Maria Dallas

aka Marina Devcich

In 1965 Marina Devcich was an apprentice hairdresser in Morrinsville. She finally got the reversible coat she’d been paying off at a local shop and wore it on her first ever flight to Wellington. The song she recorded there, ‘Tumblin’ Down’, won the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc.

By then she had a new name, Maria Dallas. Born in 1946, Dallas is the daughter of a Croatian poultry farmer and his New Zealand born wife. With five sisters and seven brothers, the Devcich family lived in Morrinsville, a small railway junction town in the Waikato with a long main street and population of 5,000. The second youngest child, she was raised with the radio on, taking in the songs of Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Roger Miller and Wayne Newton.

The Australian Ambush EP sleeve. Issued in 1967, Ambush was taken from the Nashville sessions and was a No.12 Australian hit.
Western Takeoff was Maria Dallas' third album, released early in 1967. She would shortly take off to the US to record in Nashville. The sleeve was by Wellington's Hubert Sieben, who created many sleeves for Viking in the 1960s.
Maria Dallas - Tumblin' Down
The debut album, from 1966
The 1967 Best Of Maria Dallas was released only a year into her career and misses many of the later hits
Maria Dallas feat. Jay Epae and the Dallas Four - Golden Girl (1967)
Maria Dallas with her 1966 Loxene Golden Disc award for Tumblin' Down
Maria Dallas' Country Show, a live album of her with guests, released in 1967
Town And Country, from 1972, was Maria's last album for Viking
The 1971 Pinocchio album, centred around the massive hit of the same name. Featured in Chris Bourn's Studio One 1970, the song has remained a New Zealand classic hits radio staple ever since 
Felton Jarvis and Maria Dallas in RCA Studios Nashville in 1967
The US RCA Tumblin' Down LP from 1967
Maria Dallas tour entourage, Christchurch, early 1967, with Tony and The Initials and Ken Lemon. From left, back row: Tony Eagleton, Don McMillan, Jim Pilcher; middle row: Terry Collier, John Naylor, Ken Lemon, Bruce Warwick; front: Leo Clarke, Maria Dallas, Max McCauley. Credit: Jim Pilcher collection
Photo credit: Jim Pilcher collection
The Second Album came just a few months after Maria's debut in 1966 and contained her versions of several Roger Miller tunes that gained heavy airplay in the 1960s
Maria Dallas performs on Miss New Zealand 1973
Maria Dallas in 1967
Maria Dallas in late 1967
The 1967 Maria Dallas and Ken Lemon "duet" album with very blatant product placement from Air New Zealand, who flew Maria free of charge to Nashville. The pair did not sing together on the album despite the title.
Maria Dallas, performing at Carlaw Park, 13 January 1990
Photo credit: Murray Cammick
A mid 1970s publicity shot from the Kontact label, a company co-owned by Johnny Devlin. Maria would record two singles for the label after leaving Viking, although they were released some eight years apart from each other, in 1973 and 1981.
A proof sheet of unused Maria Dallas publicity shots from 1970. Maria is holding the gold disc for her No.1 single Pinocchio.
Maria Dallas performing in the Lower Hutt Town Hall on the first night of the Maria Dallas Country Show tour, 1966.
Photo credit: Barry Clothier collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
Maria Dallas In Nashville, the 1967 album recorded in RCA's studios in Nashville, Tennessee with Felton Jarvis, a producer known for his work with Elvis. It sold extremely well in both New Zealand and Australia.
Maria Dallas, then known as Marina Devich, guesting with the Beatniks. Most of the Beatniks were from Morrinsville; at this stage the group had been together two years, and played throughout the Waikato. Group members were Lew Manson (leader, vocalist, guitar, trombone), Kevin Wilson (lead guitar, aged 16), Des Wardell (lead vocalist), Alan Midgeley (bass), Rex Gatenby (piano), Owen Henderson (drums), and Barry Manson (sax, trumpet, vocals). 
Photo credit: Playdate, September 1962
Maria Dallas listening to a playback of 'Tumblin' Down', HMV Studios, Wellington, 1966. At right is producer Ron Dalton, visible on the far left is pianist/arranger Garth Young
Photo credit: Frank Douglas collection
A letter from Viking partner Ron Dalton to Radio DJ Keith Richardson plugging Maria Dallas' Tumbling Down single in 1966. It would go on to hit No.1, sell large numbers and pick up the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc.
Photo credit: Keith Richardson collection
A children's EP with Ann Reading
Maria Dallas, HMV Studios, Wellington, 1966
Photo credit: Frank Douglas





The 1967 release Maria Dallas in Nashville was produced by Felton Jarvis, who produced many of Elvis Presley's albums and singles from 1966 onwards. Jarvis worked with Chet Atkins, Michael Nesmith and Willie Nelson, amongst others.

The 45rpm single Ambush, released through RCA Victor in the USA and Viking in New Zealand, has become a sought after item among collectors of vintage records and DJs.

In 1969 The Auckland Star named Maria Dallas as New Zealand's highest earning woman - at $500 a week.

Pinocchio was not planned as a single however demand was such following a live performance on TV's Studio One that Viking rushed it out as a single in July 1970.

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