Mark Williams (singer)

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Mark Williams
Mark Williams.jpg
Mark Williams performing with Dragon in 2009.
Background information
Origin Dargaville, Northland, New Zealand
Genres Rock
pop
soul
Years active 1970–present
Associated acts The Face
Boy Rocking
Dragon

Mark Williams (born 1954) is a New Zealand-born pop/soul singer with Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) number one hit singles, "Yesterday Was Just the Beginning of My Life" (1975) and a cover of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" (1977) before he relocated to Australia later that year.[1][2] His single, "Show No Mercy" (1990) was a top ten hit in both countries.[3] He has undertaken extensive touring in support of numerous Australian bands and worked in television, in 2005 he became the vocalist for the reformed New Zealand/Australian band, Dragon.[1]

Early years[edit]

Williams was born in Dargaville in the Northland region of New Zealand and at 16 started up a band called 'The Face' with classmates. The band went on to win the Northland heat of the National Battle of the Bands competition in September 1970, and finished third overall in the grand final held in Auckland in the new year.

One of the judges at the final was Lew Pryme, and he recognised the potential of the group and became their manager. A single "Hangin' Around"/"Mr Postman" was released in 1972 on Zodiac and a national tour followed. In 1973, Mack Tane left and he was replaced by Bruce Robinson, previously of the Pleazers, Troubled Mind and Flinders.

When the television show "Happen Inn" finished in 1973, a new show emerged. It was called "Free Ride" and was hosted by Ray Columbus. Lew convinced Williams to leave the Face and pursue a solo career at the time the new show was being launched. Whilst becoming a featured artist on the show, "Free Ride" will always be remembered for launching the career of Williams.

Solo career[edit]

Late in 1974 Williams was signed to EMI by Alan Galbraith. A single was released at the end of 1974, "Celebration"/"Let Love Come Between Us", but it was another song from the recording sessions that really stood out. Alan Galbraith had taken a "Vanda and Young" song, originally destined for Craig Scott, and given it a new arrangement. The song "Yesterday Was Just The Beginning of My Life" backed with "Jimmy Loves Marianne" was released in May 1975 and within 6 weeks was number one on the National Charts, staying there for 3 weeks and eventually falling out of the charts 6 months later.

Williams' debut self-titled album came out in June and peaked at number 2, remaining on the album charts for 30 weeks. It quickly went gold and went on to be New Zealand's best selling pop/rock album of the seventies. Whilst the album contained many excellent songs, surprisingly no further singles came from it. The next single was "Sweet Wine"/"Who Do You Think You Are" and released in November 1975. It reached number 7 on the charts. Early in 1976, Lew Pryme took Williams on a visit to Australia. The trip was not very successful and on their return to New Zealand, Pryme and Williams parted company. A second album "Sweet Trials" was released along with his third single, "If It Rains"/"Morning Sun Upon A Mountain" taken from the album. Also including his second single, the album was not as successful, only reaching number 14 on the album charts, while the third single fared worse, entering the charts at 25 and only staying in the charts for one week.

With Williams' popularity on the decline, which critics put down to the lack of good material featured on second album, the subsequent national tour only attracted medium sized crowds. In late 1976 the single "Taking It All in Stride"/"Why Can't We Be Lovers" was released. It peaked at number 14 and gave some much-needed airplay. A second boost to his career came about with the release of his third album "Taking It All in Stride" in June 1977. It contained the single "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"/"True Love (Is Never Easy)". A superb cover of the old Buddy Holly classic, the song went to number one, giving Mark his second chart topper. Although certified Gold, the album didn't chart any higher than his second, it stayed around much longer and was well received by the record buying public. It also contained a fine duet with Sharon O'Neill called "If There's Still A Little Love" and this was released as a single with "Love Is Forever" as a B side.

Success Abroad[edit]

With his EMI contract about to expire, Williams decided leave the shores of New Zealand in pursuit of an international standing in Australia. With him came Alan Galbraith, his new manager and producer of his three albums. Alan had recently taken up a new position with CBS Australia. After Williams's departure, EMI released the obligatory "Greatest Hits" album late in 1977.

In the years to follow he had quickly established himself in the lucrative session world of Sydney singing many radio and TV commercials and become a favoured back up vocalist on albums by major Australian talent, Renee Geyer, Jenny Morris, Eurogliders, Ian Moss, Richard Clapton, The Church and Sharon O'Neil. It wasn't until 1980 that his Australian album was released called 'Life after Dark', which spawned two singles.

Williams also formed a Sydney based band called Boy Rocking signed to CBS. The band would go on to released two Australian singles. In 1988 on the verge of touring with the musical 'Cats', Mark made an eleventh hour decision to instead tour with the Ian Moss band for the hugely successful 'Matchbook' tour. 1989 would see Williams break into television singing the theme song for the hit Australian soap Home and Away with Karen Boddington.

Williams soon attempted to replicate the fully-fledged successful solo career he experienced in New Zealand. He was signed to Albert Productions (released through Sony) and began working on new material with Harry Vanda and George Young of The Easybeats.

1990 saw the release of the album Mark Williams ZNZ, which featured perhaps his best-known song, "Show No Mercy". Gone was the silky voice; it was a completely different sounding Williams. The song went platinum and was chosen to launch the 1990 New South Wales Rugby League grand final. He went on to tour Australia and New Zealand and made an appearance on the Strictly Ballroom soundtrack singing "Time After Time" with Tara Morice. In 1996 he began coaching promising young Australian performers before again becoming involved in television, coaching Popstars performers for the Seven Network including the female pop group Bardot and culled hopefuls for Network Ten's Australian Idol.

In 2005, Todd Hunter of the New Zealand rock band Dragon asked Williams to join the newly reformed band and in 2006 the new line up released 'Sunshine to Rain' through Liberation Music. They have been touring ever since.

Williams currently lives in Sydney and is working on material for another album.

Legacy[edit]

Even today, his most popular hit "Show No Mercy" continues to be recognised as an inspirational song and is still used by many as a motivational anthem. It consistently features as a staple track on Australian Football League and National Rugby League CD compilations.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Celebration / Let Love Come Between Us" (1974)
  • "Yesterday Was Just The Beginning of My Life" (1975) [NZ #1]
  • "Sweet Wine / Who Do You Think You Are" (1975) [NZ #7]
  • "If It Rains / Morning Sun Upon A Mountain" (1976) [NZ #25]
  • "Taking It All in Stride / Why Can't We Be Lovers" (1976) [NZ #14]
  • "It Doesn't Matter Anymore / True Love (Is Never Easy)" (1977) [NZ #1]
  • "If There's Still A Little Love (feat. Sharon O'Neill)" (1977)
  • "House For Sale / Love Is Forever" (1977) [NZ #13]
  • "Wanna Give You My Love / Your Mama Won't Mind" (1978)
  • "I Don't Want You Anymore / Now That You're Gone" (1979)
  • "Show no Mercy / You're So Cool" (1990) [AUS #9]
  • "Fix of Love / Your Love" (1990) [AUS #37]
  • "Spell Is Broken / Fool No More" (1990)

Compilations[edit]

Awards[edit]

  • 1975 – NZ Music Awards Top Recording Artist
  • 1975 – Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Golden Microphone for Performer of the Year
  • 2010 – Inducted into the New Zealand Rock Hall of Fame

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Today in History 27 June 1975 Mark Williams hits No. 1". New Zealand History online. History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "Discography Mark Williams". New Zealand Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Mark Williams – Show No Mercy". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 February 2010.