JIMMY ELLYETT (R.I.P.)

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First published in December 2007, last updated October 2018

Photos & Memorabilia - Crescendos, Premiers, Dallas Four, Gugi Walker Quartet, Rhapsody, Auckland 60's and 70's Reunions

Jimmy Ellyett, ex Crescendos, Premiers, Dallas Four, Gugi Walker Quartet, Rhapsody, (and more), passed away in Auckland on 17th October 2018.  Jimmy was well known around the  Auckland music scene from the 60's through to the 90's.

View Jimmy's death notice from the NZ Herald here

TRIBUTES

Jimmy and I flatted together for most of the time we were with the Premiers.  He was certainly a character, and he is the one member of the Premiers that everyone remembers to this day.  His guitar playing and attitude were a perfect fit for the Premiers, and both Jimmy and I were quite happy being background harmony singers.  Jimmy was really close to death after the cowardly road rage attack, and, although he outwardly recovered, it did seriously affect his memory and (to some extent) his moods.  He was very generous, for some unknown reason always asking me if I needed any money.  A little man with a big heart - Andy Shackleton
Another old mate bites the dust.  No-one knew that Jim had karked it so unfortunately didn’t attend his service.  Jimmy played keys for us years ago in “Rhapsody” with Bruce Decke on bass, Brian Stewart on percussion and myself on geetar. Brian and I were ex “Summer Wine” with Leo Tritto and Willy Galletly and Jim fitted in like a glove.  This was when music used to be live.  Elaine Hegan also used us to back whichever artists were on the circuit and many riotous years were had with Diamond Lil et al; principally in the South Auckland region.  Jim had this crazy heavy Acetone organ with bass pedals and the first synthesizer I ever heard – Jim liked the new gear.  He was a dab hand at guitar as well.  Jim had wide knowledge, twinkly eyes, a great chuckle and a keen sense of humour.  Lot of larfs.  On behalf of us all, R.I.P. ole son.  - David Weston  
Jimmy became my friend and the lead guitarist of the Premiers when we moved from Wellington to Auckland.  The mini Hank B Marvin look-a-like was a great addition to our band and fitted the role perfectly.  He was always a team member and did whatever we asked of him and remained a friend in all the years since the band broke up and went their separate ways.  Every year he would ring me to wish me happy birthday and even after his accident still managed to remember.  Every time I visited my brother Andy in Auckland we would try and catch up with our Jimmy and he would always invite us over for tea and entertain us with his new guitar, electronic keyboard, or whatever he was keen on at the time.  He was also keen to show us any motorbike that he was working on as he a very talented maker of parts and could restore anything.  Most of all I will miss his hearty laugh and excitement at seeing us again.  RIP Jimmy. - Mike Shackleton
I am very sorry to hear this.  It had been a long time and I didn’t know him extremely well however I recall he was a great player and a very nice fellow.  Rest easy Jimmy.  - Ian Saxon
Very sad to hear of Jimmy’s passing.  Even though he had been suffering from the road rage attack years ago, it was still a shock to hear the news.  Jimmy was a very funny guy and a great musician as my main memory of him was when he was the Dallas Four back in 1966, one of New Zealand’s fantastic bands from then.  Who could forget their stage performances of The Four Seasons numbers, very impressive, and like all of us who are still playing music, keep the faith and keep playing.  RIP Jimmy.  - Denis Gilmore
I went to Selwyn College with Jimmy, a nice guy and a great muso!! - Dave Williamson
One of Jimmy’s good mates John Pearce advised me of his passing when I was in Melbourne.  Sadly I missed his funeral by a few hours and was sorry I did so but John spoke for me.  A lot of musicians who would have also attended were unable to do so due to none of us knowing Jim as William.  Jimmy was a great musician who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Top 20 in 1965 when he played with The Premiers.  He reminded me of Hank Marvin with his matching horn rimmed glasses and similar style of guitar playing.  Above all though Jimmy was a Gentleman and it was sad to see his decline when severely beaten in the road rage incident.  The person responsible was nothing but a bully and a thug picking on one of the shortest professional musicians in town.  Jim certainly did not deserve to have his life span greatly decreased by such a heinous act.  Rest in peace Jimmy. - Larry Morris
(email me your tribute to Jimmy and I'll add it in - andy@nzmusos.co.nz)


MEMORIES

My mother played the piano when she was young, but didn't play at home while I was growing up.  I started playing the guitar when I was 13 and played with Roger Skinner while we were both still at school.  I recall paying 15 shillings for my first guitar! 

I started my toolmaking apprenticeship in 1958, and during this time I worked alongside Reece Rogers - who let me try out his electric guitar.  I thought it was great, and bought myself a Jansen guitar (I can't remember the model).  Reece and I formed a four piece band playing Shadows music.  I remember practising in his garage at Onehunga.  

I then joined up with the Crescendos.  I also recall buying an Auckland made tape echo unit from Lewis Eady's around this time.  It wasn't terribly reliable, and I had to make a few modifications to it. 

When I was about 20, I used to go to the Top 20 Club and the Shiralee, watching groups such as Max Merritt and the Meteors and Ray Columbus and the Invaders.  

When the Premiers were auditioning lead guitarists I decided to give it a try, and was lucky enough to be chosen.  Although we were pretty well paid at the time (30 pounds a week), we had to play live for 30 hours a week as well as find time to rehearse.  One friend I recall from those days is Glen Daisley, who worked behind the bar. 

When the Premiers disbanded at the end of 1965 I never played the guitar live again.  I joined up with the Dallas Four on keyboards, playing at the Platterack.  While I was with the Dallas Four we toured New Caledonia and Tahiti. 

I decided to try my luck in Australia, and joined up to play keyboards (an Echosonic organ) with Johnny O'Keefe, who was forming a four piece band (Gugi Walker Quartet) to tour the east coast.  We started in Cairns and travelled down the country as far as Tasmania.  To this day, I still have the tailored suit that was made in Sydney for this tour, by a tailor who was known as "the 3rd best tailor in the world".  Unfortunately it doesn't fit me any more! 

I came back to New Zealand in 1967/68, and joined up with Kevin Neems - once again playing keyboards.  We played together for 16 years. 

In the mid 80’s I joined Rhapsody and played with them for about 3 years.

I finally joined up with Bill Bacon, before 'retiring' in 1992. 

I still play the piano for my own enjoyment.

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