Dene Kellaway is best known for editing the Wellington-based pop music magazine Groove (1967-1969) but he also tried to pursue his own career as pop music performer.
Born in Levin, he moved to Wellington in early 1965 and was editor of NZ Teen Beat magazine by 1966. When Teen Beat shut down Kellaway started Groove.
As Groove editor, Kellaway was very supportive of the local scene with in-depth, on-going coverage of artists that appealed to teens, like Mr Lee Grant, The Avengers and Larry's Rebels. There were also large tabloid size front covers for Shane, The Simple Image, The Dedikation, The Shevelles, The Fourmyula, Hi-Revving Tongues and John Rowles. The first issue of Groove (19.10.67) had The Monkees on the front cover and retailed for 10 cents.
Kellaway was quoted in Groove magazine, saying, "There are several recording artists in this country who are popular but never get any airplay. You just have to work harder, that's all."
Kellaway released two singles for the Apollo Record label. His debut 'I'm Going Nowhere' (1968) was not purchased by the NZBC, so the single did not receive airplay in New Zealand. As the single was released Kellaway had to trim his mod locks and to do his 14 weeks of compulsory national military service at Waiouru, causing his singing career and Groove to go on hiatus for several months. His second single 'Chocolate Brown' (1968) was also turned down by the Government owned Broadcasting Corporation. In response to the NZBC's second snub, Kellaway was quoted in Groove magazine, saying, "There are several recording artists in this country who are popular but never get any airplay. You just have to work harder, that's all."
In August 1969, Kellaway left Groove magazine and the blues writer Barry Francis Jones took over as editor. Kellaway said to Third Stream magazine, “I ran Groove alone, and did most of the writing myself. I did all the record reviews too, so it was a bit hectic. I was doing Groove for the love of the work. I wasn’t drawing a wage off it; I had another part-time job on which I was living. Because I had been trying to sing for so long, I realised just how difficult it is, and how important, for the groups to get recognition in this country. I was trying to help the New Zealand scene. It wasn’t really a paying proposition.
Groove was distributed nationwide and was clearly a forerunner to tabloid, free newsprint music magazines Hotlicks (1974-76) and RipItUp (first published 1977). Both these magazines folded their tabloid size pages in half to create a smaller A4 cover in the manner pioneered by the very influential American Rolling Stone magazine. After the departure of Kellaway Groove magazine did not last long.
Underneath the heading "Blues Label for New Zealand" in the April 14, 1969 issue of Groove, Kellaway announced the formation of the Tree label to "create a blues sound of New Zealand, recording mostly original material written by the blues bands themselves." The first single was by The Supernatural Blues Band and the plan was to release it with the first issue of the blues fanzine Good Noise, edited by Colin Morris. The Groove news item concluded with the line, "Tree Records are not looking for commercial material for the hit parades, but rather true blues for the blues connoisseur."
The label made a promising start with the single 'Out In The Cold' by The Supernatural Blues Band in May 1969 and the single 'Wild About You' by Gutbucket (Rick Bryant). Kellaway's Tree label still operates today via the label's web site.