Billy T K media centre
Billy T K Still Guitar Master |
Veteran Strikes Progressive Chord
(Short version, 760 words, Current August 2002)
Billy T K is one of New Zealand’s original guitar
heroes, having paid his dues in rhythm ‘n blues, rock and more flowing
Pacific rhythms over 40-years.
He remains an intense and exciting guitarist melding
contemporary blues-rock with flowing progressive Pacific rhythms with a
strong collection of original songs, which have often covered by other
To date the only albums he’s released have been with
Human Instinct and a rare release with his post-Instinct unit Te Whare
Mana (Powerhouse) only available in the UK and Germany.
However he’s recently been collaborating with Blerta founding
member Tony Littlejohn on a CD of his original songs to be released early
in 2003 and featuring the tracks Prisoner, Winning and Destiny.
Billy occasionally performs with the reformed Human
Instinct, appears in Hendrix revival concerts and has a number of
musicians he can call on up and down the country for concerts and club
gigs. He’ll perform acoustic sets solo or electric sets calling on an
experienced group of musicians including Ara Mete, and Pihana Tahapihi
who’ll play bass or guitar and drummers including Jim Lawrie (formerly
Highway, Rockinghorse, Street Talk and Pink Flamingos).
Kahika (Billy T K) began experimenting with feedback and developing his
own electronic pedals in 1966 with his Palmerston North-based band The
Sinners. As soon as the music of Jimi Hendrix hit the airwaves he devoured
the sounds, rapidly learning the contents of each successive album.
The Sinners folded he was asked to join singer and stand-up drummer
Maurice Greer who had just returned from two years in the UK playing
alongside the greats of the British rock scene with his unit Human
trio, through a succession of bass players including Peter Barton, Larry
Waide and Neil Edwards, quickly became one of the loudest, most highly
paid and respected rock units in the country.
worked most nights of the week and recorded three albums Burning Up
Years, Stoned Guitar and Pinz In It which became
underground classics catapulting the band to legendary status.
the late 1980s the German-based Little Wing label re-released a box set of
the LPs. In the liner notes the label applauded Billy T K as
“technically and melodically … one of the best and most innovative
guitarists of the 70s” … the (first) box set ensuring “Billy T K his
place beside Hendrix, Beck and Clapton”.
Billy left Human
Instinct after their 1972 tour of Australia and began recruiting members
for his own unit Powerhouse which was to play more fluid, contemporary South Pacific
rhythms with strong Santana influences. The band featured up to 10 members, maintained residencies
in Wellington and Palmerston North and played the Ngaruawahia music
festival just ahead of Black Sabbath.
its height Powerhouse played alongside Split Enz and supported John Mayall,
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, UB40, Joe Satriani and the Neville
Brothers. In April
1996 Billy was invited to perform a “walk on” with his hero Carlos
Santana at an Auckland concert. He expected to trade a few licks but was
surprised when Santana encouraging him to take all the solos on his
version of Bob Marley’s Exodus.
Billy had began to pursue the spiritual side of life, meeting
his mediation teacher Maharaji in 1974 - from then on his music began
became more devotional. Billy relates his transition musically and
spiritually to the wave famed guitarists Carlos Santana and John
McLaughlin were riding.
In recent years he’s worked with several bands including
Dunedin-based Flying Nun band King Loser, who he recorded an album with.
“These young musicians would race into their pieces and then look
at me and let me have my turn, so I’d play something. We did an album
together. After that I got a call from DLT, the hop hop band to record a
track with them. It was fun, I enjoyed doing that cross over stuff.”
Another cross over project has him working with a team who
went to India and recorded some Indian mystics up the Ganges river playing
their instruments – they’ve asked Billy to play with the pieces as
they meld it into something for the contemporary market.
Billy T K
can be contacted directly:
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