Cockroach original lineup, 1979. L to R, Paul Norman, Dimitri Edmonds, Dennis McCann, John Donoghue, Richard Rua Mason, Haywood Norman.
THE UNDERGROUND YEARS
LEAD VOCAL: Richard Rua Mason
LEAD GUITAR: John Donoghue
GUITAR AND VOCALS: Paul Norman
PERCUSSION AND VOCALS: Dennis McCann
BASS GUITAR: Dimitri Edmonds
DRUMS: Haywood Norman
Following the 1975 decision to retire from my overground recording career and drop off the grid for a while, I returned to Northland
NZ, my place of birth.
By the winter of 1976 I had become a commercial fisherman, longlining out of Houhora with old Cheshire Katt chum Dennis, on his boat "Avalon."
In 1977 I moved even further North to live at Te Hapua, at New Zealand's North Cape.
It was at Te Hapua where, later the same year, "Cockroach" was founded, a band formed to
raise funds toward helping the local Iwi, Ngati Kuri, fight an illegal land grab that involved forestry on sacred land around the north coast of New Zealand.
Cockroach's first fundraising appearance
was at Awanui, in the Far North of New Zealand, on 7th October, 1977.
The campaign was to have an successful outcome and inspired the band to stay together.
We soon began writing and performing our own material, and with song titles such as "Rainy nights in Ngauranga," "Moonrise Rangaunu Bay," "Where the Spirits Leap" and "Rangatahi," the band began to take on a fearless homegrown edge.
Cockroach quickly outgrew the Far North and In 1978 shifted it's base of operations to Whangarei, where we recruited local businessman Paul Marshall
as band manager.
Under Paul's management the band soon outgrew Northland as well and began making appearances in Auckland and beyond.
were to make a big splash at the 1979 Nambassa Rock Festival, playing the Mainstage twice and making extra appearances by popular demand.
Regular trips to Auckland followed and the band also
made appearances at most of the major rock festivals held in the upper North Island at the time. It was looking like the psychedelic juggernaut that was Cockroach was unstoppable.
The band recorded
one single for Ode Records, at Mandrill Studios in Auckland.
More recordings were supposed to follow. Unfortunately, despite committed management, bits began to fall off the
juggernaut and by 1979 the original lineup had fractured.
This was to mark the beginning of the end for this unique, extraordinary adventure.
A new lineup was formed to honour contractual obligations and perform alongside American Blues legend Bo Diddly at the Helensville Rock Festival of 1980.
gigs followed and the psychedelic circus stumbled on, but with the original chemistry missing and the new band now crippled with debt, it was beginning to feel like a lost cause.
Finally at Easter
1980 I joined the other Cockroaches deserting the sinking ship and fled to Wellington.
Another Cockroach lineup was formed for the 1981 Nambassa Rock Festival.
Several more lineups followed until finally, in 1983, the band was downsized into a three-piece, featuring Richard Rua Mason, Derek Barnston and Brent Andrews.
was then re-named "Rockcoach," and was to become the original "Electric Puha" Band. (see History Part Four - Electric Puha)
To see Cockroach's original lineup performing in Philip Howe's movie "Nambassa" click here