7 Aug 2016

The Musical Career of Peter Posa

From Sunday Night, 9:18 pm on 7 August 2016

Arguably NZ's greatest guitarist, Peter Posa died on 3rd February 2019, aged 78. In this interview from 2016, Posa looks back at his 53 years of professional music making with Grant Walker.

Peter Posa - Viking publicity shot, 1964

Peter Posa - Viking publicity shot, 1964 Photo: Sony

Growing up in Henderson, Auckland, Posa took a few guitar lessons. “All I wanted to do was learn a few cowboy chords.” He tried out two teachers, but found them too strict, so resorted to teaching himself, and got pretty good.

“The irony was, I didn’t really want to be a professional entertainer, ever. My first interest was to be a school teacher, and I didn’t pass the test because I was too nervous.”

In 1960 Peter and his group ‘The Peter Posa Combo’ headed into an audition with producer Eldrid Stebbing, who ran Zodiac Records.

“After about four or five songs.. .he said ‘look, I don’t like the band idea, but I’ll give you a chance as a multi-guitarist, in the old Les Paul style.’”

Once in the studio, Posa recorded one of NZ’s most iconic tunes, making him a household name, and going to the top of the charts. Not bad for two minutes of work. “White Rabbit was just one of those magic tunes that was one take.”

'White Rabbit' sold over 100,000 as a single and the following LP went on to sell 150,000 copies. Posa was in demand as a performer not just in New Zealand, but all over the Pacific and Australia.

“Touring was difficult, but it was rewarding. It was lucrative – that’s where we earnt the money, not from records, but from touring.”

A stroke in 2015 prevented Peter Posa from playing anymore, but various compilation albums have been well received by the public.

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