John Williams

When guitarist John Williams was 17 years old, he was given the task of deputising for Jimmy Page. During the 1967 New Zealand tour by The Yardbirds, the support act was Larry’s Rebels, with Williams as lead guitarist. At the Hamilton show Page was drunk so Yardbirds’ singer Keith Relf handed John the guitar saying “You’re it. Let’s go.” Luckily, Williams knew all The Yardbirds’ songs. “I just stepped on and did it. It was easy.”

After getting his first guitar when he was 10, Williams had some lessons with a Māori neighbour and learnt a few chords. Williams’ mother would have paid for lessons from a classical guitar teacher in the city but the boy disliked that teacher from the first moment. Williams suspected the feeling was mutual, commenting “It was like being put in front of a grammar school principal from that era. I’m sure he had a stick.”

John "Yuk" Harrison, John Williams (Larry's Rebels) and Billy Belton
John Williams 
Larry the showman - taken at the Moomba Music Festival, Victoria, in 1968. From left: Viv McCarthy, Dennis “Nooky” Stott, Larry Morris, Terry Rouse and John Williams.
John Williams
John Williams at Auckland's Top 20 club, circa 1967. Nooky Stott is behind him.
Photo credit: Larry Morris collection
John Williams' Doubleshot at Grey Lynn RSC
John Williams at 13 years of age
Larry's Rebels in Playdate magazine, 1967
John Williams in Doubleshot of Blues - Fool For Your Blues (Live for Asylum TV Show, 2016)
Larry's Rebels outside Auckland Museum in 1967: Larry Morris, Nooky Stott, Terry Rouse, John Williams and Viv McCarthy
John Williams' Doubleshot of Blues: the New Zealand lineup
The Rebels, post Larry: Glyn Mason, John Williams, Viv McCarthy, Nooky Stott and Mal Logan
Larry's Rebels 1965
Photo credit: Barbara Fraser Collection
Larry's Rebels in Gisborne, 1966
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
John Williams' Doubleshot of Blues band - interview and song, Hoodoo Man
John Williams blues award
The Rebels, post Larry: John Williams, Mal Logan, Nooky Stott, Glyn Mason and Viv McCarthy
John Williams' Doubleshot of Blues - When The Blues Catch Up With You
The Rebels in 1969, from left: Mal Logan, John Williams, Glyn Mason, Nooky Stott and Viv McCarthy
Double Shot of Blues, featuring John Williams
Larry's Rebels, 1967: Larry Morris, Viv McCarthy, Nooky Stott, John Wiliams and Terry Rouse
A December 1967 chart from the NZ Listener, compiled by the readers' postal votes. There are two New Zealand releases in the Top 20: Mr. Lee Grant has entered at No.10. It would get to No.2, kept off by Snoopy's Christmas, a single widely regarded as the biggest selling 45 ever in New Zealand. Larry's Rebels has peaked at No.4 with 'Dream Time'.

When John got his first guitar he had lessons for a couple of months. One day his teacher (who lived 3 or 4 houses down the street) delivered an unusual message. John: “I had this old guitar; my first guitar. He sent me home and told my mother to put it on the floor and let me jump on it cos it was crappy.”

John and his sister Linda (ex-Fair Sect) were in a jazz band with Dick Hopp (ex-Headband) for a short time. Plus at one stage John was in Borkum Riff with Dick and others. Dick taught John to play the flute. John: “He showed me a lot. I still play flute.” Dick quite liked to play bass and there was a time when John (who had been playing bass) and Dick swapped roles.

The last single released by The Rebels had original songs on both sides. The A-side was ‘Can You Make It On Your Own’ while the B-side ‘I Can See The World’ has John on flute.



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