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 Jnr.

Finding My Voice

The Formative Years

Determined 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 smokes.

Inspirational teachers

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. Merci Madam.

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!

Bouncers; 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

One 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. To London.

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!

London Calling

Pubs, clubs, tourists, pints, theatre, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, HRH, snobs, shitty awful weather, dónde compra la comida adjetivo 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 Jnr.


© Copyright
John Maybury 2006
Sue Maybury