Living Force

Late 1978 version of Living Force: Harvey Mann, John Pepper, Glen Absolum, Mike Fisher and Matt Matepi.

    Harvey Mann (Lead Guitar)
    Glen Absolum (Drums)
    Murray Partridge (Guitar)
    Ivan Thompson (Keyboards)
    Gary Clarke (Bass Guitar)

The origins of Living Force can be traced back to 1973, when both Ticket and Space Farm were in disarray. Harvey Mann and Eddie Hansen had been friends for a long while, and had both tired of the hippie-drugs lifestyle. Along with Glen Absolum, they moved into an Auckland flat and began playing together, whilst cleansing their bodies of all the harmful products they had been used to consuming. They were also searching for spiritual happiness.

After six months, Eddie Hansen went back to Christchurch, where he formed a short lived group called Rock Squad. But by the end of 1974, he was in Sydney playing with Phil Key's Band Of Light, with Billy Williams and Danny Davidson. In mid 1975, Hansen, Williams and Davidson had left Phil and returned to Christchurch, adding Trevor Tombleson to their line-up they formed Sky Pilot, a three month venture.

While this was happening with Eddie, Harvey and Glen had continued practising with a variety of Auckland musicians. By mid 1975 they had settled on a line-up, adding Murray Partridge, Ivan Thompson and Gary Clarke, and calling themselves Living Force, they debuted at Maurice Greer's Auckland club, Croft's. Murray Partridge had been with Freshwater, Gary Clarke was from Carson and Ivan Thompson had been an original member of Dragon.

They had only been going for a few months when Murray Partridge was replaced by Eddie Hansen. There were not many groups in New Zealand who could boast a guitar line-up equal to Harvey and Eddie, but it soon became evident that they were not into the style of music that fans had previously been accustomed. The lyrical content of Living Force was more concerned almost exclusively with spiritual matters, a joyous celebration of Krishna beliefs. Long, drawn out and mostly extraneous solos were the order of the day.

Matt Matepi, Eddie Hansen, Mike Fisher and John Pepper.

Radio Hauraki had organised a concert in Auckland's Albert Park. One of the bands to play was Living Force, and after they had meandered along for over half an hour on one song, 90% of the 2000 strong crowd decided to leave. All that was left were the jubilant Krishna devotees. The boys in the band didn't seem to notice. Thirty minutes after the scheduled completion time for the concert, they showed no signs of finishing, so the power was cut off. Imagine doing that to Mann and Hansen in their hey-day.

Living Force had a cult following, mainly made up of middle-aged hippies and Krishna followers. With this support, they managed to stay around until 1979, recording a self-titled album along the way in 1977 and releasing a single from it on the Atlantic label, "Jaya"/"Matter Monster".

The group did have a number of personnel changes during their time. Ivan was replaced by John Pepper and when Gary left he was replaced by Matt Matepi. The other important change occurred when Eddie left mid-way through the album sessions, but was back with them by November 1977.

In July 1978, they all flew to San Francisco, where they recorded an album's worth of material with Santana engineer Glen Kalatkin. Unfortunately nothing was to ever come from this material and they returned home in December with an additional member in tow. She was American vocalist Mona Hollguin. At this time Glen Absolum left and he was replaced by Mike Fisher. Hollguin soon returned to the States and in February 1979 Harvey Mann left and teamed up with Absolum to form Appaloosa. Before the end of the year, Living Force had disbanded.


New Zealand Music