Larry McKay

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    Award presented 2007   Awards presented 2008 (Vigilantes) and 2009 (Detours)

John R Campbell Collection


Larry McKay  —  at Flaxwood Festival 2014 (with Tamara Williams (Vocals) and Kevin Frewer (Keyboards)

Larry McKay was born in Christchurch on November 11th, 1946 and died on Saturday February 4th, 2023.  He joined The Vigilantes at the early age of 12 years in 1959.  The band played weddings and 21sts in local dance halls, but including a regular, albeit short-lived, gig in Timaru (replacing The Downbeats).  The Vigilantes hit the big-time when they became the second band at The Laredo Nitespot (with Johnny Campbell and The Detours, and Les Stott) around 1963.  The band stopped playing at The Laredo in 1965, but continued making records, accompanying The Southerners on such hits as Don't It Make You Feel Good // South Wind, as well as making a few other records on the Robbins Recordings label, most notably Come Tomorrow // The Cruel Sea and And I Love Her // Everybody Come And Clap Your Hands.


Larry McKay circa age 17

The original Vigilantes line-up
Bob Wilcock (Saxophone), Lin Holstein (Drums), Derek Withers (Bass),
Brian Thomas (Lead), Larry McKay (Rhythm) and Dixon McIvor (Vocals)

The Vigilantes - Laredo line-up



Larry McKay 2006

Larry McKay with Page One

Larry McKay circa 2020



The full line-up for The Vigilantes was: Brian Thomas (lead guitar, band leader and occasional singer), Larry McKay (rhythm guitarist and occasional singer), Dixon McIvor (vocalist), Derek (Willy) Withers (bass guitar and occasional trumpet), Tony Mason (drums), Bob Wilcock (tenor saxophone).  The Vigilantes were resident second band at The Laredo Nitespot from 1963 to 1965, and subsequently appeared on The Des Britten Coca Cola Show.  A tour to Pohara Beach Motor Camp was an epic, and the band played lots and lots of dance halls and church halls.  Spencer Street and the reek of Old Spice is a particularly strong memory.  Recording was very demanding and nerve wracking, but yet strangely satisfying.


Johnny Campbell and The Detours

Page One



Friar Tuck

Soul Agents







Larry contributed to many bands over the course of his extensive career, and these included The Vigilantes, Johnny Campbell and The Detours, Page One, Beam, Friar Tuck, Chasing Paper, Larry and Peter, Opposition, Icebreakers, Soul Agents, Gillette-McKay and Bob's Yer Uncle.  He was resident at innumerable venues, with the most significant being The Laredo Nitespot, The Pride Of Place, The Thunderbird Inn, The Mon Desir, The Redwood Hotel, The Sandridge Hotel, The Russley Hotel and latterly The Papanui Tavern.  He toured the South Island with Craig Scott (Page One), and featured on TVNZ's Free Ride in 1974.


Additional Larry McKay and Vigilantes information is available on the Johnny Campbell and The Detours official website .....


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