Rip It Up and a huge soul fan who had introduced me to volumes of Black and Soul music over the previous decade, said he was going to see James play in Australia the Monday and Tuesday before he was to fly to NZ.
Thus a deal was struck. Tom would take the weekend off from The Playground, to work side stage for Oceania (which meant seeing TGFOS from the stage!) and I would work in the club. To compensate, I would, with Murray, fly to Melbourne the week before, and catch James’ gigs at the Metropolis.
This would make up for missing the NZ show.
I flew out, and with Murray and my other mate, designer Terence Hogan, who lived there, went to JB two nights running. Maceo stood next to me in the crowd and played an instrumental Soul Power, and I was flying.
I flew back to Auckland on the Thursday and … well, the rest is in Chris’ post.