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Dalvanius Prime and the early years

Dalvanius Prime found fame in New Zealand music following the groundbreaking single Poi E in 1983, although he’d spent most of the previous decade working and recording in Australia. This episode of RareCollections looks at the great records he cut during the early part of his career.

Born in Taranaki, New Zealand in 1948, Dalvanius' first band were the Olympics. They wore Beatle wigs and played a killer version of Wooly Bully. Moving to Wellington he became involved in the local music scene and became pianist and arranger for The Shevelles who enjoyed a local hit single in 1968 with Beat The Clock. Around this time Dalvanius formed the first incarnation of The Fascinations with his brother Edward and sister Barletta, and they gigged around Wellington performing soul inspired music.

In 1970 The Shevelles travelled to Sydney and Dalvanius went with them. His musical talents and outgoing personality quickly won him many friends in the industry including members of the band Sherbet. In 1973 when his sister Barletta moved to Sydney they decided to reform The Fascinations. The group signed a recording deal with Reprise and in 1974 released a couple of soul covers Love Train and Respect Yourself that had been recent hits for the O’Jay’s and the Staple Singers.

In 1975 they joined Sherbet on their Life Is For Living national tour. Later that year they moved to the Infinity label and reworked another Staple Singers hit—Washington I’m Watching You—into a cheeky single in the wake of the Whitlam dismissal titled Canberra, We’re Watching You.

In 1976 Dalvanius was introduced to a New Zealand funk band called Collision. He helped make arrangements for the group to travel to Sydney and work a residency in Kings Cross at Les Girls. The Fascinations and Collision were soon playing together regularly around town. Through 1977 and 1978 they gigged heavily and supported touring soul acts like the Spinners, Osibisa, Tina Turner and the Commodores. There was interest in the group moving overseas but sadly Collision split up towards the end of 1978 just as their debut self titled LP was about to hit the shops.

Dalvanius - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love - live TV 1986

Dalvanius and the Fascinations continued to tour Australia, South East Asia and New Zealand but as the '70s came to an end he moved back to New Zealand. Taking in the advice the Sherbets manager had told him to forget about singing soul covers and try to find a Polynesian sound that reflected his cultural roots. This turned out to be sage advice and from the early '80s onwards he enjoyed a string of successes beginning with Maori’s on 45 and culminating with the Patea Maori Club’s number one hit Poi E.

Australias Radio National

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