As a schoolboy in Auckland, Toni Fonoti fantasised about being a rock star. When the fantasy started to come true in his late twenties with Herbs, he turned his back on the limelight and quit the band.
Thirty years later, 16 of them spent living in Brisbane, when Fonoti was to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking work with Herbs, a vicious assault on one of his sons kept Fonoti away from the ceremony.
Toni Fonoti met early Herbs bassist Phil Toms when his car broke down outside Toms’ home the night Herbs opened for Stevie Wonder at Western Springs in 1981. Toms had been at the concert and when he mentioned he was a bass player Fonoti said the band were looking for one.
Toni Fonoti was due to appear with other former Herbs members as Pacific Herbs at Ragamuffin 2010 in Rotorua but withdrew when he discovered the reunion did not have the blessing of the then current Herbs line-up.