Barry Coburn

In the 1970s, the young man about town was Barry Coburn – he was the new school to Phil Warren’s old school.

The 1970s was a whole new thing, pop was out and rock was in. Coburn, with business partner Robert Raymond, delivered cooler than cool Western Springs concerts including Elton John in 1971 and Led Zeppelin in 1972, as well as the 1973 Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival. Coburn started the coolest indie label, White Cloud Records, and managed Split Enz. He also toured blues giants Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Freddie King.

Beech in 1974 in Christchurch. Managed by Barry Coburn, their singer Brent Parlane would go on to be a country star in Australia in the 1980s. From left: Phil Jones, Andrew Forrer, Brent Parlane, Andrew Key, Don Bean. 
Photo credit: Kevin Hill
British bluesman Duster Bennett and Barry Coburn as the Western Springs Blues Concert was about to start in 1975
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
Split Enz in June 1975 with Barry Coburn (third from left) at the Albion Hotel, Auckland.
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
The Dick Frizzell designed Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival poster
Photo credit: Design by Dick Frizzell
Led Zeppelin, Auckland 1972
Coburn Artists advertise in Hot Licks, 1975
Barry Coburn writes to Rip It Up in 1989
Coburn Artists, July 1976
Down at the old saloon, Auckland, 3 February 2020. A reunion with (from left) Mike Chunn, Murray Grindlay, Barry Coburn, and music journalist Phil Gifford. In December 1972 promoter Barry Coburn presented Split Ends at its second gig, at Levi's Saloon on Customs Street, Auckland. Grindlay and Gifford, of course, also have many tales to tell.
Photo credit: Tyler Coburn
The short lived Viking Ventura label headed by Barry Coburn. This was the first of two singles in 1970 by ex-The Hi-Revving Tongues frontman Chris Parfitt.

Early this century, Barry Coburn took the vinyl 78s of his father’s radio programs to Nashville’s Country Hall of Fame and transferred the recordings to digital files. Coburn then took them to Georgetown Masters, a historic multi-million dollar mastering studio on Nashville's Music Row. The late Denny Purcell – the mastering engineer trusted by Neil Young – re-mastered the Merv Coburn Orchestra to CD. Coburn told writer Larry Le Blanc, “I had just got the CD and I was playing it at home one night when Steve Cropper and Jim Horn were over for dinner. Jim said, ‘Is that a Duke Ellington record? I haven’t heard that before.’ I said that it was my dad. Jim was like, ‘What?’”

Barry Coburn signed legendary NZ luthier Peter Madill's band Minglewood to Viking.

The co-producer of the The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival went on to become the associate producer of the movie Schlinder’s List. Coburn’s former business partner Robert Raymond purchased the film rights to a book by Australian author Tom Keneally – “Schindler’s Ark” – and then on-sold the rights to Steven Spielberg, gaining himself an associate producer credit on the Hollywood film.

A North American writer attributed the staging of the “Now Are Hear” Festival to Barry Coburn. The correct transcription of the writer’s audio would be “Ngaruawahia” Festival.


White Cloud

Downunder Records

Funded by

Partners with