5 Mar 2024

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The Saddleblasters


The Saddleblasters are a cowboy-country outfit consisting of singer John (Hore) Grenell, cowboy singer-songwriter Neil Hersey and music producer Dave Maybee.

The Saddleblasters have performed with American country music supergroup “The Highwaymen” (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings & Kris Kristofferson).

John Grenell of The Saddleblasters had a New Zealand number one hit record in the 90’s with the Jim Reeves song Welcome To Our World. The song was heavily featured nationally in a Toyota vehicle TV advertising campaign, and produced by American superstar country singer Emmylou Harris’s musical director Wayne Goodwin.

The Saddleblasters have toured extensively around New Zealand, everywhere from Invercargill to Cape Reinga and as Dave says “I’m pretty sure we have played every RSA in New Zealand and almost every bar and Workingmen's Club around the country”.

John early on in his career worked with legendary music promoter Joe Brown and provided the entertainment on many Miss New Zealand beauty pageant tours & events, plus recorded many records, TV & Radio programmes. Before forming The Saddleblasters, he’d performed all over the globe in the UK, South Africa, Australia as well in Canada and the USA, including an ultimate performance on the legendary American country music stage the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

Described by the national press as “New Zealand’s most prominent and prolific country singer ever”, when John’s album Encore was released in May 1965, the album outsold The Beatles Help album and John went straight to number one. At the time, Encore was the biggest selling LP by a New Zealand artist ever. 

The Saddleblasters were formed during a Northland tour which saw John and Dave performing a show in Kaitaia. On the way back down South John had been handed a cassette tape of demos of a then unknown artist by the name of Neil Hersey. On the tape was 5 of Neil’s original songs which he had recently written, Dave recalls “I was very impressed by the songwriting strengths of this unheard of “newby” as was John, so we decided to invite him to perform a few shows with us and the rest as they say is history”. Neil joined the band as a full time member shortly afterwards and became the principal songwriter for the group.

In between tours The Saddleblasters would record new tracks, some of these utilising the songwriting skills of Neil. Various songs were recorded over several sessions, largely in Dave’s Raglan studio and over a considerable number of years. These recordings were largely forgotten until one day impressario Gray Bartlett introduced Neil to a guy by the name of Paul Marshall who runs an independent international record label called DO IT Records. Neil sent Paul some of the recordings, Paul was duly impressed with them and subsequently offered to work with The Saddleblasters.

Consequently several older recordings were unearthed, the majority of these recorded between 1989 to 2006 with one track even being recorded in Neil’s front lounge at his Hidden Valley Horse Ranch in Northland. There are over 25 recordings which shall be released over 2 albums, starting with the debut single release entitled Aupouri Angel written by Neil Hersey, produced by Dave Maybee and featuring John Grenell on lead vocals.

Band Members:
John Grenell (vocals)
Neil Hersey (vocals, guitar)
Dave Maybee (producer)


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  • Auckland

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