In this interview for 2003 television series Give It a Whirl, Allison Durbin traces her career from starting out as a youngster in an Auckland choir to her 1968 No.1 hit in New Zealand with ‘I Have Loved Me A Man’, and winning the Loxene Golden Disc the same year. Soon after that success she shifted to Australia with her producer and soon-to-be husband Howard Gable, where she had a No.1 with ‘Don't Come Any Closer’, and followed that with more chart placings, albums and touring. She describes her early days: coming runner-up in a talent quest, becoming a resident singer at the Shiralee in Auckland during the 1960s, and working with The Quin Tikis, Tommy Adderley, John Rowles, Mike Perjanik, The Quincy Conserve, John Farnham, and Gene Pitney.
Watch below: Full-length interview with Allison Durbin from Give It a Whirl (2003) via NZ On Screen (2022).
Watch below: Allison describes singing in a talent quest at Waihi Beach in a dress made from two decorative tea towels. She came second in the talent quest, singing ‘Everybody’s Somebody's Fool’ and ‘Bobby’s Girl’.
Watch below: Allison recalls going to a Sunday afternoon dance, singing with The Quin Tikis, and securing a residency at the Shiralee nightclub in Customs Street, Auckland. In addition to singing with The Quin Tikis, she sang with the Mike Perjanik Band, which led to a Sydney trip.
Watch below: On recording ‘I Have Loved Me A Man’. “We sent my demo to HMV in Wellington ... got a letter back from Howard Gable, the A&R man, saying ‘Love the song, love the singer, hate the production.” Howard Gable became the producer for the song, which was a No.1 hit in New Zealand.
Watch below: Allison talks about singing her own version of ‘I Have Loved Me A Man’ and discusses the original by Morgana King.
Watch below: Allison Durbin wins the 1968 Loxene Golden Disc award with ‘I Have Loved Me A Man’. “It was a marvellous night ... I look back and think, 18 years old, amazing, all this happening ... It didn’t hit me until the next day.”
Watch below: On reaching No.1 in Australia with ‘Don’t Come Any Closer’ and being crowned Australia’s “Queen of Pop”.
Watch below: Allison recalls returning to New Zealand in early 1969 to tour with John Rowles. “We both had our following at that stage ... We did the magnificent New Plymouth Bowl ... these guys dived into the water, I didn’t know it was full of weed poison!”
Watch below: On working with Malcolm Hayman and The Quincy Conserve at the Downtown Club, Wellington.
Watch below: Allison recalls touring New Zealand with Gene Pitney.
This interview was recorded for the 2003 season of TV series Give it a Whirl. All audiovisual content is copyright to Visionary Film & TV, and may not be reproduced.
Further reading: Nick Bollinger on Give It a Whirl