APRA to induct pioneering New Zealand pop band the fourmyula into the New Zealand music hall of fame

Monday 6 September 2010, 8:43AM

The New Zealand Music Hall of Fame celebrates and pays tribute to the legendary music figures that have shaped, influenced and advanced popular music in New Zealand.

The individual journeys of those honoured are a direct reflection of the changing face of our culture; who we were, who we are, and what we might become.

APRA is proud to honour The Fourmyula at the 45th Silver Scroll Awards
Wednesday 8th September at the Auckland Town Hall.

“These guys were ground breaking New Zealand songwriters who proudly penned New Zealand music for an audience that didn’t believe that was possible. Not only did these songs top the charts here in the 60’s but the band forged a path overseas that has been travelled regularly since by many hundreds of New Zealand bands seeking success in the UK and Europe” says APRA’s Anthony Healey.

“It’s our absolute privilege to pay tribute to such an innovative and important group of musicians” he says.

They will join the prestigious musical honours board that includes Johnny Devlin, Jordan Luck, Ray Columbus and the Invaders, Jules and Linda Topp (The Topp Twins), Straitjacket Fits, Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns and the soon to be inducted Shihad.

The New Zealand Music Hall of Fame is produced by APRA and RIANZ to honour those New Zealander’s that have impacted New Zealand life through music.
The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) collects and distributes licence fees for the public performance and communication (including broadcast) of its members’ musical works. Public performances of music include music used in pubs, clubs, fitness centres, shops, cinemas, festivals, whether performed live, on CDs or played on the radio or television. Communication of music covers music used for music on hold, music accessed over the internet or used by television or radio broadcasters.


In 1967 a group of teenagers from Upper Hutt, New Zealand’s newest and smallest city, named themselves The Fourmyula. Over the remainder of the decade they would become the most successful pop group in the country, with a string of Top 10 hits and groundbreaking albums. They would be the first New Zealand band to insist on recording their own material, and the first to enjoy commercial success with self-penned songs. One of these songs, ‘Nature’ - composed by the group’s pianist/guitarist Wayne Mason - would give the group a number one hit and be covered by many artists over the decades to follow, including a second hit version in 1993 by The Mutton Birds. It would eventually be voted in an APRA poll the nation’s best song of the past 75 years.

Formed in 1967 The Fourmyula were Wayne Mason, Martin Hope, bass player Alistair (Ali) Richardson and drummer Chris Parry. Vocalist Carl Evensen joined early the following year making the group a quintet, but the name remained: The Five-yula just didn’t sound right. In January 1968 they won the national Battle of the Sounds competition, earning a trip to the U.K. as resident band aboard the cruise ship Fairsky. But they deferred their prize until the following year, determined to establish themselves first as New Zealand’s number one pop band.

The HMV recording company signed them and suggested a cover as their first single. To the group it sounded like a nursery rhyme; they rejected it. When another cover was suggested the Fourmyula countered with an original: Mason and Richardson’s ‘Come With Me’. Eventually both songs were recorded, but the original was the superior track and it went out as the A-side, reaching number 2 on the Zealand Top 20 in August 1968.

The success of ‘Come With Me’ paved the way for a string of startling original chart hits - ‘Alice Is There’, ‘I Know Why’, ‘Start By Giving To Me’, ‘Home’, ‘Forever’, ‘I’ll Sing You A Song’ - all characterised by Mason and Richardson’s infectious melodies and sing-along choruses, Evensen’s soulful lead vocals and the whole group’s warm harmonies and imaginative arrangements.

They also released in rapid succession their first two albums. The self-titled debut reflected their stage act in its mix of covers and originals, but the second long-player, Green B Holiday, was a milestone in New Zealand pop: an ambitious concept album, comprised entirely of Mason-Richardson compositions, themed around a summer tour and immortalising the small towns and local characters encountered along the way. Arriving in the U.K. in the European winter of 1969, The Fourmyula struggled to break into the competitive music scene. But they successfully secured a recording session at EMI’s legendary Abbey Road studios, where they found themselves working in an adjacent room to the Beatles, who were making what would be their final album. (“It was very distracting really, having the Beatles in the next room”, Mason recalled.)

Inspired by new sounds they had heard in Britain, they returned to New Zealand to record Creation, their third and most sophisticated album, which yielded Mason’s evergreen ‘Nature’. With its pastoral images and unconventional arrangement (someone plays a suitcase, another shakes a matchbox) it showed The Fourmyula at their most inventive.

But by the time the iconic song had hit number one at home, The Fourmyula were on their way back to Britain for another crack at the international scene. Though fame and fortune continued to elude them, they went into a London studio and completed a full-length album, Turn Your Back On The Wind. Combining their Beatlesque melodic sense with a heavier Led Zeppelin influence, it was arguably their strongest work. But contractual issues meant it was never released, becoming one of the great ‘lost’ albums of the era. It finally saw the light of day just this year, 40 years after it was recorded, a part of the 4-CD retrospective The Complete Fourmyula. The recordings they made together during a pressure-cooker period of just three years are testimony to a band that challenged itself and raised the bar for all Kiwi musicians. Enduring and endearing, The Fourmyula’s music remains the essence of great New Zealand pop.