Peter Sowden

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    Award presented 2007   Award presented 2007

John R Campbell Collection


Peter Sowden

Peter was born on October 7th, 1940 in Christchurch and began his musical career while still at high school by forming his own band with several school friends and playing the supper extras at various dance halls around Christchurch.  He quickly became recognised for his drumming ability and in 1956, the year that Rock and Roll music first reached these shores, Peter was approached by Max Merritt who was putting together a band (to be called The Meteors) to play at the Christchurch Teenage Club which was being set up by Max's parents and local entrepreneur Trevor King who was very close to the Merritt Family.  Max Merritt and the Meteors rapidly became one of New Zealand's leading Rock and Roll groups with their own radio show and a recording contract, touring the country extensively, playing the theatre circuit and at major Rock and Roll events.


The Meteors were to go through several personnel changes over the next few years before settling on the stellar line up of Max (Lead Guitar and Vocals), Peter Sowden (Drums), Billy Karaitiana [Kristian] (Bass Guitar) and Peter Williams (Rhythm Guitar).  The group's success continued and in 1962 they were offered the residency at the new Top Twenty Nightclub in Auckland.  It was at this stage that Peter decided to leave the band and focus on his day job at the then National Airways Corporation (NAC).  It wasn't long however before he was lured back to the music scene to play with The Playboys, who were resident group at the popular Christchurch dance hall the Laredo Nitespot.  When The Playboys morphed in Dave Miller and The Byrds, Peter was again faced with a choice to either go to Auckland or remain in Christchurch.  He chose the latter, and then formed his band Peter Sowden and the Embers for a season at the newly opened Safari Lounge.


In 2005, after a hiatus of almost 40 years, Peter teamed up with former Ray Columbus and the Invaders guitarist Brian Ringrose and formed About Time with Trevor Wright (Bass), Jim Phillips (Saxophones), Don Mills (Keyboards) and a group of leading New Zealand vocalists who include Peter Williams (The Meteors, The Groove and The Mixtures), Norm Bland (Village Gate), Kelly Ensor and Pat Kearns.  About Time mainly performed at private and corporate events, but also operated their hugely popular Rockin' Is Our Business Dance Parties.