I placed an advert in The Cambridge Edition seeking out like minded musicians explaining that I wanted to create a band that played original music and after a few auditions teamed up with Sue Brown (vocals/keyboard), Rhonda Hoffmans (vocals), Patrick Downey (Bass) and a transitory drummer whose names escape me. We were perhaps 6 months old and still without a name when we headed off to the town of Coromandel for our first recording session.
I discovered the Aerial Railway Recording Studio via an advert in Rip It Up. It was on a commune somewhere north of Coromandel town and we bunked down for a few days with the intention of recording an EP. The two engineers were an ex-pat Brit named Johnny Irons and a Morrinsville lad Dennis Marsh who later became quite involved with us in a sort of managerial role. (One night a few years later the car he was driving collided with horse that had escaped onto Hamilton’s Te Rapa straight and sadly, that was that for Dennis).
The recordings were meagre but it was a worthwhile education and the place where we found our name. It was during the long drive up that a news bulletin caught our attention, “Three Men are Missing in the Coromandel”. It seemed fortuitous and from that moment on we were ‘Three Men Missing’.
By the time of our first proper gig at a Hamilton Musicians Club gathering (at Uncle Sam’s Nightclub on Ward Street) we had settled on a permanent drummer, Te Awamutu based landscape gardener Max Ward. We started off well, I remember sensing the positive interest from the crowd, but the mood dissipated as I slowed up the proceedings with a series of broken guitar strings. I was never much of a live player and tended to get it all wrong when in front of a crowd. I was learning the hard way that my natural venue was the recording studio.
A few months later we found our missing piece, an ex-pat Australian punk, Chris Johnson or Fish as he was better known. With Chris and his guitar in our line-up we recorded another EP called ‘Days on the Island’ at the Lab in Auckland under the supervision of former Chills bassist Terry Moore. Self-released on vinyl, ‘Days on the Island’ was a step up from our first recording session.
Later we toured the North Island to minuscule crowds before winning our heat at the coveted Hillcrest Tavern Battle of the Bands. We went to the finals, and if memory serves me, we came third. Once again my inability to function in a stable manner before a crowd was our undoing. We were preparing for our third EP when I left. I was struggling with the band dynamic and my autocratic approach and youthful pride were making things difficult for us all. While I hived off overseas in search of something (or nothing as it turned out), the band continued on becoming the centre of a small scene that produced a variety of side projects that included the bands Silken Blue and Moofish.
released January 1, 1985
Three Men Missing:
Bass: Patrick Downey
Keyboards and Vocals: Sue Brown (Silken Blue)
Drums: Max Ward (Grok)
Guitar: Chris ‘Fish’ Johnson (Grok, Dept of Corrections, Love and Violence, MOoFish)
Vocals: Rhonda Hoffmans Johnson (MOoFish)
Guitar: Andrew johnstone
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