Tommy Adderley was born April 7, 1940 in Birmingham. He first came to New Zealand from Birmingham, England during the fifties. He was a seaman at the time and made many trips to New Zealand, finally deciding to jump ship in 1959 to settle in Wellington. During his early trips, he and his shipmates, which included Tommy Ferguson, performed on shore as the Hound Dogs.
Hound Dogs (Tommy singing, Tommy Ferguson at right.) Tommy Adderley in 1968.
Tommy got a job as a barman at a local hotel and started singing there. He sang there for three years and was finally approached by Alex Jennings, who was just starting his own record company, Lexian. He released his first single "Knee Deep In The Blues" in 1961. The song did well in the local area, where he became a star. He started making trips to Auckland to sing there and in 1963 decided to move there permanently. In all he recorded four singles on Lexian.
1964 EP 1965 EP
In 1965 he came up with a novel way of recording an album. It was actually made entirely using imported backing tracks, to which Tommy provided the vocals. The album was called "Tommy (and the Big Ones)".
In Auckland, Tommy recorded a couple of songs on the Viking label, including an Anne Margaret cover called "I Just Don't Understand" with Max Merritt.
He then changed to the RCA label and began a time of extensive touring with Peter Posa, Bill and Boyd, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Dinah Lee, and Lou and Simon.
After this he seemed to disappear into television work, cabaret singing and club stints in both Auckland and Sydney. In 1967 he was performing with the Mike Perjanik Group at the Latin Quarter in Sydney. By the end of the sixties, Tommy was an established star nation wide.
In 1969, he became involved with the Greer brothers, who designed clubs. They opened Molly Hatchetts and in 1970 asked Adderley to put together a band to play there. Thus the beginning of Headband. Tommy had initially planned to have no drums in Headband, but this proved too radical, so a drummer was included to complete the line-up. Just prior to doing this, Tommy had been in Sea Of Tranquility before forming a short-lived jazz group called the Adderley Walker Movement with pianist Mike Walker. They played at the El Matador nightclub in Auckland and released one single in 1970 called "Hooray For The Salvation Army"/"Does Anybody Know What Time It Is" on the Pink label.
Adderley then ventured into club ownership himself. He purchased the old Bo-Peep nightclub, refurbished it and re-opened it as Granny's. This became the permanent home for Headband. Granny's launched a number of successful bands over the next two years. these included Dragon, Ragnarok and the Paragons.
Tommy released a CD of jazz standards shortly before he died on February 5, 1993, aged 53 years. He was dubbed New Zealand's "Mr Rock 'n' Roll", and must be regarded as one of the all time greats of New Zealand music.
Tommy Adderley can also be found on the following compilations.
New Zealand Music