Grim Ltd: Shakin' It Up At The Nicoberg

Grim Ltd: Shakin' It Up At The Nicoberg

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By 1965, British rhythm and blues groups The Pretty Things, Downliners Sect, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks had invaded New Zealand airwaves, reaching all the way to the impressionable young ears at Palmerston North Boys School. Grim Ltd were formed with Nick Williams on vocals, Mike Waldegrave and Clive Whelan on guitar, Donal McKenzie on Bass, and Peter Scott on drums. After playing their first gig at The Nicoberg Coffee Lounge, Grim quickly built a following in Palmy through appearances at The Flamingo and the popular Hep Dances held at St Pats Hall and the Astoria Ballroom.

Grim Ltd opened for touring acts including Ray Columbus and The Invaders, Dave Miller and The Byrds, The Breakaways, The Nusonics, and The Mustangs. They also backed Palmy’s own teen idol Mr. Lee Grant and Phillips Recording Artist “Gonk Girl” Jeannie Hartly.

In late 1965 a poll was held by John Frederick’s Top of the Pops column in the Manawatu Evening Standard to discover Palmy’s top group, with Grim Ltd topping the poll with nearly 1000 votes! The group then scored a residency at the Foxton Beach Boat Club Dances and attracted large crowds.

When Mike Waldegrave, Nic Williams, and Peter Scott left Grim Ltd to attend university, two members of popular Levin group Four Alone were recruited to join the band — Lee Murray Taylor on guitar and vocals, and John Van Der Reyden on drums.

Grim Ltd continued to gig around Manawatu and Wellington, but by August 1966 had decided to disband. Their final gig took them back to where it all began, at The Nicoberg Cafe on a balmy Sunday night. John — then working as a sound operator for the National Film Unit — recorded the final concert, but it remained unreleased for 57 years until now!

John Van Der Reyden went on to record sound for a number of NZ films and drummed for bands Cellophane and Sebastian’s Floral Array. Clive Whelan joined the Flares. Donal McKenzie and Mike Waldegrave later reunited in Christchurch with The Salvation Blues Band, releasing a single on Ventura in 1969. Lee Murray Taylor moved to the Gold Coast where he is still making music to this day with his blues band TaylorMade.

Primal garage rock from — who could have imagined? — Palmerston North! Droning and very raw, Grim Ltd were punk before the Velvets and Stooges got going. Mind blowing!
Garth Cartwright, Music Writer

“Raw, raucous and enjoyably abrasive 60s rock’n’roll R’n’B from Palmerston North! Who knew? A real discovery, an obscure band more punk and Pretty Things than Palmy.”
Graham Reid,

“Grim Ltd transform humble mid-sixties Palmerston North into an unlikely, strange, yet kick-ass South Pacific hybrid of Eel Pie Island and Velvets/Warhol era New York.”
Dr Ian Chapman, Music Writer

“There was clearly something elevating in the water in mostly flat Palmerston North in the mid-1960s given the raucous quality of much of the music coming out of the city. Grim Ltd have long been notable to collectors because of the handful of killer studio tracks that have turned up over the years, but these raw live tracks take that to another level. Imagine The Who’s ‘Substitute’ infused with The Pretty Things’ take-no-prisoners unfiltered brashness. It’s here.”
Simon Grigg,

“Wow! Frenzy have uncovered a real gem here. Garage rock to rival the best from the 60s, with energy and attitude to burn."
Chris Caddick former Managing Director of EMI New Zealand