Musical career recalled

Last updated 05:00 15/07/2014
Peter Dawkins
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
REMEMBERING: Fay Skelton looks at newspaper cuttings about her late brother Peter Dawkins’ music career.

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Timaru-born musician and producer Peter Dawkins died after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage when he fell down stairs in his Australian home.

He attended Timaru Technical College and went on to jam with Jimi Hendrix and produce records for some top Australasian bands.

As a drummer he played in a band called Me and the Others, and left New Zealand for England to perform. It was at a London Speakeasy bar the band members jammed with Hendrix.

Dawkins returned to New Zealand in 1969 and started producing for HMV records in Wellington.

Among his successes were Nature by Kiwi rock band The Fourmyula which won the Apra Silver Scroll award of the year in 1969. Another version was released by the Mutton Birds later and in 2001 it was voted New Zealand's greatest pop song.

In the 1970s he moved to Australia and produced records for Dragon, Mi-Sex, Johnny Farnham, Air Supply and Australian Crawl. Sharon O'Neill's first hit Talk to the Boys was also produced by Dawkins in Australia.

Dawkins' younger sister, Fay Skelton, still lives in Timaru and said some of the media reports about her older brother had been incorrect.

"He died in Ulladulla about three-and-a-half hours from Sydney, not the Blue Mountains, and he was 67 not 68," she said.

As a teenager she recalled how he won two do-the-twist marathons in Temuka in 1963, 84 hours and 111 hours respectively. With his prizemoney of £100 he bought a drum kit.

She said she would always remember how as children they used to ride their bicycles all day and only return when it got dark.

"That's what we all did then."

Dawkins was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 1989 and worked as chief executive of Parkinsons Australia for as long as he could.

Dawkins died on July 3 and is survived by his wife Penny and sons Paul and Alex.

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- The Timaru Herald

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