West Auckland-born Kevin Borich has become the personification of the Aussie guitar god. Settling in Australia with The La De Da’s at the end of the 1960s, he took the helm of that band before conquering the pub rock and boogie scene with Kevin Borich Express in the 1970s and he’s hardly slowed down since.

Kevin Borich in the 1970s

Released late in 2022, Borich’s Legacy 1973-1981 stayed atop The Australian Blues & Roots Airplay Charts for more than two months. Early in 2024, he’s about to begin gigging up and down the east coast of Australia to promote last year’s Duets album that featured performances with the likes of Angry Anderson, Leo Sayer, Ella Hooper and Eagle and one-time Herbs guitarist Joe Walsh.

Borich came to songwriting out of necessity; The La De Da’s were never going to gain longevity or self-satisfaction in the covers of their self-titled debut LP. To find the courage he didn’t need to look further than bandmates Bruce Howard and Trevor Wilson who teamed up to write six of the tracks on the band’s second album Find Us A Way.

“I started writing later than in the original La De Da’s line-up,” Borich said. “My early inspiration was from Bruce and Trevor. One has to get immersed in some good old self-belief to write, to believe in, try, and don’t shoot it down before it flies.”

AudioCulture sat Kevin Borich down and asked him to disclose 10 New Zealand songs that resonated with him. However, he did add this disclaimer: “Remember in 2005 I had radiation for cancer, it wiped my hard drive. And there would be a lot of great (New Zealand) songs that I would never have heard, being over here.”


Find Us A Way – The La De Da’s

Written by Bruce Howard and Trevor Wilson for the band’s second LP.

Borich: “It’s a great song; it’s ‘love will find us a way,’ which is still relevant lyrically. It just had a thing about it that was different, and we thought it was good. But [radio] programmers had cloth ears and they didn’t have confidence in their own bloody human beings. ‘We’re doing what we love doing and why don’t you give us a fucking go?’ We were desperately wanting to be original because everyone in those days was, like, you always had to do a cover. I don’t know whether it was the down-under syndrome of ‘we’re not as good as America and it’s got to come from overseas if it’s any good’.”


All Purpose Low – The La De Da’s

Another Howard/Wilson collaboration from Find Us A Way.

Borich: “Trevor and Bruce were the instigators of these songs, and we just played our parts, you know. It didn’t surprise me at all. Bruce was classically trained; Trevor was really good with lyrics. ‘All Purpose Low’ had the fast guitar riff and it was up there and happening. It was really good.”


Winter Song – The La De Da’s

Howard and Wilson combine for this song off the psychedelic rock opera LP The Happy Prince.

Borich: “I think Trevor wrote the lyrics about mighty Thor, and it was Greek mythology about fighting going on, so it had thunder, and it was scary, and it was great. The guitar riff was something from the song that I wrote. It’s a powerful riff but unfortunately it didn’t quite make it with the heavy sound. We actually brought our PA system in to plug the guitar in to make a big sound, but we didn’t achieve it really. In those days the rooms were so dead, the absorption on the walls soaked everything up so everything sounded rinky-dink. It had Bruce playing a bagpipe-like drone and nice little melodies there.”


I’ll Be Gone – Spectrum

Written by former Chants R&B singer Mike Rudd after he moved to Melbourne, ‘I’ll Be Gone’ was an Australian No.1 in 1971 for his band Spectrum.

Borich: “It’s just one of those songs … he’s telling you what’s going on in life; we’ll all be gone. So, it’s kind of got a heavy thing about it but, you know, that’s just life, our existence. It doesn’t come across as that first, you might be sort of leaving town or whatever. But it’s just got that great feel and it’s got that great little harmonica thing. It’s just one of those things you hear and go, ‘Oh, yeah,’ and it’s sort of got a comfort zone of some sort. I love it. It’s a classic, for sure. Of course, when I saw him play live, when that played, the audience really acknowledged the fact that it had sunk into their brains and in their lives. That’s a good song, when that happens. It’s got a beautiful simplicity that rings true.”


Morning, Good Morning – The La De Da’s

Written by Borich and Phil Key, a stand-alone single release from 1972.

Borich: “‘Morning, Good Morning’ was a guitar riff that I had, and I had the lyric ‘morning, good morning, love to see the sunrise’ but then I didn’t have anything else. Then Phil helped me with the lyrics and of course Keith [Barber] was really good with the arrangement. It was a break from psychedelia because of the times going on. And we were now a four piece, Trevor and Bruce had left, and we were wearing denim with a rock’n’roll, two-guitar attack. It’s a favourite today when we play it, it brings back memories to people, so it did have the ingredients but met with more cloth ears.”


The Place – The La De Da’s

Written by Borich for the three-piece band’s Rock And Roll Sandwich.

Borich: “‘The Place’ was written about the places we played. There’s plenty of fodder there in the audience, as you can tell by the lyrics. And it’s a wonderful shuffle and it gets people up dancing. I play it every performance now because it’s just gained its own hit status through playing live. I used to find that I used to shoot [songs] down before they had wings. And that’s not self-belief, that’s not giving a thing a fair go. You’ve gotta kick something around a bit, you know. It doesn’t just flow.”


No Law (Against Having Fun) – The La De Da’s

Another Borich composition from Rock And Roll Sandwich.

Borich: “This was my first attempt at playing piano. I’m a ham fist, my fingers don’t seem to do what … I would love to be able to play properly. But things come out. We had a house that had a nice little room, and I came across this piano, and it was a nice little room to practise in; put the piano in and not disturb everybody. It’s the naivety of the lyric ‘no law against having fun’. In those days it was like that. We had more freedom, there was less bureaucracy. There was no prick with nothing to do thinking up things to corral us into, you know.”


Slipping Away – Max Merritt & The Meteors

Written by Max Merritt.

Borich: “It’s just about parting and it’s obviously in the early stages of parting because it’s not away yet, it’s slipping. It’s a beautiful song and great title to get the juice out of. And it’s very sad. But everyone in life would have gone through that at some point, even in a person passing away. You can take it from all angles.”


Weather With You – Crowded House

Written by Tim Finn and Neil Finn.

Borich: “I just think that’s really humorous, the idea of it. It’s a great song, but it’s a saying, ‘you always take the weather with you’. Of course you do; you haven’t taken it, but it’s going to be there and it’s with you. It’s got that little sort of Split Enz irony, and that’s what makes it really cute and great. And they’re great writers.”


Not Many – Scribe

Written by Scribe and P-Money.

Borich: “I’m driving home and I’m going for it, and all of a sudden [‘Not Many’] comes on the radio. It just blew me away, I just thought, ‘That’s something so good.’ Of course, the down-under syndrome, ‘It must be the Yankees.’ Then when I listened to it, it wasn’t; I could tell it was ‘bro’. And I’m going, ‘Who the fuck’s this?’ It was so cool. And they’re telling everyone that they’re cool, because there’s ‘not many’. I like that. Of course, the really annoying things that radio guys do, they’re too cool to tell you what you’ve just been listening to and really liked and want to know what it is. I can’t remember how I tracked it down, but I was spouting to everybody about it. It really opened my eyes to that style. Boy, did they nail it, for me. There is some rap stuff that I dig but sometimes it just becomes boring. Maybe you have to really listen to the lyrics and put your hat on the wrong way.”