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Dion and Cecile

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Full Names:  Dion and Cecile Murphy
Born:  Classified
Hometown:  Christchurch
Career Began:  1958
Groups:  Sapphires, Dion Shannon & The Shamrocks
Worked with:  Howard Morrison, Ray Wolfe
Residencies:  Copper Cat, Noah's Hotel
Shows:  Search for a Star
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  Award presented 2009

Dion and Cecile started their musical career as singers in a new band led by Robin Hope called the Sapphires.  They obtained a residency in a local coffee lounge called the Copper Cat in lower High Street in 1958.  Dion sang duos with another local musician/singer Maurice Cook (Cookie).  Cecile sang solo rock and roll and jazz favourites.  Cookie left the band to take a position with Max Merritt and the Meteors and so the band at the Copper Cat reformed to become Dion Shannon and the Shamrocks in 1959 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 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 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


Late nights at The Copper Cat


Dion and Cecile


Early recording success

 

Cecile was one of the first local entertainers to appear on local television singing jazz with Doug Caldwell.  She also did guest appearances at local night spots and took part in Ray Columbus' local show.  Cecile and Dion moved to Auckland in 1965 and Hamilton in 1969 with Dion concentrating on his career as District Commissioner of Apprenticeship.  Cecile meanwhile moved into floorshow work with Hegan's Entertainment Bureau and became part of the Hegans Auckland entertainment circuit along with others such as Ray Wolfe.  Dion and Cecile moved back to Christchurch in 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 the local talent quests.  Cecile also continued with her solo career, traveling throughout New Zealand undertaking floor shows.  In 1971, Dion and Cecile moved to Timaru to take up the management of the DB Terminus Hotel.  Again they brought a large following to the hotel through the rock and roll entertainment in the hotel and their own singing contribution to this.  Bands such as Blerta, Cal Q Lated Risk and Dantes Inferno and artists such as Tap Hepari and Mark Antony, appeared at the Terminus.

 

Entertaining in Christchurch Cathedral 2006


Entertaining in Christchurch Cathedral 2006


Entertaining in Christchurch Cathedral 2006

 

In 1972 Cecile was a finalist in the Christchurch "Search for a Star" and this led to Dion and Cecile deciding to return to Christchurch 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 playing as Sabra through the 1970s at weddings, clubs and many inner city hotels including a five year, 6 nights a week, stint at the local inner city hotels such as the Tavern Rachael, The Zetland and the Russley Hotel.  They moved into duo work in the 1980's, working the tourist hotel circuit and then into residencies at Noah's Hotel Waitangi Room 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.

 

With son Damon at ROCKONZ 2007


Mopping up the spirit of ROCKONZ 2007