The Human Instinct had its origins with 1950s pop band
the Four Fours, formed in Tauranga in 1958 by drummer Trevor Spitz.
Lead guitarist Bill Ward joined in 1959 and former police cadet Dave
Hartstone became rhythm guitarist in 1960.
Frank Hay a friend of the
band was given a crash course on playing the bass and the foursome, rapidly became one of
the most sought after bands in the country.
Once the Four Fours got a taste of success with hit records and sell
out crowds the lads set their eyes on becoming t the London scene,
becoming the second only Kiwi band to do so, arriving a couple of
months after Me & the Others which featured Peter Dawkins on drums
(later a respect record producer) and Gary Thain on bass (later of
the Keef Hartley Band and Uriah Heep).
Four four founder Trevor Spitz wasn’t
keen on the overseas trip so the band began auditioning for a
In mid-1966 Maurice Greer, then fronting his own band The Saints, was
asked to try out. He had his first group at age 14-years and was
billed as ‘the teenage wonder drummer’. In 1964 he began
experimenting with an impressive drum kit, converting it into a stand
up unit, which he claimed was better for his vocals. But it wasn’t
only his drumming ability that impressed the Four Fours it was his
talent for to harmonising and hitting those high notes, the trademark of chart
topping bands of the time. He joined just in time to record their
biggest hit Go Go / Don’t Print My Memoirs.
"He has a special set of Slingerland drums which
suit his style, and he stands up while playing, balancing on one foot,
using the other to pound that specially built bass pedal. The
leaping P J Proby they call him," said John Frederick in the Manawatu
The Four Fours gave themselves 18 months to prepare
for their challenge to the UK scene often working 35 hours a week on
stage and recording.
In August 1966 they said farewell to New Zealand as
support act for the Rolling Stones and The Searchers taking up
residency on the Fairsky to pay their way to London. But the times
were changing and the boys knew they needed a more catchy name.
"We knew we needed to ‘hep it up’ a bit. We wrote down names,
put them in a hat and pulled out Human Instinct," says Maurice
Work was hard to find, the British bands were hard and
loud, new equipment was needed and a booking agent to get them gigs. After four months
of hard luck the Human Instinct took to the stage at the Starlight
Ballroom in Wembley along with hundreds of other hopeful bands playing
to an audience of booking agents.
It was their solid rendition of a hit Beach Boys'
complete with perfect harmonies and tight guitar work that opened the
door. The bookings began to roll in with agents asking for ‘the band
that did Good Vibrations with the stand-up drummer’.
The hard yards at the working men’s clubs and high school dances
eventually paid off with a short residency at The Marquee Club
supporting the Jeff Beck Band, then the Small Faces, Spencer Davis
Group, the Moody Blues, Manfred Mann and Cat Stevens. The band also
supported Roy Orbison and sat in for the Peddlers for two weeks.
They also took on two short resident spots at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club.
The Human Instinct were offered a deal with Mercury
Records. The first single release Rich Man / Illusions in 1967
received good press but saw no chart action. A review in the new
Musical Express described the song as: "A pounding up-tempo piece
with ear catching lyrics and some weird sounds. Self penned and out of
It was quickly followed by Can’t Stop Loving You / Want To Be
Loved By You and a re-recording of the Four Fours Go Go in June
1967. The band then signed with Deram to record A Day in My Minds
Mind / Pink Dawn, described 30-years later by English critic Jon
Savage as "a blurring of the real and fantastic, aurally
reproduced by detuned raga-style guitars and a few voices."
The Byrds song Renaissance Fair was backed by Death at the Seaside and
recorded at Olympic Studios in December 1967. It later appeared on the
early 90s compilation album The Great British Psychedelic Trip.
The pressures of touring were getting to the band. Dave Hartstone
wanted to stay in London but the others decided to return home to a
normal family life. Greer was offered the job drumming with the Jeff
Beck Group but chose to return to his homeland in September
After a series of welcome back concerts Frank Hay and
Bill Ward went their own way but Greer was determined
to rebuild the band and head back for another shot at the British
mainstream. In his home town of Palmerston North, he found just the
player who could help spearhead the next wave.
took an immediate shine to the playing of local guitarist Bill Tekahika, an old high school friend.
Billy T.K quit his own unit The
Sinners to join Human Instinct. Not only could he cope with the
Hendrix-Zeppelin style, he was about to become a guitar legend in his
The new unit soon teamed with bass player Peter Barton
and headed to Auckland where they quickly set the nightclub scene
alight with the new hard driving, experimental sound.
The return trip to London however didn’t bring the success the band
had hoped for. Things had changed, work wasn’t so easy to come by
and the band only remained three months.
The journey however as not wasted – they bought the latest equipment
and became saturated in the pioneering sounds of fellow Kiwi
guitarist Doug Jerebine who was
also trying to crack the London scene.
Jerebine’s playing and songwriting had a major impact on Maurice Greer. Jerebine, recording under the
name Jesse Harper,
and after producing little more than an album’s worth of free-form rock anthems
quit the rock scene for Eastern religion and eventually becoming a
high ranking Krishna monk and scholar. His original
material was only released in the late 1980s, long after Human
Instinct had recorded Midnight Sun, Idea and five of his
Those two singles along with Black Sally, Tomorrow,
Rainbow World, Highway and the band’s irreverent
version of The Kinks You Really Got Me were culled from the
Human Instinct’s consistently popular trilogy of albums recorded in
quick succession on their return to New Zealand.
Bass player Peter Barton left in the middle of
recording Burning Up Years in 1969. He appears on the tracks Maiden
Voyage and You Really Got Me. Larry Waide was bought in to
complete the album.
The second LP, Stoned Guitar was recorded in June 1970. According
to an April 1971 issue of Groove, Stoned Guitar on Pye records
had sold 4000 copies and I Think I’ll Go Back Home was in the
top New Zealand top 10.
Larry Waide left after Stoned Guitar as musical
directions began to shift. In February 1971 former Underdogs bass
player Neil Edwards joined and the more mature and structured Pins In It album
was released in June that year.
After a three month Australian tour in mid 1971, Billy
T.K. left the band and Greer returned home to build and operate
nightclubs with his brother Frank. However, the Human Instinct was
soon back on the scene playing a softer Little Feat-style of rock, as
evidenced in the next two albums Snatmin Cuthin and The
Hustler. For live work and those albums Greer again called on the
best musicians around including Martin Hope (ex Foumyula), John
Donaghue (ex Timberjack), keyboardists Graeme Collins and then Steve
McDonald, and bass players Glenn Mickelsson (Zaine Griff), Peter Cuddihy and Chris
Gunn among others.
The Human Instinct story will eventually be told in
full but for the moment the history continues to unfold. Human
Instinct continues to perform the occasional live and a 'new'
album which has taken over a decade to see the light of day was
finally released in early 2011. Midnight Sun recorded at Revolver Studios in Auckland features
original band members and guest appearances several top players.