The Avengers


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The Avengers were a New Zealand pop-psychedelic rock band, and one of that countries more successful acts of the late 1960s. The group consisting of Clive Cockburn (lead guitar, organ), Dave Brown (rhythm guitar), Eddie McDonald (bass), Ian ‘Hank’ Davis (drums) formed in 1966, in Wellington.

Wellington promoter Ken Cooper, an ex-member of the Swamp Dwellers, formed the band to play at his new nightclub, the Place, and selected the musicians from other active local bands – Clive Cockburn of the Mustangs, Dave Brown of the Wanderers, and Dave Diver from the Countdowns, and Hank Davis of Napier’s the Epics. Diver moved to Christchurch, and was replaced by Eddie McDonald of the Strangers after an audition.

With their name decided as a result of a local Sunday Times newspaper contest, the group started their career in June 1966 performing covers by the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and the Hollies, but soon branched out into more adventurous 1960s psychedelia, closely following the influences of Cream and Traffic. While preparing material for their debut release in the studio, they were approached to assist in recording another artist Val Murphy. Her single ‘Lovers of the World Unite’/’There’s a Scarlet River Running’ was issued under the stage name Valeria Vengers. They had a string of top ten hits in New Zealand. Their first single, ‘Everyone’s Gonna Wonder’/’Take My Hand’ reached number seven on the NZ Hit Parade in September 1967. This was followed by ‘Only Once In My Life’/’Waterpipe’ which peaked at number ten in January 1968, quickly followed by ‘1941’/’What Price Love’ reaching number six in May 1968. Their biggest chart hit was a cover of Episode Six’s ‘Love Hate Revenge’, which charted at number two in August 1968. Their debut album Electric Recording was issued in May 1968.

They made regular appearances on television and won a number of awards, but the band failed to achieve expected prominence overseas, touring only twice outside New Zealand, both times to Australia. On the second tour, they adopted the name New Zealand Avengers to distinguish themselves from a Brisbane band that had the same name. Basing themselves in Melbourne, they briefly added guitarist John Pugh (ex Cam-Pact, James Taylor Move). In late July 1969, with disenchantment over lack of royalties, the group disbanded, with Clive Cockburn pursuing a career in television, while Hank Davis and Eddie McDonald remained active in music, relocating to Perth, Western Australia to be founding members of Bakery, and later joining Ray Burton’s Nightflyers, and the Renee Geyer Band. Although the Avengers failed to achieve international recognition, they established a lasting legacy in New Zealand, and in 1994, their debut single ‘Everyone’s Gonna Wonder’ was covered by the Pop Art Toasters, a group of Dunedin Sound musicians including Martin Phillipps of the Chills and David Kilgour of the Clean.

For RNZs ‘Musical Chairs’ Keith Newmand interviews Hank Davis of ‘The Avengers..

Cover sourced from Amplifier. Used with permission. Text from Citizendium used under the Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Last edited: 24.03.16

From AudioCulture

Over the years there have been numerous articles written about Wellington pop group The Avengers. They all dwell on the band as a manufactured pop group (although hand-picked is a more apt description) who were all extremely nice guys, toured the length and breadth of the country, recorded eight singles, five of which became hits, and three albums before breaking up in mid 1969 after a three year career … end of story. The Avengers story is more complex than it appears on the surface. Their beginnings as a group weren’t in the fertile grounds of schoolboy or neighbourhood friendships like most bands from the era. Instead, a third party, intent on forming the perfect pop group, brought them together. It is also a story of a small group of people whose input at vital times contributed to the group’s eventual success and helped to make up the giant jigsaw that is The Avengers story. Read moreProfile from Audioculture, available under a Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence

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  • View on NZ On Screen The Avengers

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music Video

    "A manufactured group that went on to score acclaim and psychedelic-pop hits, the Avengers were formed to play a residency at a new nightclub in Wellington — their name chosen in a newspaper contest (one of the winners was Dalvanius Prime). They became one of the capital’s most successful 60s acts, with three albums (including the first 'live' LP by a NZ rock band). But a relentless schedule left little time for songwriting; they disbanded in Australia after vocalist Dave Brown was unexpectedly hospitalised for eight weeks." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Love, Hate, Revenge

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Music Video

    "One of Wellington’s leading 60s bands present a dark and troubling tale of revenge via voodoo doll. The clip — made for the Studio One TV show, a regular Avengers' gig — incongruously takes its cues from music video precursors like early Beatles films and The Monkees TV series (where the default position was zany and madcap). It was shot around Oriental Bay, with one fleeting pre-Te Papa harbour vista — but the focus is mainly on the band’s antics. The Avengers gamely enter into the spirit of it all, although four on a motor scooter looks decidedly dodgy." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Everyone's Gonna Wonder

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Music Video

    "‘Everyone’s Gonna Wonder’ was penned by part American, part Kiwi Chris Malcolm, who passed through New Zealand in 1967. Busking in a Wellington wharf coffee house, he spied “a starry-eyed couple sitting, staring into each other’s eyes and totally oblivious to the surroundings, so I wrote a song about them.” After HMV producer Nick Karavias heard it, it became the debut single for his young charges the Avengers. This promo films a studio session. On the back of lush vocal harmonies the track rose to number seven on the Kiwi hit parade; it also earned a Loxene Golden Disc nomination." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Studio One - Episode Two 1968

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music ; Television

    "DJ Neville (“Cham the Man”) Chamberlain hosts this episode from the first series of the NZBC’s nationwide search for stars. Judges Nick Karavias and Jim McNaught and guest Allison (“Queen of Pop”) Durbin preside over entries in the original song competition (all sung by Yolande Gibson); and the New Faces segment features vocal trio The Shevelles, a saxaphone quartet and 16-year-old country singer Brendan Dugan (the eventual winner of the series). A film clip of Wellington band The Avengers’ classic ‘Love Hate Revenge’ shows as the judges convene." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Librarian

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Folk ; Indie ; Music Video

    "Dunedin band Haunted Love ticked every cliché but still won the hearts of librarians everywhere with this tale of summary justice administered to a disobedient user by two spooky, other-worldly librarians (not to mention “the best use of compact movable shelving in a music video, ever”). This video was the song’s only release and achieved considerable viral success. It was directed by Donald Ferns and filmed at Dunedin Public Library with Haunted Love’s Geva Downey and Rainy McMaster as the avenging librarians – and Henry Davidson as the hapless user." (NZ On Screen summary)


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