28 Jul 2022

Country music star John Grenell dies at age of 78

5:42 pm on 28 July 2022

One of New Zealand's best known country singers, John Grenell, has died aged 78.

John Grenell - country singer

John Grenell Photo: NZ on Screen

A family member confirmed to RNZ that Grenell, who made a name for himself as John Hore, had died but was not able to provide further details.

His former wife and lifelong friend, Deirdre Lusby said: "John died peacefully last night of a heart attack, aged 78. The family request privacy and plan a private farewell for John. A public send off with a musical celebration of his life will be held at a future date."

Grenell, who was born in Ranfurly, had a number one hit single in the 1990s with the Jim Reeves song, Welcome To Our World.

The song was heavily featured nationally in a Toyota vehicle TV advertising campaign.

He also had a big hit with the song I've been everywhere which was adapted to feature many place names in Aotearoa.

He performed in several countries and won multiple country music awards.

Country singer Brendan Dugan spoke with Afternoons about his former contemporary.

He told Jesse Mulligan that Grenell was someone special and the pair became good friends. He said at one stage Grenell outsold the Beatles in New Zealand.

"He had one of those voices that no-one else had. A very very special voice. Lots of shows, lots of fun, very enjoyable times."

John Hore Grenell

John Hore Grenell Photo: By Archives New Zealand from New Zealand - John Hore Grenell, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php

Dugan recalled that three years ago Grenell was already unwell but got up and sang a couple of songs at a concert Dugan was giving in Christchurch.

He said Grenell was a shy man who could have been more successful on the international stage but he was happiest at home on his farm.

"He's going to be sorely missed especially in our industry... He was just a wonderful guy, wonderful voice."

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