The 'O'Donnell Brothers' Auckland Covers Band
The O'Donnell Brothers journey started back in the late 50's and early 1960's at the time when modern rock music was emerging as a vibrant and exciting new form of musical expression.
As teenagers growing up in Hamilton New Zealand, brothers Robert and Greg O'Donnell quickly found a magnetic attraction to these new sounds and rhythms.
Like others in their generation the allure of this music was irresistible. So much so, they decided a hands-on approach to this new music revolution was the way to go.
By scraping together pocket money and doing odd jobs, the boys bought guitars (Robert left-handed, Greg right-handed) and through sheer enthusiasm and passion taught themselves how to play and sing.
In those early days they teamed up with local Hamilton mates John Metherell (Guitar) and Sean Kelly (drums).
From impromptu performances in the living rooms of their long suffering but supportive neighbors, through to local dance hall shows, they quickly grew in confidence and playing skills.
It wasn't long before the bright lights of big city Auckland beckoned, and brothers Robert and Greg, Sean Kelly (drums) and new member Ken Murphy (guitar) became regular headline acts in some of Auckland's nightlife venues - The Platterack, The Top 20, The Beatle Inn - playing alongside other top groups of the day (e.g. Four Fours, Larrys Rebels, Dallas Four, La de Das).
During this period, Robert and Greg's creative musical writing skills were awakened through frequent requests to write and perform original music tracks for radio and television.
Through this musical awakening they realized their creative abilities and started writing some of their own original music.
Then in 1967 while taking a well earned Christmas holiday break at Auckland's popular Piha Beach, the band now trading under the name - The Music Convention - was persuaded to perform at the Piha Surf Lifesavers Club. This venue became a regular event on the band's calendar and the Piha Surf Club dances became a legendary part of their Christmas holiday season.
And so the journey began...
In 1962 while still in their early teens they were awarded grand runners-up on the hugely popular Johnny Cooper Talent show in Hamilton and quickly went on to establish themselves as accomplished young musicians in popular demand.
They soon became one of the resident acts at the legendary Three Musicians Night Club in Hamilton and drew an enthusiastic following among their peers.
The rest is history.
With guitartist Ken Murphy departing overseas, keyboard player Graeme Webber joined and added another exciting dimension to the band's sound.
After recording and submitting some of their own music in the following year they were fortunate to sign a deal with USA record label RCA. This honor made them NZ's first recording artists to be signed up by this prestigious label.
The following summer while the band was taking their annual holiday break at Piha they were approached by a young New Zealand filmmaker Andy McAlpine who was in the process of filming a surfing movie. Soon to be titled 'Children of the Sun' this movie was to become New Zealand's first full length feature movie dedicated to portraying surfing and the 'surfie' lifestyle culture in New Zealand.
Andy McAlpine wanted the movie to have an original musical sound track and after listening to the band, commissioned The Music Convention to compose and produce the musical sound tracks for 'Children of the Sun'. The movie and the music went on to become immensely popular with surfers and non surfers alike.
Robert and Greg wrote most of the music that featured in 'Children of the Sun' supplemented by valuable contributions from both Graeme Webber (Keyboards) and Sean Kelly (Drums). The movie was released to worldwide audiences and can still be viewed on YouTube.
Listen here to the title soundtrack.
During this same period, in the mid sixties, Robert and Greg and the band also worked as the featured onboard rock group travelling the Pacific and North American cruises routes with prestigious P&O Shipping Lines.
Back onshore in New Zealand the group found a growing popularity for their music.
Performing at large private functions they soon found themselves in demand with these enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.
Over the next few years they penned and released a string of R. O'Donnell-G. O'Donnell composed releases. Among them 'Have You Seen My Limousine', 'Good Clean Fun', 'Country Boy' and the psychedelic 'Footprints On My Mind'.
The Music Convention was perhaps one of the first New Zealand groups to embrace the new genre of music videos by filming and releasing their self-directed video to help promote their popular single 'Have You Seen My Limousine.' (See video on our Promotions Page).
In the early 70's after Sean Kelly and Graeme Webber departed, the Brothers formed up with two well respected Auckland musicians - ex La de Das drummer Brett Neilsen and Max Wolfgram keyboards (ex Le Frame). The group began gigging under the name 'Suite F.A.' and became extremely popular during this period and in great demand at public and private events.
In the mid 70's Robert and Greg became founding partners in CPA Advertising (formally Centipede Advertising) where music continued to play an important part of the agency services winning them various creative and compositional soundtrack and jingle writing awards for both television and radio.
* 1967 - First NZ group to be contracted by international USA record label RCA.
* 1967 - One of the first groups in New Zealand to explore the psychedelic sounds of the hypnotic Indian Sitar with their original track 'Footprints On My Mind.'
Featuring Greg O'Donnell on Sitar.
* 1968- Writers of the original sound tracks to the movie 'Children of the Sun'.
* 1968 - Reached the Top Ten on NZ's hit parades in 1968 for their self penned song 'Have You Seen My Limousine.'
* 1969 - Writers of original theme song for soundtrack of feature movie 'Charge of the Light Brigade.' (see photo on Gallery page).
* 1995 - The O'Donnell Brothers penned and produced an original song 'Message To France" adopted by the Mururoa Peace Flotilla protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific.
* 2013 - Selected as one of NZ's iconic and influential groups of the 1960's and 70's, as featured on a special 2013 Vinyl compilation 'A Day in My Mind's Mind' release (see photo on Gallery page).
During the late 80's early 90's Greg was invited to play as bassist for international touring artists like Freddie Fender The Coasters, Suzanne Prentice, Billy- Jo Spears and Suzanne Raye. During this period Greg also toured to China with guitarist Gray Bartlett.
More recently Greg's Auckland based recording studio was instrumental in recording Hayley Westenra's self titled platinum-selling breakthrough album.
Over the following three decades Robert and Greg have continued playing music and have performed overseas with a variety of local and international musicians.
Fast forward to today....
And another chapter in their musical careers is evolving.
This time Robert and Greg have teamed up as a duo and are now performing live music from an era in music history that gave them their initial inspiration and excitement...the music of their beloved 60's, 70's and 80's - the era that helped propel them forward on their epic music journey.
Today the Brothers desire to play Rock and Roll music has not diminished. They are now proud to present a repertoire of music that reflects some of the most classic songs from their time, a time where the music is still as popular today as it was back then.
Robert and Greg know two things in life are certain, (1) time never stands still, (2) age should never be a barrier to keep on enjoying life and music.
Performing memorable and well-loved hits from this magical period in music history, audiences will enjoy The O'Donnell Brothers music and vocal harmonies that made chart-topping hits for artists like The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Eagles, Creedence Clearwater, Bread, Alan Parsons Set, Al Green, Bryan Adams, Neil Diamond and many many more great artists. There are Ballads, Blues, Calypso, Country, Latin, Rock and Roll, Soul, Motown.
Moods and Environments;
The O'Donnell Brothers music is ideally suited to...
Relaxed surroundings: Their music creates the perfect background setting for small gatherings where subtle mood music is desirable but not intrusive. Garden parties or Wine tastings are also ideally suited to The O'Donnell Brothers musical presentation style.
Progressive occasions: Likewise their musical styles are ideal for private functions or company social club events - large or small - where guests like to start slow and gradually loosen up into dance mode.
The O'Donnell Bros Live Presentation Format;
Robert ~ Vocals and Electric Fender Stratocaster and Acoustic Electric guitar
Greg ~ Vocals and Electric Fender Stratocaster and Acoustic Electric guitar
For live performances where a full band sound is desirable the Brothers are supported by studio quality backing tracks personally produced, played and recorded by themselves. For more intimate occasions or surroundings the OD Bros can perform their music acoustically without backing tracks.
The O'Donnell Brothers Musical Influences:
The Beatles - The Eagles - Creedence Clearwater - Bread - Cliff Richard and The Shadows - Elvis Presley - Buddy Holly - Al Green - Four Tops - Marvin Gaye - Everly Brothers - The Beachboys - Santana - The Doors - The Turtles - JJ Cale.
The O'Donnell Brothers invite you to step back into an era that produced perhaps the best music for many decades, where the catchy rhythms of emerging Rock and Roll 'caught fire' and captured the hearts and imaginations of the 'baby boomer' generation. A period in time where music became the pulse of life.
Today the music is still as fresh and vibrant as it was when it first became popular.
Enjoy the sounds. Let the The O'Donnell Brothers take you back to a time where music was hugely influential in shaping a generation and helping it express itself through music and dance.
How to contact The O'Donnell Brothers:
To inquire about a quotation for your next event or function, or to receive a free appraisal CD featuring a sample of The O'Donnell Brothers music..
Phone; 021 2789275
Facebook: OD Bros Music
The O'Donnell Brothers performances can be tailored to suite any occasion from 2 hours up to 4 hours duration – or more.