Gerry Merito - dead at 70. The comedy genius and a founding member of the Howard Morrison Quartet died yesterday in the Waikato. He was performing to the very end.
Merito penned hits such as My Old Man's an All Black for the quartet in 1960 about the all Blacks tour that year to South Africa. The Battle of the Waikato was based on The Battle of New Orleans; more the Lonnie Donnegan version than that of Johnny Horton.
I remember hearing them on the radio but was not overly impressed. Then I saw them live, probably sometime around 1956, either at the Epsom Showgrounds or Carlaw Park, in one of the Showtime Spetaculars or something similar. Ronnie Sundin was also on the bill.
I changed my mind - they were just brilliant.
It is probably fitting that Gerry died in the Waikato as one of his greatest songs was 'The Battle of the Waikato'.
I see Sir Howard Morrison is quoted as saying "He was gold to me. I'm just absolutely devastated. He was just a great gift to Maoridom, to the world of music ... and a great example of the mana of his iwi."
He will be missed as one of the greats.
The Battle of the Waikato - penned by the incredible Gerry Merito -