Tim Murdoch


The music business in New Zealand has had some larger-than-life characters and Tim Murdoch was one of the most colourful. A record executive known for his largesse in entertaining the musicians and minions in his orbit, Murdoch was managing director of Pye Records and, from the mid-1970s, the founding MD of WEA Music New Zealand Ltd (now known as Warner Music). For 11 years he was also president of the recording industry bodies which evolved into Recorded Music New Zealand.

Murdoch loomed large over the New Zealand record business from the late 1960s to the 1990s, and his death on 30 January 2018, aged 75, was felt equally by musicians and industry colleagues. He loved to entertain and was a master of the long lunch, holding court at upmarket Auckland restaurant the French Café and, from the 1990s, Ponsonby café Santos.

Mixing business with pleasure: Tim Murdoch on the back page of UK industry publication Music Week, 8 October 1977. “Bringing musical success to new markets is what makes WEA work. Finding men like Tim Murdoch, WEA New Zealand’s Managing Director, attests both to this company’s shrewdness and Tim’s enormous capability. Having sampled everything from surfing to journalism, hunting to filmmaking, Tim first settled into the record business running Allied International’s New Zealand record operation. In 1975 he set up WEA New Zealand.”
Tim Murdoch, head of WEA Records, and Fred Smith of HMV/EMI. Smith formed the New Zealand Federation of Phonographic Industries in 1957; it became the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand in 1978. 
At the French Cafe, Auckland, 1990. From left: Tim Murdoch, Francesa King of WEA, Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, and Janet Dawes of Mushroom. 
Photo credit: Janet Dawes collection
Street Talk at Mandrill Studios, Parnell, with Kim Fowley and WEA Record's Tim Murdoch: Stuart Pearce, Jim Lawrie, Tim Murdoch, Kim Fowley (front), Andy MacDonald, Mike Caen and Hammond Gamble
Photo credit: Murray Cammick
WEA Records' Tim Murdoch and United Building Society's Tony Kunowski at a RIANZ function prior to the 1985 New Zealand music awards, which were sponsored by United. 
Photo credit: RIANZ
John Hanlon at the 1976 APRA Silver Scrolls with his then partner and Tim Murdoch. Murdoch signed Hanlon to the boutique Family label in 1973, part of the Pye Records group then headed by Murdoch. By the time this photo was taken Tim Murdoch had moved to WEA New Zealand as Managing Director. John Hanlon recorded one single for WEA, Twenty Six Years, in 1976.
Newspaper advertisements for two films about surfing directed and produced by Tim Murdoch: Out Of The Blue (1967) and Seven Sundays (1970).
From left: Tim Murdoch, president of RIANZ and head of WEA Records, Prime Minister David Lange, and Tony Chance, chief executive officer of RIANZ; c. 1987. Photo by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
Tim Murdoch surfing at Piha, 1961. Photograph by Alan Godfrey
Photo credit: Alan Godfrey
Cris Simmons, Ian Saxon, Pat Simmons, Bill Belton and Pye/WEA boss Tim Murdoch - Santos cafe, Auckland
Toy Love signing with WEA Records (NZ) and DeLuxe (Australia), 1979: Alec Bathgate, Jane Walker, WEA's Tim Murdoch, DeLuxe's Michael Browning, Paul Kean, Mike Dooley, WEA's Terence Hogan and Chris Knox
Photo credit: Chris Knox collection
Tim Murdoch with Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth, WEA office, Auckland, 1979
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis Collection, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-2006B-14A
Tim Murdoch and his 16mm movie camera, 1960s. Many amateur 8mm movies were made by surfing enthusiasts, but few attempted 16mm films, due to the cost and expertise required. From Luke Williamson's history of New Zealand surfing, Gone Surfing; used by permission.
Photo credit: Luke Williamson collection
Tim Murdoch, 1980s
Tim Murdoch and Mike Harvey, 1978 Apra Silver Scroll
Talking with the taxman, Vogel House, Wellington, 1987. Tim Murdoch, centre, representing the New Zealand recording industry, presents Prime Minister David Lange with a library of local music. The person on the right is the director of a New Zealand audio company who donated a turntable and speakers. The album Lange is holding is Second Thoughts, by Split Enz. Photo by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
Tim Murdoch, a portrait by Jocelyn Carlin, who was often on assignment for WEA New Zealand in the mid 1980s. Used by permission (c) 1986 Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
WEA head Tim Murdoch presenting gold records to Talking Heads, Auckland 1979.
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis Collection, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-2006A-06
Tim Murdoch in the front row for Talking Heads, Auckland Town Hall, 7 June 1979.
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis Collection, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-2007A-20A
Prime Minister David Lange, left, shakes hands with Tim Murdoch, president of RIANZ, in 1987 at Vogel House, Wellington. The occasion was the donation of a New Zealand music library - with sound equipment - for the prime minister's residence. On this evening, Lange was also dealing with a crisis relating to the Rainbow Warrior bombing the year before. In the centre is Tony Chance, chief executive officer of RIANZ. Photograph by Jocelyn Carlin
Photo credit: Jocelyn Carlin
WEA boss Tim Murdoch presents Herbs with platinum albums. Back, left to right: Murdoch, Dilworth Karaka, Tama Lundon, Fred Faleauto, Maurice Watene. Front: Willie Hona, Thom Nepia.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Watch: RIANZ boss Tim Murdoch at the Ready To Roll NZ Records Awards, 1978.
Two key players in the New Zealand music industry for several decades, Phil Warren with Prestige and WEA Records boss Tim Murdoch in 1976
Tim Murdoch and his partner Catherine, December 2016
Photo credit: Roger Liddle
The recording industry board meets in the late 1970s. Standing are Phil Warren of Prestige, left, and Tim Murdoch of WEA, right. To Warren's left is Eldred Stebbing. At the back is Patricia Bell of APRA; beside her is John McCready of CBS. Beside Murdoch, obscured, is Fred Smith of Rianz. 
The bubbly is on me: Tim Murdoch at the Rod Stewart Press Conference, Clichy Restaurant, Auckland, 22 February 1979
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-1906B-20A
Citizen Band is awarded Most Promising Group at the 1978 RATA Music Awards at the White Heron, Parnell, Auckland, by artist Shona McFarlane with WEA Records' Tim Murdoch looking on
Tim Murdoch, Managing Director of WEA Records (left), at the press conference held for Rod Stewart at the Clichy Restaurant at 23 Britomart Place, Auckland., 22 February 1979. 
Photo credit: Bruce Jarvis, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1704-1906A-22A
Piha, Auckland, 1962 (L-R): John Paine, Tim Murdoch, and two unidentified friends. In 1964 Paine and Murdoch hosted the makers of the classic surfing film The Endless Summer. The MAD magazine is the issue of April 1962. Photograph (c) by Alan Godfrey
Photo credit: Alan Godfrey
Tim Murdoch works the room at a WEA International gathering in New York, early 1978. In the top photo he cleans his plate with (from left), David Horowitz of Warner Communications, and Nesuhi Ertegun, WEA International VP. Below are, from left, Bernard de Bosson, MD WEA France; Siegfred Loch, MD WEA Germany; Tim Murdoch, MD WEA New Zealand; and Mo Ostin, chairman and prexy, Warner Bros Records. 
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