8 Jun 2024

Remembering Sandy Edmonds, a 1960s pop supernova

From Music 101, 1:20 pm on 8 June 2024
Sandy Edmonds circa 1967

Sandy Edmonds circa 1967 Photo: AudioCulture

In the mid-1960s, Sandy Edmonds was one of the biggest names in New Zealand music with hits like 'Daylight Saving Time'. 

But after a meteoric rise, she gave it all up, trading the celebrity life for one of marriage, travel and a retail career in Australia. 

Rock'n'roll reporter John Baker reflects on the British-born pop singer's short but memorable music career and sudden disappearance from the scene.

Sandy Edmonds - born Rosalie Edmondson - grew up in Liverpool and moved to Auckland with her family at 15.

After attending Takapuna Grammar for six months and a stint as a dental assistant, Edmonds was discovered singing at an Auckland cafe.

Soon after, music manager and "canny operator" Phil Warren saw her potential and "took over the managerial reins", Baker says, shortening her name to 'Sandy Edmonds'.

Although Edmonds didn't have an exceptional singing voice, her appearance and charisma made an impact on Warren.

"A teenage mod face in 1965, great looks. She can sing okay, she can hold a tune. And then he worked it from there."

Warren, who was "no slouch when it came to getting publicity", got his new client a range of interesting promotional gigs.

She became the mascot for a New Zealand Navy ship, the face of Napro hairspray, an Air New Zealand poster girl and a regular on the cover of New Zealand Women's Weekly.

Edmonds' cover of The Pretty Things' hit 'Come See Me' was the first song Baker heard of hers - at a friend's flat in Parnell in 1986.

"Sandy was a huge Pretty Things fan. She liked her rock and roll wild and you couldn't get much wilder than The Pretty Things back then.

"She did this stonking version, recorded at Saratoga Avenue up in Herne Bay ... and she's backed by The Aussie Pleasers.

"She put her vocals over this and she nails it. It's just a wonderful production. Yeah, there's a lot of beautiful '60s distortion on this."

Edmonds released two albums - Sandy and The Sound of Sandy - before leaving New Zealand in the late '60s, Baker says.

She travelled extensively in Asia, had children and eventually settled in Melbourne where she went by her birth name, Rosalie Edmundson. 

Sandy Edmonds with John Baker, recreating her famous photograph

Sandy Edmonds with John Baker, recreating her famous photograph Photo:

Baker tracked her down there back in 2010.

"We found out where Sandy was and we got to meet her at her little fashion store. She was lovely. I was starstruck, I didn't know what to say, but she was so gracious and warm with us. So it only took me 24 years to find her."

Although Edmonds, who died in 2022, didn't match the success of other NZ pop singers like Dinah Lee, Baker says that for him she was "right up there".

"She had the look and the style and that kind of zing that I can't quite put my finger on. And then when I finally got to meet her, I was like, 'gosh, she's still got the zing'."