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Iconic entertainer celebrates 50 years in showbiz

Iconic entertainer celebrates 50 years in showbiz

Celebrated guitarist, concert promoter, star-maker, musical director. GRAY BARTLETT has done it all and with two million album sales, one of the world’s biggest stars and legions of fans throughout the world to his credit, he’s celebrating 50 years of showbiz.

He and his stellar lineup of pals, a who’s who of New Zealand entertainment including Patsy Riggir, Shane Cortese, Brendan Dugan, Jodi Vaughan, Annabel Fay, Chet O'Connell and Elizabeth Marvelly will join in the party as it makes its way to a town near you.

The tour will begin in Whangarei on May 1 and roll on to Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Hamilton and Pukekohe with South Island dates to be announced soon.

"Tunes will include Apache, Cavatina -- a tribute to the great guitarists, Chet Atkins, George Benson, Eric Clapton and Hank Marvin!
Plus all the great songs that have made Gray and Brendan and Jodi household stars."

As a further celebration of this milestone, EMI Music will release a 2-CD commemorative album, featuring Gray's signature tunes as well as a selection of songs from some of New Zealand's best-loved artists. This album will be in stores on April 21.

Thursday, May 1, Forum North, Whangarei, Ticketek

Sunday May 4 Sky City, Auckland, Ticketek

Thursday May 8 Baycourt, Tauranga, Ticket Direct

Saturday, May 10 Pukekohe Cosmopolitan Club, Pukekohe. Bookings at venue

Tuesday May 13 Municipal Theatre, Napier, Ticket Direct

Friday May 23 Founders Theatre, Hamilton, Ticket Direct

Friday, June 20 Pukekohe Town Hall, Pukekohe.

Guest artists will appear in the following towns:
Patsy Riggir (Akld/Hamilton/Tauranga)
Shane Cortese (akld),
Martin Crump (Akld),
Annabel Fay (Akld),
Elizabeth Marvelly (Akld/Tauranga)
Hamilton County Bluegrass Band (Tauranga)
Jodi Vaughan (Akld/Tauranga/Hamilton & Pukekohe Town Hall)
Brendan Dugan and Chet O'Connell to feature in all shows.
There will be other surprise guests added along the way.

“The show is about celebrating the Platinum selling artists
of New Zealand, and also celebrating the legendary
stars of our New Zealand music industry, while
applauding our up and coming stars,” says Bartlett.


Half a century of performing

Gray Bartlett has been picking his way to success for 50 years with 30 albums, 20 singles and two million album sales. He is the 16th most successful entertainer in New Zealand history according to The Complete NZ Music Charts 1966-2006 and is, ironically, just two spots behind Hayley Westenra – the international popera phenomenon he helped create.

Born in Auckland in 1942, Gray’s first musical experience was at age 15 after leaving Auckland Grammar School. One of his four brothers, Barry, taught him to play the guitar and after answering a newspaper ad, he joined the band called The Phantoms. They performed at local dances and came runner-up in a radio competition called Have A Shot.

Gray was offered his chance to record by Zodiac records in 1961. The result was his first single Last Stage West. Between that single and 1965, he began his road to success, touring with international artists of the day including British singing star Vera Lynn, Tom Jones and Herman’s Hermits.

He also performed shows in Tokyo and in 1985 the break came. Gray released the single La Playa and it made the charts in New Zealand and in Japan, reaching No 2 there and selling an unprecedented 410,000 copies. In 1968 he joined Rolf Harris as a musician/guest artist, touring New Zealand and Australia with Rolf. This liaison led to a seven year relationship with Rolf. Gray moved to England and performed with Rolf at such prestigious nightspots as The Talk ot the Town.

With so much achieved by Gray in his musical career, one of his great highlights was being awarded an MBE in the 1987 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his services to entertainment.

Another highlight was being accepted by the Chinese Government in 1986 to perform in China -- a first for a New Zealand entertainer. This led to numerous concert tours; 14 to date, and the release of his albums has seen him become very popular in China, winning foreign artist of the year (the Golden Plume) in 1987.

Gray’s skills as a promoter in the entertainment industry have not gone unrecognized either and he has been involved win touring many of the big names in show business, from Pavarotti, Michael Jackson, Sir Elton John, Boney M, and The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Gray has an eye for young and talented artists and it was he who helped create popera phenomenon Hayley Westenra. Under his guidance, her first solo album sold triple platinum in new Zealand.


© Scoop Media

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