The Hi-Revving Tongues

aka Chris Parfitt and The Hi-Revving Tongues

The Hi-Revving Tongues are best remembered, perhaps inappropriately, for their 1969 chart-topping single ‘Rain & Tears’. The band can also lay claim to pioneering New Zealand psychedelic pop while their six-month residency at Sydney’s Whiskey-A-Go-Go gave them a decidedly hard edge and their stage show was one of the most spectacular of the era. But mostly they are remembered for an atypical strings-laden ballad that they rarely performed live.

Chris Parfitt was the voice and face of The Hi-Revving Tongues, although the founder and band leader was guitarist Mike Balcombe, who was a few years older than the predominantly teenage line-up. Parfitt was 16 when his family shifted from Lower Hutt to Auckland in 1964. A career in rock and roll hadn’t really appealed but he attended Claude Papesch’s music school and decided to take up bass guitar, receiving lessons from Bill Belton.

The Tongues as a four piece, 1970: Graeme Thompson, Richard Sinclair, Mike Balcombe and Bruce Coleman
The final page of the payment schedule for the 1970 Redwood Festival. The Hi-Revving Tongues are noted as "should be $40 but they took 20mins to set up + generally very uncooperative", whilst Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Molly and The Rumour were all docked for only doing half a set each.
Mike Balcombe at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
Chris Parfitt with the Steve Tulloch Band, January 2016
The Hi-Revving Tongues at The Whisky A-Go-Go, Sydney, 1969
The Hi-Revving Tongues, Tom Thumb, Clap! and Ty Dallas at The Place, Wellington, September 1968
Chris Parfitt at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
Chris Parfitt, Maroubra, NSW, 1972
After renaming themselves as just The Tongues for the final album, the now-four-piece band reverted to the original Hi-Revving Tongues for both singles taken from it. This was the last, issued in August 1970.
Mike Balcombe's Not Some Of The Time was one side of the second Hi-Revving Tongues single, released in February 1968
Chris Parfitt with Roger Skinner and Motivation, Birkenhead, Auckland, July 2015: Chris, Roger, Mal Finlayson and Neil Finlay
You'll Find Me Anywhere, from the second Hi-Revving Tongues single, composed by Chris Parfitt, his first composition to appear on disc
The debut Hi-Revving Tongues album, issued via Philips in 1968 and credited to Chris Parfitt and The Hi-Revving Tongues
The Cossacks, Te Aroha, 1965: Chris Parfitt, Paul Edwards, Roger Morgan, Ken Williams and John Aikman
Chris Parfitt at the 1968 Battle Of The Bands, YMCA Stadium, Auckland. The arms attempting a rescue are promoter Russell Clark's.
Bruce Coleman, Mike Balcombe and Rob Noad with friends aboard the Angelena Lauro in Wellington
The Vampires' first gig in 1965, with Chris Parfitt on bass
The Hi-Revving Tongues: Bruce Coleman, John Walmsley, Mike Balcombe, Rob Noad and Chris Parfitt
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Chris Parfitt's first band in 1965, The Vampires. Chris is on the left. Photo taken in New Lynn.
The flyer for the second Hi-Revving Tongues single
The Hi-Revving Tongues at Sydney's Whisky-A-Go-Go, 1969
The Hi-Revving Tongues at the 1967 Battle Of The Bands, Auckland Town Hall: Bruce Coleman, Rob Noad, Chris Parfitt, John Walmsley and Mike Balcombe
The Cossacks at the Orewa Soundshell, Xmas Eve, 1965: Nick Scott, Chris Parfitt, Promoter Benny Levin, John Ellis
Lew Pryme meeting royalty in 1970. Behind him are The Hi-Revving Tongues.
The Hi-Revving Tongues, New Plymouth, 1969
The second album by the freshly renamed The Tongues. Now a four piece, it was issued by Zodiac in early 1970. The cover shot was taken in His Lordship's Boutique in Wellington.
The debut single (The Psychedelic) Illusion, released in October 1967 as The High Revving Tongues. It was recorded by Wahanui Wynyard at Astor Studios.
The Hi-Revving Tongues, Nelson, Xmas 1969
The 1969 Loxene Golden Disc Group Award
The Hi-Revving Tongues at Ali Baba's, Cuba Street, Wellington, 1969, with The Top Shelf
Species 9, Birkenhead, Auckland, 1966: Richard Sinclair (out of shot), Bruce Coleman, John Walmsley, Graham Colhoun and Chris Parfitt
The Hi-Revving Tongues - Rain and Tears (C'Mon, 1969)
John Walmsley and Bruce Coleman with friends as the band boarded the Angelena Lauro in Sydney to return to NZ, September 1969
Chris Parfitt and Rob Noad playing with Danny & The Diamonds at a Radio Hauraki gig at Auckland's Peter Pan (later Mainstreet), 1973
The Hi-Revving Tongues perform at the Loxene Golden Disc Awards, 1969
Chris Parfitt (left) with The Unknowns, Belview Hotel, Sydney, 1982
Rob Noad at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
Former Hi-Revving Tongues members Chris Parfitt and Rob Noad, with Garry Clarke in Danny & The Diamonds, at Auckland's Station Hotel, 1975
The Cossacks at The Shoreline, Takapuna, 1965
Rain and Tears at No.1 on the NZBC chart
The Hi-Revving Tongues at the Battle Of The Bands, Auckland Town Hall, 1967
Mike Balcombe recording at Stebbings
The Sierras: Wayne Daverne, Mike Balcombe, Kerry Hawkesworth and Dave Wright
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.
John Walmsley at Wellington's Ali Baba's club, 1969
The Hi-Revving Tongues at Sydney's Whisky-A-Go-Go, 1969 with Richard Sinclair on drums
Mr Lee Grant tops an impressive bill at an all-star Gigantic Rave!, July 1967. The venue is the Deaf Welfare Centre, Mt Eden Road, Auckland
Chris Parfitt, post The Hi-Revving Tongues, playing with Tolepuddle in Auckland's Albert Park, 1973
The Hi-Revving Tongues, Ken Murphy, Ray Wolfe (sic), The Action, The Avengers and Mr. Lee Grant at the St. Heliers Hall
The Hi-Revving Tongues at The Sorrento, Palmerston North, 1968, in a tour promoted by Bari Gordon (formerly of The Breakaways)
The Hi-Revving Tongues at the 1968 Loxene Gold Disc show: Bruce Coleman, Rob Noad, Chris Parfitt, Mike Balcombe and John Walmsley

Chris Parfitt - vocals

Mike Balcombe - guitar

John Walmsley - bass

Bruce Coleman - keyboards

Rob Noad - drums

Richard Sinclair - drums

Graeme Thompson - bass


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