Although not widely known outside of their native New Zealand, during the mid-'70s, pub-rockers Hello Sailor emerged among the biggest stars on the Kiwi scene, becoming one of the country's first native bands to succeed not merely as a covers act, but on the strength of their original material. The group's origins dated back to 1964, when guitarists Harry Lyon and Dave McArtney first played together while attending high school; the pair fell out of contact in the years to follow, but were reunited while attending Auckland University in the early '70s. After a series of false starts, they formed Hello Sailor in 1975 with vocalist Graham Brazier, bassist Tony McMaster, and drummer Graeme Turner. Following several months of dead-end live performances, McMaster exited, and was ultimately replaced by bassist David Lisle Kinney; over time, the group finally began to build a reputation as a superior live attraction, eventually issuing a 1976 single on RCA covering the Andrews Sisters' "Rum and Coca Cola."
After Turner was fired over a worsening heroin addiction, drummer Ricky Ball signed on in time to record the debut Hello Sailor LP, a self-titled effort issued in late 1977. Sales were brisk, with the album landing a pair of hit singles in "Gutter Black" and "Blue Lady"; a subsequent national tour proved equally successful, paving the way for the emergence of New Zealand's very own pub rock circuit. However, Hello Sailor's popularity was quickly undermined by the outbreak of punk, and seemingly overnight, they were viewed as bloated dinosaurs of the Kiwi rock scene; after spending much of 1978 in Los Angeles, the group returned home in the wake of the release of their second album, Pacifica Amour, to find much of their fan base had disappeared. A six-month 1979 tour of Australia proved disastrous, and combined with various drug and health problems, Hello Sailor's days were clearly numbered; after one final live date in February of 1980, the band dissolved, although in 1985 they re-formed to again tour the pub circuit. ~ Jason Ankeny