Dion Murphy

Full Names:   Dion Shennan Murphy     Hometown:   Christchurch
Career Began:   1958
Groups:   The Sapphires, Dion Shannon and The Shamrocks, Sabra
Worked with:   Ray Columbus, Ray Wolfe, Tommy Adderley, Toni Williams
Residencies:   Copper Cat, The Embassy, Tavern Rachel, Russley Hotel, The Hermitage, The Terminus, Timaru, The Clarendon Hotel, The Hillsborough Tavern, The Zetland Hotel, Noah's Hotel Waitangi Room, The Christchurch Town Hall Restaurant
Shows:   ROCKONZ
Merit Award

Dion Murphy ...

Dion started his musical career by winning many Christchurch juvenile singing competitions and in 1958 joined a new band led by Robin Hope (Guitar) called The Sapphires.  The group included Fred Mummery (Piano), Mike Green (Bass), Murray Johnston (Drums).  The band obtained a residency in a local coffee lounge called the Copper Cat, owned by Adam Ferkatovich, in lower High Street in 1958.  Dion at that time, sang duos with another local musician/singer Maurice Cook (Cookie).  In 1959 "Cookie" left the band to take a position with Max Merritt and the Meteors and Dion teamed up with the female singer, Cecile Wylde in the same band to sing duo songs.  The band then reformed, to become "Dion Shannon and the Shamrocks" with both Dion and Cecile singing solo and duo songs.  The Copper Cat was one of the original night spots in Christchurch and they attracted a large following.  This became a favourite spot for musicians such as Howard Morrison and the Howard Morrison Quartet, to drop in for "coffee" after their local gigs, as the hotels shut at 6 o'clock and the Copper Cat stayed open till 2am in the morning, something rare in 1959.  Dion at this time was fully committed to his boxing career, working his way from amateur Lightweight Canterbury Champion to amateur Lightweight New Zealand Boxing Champion and continuing on to become the undefeated Professional New Zealand Lightweight Champion by 1962.  This meant Dion had a very high public profile from his unbeaten professional boxing career, with crowds of over 4,000 attending his local fights.  This added to Dion's singing profile with magazines writing articles with headings such as "The Singer With The Saturday Night Punch".  Dion and Cecile married in 1961 and moved to Auckland in 1965 and then Hamilton in 1969 with Dion concentrating on his career as District Commissioner of Apprenticeships.  Cecile meanwhile moved into floorshow work with Hegan's Entertainment Bureau and became part of the Auckland entertainment circuit along with other entertainers such as Ray Wolfe.

Dion and Cecile moved back to Christchurch at the beginning of 1970 to take up the management of and entertainment for, the Marine Hotel in Sumner.  They built up a large following from their singing and entertainment within the hotel, including holding weekly local talent quests, to capacity crowds Later that year, Dion and Cecile moved to Timaru to successfully take up the management of the DB Terminus Hotel.  Again they brought a large following to the hotel through the provision of rock and roll entertainment and their own singing performances.  Bands such as Blerta, Cal-Q-Lated Risk, Dantes Inferno, Jason and the Melting Pot, along with artists such as Tap Hepari and Mark Antony, also performed at the Terminus, again to capacity crowds

Dion and Cecile Murphy
Dion and Cecile - Early days

Dion and Cecile returned to Christchurch in 1972 to take up music as their main career once again.  From then until the present day Dion and Cecile have made music an integral part of their varied career paths performing as "Sabra" through the 1970s at weddings, clubs and many inner city hotels including a five year, 6 nights a week circuit, at the local inner city hotels such as the Tavern Rachael, The Zetland and the Russley Hotel.  In the 1980's they changed direction and moved into duo work, working the tourist hotel circuit and then into residencies at Noah's Hotel Waitangi Room (6 nights per week) and the Christchurch Town Hall Restaurant.  In the 1990s, Dion and Cecile moved back into casual music work as their other careers took more and more of their energy and time.  Dion's role now being that of a Disputes Tribunal Referee for the next 15 years.  Dion and Cecile are now working to put in place the annual ROCKONZ Rock and Roll Festival and ROCKONZ Rock Hall of Fame.

Johnny Campbell and The Detours (Lardeo)
Dion and Cecile receive the "key to the city" from Christchurch Mayor, Garry Moore