Red McKelvie Profile

Glen Moffatt
5 Nov 2014

Red McKelvie’s guitar and pedal steel guitar have appeared on a multitude of New Zealand recordings from John Hanlon, Larry Morris, DD Smash, Hello Sailor and Sneaky Feelings to country music acts Patsy Riggir, John Hore Grenell, Gray Bartlett and Brendan Dugan.

He began his career in blues bands in Auckland before moving to Australia, falling in love with The Byrds, becoming a country rock pioneer in Sydney and providing the riffs for the huge Richard Clapton hit ‘Girls On The Avenue’. He became a permanent fixture at Stebbing Recording Studios from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s.

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Sneaky Feelings - Wouldn't Cry (feat. Red McKelvie)
Richard Clapton Band. Left to right, Ernie McInerney, Brian Bethell, Red McKelvie, Stuart West, Richard Clapton.
Photo credit: Red McKelvie collection
The Flying Circus. Left to right, Terry Wilkins, Colin Walker, Doug Rowe, Red McKelvie, Jim Wynne.
The Chelsea Beats. Left to right, George Brownrigg, Peter Ford, Red McKelvie, Peter Savidan, Graeme Regan.
Photo credit: Red McKelvie collection
Red McKelvie's first band The Crescendoes. Left to right: Graeme McNickel, Kevin Loughlin, Red McKelvie, Nicholas Keily.
Photo credit: Red McKelvie collection
Red McKelvie at the pedal steel guitar, 2001
Red McKelvie in Third Union Band - Act Naturally (GTK 1972)
Mike McClellan, feat Red McKelvie - Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
Red McKelvie performing Gore, an original, at Caroline Bay Carnival
A 1969 Go-Set article on Red McKelvie's band Quill
Red McKelvie in full voice at Mumbo Gumbo's debut gig, The Gluepot, October 1992.
Photo credit: Photo by Alan Fon
Third Union Band. Left to right, Red McKelvie, Harry Brus, Grahame Lister, Dave Ovenden.
Photo credit: Red McKelvie collection
Lister and McClellan with Red McKelvie - Some Other Sunrise (GTK, 1971)
Red McKelvie at Mandrill Recording Studios, 1981
Photo credit: Pat Mahoney collection
Red McKelvie
Cruise Lane on stage at De Bretts, High Street, Auckland, August 1973. Left to right, Red McKelvie, Brett Neilsen, Mike Wilson, Murray Grindlay, Paul Hewson.
The Dark Ages. Left to right: Mick Sibley, Clive Coulson, Vaughan Stephens, Red McKelvie, Ian Thomson.
Photo credit: Ian Thomson collection
Red McKelvie in Lariat - She's So Fine (GTK, 1971)
Mumbo Gumbo at Kitty O'Brien's, Auckland, 1993. Left to right: Red McKelvie, Neil Hannan, Glen Moffatt, Jono Lonie. Out of shot Ian Thomson.
Photo credit: Photo by Alan Fon
In the late 1980s the Al Hunter Band takes shape in the Shakespeare Tavern, Auckland. From 1989, with Bruce King on drums, they would hold court at the King's Arms. From left: Cath Newhook, Alastair Dougal, Red McKelvie (front) and Al Hunter.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Ridin' On Trains - Songs Of New Zealand and Australia was released in 2007 on Neil Hannan's SDL Music label
Red McKelvie Third Union Band - Hyway Ryder (GTK, 1972)
Al Hunter - I Don't Want To Go To Work Today (feat Red McKelvie)
The Starving Wild Dogs on stage, Sydney, late 1960s. Left to right, Red McKelvie, Wally Wyld, Ace Follington, Paul Wyld.
Photo credit: Photo by Wayne Doull


SDL Music

Sun Pacific


In the 1990s, McKelvie’s son, Chris McKelvie, was a guitarist in The Greg Johnson Set, appearing on Everyday Distortions and Johnson’s solo album Vine Street Stories.

McKelvie’s Third Union Band cohort Grahame Lister co-wrote the UK and New Zealand 1987 No.1 novelty song ‘Star Trekkin'.