Famous McNatty family members

Garry McNatty

Southland Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee

Garry McNatty's scrapbook is bulging with mementoes of a life lived in the spotlight to the sound of warm applause. Chris Chilton talks to a Southland Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer.

Here he is up on the cross, bloodied, tormented and near naked underneath a crown of thorns. It's Garry McNatty's big scene in the lead role of Jesus Christ Superstar and he's living every line in the rock opera's climactic song, Crucifixion. He sings: "God, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. Who is my mother? Where is my mother? ..." He pauses for dramatic effect. There is expectant silence in Invercargill's Civic Theatre auditorium. Suddenly a distraught little voice cries out from the back stalls. "I'm up here, Garry." It's McNatty's mother, Irene. It's all Jesus can do to keep from losing it.***Garry McNatty was born to be on the stage. A strikingly good-looking lad back in the day, he had a depth and quality in his voice that carried a tune and commanded attention. His home was full of music, and it was natural that he'd end up immersed in it.

He lived on a farmlet right next to one owned by Merv Cook's parents, at Taramoa, 15km north-west of Invercargill. Russell Lee was also in the district. The three were schoolmates. They all took piano lessons together but McNatty admits he was no great chops on the old joanna, or even the drums, which he ended up playing in bands for many years. Singing came more naturally to him. Young McNatty would wander round the paddocks on the farm, singing Oh Mein Papa at the top of his lungs. Occasionally the neighbouring farmer would yell out, "that's bloody good, Garry". McNatty has always liked to turn it on for an appreciative audience. Naturally, Cook, Lee and McNatty started a group. McNatty was 14 years old. They won a talent quest at Riverton and moved on up to playing local Women's Division Federated Farmers dos, rugby club gigs and 21sts. In early 1963, Lindsay Yeo and George Garden joined the group and they became the Teen Beat Five. By default McNatty was the drummer, and everybody in the band sang.

The group became popular for playing all the latest hits – the Beatles, Hollies, John Rowles, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck – which Merv Cook would record off Neville Chamberlain's Monday night radio show Cham The Man on his tape recorder. The band members would discuss arrangements on the school bus the following morning and practise them on Tuesday nights. Teen Beat Five played country hall gigs all over Southland: Taramoa, Waianiwa, Oreti, Makarewa, Tussock Creek, Morton Mains ... Friday nights they were at Bluff. They played the Alexandra holiday camp one Christmas and it became an annual gig. They started working crowds of up to 1500 people when they got a regular spot playing alternate Saturday nights at the Invercargill RSA. McNatty was getting a real taste for it. When the Teen Beat Five broke up in 1967 McNatty was recruited to be the frontman for ace city band The Farthings, replacing the original singer Margaret Daley. By the early 70s he was in Climax, formerly Set 71, one of the city's genuine supergroups, and a rival for the legendary Vision. While Vision were firmly ensconced in a 16-year residency at the Whitehouse at Lorneville, on the northern outskirts of Invercargill, Climax were the house band at the Waikiwi pub, a few kilometres closer to the city. In that band were Vern Jenkins, Danny Johnson, "the other" Dave Kennedy and his brother Ian, from the Echophonics. Later the lineup included a couple of stellar English imports, guitarist Maurice Cook (from Max Merritt and the Meteors, Mike Perjanik and Billy J Kramer) and Hammond organ session player Rob Lovack (Slade and a host of British rock bands). "It was a great band. It had a real good sound," says McNatty. "We were in big competition with the Vision." One of his "competitors" was his former Farthings bandmate Bob Daley, who went on to be Vision's lead guitarist for 41 years. Today they're neighbours at Otatara. Mates stick together.GARRY McNATTY's musical career was on an upwards trajectory when the swinging 60s rocked into the 1970s. By day he was doing a fitter-turner apprenticeship. By night he was in the spotlight, entertaining hundreds, even thousands of people, and getting paid for it. The applause and all the fringe benefits were intoxicating for a young man. He loved performing with a passion – "knowing that you were doing something that people were getting great enjoyment out of".

It wasn't a shock when he decided to test himself on a bigger stage by entering the national talent quest Joe Brown's Search For The Stars. About 3000 entertainers tried out in a series of regional elimination heats, with the best going on to contest the grand prize in Rotorua. McNatty and Anne Rutherford were both chosen from the Invercargill heat to go to Rotorua. They were up against the likes of high-profile New Zealand entertainers Bunny Walters and Tom Sharplin. Walters finished second. McNatty was fourth. "I was pretty elated about it," McNatty says. "It was a big thing at the time, being up there with the big names." Part of his prize was supposed to be a week-long stint performing at the Isa Lei Hotel in Suva, "one of the greatest hotels in the South Pacific". He had his bags packed ready to go when he got a telegram telling him the trip was on hold because of some issue with the promoters. "There was the chance of the bigger time there," McNatty says. "There probably would have been a recording contract at the end of that, so that ruined my chances there." Instead, the prize package was turned into some national television appearances, including a guest spot on hit show Happen Inn, hosted by Peter Sinclair. He had to be at the CHTV-3 studio in Gloucester St, Christchurch, at 10am on Friday, August 6, 1971, dressed in "clothes in current fashion", according to the letter from producer Kevan Moore. McNatty was to do two numbers on the show. He recalls one of them was the Humperdinck hit The Way It Used To Be. His fee was the princely sum of $20. Before he sang, McNatty was interviewed in front of the studio audience by Sinclair. As requested, he had prepared "a small spoken biography", but Sinclair flustered McNatty when he asked him to explain what he did. "I'm a maintenance engineer," replied McNatty. "A maintenance engineer," mused Sinclair. "What does a maintenance engineer do?" "It completely threw me from what I'd prepared. The harder I thought trying to explain what a maintenance engineer was the more I realised the cameras were rolling and the longer it seemed. "I said in the end, `he pulls things to pieces and puts them together again'.

"The interview didn't go too well but the numbers went pretty well," McNatty says. "It was so bloody daunting to know that you were live."IN 1988 his old mate, assistant director Merv Cook, talked McNatty into trying out for the Invercargill Operatic Society's 16-show season of Jesus Christ Superstar. "I said, `yeah, I've probably got a chance of doing something in the chorus', and he said `shit no, have a go at the lead role'." McNatty got the part. He rates it one of the highlights of his musical career. "It was a completely different scenario than playing in a band with five band members around you. You really had to step up ... you had to know what you were doing. There was a hell of a lot of learning." It was the biggest lead role he's ever done. He's sung in a swag of Southland productions and musical theatre shows since, but being the central figure in a monster production like Superstar has clearly left a major impression on him. McNatty doesn't mind admitting that he can get emotional on stage, whether it be interpreting the meaning of a song or being overcome by the circumstances of a show.

The Teen Beat Five revival on September 25 will be a particularly tough one, he admits, because it will be the last. They've had reunions before – a 25th anniversary at the Oreti Hall in 1988 and the Waianiwa School's 125th jubilee, a couple of Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame shows in the past few years – but this gig will be the final time the old friends and schoolmates from the Teen Beat Five will perform together on stage. "I've had some tremendous times," McNatty says. "If I had my life over again I'd do it again ... I wouldn't have it any other way."

Cached from http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/features/4069017/Leading-man


Dr KP McNatty frsnz

Dr McNatty received his MSc (1st Hons) degree at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in chemistry and his PhD in Reproductive Biology at the University of Edinburgh, UK with Professor Roger Short, Director of the then MRC Unit of Reproductive Biology. The subject of his PhD thesis was 'Steroid Production by Human Ovaries in Culture'. From this work he developed the hypothesis that the granulosa cells and oocyte in individual developing ovarian follicles contain a unique endocrine microenvironment at any moment in time and that each follicle responds to the gonadotrophins individually and not identically. Following his PhD studies Dr McNatty undertook postdoctoral studies continuing his work on human ovaries at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA with the late Professor Ken Ryan (1977-1979). In 1980/81 he was awarded the Boerhaave Professorship at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands where he worked with Professor Steve Hillier on assessing ovarian follicular function during the late luteal/early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Since 1982, apart from sabbatical leave, Dr McNatty has been a Science Programme Leader in Reproductive Biology at the Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, Upper Hutt. In 1992 he was the recipient of the McMeekan Award for contributions to animal production research and in 1993 was awarded a DSc in physiology from Victoria University of Wellington for his achievements in animal reproductive biology. In recent years, the major focus of his research has been to elucidate the physiological mechanisms in sheep with naturally occurring genetic mutations that lead to sterility or increased ovulation rates. Dr McNatty has been privileged to be part of a team that has identified mutations in two oocyte-derived growth factors as well as a growth factor receptor present on both oocytes and granulosa cells. These findings, together with follow-up physiological studies, have established that the oocyte actively contributes to the unique endocrine microenvironment within each follicle and plays a major role in regulating ovulation rate, at least, in some species.

Reference This information is reproduced from the personal profile page of the Royal Society of New Zealand with the permission of Dr Ken McNatty



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