Billy TK

Billy TK

Billy TK (Billy Te Kahika) is a Māori guitarist, born in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He has often been touted as the Māori Jimi Hendrix, and is one of the most respected and technically proficient guitarists in New Zealand today.Fact|date=October 2007

Early work

Billy TK's began playing guitar at an early age, and was surrounded by talented young musicians during his family's frequent visits to Ratana Pā, who helped fulfill his lust for improving his skills on his instrument. He played gigs for friends and family during his high school years, and once he had finished school, he set to build his own band. The result of this was "The Sinners" with Ted Cash on drums, Sonny Ratana on bass, Harold Hine on rhythm guitar and lead vocalist Theo Swanson. The band played at 21st birthday parties and the like until being invited to play at Rickies nightclub in Palmerston North and other venues around the Manawatu. The Sinners were one of the first New Zealand bands to utilise distortion and similar guitar effects, and these effects would become a staple of Billy's guitar sound. It was around this time, in the mid-60s, that Billy TK's friend, Ara Mete, gave Billy a gift — his first fuzz box and treble booster. Billy quickly took it to an electrical shop in Palmerston North, where he had copies of both made. Billy was hooked on the sound, and his obsession for guitar effects only received more grounding once the Jimi Hendrix album "Are You Experienced?" hit the airwaves in New Zealand, and Billy quickly made The Sinners learn all the tracks on the album.

Human Instinct

After 4 years of playing together, The Sinners were reduced to a three piece band when Theo Swanson and Harold Hine both left, after which Billy TK also parted ways with the band to travel to Melbourne to set up a unit there called Compulsion with Paddy Beach and Reno Tehei. On Billy's return to New Zealand in May 1968, Billy TK auditioned for The Human Instinct, with Maurice Greer on vocals and bass player Frank Hay, and after playing for them once, he was allowed into the band. After a tour of the South Island and two changes of bass players, the band was ready to play the Auckland circuit, where they mesmerised their audiences with their edgy, heavily Hendrix influenced hard rock sound. The trio recorded three albums, "Burning Up Years", "Stoned Guitar" and "Pins In It", which made the band legendary in New Zealand.

In 1972 during a short tour of Australia, the band split after a series of disagreements on musical direction.

Billy TK's Powerhouse

In 1972 he formed a new band, Billy TK's Powerhouse, playing in Wellington with former Blackfeather drummer Steve Webb from Australia, guitarist John Bilderbeck from Wanganui and Gav Collinge on bass. When Webb and Bilderbeck left, Powerhouse shifted base to Palmerston North, recruiting Ara Mete on rhythm guitar, Jamie Tait-Jamieson on keyboards, Bud Hooper on drums, Arnold Tihema on congas and lead vocals and Mahia Blackmore on vocals and percussion. The band later also featured Neal Storey (ex-Dragon) and Peter Kellington.

The band recorded an album, "Life Beyond The Material Sky", in 1975 and also supported Black Sabbath, Split Enz, John Mayall, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, UB40, Joe Satriani and the Neville Brothers in concert, although keyboardist Jamie Tait-Jamieson was no longer part of the group, having given up music to go farming and marry his fiance Catherine Rowland.

Later work

In April 1996, TK performed a song with Carlos Santana at an Auckland concert. He has worked with several bands including Dunedin Flying Nun Records band King Loser, with whom he recorded an album. He also recorded with hip hop band DLT. He continues to perform and has played at several Human Instinct reunion gigs.


* [ Play my guitar]

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