The Defenders again worked with Peter Wright in January of 1965 at a show at the Kedron Hall in Brisbane.
The newspaper advertisement read - TV and Recording Stars - The Bee Gees, Peter Wright and The Defenders.
The band, eager to play professionally, decide to take the punt and to look further afield.
In June of 1965, The Defenders complete with their band gear are ferried to the Brisbane airport to travel
to their chosen destination of New Zealand, to follow their star in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
The Kodiaks and The Defenders
Ross D. Wylie (fifth from left, then) Col Zeller, Ray Moore, Ron Smith, Kerry Wright
Brisbane, early 1965
Kerry explains why New Zealand rather than Sydney or Melbourne:
In the mid-sixties, to be a full-time musician you had to leave Queensland, and Sydney and Melbourne were the obvious destinations. But at the same time there was another
cultural thing happening - lots of young people were going on a New Zealand working holiday, and we decided to try the New Zealand working holiday as professional
musicians. And we may have been sub-consciously doing a Beatles in Hamburg thing, but working and playing and traveling together was great for the band’s development
and believe me - a great time was had by all!
In terms of milestones achieved, their New Zealand stay was a whirlwind of continuing success. Kerry explains how this unfolded:
We flew to Auckland, and while we were waiting for all our equipment to arrive we started soaking up the atmosphere and nightlife of Auckland. It was an exciting
time in New Zealand music history and we hoped we could fit in somewhere.
We all got jobs to help pay the rent, and I was working for a builder, who, when he found out I was a member of a band from Australia - he said....”hey, man
Sandie Shaw is coming to New Zealand soon - why don’t you get your band on her concert tour...?”
I thought - yeah, if only it worked like that. But the idea stayed with me and after we found a Kiwi drummer to replace Col Zeller, I contacted Harry M. Miller’s Auckland
office. I must have spun them a really good story, because we secured an audition to be the opening act on the Sandie Shaw concert tour. And this was a bit scary
for us because, although we’d done a bit of rehearsal we hadn’t actually played together since back in Toowoomba.
The audition was held in the Top Twenty Club - one of the big venues in Auckland at the time - and present at the audition was the Top Twenty Club manager, the
Harry M. Miller scout and the producer of Viking Records.
Well, I’m happy to report we got the concert job with Sandie Shaw and The Pretty Things. We were contracted to play regularly at the Top Twenty Club with
Larry’s Rebels, and also the Viking Records producer got us into the studio ten days later where we recorded I’m Happy Too and Stay.
This recording session was supposed to be an audition to see how the band went to tape.
Sometimes an artist or band may sound great live, but the good sound just doesn’t go to tape. We recorded an original of mine - I’m Happy Too - and a Hollies song
from our live repertoire called Stay, with Ray Moore taking the lead voice.
Ron Dalton, the producer decided this session was good enough to release as a record, but decided we need a catchier name, so he released the disc on Viking Records
under the band-name Hubb Kapp and The Wheels. Nobody knew who was Hubb Kapp and who was a Wheel, but it didn’t matter because we were already doing a
successful business as The Defenders. So we kept our Defenders name and Hubb Kapp only existed on the record label. Even back then it was confusing to DJs and
interviewers but it made sense to us.
The Night Spot, Dunedin, 1965
(l-r) Rick Phillips, Ron Smith, Kerry Wright, Ray Moore
I’ m Happy Too (Wright) / Stay (Williams)
Viking VS-160 (August, 1965)
I’m Happy Too on Ron Dalton’s Viking label has taken on almost legendary status as one of the best
New Zealand pop releases of the sixties, appearing on a number of definitive compilations from that market.
But, it’s only recently that Hubb Kapp and The Wheels was identified as The Defenders,
and the full story emerged.
(See also: http://mysterex.blogspot.com/2009/12/lifting-lid-on-hubb-kapp-and-wheels.html)
When The Defenders left Australia in June 1965, Col Zeller declined to go, so upon arrival Kerry,
Ray and Ron enlist Auckland boy Rick Phillips on drums.
Just prior to leaving Auckland for Dunedin, Bob London - variously thought to be Canadian, English or
a Kiwi depending which accent he was affecting was drop-kicked out of the high-profile band The Pleazers,
and took refuge including bunking with the boys. Later he joins. Drummer Rick Phillips is replaced by
Myke Conway when the work takes them to Dunedin. Rick can’t move on with them.
NZBC (New Zealand Television) Publicity Still
(l-r) Myke Conway, Bob London, Kerry Wright,
Ray Moore, Ron Smith
(in the foyer of the television studios)
After about four months in Auckland, we were offered a very
lucrative residency job in Dunedin at a club called Sunset Strip.
So we moved from the top of the north island to the bottom of the
Dunedin was a great city for us, with a big regional university, the
American navy base and local night-time crowds all adding up to
a very healthy entertainment scene. The Defenders had a lot of
success in our Dunedin period. We operated our own nightclub for
a time called The Night Spot. It was near the Octagon, near the city
centre. We had the pleasure of appearing in concert with Tom Jones,
Herman’s Hermits and Millie.
We were very lucky to be able to be on these great shows - talking
to Tom Jones in my flat!
We were signed up to NZBC television, and did a 13 week season of
teenage variety show called Clickety Click 66.
Kerry writes the Clickety Click 66 theme which opens each episode,
and also it’s performed by The Defenders. Kerry Wright:
Patricia Wells was the host of the show and she presented items of
interest and sang with us, and we played a few songs of our own, and
were involved skits with her, sort of Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees -
in New Zealand. Prior to heading for Sydney, we did a series of Town
Hall concerts in Dunedin and surrounding towns which were very
By June,1966 the band is heading for home, and although he
never played with them in New Zealand, another local travels
with the band back to Australia and plays their Sydney gigs
keyboard player John Sayers.
NZBC (New Zealand Television) Publicity Still