The story of the Fourmyula begins with songwriter Wayne Mason. He was born in New Plymouth in 1949, and lived in Rotorua for a period in the 50's before moving to Upper Hutt in 1958. There he began to take piano lessons. Although serious, he would break into a bit of boogie-woogie whenever there were a few spare minutes at lessons. In 1962 his father bought him a guitar and he formed his first band with classmates from Heretaunga College. Calling themselves The Southern Auroras, they consisted of Frank Stevenson on vocals, Martin Hope on lead guitar, Les Gruebner on bass, Jim McEwan on drums, and Wayne on rhythm guitar.
As a group they never really got going, but it was a sufficient experience to learn their musical basics. In September 1963, they changed their name to the Sine Waves. They got regular work playing at Saturday night dances, but in 1964 Jim McEwan had to pull out of the group as his parents objected to his late nights. His place was taken by another school friend, Chris Parry.
With Parry now in the group, they decided on another name change, calling themselves The Insect. For the next two years they played the Hutt Valley circuit of high school dances, youth clubs, social functions and bible classes, gaining a considerable reputation for themselves. The Hutt Valley produced some very reputable bands during the 60's, and by the mid-60's the better ones were The Bitter End, the Roadrunners, The Dedikation and The Insect.
By mid-1966 Frank Stevenson left the group to begin his cabaret career as Frankie Stevens. A reshuffle of the group took place with Martin Hope taking over lead vocals, and Wayne Mason moving to keyboards. Les Gruebner also left and his position was taken by Ron Gascoigne, but Ron stayed less than six months and by the end of 1966 he had left to join the Simple Image. A new bass player was required and he was Alistair Richardson. Time for a new name and The Fourmyula was born, consisting of Hope, Mason, Richardson and Parry.
The Fourmyula debuted at an Upper Hutt dance on March 11, 1967, and the more they played the stronger their popularity became. They invested all their spare cash into new equipment and clothes to perform in. They entered a "National Battle of the Sounds" competition in September 1967 and won the Wellington heat. In January 1968, the finals were held in the Lower Hutt and the winners of other regional heats included the Hi-Revving Tongues and The In-Betweens. Supported by a home audience, The Fourmyula easily won the final and the prize that went with it was a trip to Britain aboard a Sitmar liner.
While the band had been rehearsing for the competition, they made a demo tape which they gave to HMV's Howard Gable. He liked what he heard, but felt they needed a stronger lead singer. Meanwhile they set off for their first tour of the South Island. Their booking agent found a new vocalist and he caught up with the band in Dunedin in March 1968. His name was Carl Evenson, and he had been vocalist with the Kal-Q-Lated Risk.
While they were traveling, Richardson and Mason began writing a song. The result was 'Come With Me', which they took to their first recording session. The group wanted to release it as their first single, but Howard Gable already had a song by Martha and the Vandellas, 'Honey Chile', lined up. The boys persisted and a compromise was reached by putting 'Come With Me' as the B-side of the single. When the single was released by HMV in July 1968, it was only 'Come With Me' that received the attention of DJs and the public. It spent three weeks at number two on the national charts and stayed on the charts for three months.
The Fourmyula had become New Zealand's top band overnight. Television appearances, radio interviews and newspaper articles followed. Mason and Richardson continued writing new songs and in October 1968, HMV made the unusual move of releasing the next two singles at the same time. They were 'Alice Is There', 'I Dig Your Act', 'I Know Why' and 'It's Only Make Believe'. The two singles reached number 4 and 7 respectively on the charts. They also released their self-titled debut album in time for the Christmas market.
Further biography can be found here
Thanks to Sergent.com.au for this information!
Martin Hope (guitar, vocals)
Wayne Mason (rhythm guitar, organ, vocals)
Ali Richardson (bass, vocals)
Chris Parry (drums)
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