Reg Ruka

aka Raureti Reginald Ruka Korako, Reggie Ruka, Andre Santos


Reg Ruka is barely known outside the music community and is largely remembered for extra-curricular activities. The ultimate loveable rogue, he had a natural feel for funk and R&B, as both bassist and singer. There were small roles in poor movies and he had a brief flirtation with minor television fame.

He featured on only one single but a generation, it seems, remember him for one stand-out performance in 1973, as the energetic frontman of Itambu, support act for the Rolling Stones no less. Mick Jagger, it is said, watched Reg throw himself around the stage for one song, telling his backstage circle, “That Aboriginal guy has a heap of stamina, I’ll have to lift my game.”

"What's next? 'Brown Sugar'?" - Reg Ruka and Itambu, supporting the Rolling Stones at Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis
Reg Ruka singing at Tommy Adderley's wake, The Gables, Herne Bay, 10 February 1993. 
Photo credit: Diana Edwards
Reg Ruka, the best-dressed man at The Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 6 January 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-02A
Reg Ruka fronting Australian band Itambu, Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973.
Photo credit: Malcolm Curson Collection
Reg Ruka does the limbo rock, Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-09A
Super Pop '70 was a showcase of local performers including The Chicks, Bunny Walters, Corben Simpson, Classic Affair (with Reg Ruka), The Chapta and Larry Morris, held at Western Springs, Auckland during a visit from the royal family. Prince Charles and Princess Anne attended and met the performers. The band leader was Tuhi Timoti. 
The Rolling Stones' crowd presses forward to see opening act Itambu, fronted by Reg Ruka, 11 February 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923C-20
Reg Ruka in red, performing with Itambu before the Rolling Stones, 11 February 1973. The Australians in Itambu are, from left: Danny on guitar (surname unknown), Terry Gascoigne on drums, Bill Palmer on bass. 
Photo credit: Malcolm Curson Collection
Reg Ruka fronting Australian band Itambu, Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973. At left is guitarist Danny (surname unknown); the drummer is Terry Gascoigne. 
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923B-36A
Reg Ruka, in the gig of a lifetime: fronting Australian band Itambu, before the Rolling Stones take the stage, Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923C-13
Reg Ruka
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis
Reg Ruka, fronting Australian band Itambu, at the Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-03A
Classic Affair, L-R: Keith Murch (keyboards), Reg Ruka (vocals, bass), Peter Topp (drums), Peter Timperley (guitar). Ruka is playing his "big, bulky, Burns Bison bass". 
Photo credit: Roger Watkins Collection
Reg Ruka, fronting Australian band Itambu, at the Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 6 January 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-15A
Reg Ruka
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis
12 Bar Rhythm 'n Shoes - Series Two, Episode One
The boys in the front row are captivated by Reg Ruka. Is Itambu a hard act to follow? Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923C-18
The Silent One (1984)
Reg Ruka fronting Australian band Itambu, Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973. The bassist is Bill Palmer. 
Photo credit: Malcolm Curson Collection
Those in the cheap seats, clap your hands: Itambu, fronted by Reg Ruka, support the Rolling Stones at Western Springs, Auckland, 11 February 1973.
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923B-34A
Reg Ruka, at the Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 6 January 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-01A
12 Bar Rhythm 'n Shoes - Series Two, Episode One
The battle of the jumpsuits: Reg Ruka's bright red number almost stole the show from Mick Jagger's turquoise outfit when Itambu supported the Rolling Stones at Western Springs, Auckland, on 11 February 1973. The drummer is Terry Gascoigne. 
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0923B-31A
Reg Ruka does the shimmy shimmy shake at the Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 6 January 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-10A
Reg Ruka gets on the good foot, Ngāruawāhia Music Festival, 6 January 1973
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-0957E-20A
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