History of Tauranga’s Own Music Sensation The Hammonds

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The Hammonds

The Hammonds music phenomenon began on their six-week voyage en route from Ireland to New Zealand when they emigrated here in 1973. Six weeks cooped up on a ship with six kids would test any parents, so the quest was on to find something to keep them out of trouble.

That’s how Jim and Pat Hammond came to enter their children Steven (16), Wendy (15),
John (14), Noel (12), Tony (11) and Alice (8) – in the ship’s talent contest where they won a landslide victory.

Making of The Hammonds

When the family eventually settled in Tauranga, they explored this newfound talent by
entering Studio One’s New Faces, a TV talent show in 1974 where they were runners up
with an original song “Amber” written by a cousin back in Ireland. After the TV appearance,
offers for gigs came pouring in, so many in fact that Jim and Pat had to hire a professional
manager. The Hammonds signed a recording contract with EMI and released an LP in time
for the Christmas market.

At the end of the year and during the school holidays, the Hammond’s packed their bags
and hit the road on an 11-day entertainment circuit of the North Island’s holiday spots.

The Hammonds Career Highlights

They performed with notable musicians such as Erana Clark (now vocal mentor behind the scenes on Australia’s Idol show), Bunny Walters, Craig Scott and the In-Betweens. Things got even more exciting when they returned home to Tauranga to discover they had been signed as the support act for “the big O”, Roy Orbison in the Auckland Town Hall in 1975.

Later, they supported Split Enz with another band called Short Notice.

One of the most memorable and high-profile engagements for The Hammonds was in their role as the “face” of an advertising campaign to educate kiwis on how to use the new
decimal currency and metric measurement in 1976.

A big deal came along in the form of an overseas contract with an agency in America but Pat and Jim decided against signing this, fearing the family would end up perpetually on the road with all the negative consequences associated with this life.

As the Hammond children got older and one by one left school and took up full time trades
and got full time jobs or careers, it became more and more difficult to practice. So, the
family that was often compared to the Partridge Family or the Osmonds, slowly stopped
playing and public appearances became fewer and fewer until they finally ceased
performing commercially as a family group.

Even though they stopped performing as a family group, individual Hammonds still appeared in the music scene. John and Steve both played with Keith Urban at a charity
event, and there were events like Telethons and TV shows like Stars on Sunday where they
appeared.

The eight Hammonds that got off the boat in Auckland in 1974, has now increased to 26
with a grand total of 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren for Pat and Jim. Sadly, Mum Pat passed away in January 2016 but she couldn’t have been happier with her life
which had totally centred around her family unit.

Where Are They Today?

Today both John, Steven and youngest Alice live in Brisbane where John runs property and
motor businesses and Steven is involved in hospitality and still owns a hotel in Toowoomba.

Alice works in Brisbane for an orthopaedic company as a Finance and Property Manager and is based in Brisbane for the last seven and a half years with her husband Richard and two adult children. Wendy operates her own travel business in Auckland for many years, while Noel and Tony still live in Tauranga. Tony, of course, is well-known about town for being the owner of Tony Hammond Motors for over 32-years on Cameron Road.

Despite the family being widespread, everyone keeps in close contact and reunites in
Tauranga on regular occasions, in particular to maintain contact with their father James who has achieved a great young age of 83.

Source: The Right Note: An insight into Tauranga’s Historic Music Scene by Graham Clark,
2015