Morgan Clarke Profile

Chris Bourke
21 May 2013

In a publicity photograph from the mid-1950s, Morgan Clarke looks like a matinee idol in a Hollywood movie about the South Seas.

His dark hair is slicked back, he has a thin moustache and a sly grin; well-built, he is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and has a lei around his neck. Ladies in the front row, be charmed.

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Morgan Clarke's Haka Boogie from late 1957, featuring steel guitar from Ben Tawhiti (the Ben in Benny's Five). It was written by Lee Westbrook.
Hawaiian Rock'n Roll, the first Zodiac 7" 45, from 1957
Photo credit: Simon Grigg Collection
Morgan Clarke, whose ‘Hawaiian Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Haka Boogie’ discs are pivotal in the development of a New Zealand-flavoured rock and roll.
Photo credit: Bill Sevesi collection/Wired for Sound

Before the Hulawai’ns collaboration with Morgan Clarke, both acts had recorded the Gene O’Leary song ‘Dreamer’s Island’, Clarke for Tanza, the Hulawai’ns for Regal Zonophone.