Graeme Cooper

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      Award presented 2007

Mary Cooper Collection


Graeme "Coops" Cooper - Multi-instrumentalist playing Piano, Vibes, Guitar and Bass

Graeme was born at Bluff on January 14th, 1936 and died on November 16th, 2005.  He attended Primary School in Invercargil before moving to Christchurch where he attended Shirley Intermediate and Christchurch Boys' High School.  He had started piano lessons at the tender age of five, but his musical career proper started in the 1950s when he used to slip into the Avon Rowing Club (in school uniform) at night to play piano during the supper extras.  Graeme played vibes on live radio broadcasts with various jazz musicians - Jim Langabeer, Ted Meager, Doug Caldwell, The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Stu Buchanan and the NZ National Jazz Quartet.  He was the original keyboard player for Max Merritt and The Meteors.  Graeme spent three years in Sydney in the 1960's working seven nights a week on the club circuit, and on returning to Christchurch, was resident musician in the late 1960's and 1970's at the Avon Motor Lodge, The Shoreline Cabaret, and The White Heron Hotel.  In the late 1970's/early 1980's, Graeme's five piece group Friends played as the resident band at The Russley Hotel, Lancaster Hotel, Redwood Hotel, when the line-up included Brian Ringrose, Jim Shields, Gary Sammons, Mary Cooper and also Trevor Wright who had replaced Gary.  In the mid 80's Graeme and Mary became the resident duo at the Town Hall Restaurant under the name of Keytrax.  Eventually this duo became a trio when Jim Shields joined as a vocalist.



A tribute to Graeme from long-time musical associate Peter Hindmarsh (ex Premiers and Marine Jazz Pickups) .....

A wonderful, no nonsense superb musician.  Can't remember how we hooked up.  I'd heard he was a taskmaster.  Was back in the late 60's.  And the hard case, Warwick Earle, his then drummer.  Got all his kit in a Fiat Bambina.  Cymbal stack poking out the roof.  Good guy.  Said I'd better know my stuff.  "Is Coops that bad?" I asked.  "No, he's that good".  He certainly was that.  The kindness of the man I will never forget.  Nor Mary, his wife.  Truly, lovely people.