A chance meeting between Bryce Petersen, a North Shore based children’s folk singer/songwriter, and Australian guitarist Johnny Breslin, produced enough creative sparks for a band and two singles. Breslin had been trying to get a group together and knew a 20 year-old drummer from South Auckland, Billy Lawton, late of The Plague (with Corben Simpson). Lawton knew a blues playing guitarist and philosophy student Tony Pilcher (21) and young Māori bass guitarist Larry Latimer (20).
In the context of the times, the group made musical sense. Who better than a folkie and children’s songwriter, who dug classical, jazz, folk and pop – all elements of the current sound – to capture the childlike psychedelic pop of the time? Who better to back him than four survivors of rock and roll’s frenetic beat and R&B years? I don’t doubt the relevance of a Bob Dylan fan like Petersen linking up with an electric band was lost on any of them.
Signed to Phil Warren and Jimmie Sloggett's James Productions, five songs emerged: ‘Slightly-Delic’, ‘Psychothartic Reaction’, ‘Reflections of Time’, ‘Ragged Patch’ and ‘Flip Flop’ recorded by the late Bruce Barton at Mascot studios and produced by Sloggett for release via Festival Records.
‘Slightly-Delic’ and ‘Reflections of Time’ were released as the debut single in October 1967, with ‘Psychothartic Reaction’ (renamed as just ‘Psychothartic’) backed with 'Ragged Patch' following in March 1968.
Petersen wasn’t keen on live performance so House of Nimrod contented themselves with short sets on big bills, including the First Love-In on Sunday, February 25 1968 at the Monaco Ballroom with Doug Jerebine, Claude Papesch, The Fair Set Plus One, Ministry of Fog and Petersen’s children’s singing group, Shades of Youth, made up of his nieces.
When Petersen and Breslin departed, House of Nimrod regrouped, adding Tony McNulty (vocals) and Ed Hayson (bass), playing a more blues-orientated set at The Bowl, with Billy Lawton simultaneously playing with The Cincinnati Underground.
‘Slightly-Delic’ is regarded as a New Zealand psychedelic classic and has been much compiled over the years including an unofficial 7-inch EP issued in 2000 which gathered together ‘Slightly-Delic’, ‘Psychothartic Reaction’, ‘Reflections of Time’ and ‘Ragged Patch’.
Bryce Petersen - vocals
Johnny Breslin - guitar
Larry Latimer - bass
John Pilcher - guitar
Bill Lawton - drums
Larry Latimer was the son of (Sir) Graham Latimer, a leading Māori politician.
Bryce Petersen’s son Carey fronted Auckland Walk in the mid-1980s.
Bryce Petersen would also write Lew Pryme's provocative ‘Gracious Lady (Alice Dee)’ in 1968 and Robert Gennari's single 'I Really Don't Care' in the same year.