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The first rock and roll hit by a New Zealander was Johnny Devlin's hit Lawdy Miss Clawdy, which is reputed to have sold 100,000 copies in 1959-60, following the first rock and roll record recorded outside the US, Johnny Cooper's recording of Rock Around The Clock for HMV in the mid-1950s.
Throughout the 60s strong rock scenes developed throughout NZ and there were hundreds of bands playing and many NZ acts charted. Amongst the key acts were Max Merritt & The Meteors, The La De Das, Ray Columbus & The Invaders, The Fourmyula, and Larry's Rebels.
Some of the more influential bands in the 1970s were Th' Dudes (whose guitarist Dave Dobbyn formed DD Smash in the 1980s), Dragon, Hello Sailor and Split Enz, fronted by Tim Finn, and later, his brother Neil Finn who went on to form Crowded House.
The 1980s saw the emergence the indie labels led by Propeller Records in Auckland and Flying Nun record label in Dunedin and Christchurch who were highly influential in the development of modern indie rock. A distinct style of indie music, known as the Dunedin Sound, was promoted heavily by Flying Nun, and saw some success internationally for bands such as The Chills, The Clean, and Straitjacket Fits, particularly on American and European college radio.
This decade has begun to show quite a diverse range of rock groups varying from garage rock to electronica, notable bands include:
Gin Wigmore (Folk/Blues Rock)
Like A Storm (Hard Rock/Metalcore)
Fly My Pretties (Folk Rock)
Jakob (Post Rock)
The Naked and Famous (Electronica/Soft-Rock/Alternative Dance)
Phoenix Foundation (Indie/Psychedelic Rock)
The Datsuns (Hard/Garage Rock)
Steriogram (Alternative Rock/Rap Rock)
Six60 (Alternative Rock/Electronica/R&B/Reggae)
I Am Giant (Alternative Rock/Post Grunge/Nu Metal)
Devilskin (Rock/Groove Metal)
Villainy (Alternative Rock)
Notable mentions to other New Zealand rock bands
It can hardly be said that success has been sought by the great number of New Zealand groups that continue to work seriously within the general domain of rock. Among these number groups such as Bailter Space, Gary Havoc & The Hurricanes, The Dead C, The Clean, Tall Dwarfs, The Bilders, The Verlaines, Beastwars, Split Enz, The D4, Midnight Youth, Opshop, Swamp Thing, Pluto, Tadpole, Black River Drive and Dadamah.
- "Johnny Devlin". New Zealand Music Commission.
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