Jack Maybury, John Maybury, John Maybury Jnr, New Zealand show
business, entertainers, entertainment, Rotorua Soundshell, Sydney
Radio 2SM, Melbourne Radio 3KZ, Auckland Royal Easter Show, Auckland
Newstalk 1ZB, Christchurch Radio 3ZB, Colgate Palmolive, Woolworths
Supermarket Miracle Story
This segment of my original works is written by my son, John Maybury
Finding My Voice
The Formative Years
to get somewhere fast was always on my mind. Making our own go-karts
and speeding down our driveway (200m down hill) in races even when
cars were probably coming up the other way certainly proved the point.
My neighbour, Nigel Wheeler, who was the same age as me, made his own
kart in his father’s workshop. (My family credit the Wheeler’s
extensive workshop with every imaginable fix-it, to mending the many
breakages in ‘our’ house. I was somewhat embarrassed by our small and
limited blue kit that housed only a handful of tools). While Nigel’s
endeavours were spirited, I canvassed the neighbourhood and found the
winning machine. Talking my way to glory was the first step.
A pursuit that epitomises those early years of youth was standing on
our garden shed at bottom of the property holding long bamboo sticks
with clay mud on the end and flicking the clay across the bush-clad
valley. At the bottom of the valley (approx 60m downhill) was the
neighbour’s tin garage. 10 points were awarded for a direct hit. The
home of these people (whom were not in our ‘group’) had an A frame
house with a very large window at the top. This was the bedroom of
their eldest son (he especially didn’t fit into our group!) 50 points
were awarded for a direct hit. It was the greatest pleasure to see
pieces of mud stuck to their window.
My dad was more concerned with the failing garden-variety shed that
wasn’t made for three kids standing atop of it. It still leaks to this
day. Further to this, behind the shed was our house that had
considerable clay mud spread over the white brick by the ill-directed
backfires. Dad knew (with his height) he was never going to get that
clean! Most points achieved by Martyn Kimber, a friend from across the
road who as a natural sportsman went on to play cricket in England,
although he could have chosen any sport of his liking.
Treading the boards
Aged 11 and cast in the end-of-year musical ‘Oliver’. My singing was
never all that brilliant but what I lacked in vocal clarity, I gained
in presence and nerve. While I could have been cast as any number of
characters, (I wanted the role of Dodger), there was a shortage of
‘strong males’ so they gave me Fagin.
There were two performances in that big hall (it seemed so large in
those days) and on the final night with a capacity crowd, stacked to
the rafters, on came little Johnny to perform his solo effort, I’m
Reviewing the situation. What a review! Half way through the song,
I forgot the words. Did stage fright set in? No, I tipped my
wide-brimmed hat (thought to myself – Christ!), I looked down to the
pianist (my inspirational acting and drama teacher, Mrs O’Sullivan)
who said, “lets take it from the top shall we”? Up came the hat, then
on with the song. So the line of ‘The show must go on’ was alive and
well for me and my stage career was born!
Finding my voice
Leaving Campbells Bay School and all your mates to go to some Catholic
School! Rosmini College. Meeting new friends made it all worthwhile:
Conan Christmas, Chris Paltridge, Christian Moy, Peter Sumich, Stephen
Fossi, Greg Pearson. Friends for life.
Average at cricket, soccer, rugby (uncoordinated or ‘unco’ was a
popular gibe) but made I up for it in individual sport, athletics,
cross-country (scooter was a name that stuck) and debating. Hopeless
at Math, failed science but clicked at Geography and especially
history (I had been getting considerable practice learning lines for
plays so remembering was never a problem). Dad wanted me to learn the
clarinet (God only knows why, I wasn’t getting an inspiration from my
fathers racket every Sunday afternoon) so off to music class I went
with my tutor, Mr Lord (he HAD to work in a catholic school!). After
my first three lessons I prayed never to see him again. I’ve never
heard someone yell me at me so many times (except my mother of
course). At least there was a positive; dad got a new clarinet! Made
it through school with an accreditation for University Entrance, the
last year of it’s inclusion in the NZ curriculum. Dad’s year was the
first. All I remember about those years was the friends you make along
the way. I was good boy at school although I’m glad the teachers never
looked in my Swandri jacket where they would find that packet of
Father Bland (Maths and motivator). He pushed me to enter the
Australian Math Competition of which I earned a credit for my efforts.
What I didn’t tell him was I finished the exam in less than 10 minutes
from a possible two hours. I love multiple-choice questions!
Antoine Monti (English teacher and colour-co-ordinated fashion
aficionado) who found my theatrics may be useful in debating. We won
many. We lost only a few.
Mrs Mayhew (French and mother of rugby mad All Black sons). Don’t mess
with this woman! Big voice. Big heart.
All the world’s a stage
While toiling away at school, I joined a local theatrical group after
my singing debut (although never to sing again!) the Milford Playhouse
(or Milford Little Theatre as it was known then) under the
directorship of Carol Dumbleton. A former rep theatre actor from the
UK, she gave me confidence, strength and belief in me plus a variety
of roles to choose from in various genres. Something that other
theatre groups just wouldn’t give a kid the opportunity to put across.
Sure, truth is important in the craft however this was only for fun
and that is what we had.
Furthermore, I was the victim of a slight stutter as a child.
Something that would not be easy to ear on radio but fantastic for a
stand-up comic! So in addition to theatre craft experience, I was sent
to those speech classes. I still remember that book, Rhymes with
reasons. After a Diploma in Public Speaking / Speech and Drama and
coupled with theatre, I lost my stutter. It w-w-worked.
Some of my credits included; Shakespeare, ‘As you like it’, ‘Hamlet’,
‘Antony and Cleopatra’, ‘A Winter’s Tale’ along with ‘She’s Done It
Again’, ‘Little Women’, ‘Death of a Salesman’, ‘Dazzle, Star Trek the
Musical and Pantomime hoodwinks ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Robin Hood’.
A few of my favourite productions: Oh Romeo! Playing Romeo that
brought together 4 other actors that had spent considerable years (if
you can call 6 years, considerable) working as a team and it was a
delight to play to full houses and extend the program by a week. For a
teenager, I felt like a rock star!
a play about life after dark that gave the players a crack at playing
over 30 characters each which stretched all and sundry. Another
sell-out season in an intimate setting. The play featured a good mate,
Jason Taylor who, on one night, wished he had some theatrical fighting
classes under his belt when he king hit one of his fellow actors just
before the interval. Returning to the ring, the fat-lipped thespian
gave a bloody good performance. A bouncer he sure was! Subsequently,
I’ve never picked a fight with Jason.
My involvement with the Milford Playhouse spanning 16 years, over 50
productions, I credit my growth to the incomparable and often
unrecognised devotion to theatre, Carol Dumbleton.
While singing was never a forte, I thank Dad for his collection of
Frank Sinatra records, love for Bing Crosby and classic musicals.
Years of attending professional theatre and seeing all the shows,
watching all the old musicals on TV/video kept my voice developing.
Watching those shows kept the dream alive. What was the dream,
following some well stamped feet.
Christmas in Rotorua
of the best times of the year was spent in Rotorua every Christmas.
For 16 years from the day I was born the Maybury’s spent it in the
geyser city. An event I remember (or was recalled by others many
times) was at the age of four I was stupid enough to get lost. I
apparently strayed from our rented address but had the brains enough
to knock on someone’s door and report the situation. The police got
involved at that stage and when they asked who my father was, I
accurately replied “John Senior”. That didn’t help their sleuth work
but by then my anxious Dad made contact with central police and his
description was accurate enough to set up a pick and retrieve
manoeuvre. A very happy ending!
From that time I was about seven, I worked alongside my old man on
stage at Rotorua along with a family that I feel close to for those
three magical weeks every Christmas. The Thompson’s (the late Ian
Thompson was the editor of the Daily Post for decades and an old
sports mate of Dad’s). Their youngest son Brian and I, along with
all the daughters of both families sold raffle tickets and handed
out open housie cards every day as a holiday hobby.
Brian and I certainly had some adventures (some too ridiculous and
embarrassing to mention here) but it was a wonderful moment when the
call came through some 21 years later from Brian (and his
bride-to-be, Sam) telling me, “I’d love you to be my groomsman and
MC at my wedding” (in 2005).
True friendships were born in my first 16 years and continue to this
day. Love ya Brian!
Jet setting around the world
“You’ve got to have something under your belt if your career in
theatre / radio doesn’t turn out”. My father’s wise words but what to
do? I chose travel. I always wanted to go places.
For three years I worked at Jetset in their wholesale department.
Booking hotels, transfers, tours and flights. On the phone, it gave me
time to practice my vocal skills (pretending I was talking down a
microphone in a studio!) I knew I would be good at that! At night, if
I wasn’t in a stage production, I was doing my Business Management
Diploma with my mate, Stephen Owles. What can you say about the time
when you are 17-20 years old? Nightclubs, friends, parties on the
beach, boozing, driving the $2,000 Ford Cortina and finding your place
in the world. Freedom.
I remember the two funniest people I’ve been pleasured to meet.
Jennifer Ratcliffe and Steven Wright always had a joke or a laugh to
keep everyone amused. Now a couple with two livewire kids, there will
always be laughter in that family.
Inspirational people: Peter Watson. The MD at Jetset made everyone
feel at home. One of those managers you gravitate toward. Peter was a
guy with an open-door management style, a larrikin nature and cigars
with champagne after five on a Friday afternoon in his office. When he
left, things got a little dull.
Then my acceptance letter came through; a place among the 17 students
in the Diploma of Radio Broadcasting from 650 applicants.
Finding my feet
The broadcasting course gave all 17 participants (who were all from
diverse backgrounds aged from 17 to 35) a chance at experiencing (and
experimenting) with all aspects of a radio station. We were given a
frequency and a three-week timeframe to produce whatever we liked. We
all had to write copy, sell-in clients, read and write the news, pull
a shift or three, voice commercials, complete a documentary, programme
the station and execute promotions. With a lead-time of 1 month after
some expert guidance from industry professionals and tutors, we
decided upon ‘Transistor Radio’ as our station format, The Hits
and Memories of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
As appointed Sales Manager (god only knows why I got this position), I
had to motivate the rest of the team to make the cold calls and
deliver the results. Well, I surprised myself by securing a station
sponsorship from Eveready Batteries of $2,000! For a three-week
station! Our entire budget was previously only $200 so you can imagine
the ‘station parties’ we had! Thanks to Lee Piper, Anna-Kate Cowan,
Rachel Brownlee, Tim Townsend and Liana Piranha for making it all
worthwhile. These talented individuals have all gone on to succeed in
their various careers.
My first station was in the summer of ’91 at Christchurch station 91ZM
working in the promotions department and then doing a few mid-dawns
under the direction of Don Douglas and Kevin White, who was the man to
say ‘Yes’ I’ll green-light your first job in radio. I remember
watching in awe, the inimitable talents of Ken Ellis (who was rating
number one at breakfast at the time with his on-air partner James
Daniels aka James and Ken) along with John Dunne (both at 3ZB in the
same building) but my favourites were those gorgeous sales girls! I
remember one of the promotions that the station ran was ‘James and
Ken’s Christmas Choristers’ which was a bunch of kids that walked
around Christchurch singing carols. Later, I found out that one of
those youngsters was now talkback whiz, Mike Yardley. See what happens
if you hang around radio with lots of determination!
After 3-4 months of hard labour (not!) I took the chance on a
full-time position a Hamilton station that was changing from AM to FM,
the re-named ZHFM. The lure of being closer to the ‘big smoke’ of
Auckland was exciting. (I turned down an opportunity to do breakfast
at Hawera, although in retrospect, I think this would have given me a
better grounding in radio). Working 6 nights a week from 1am to 6am
(day off Sunday night/Monday) ensured I stayed sober for my entire
tenure at the station. Who said radio was glamorous.
Again, watching, learning and stuffing up were all part of the
journey. Sure, there were the people along the way that helped
although I was a familiar one-way sounding board in the office of
Programme Director, David Brice whom called me into his office
whenever I played the wrong song (which was frequently) but I couldn’t
believe he was listening at 3.35am when I switched Bobby Darin’s,
Dream Lover for the B-side, Mack, the Knife, which I thought
was a much better song! I wasn’t aware of focus groups and research in
those days let alone the sound of the station he was trying to create.
But it was fun trying.
I remember doing a station promotion for a local parade through the
city streets. I was driving the lead vehicle, being particularly
careful with every move. After the parade had run its course, for some
strange reason, the devil took me on a journey. I parked the car on
the concrete median strip & took off after something that had caught
my eye. Needless to say, I had forgotten about the car until the next
morning when I was duly called to see the boss. Luckily the police
found the car. The car was unlocked, with the key’s still in the
ignition. To this day, I don’t remember the beauty that I saw but I
hope the ride was worth it.
Again, some of New Zealand’s best were on air at ZH, Stephen McIvor,
Murray Lindsay and Dave Raugton. At least I found out early that the
‘sound’ of my voice suited the easy listening/classic hits brand. They
gave me the Saturday night jukebox show, which lifted my spirits
somewhat, but I yearned for something else. The Big City. So I went.
En-route to London I worked as the Sunday morning breakfast show host
at Auckland’s Classic Hits 97FM. I wish I’d stayed. This was a station
I truly felt comfortable in. PD, John Adams always had a constructive
appraisal of my on-air skill. A good people-manager. Along with the
likes of Bob Gentil, John Budge and Mary-Jane Tomasi it felt like home
(Their studio and office was in Takapuna where I grew up). Even if I
only saw it on a Sunday morning when there wasn’t a bugger insight!
Pubs, clubs, tourists, pints, theatre, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, HRH,
snobs, shitty awful weather,
and the same again. Did the lot. Toured England, Wales, Ireland,
Scotland, Spain, France, Germany. Had the time of my life for a year
or two. Not a lot to tell my family. Get the picture?
This segment of my original works is written by my son, John Maybury