John Bisset

John Bisset was born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand on the 19th of November, 1947. John spent most of my childhood in Cambridge. He was given his first electric guitar and amp from another older brother, as payment for milking cows during his school holidays. John formed a band called ‘The Shadracks’ while still at Cambridge High School, playing mainly Ventures and Shadows covers. John left school at the end of 1963 and joined Hamilton band The Mods as rhythm guitarist and vocalist in 1964. The Mods played covers of the popular British bands of the era such as the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies and the Yardbirds. Later in the piece The Mods recruited Clive Coulson on vocals and included more R’n’B covers by bands like the Pretty Things.

In 1966, John joined Auckland band ‘The Action’, initially on rhythm guitar, later switching to keyboards. Evan Silva was recruited on lead vocals and the band changed direction to Motown and Soul material. The Action travelled to Sydney, Australia in 1967 and scored a residency at the Hawaiian Eye nightclub.

After The Action disbanded, John scored a gig with Levi Smith’s Clefs at the Whiskey Au Go Go, one of Sydney’s top venues. John started using a Hammond organ with a Leslie speaker for the first time and became a primary songwriter in the group. Levi Smith’s Clefs eventually went on the road to Melbourne and later parted company with lead singer Barrie McAskill to form ‘Fraternity’.

The Valentines lead singer Bon Scott was recruited on vocals. After a successful residency in Sydney at Jonathan’s night club Fraternity moved to Adelaide under the management of Hamish Henry. Hamish Henry had a stronghold on Adelaide nightclubs and was the promoter an financial backer for the famous 1971 Myponga Music Festival.

After recording two albums and winning the Hoadley’s Battle of The Sounds, Fraternity travelled to London in 1972.

John Bisset parted with Fraternity in 1973, when the group temporarily renamed themselves ‘Fang’. A majority of Fraternity would move back to Australia, but John Bisset remained in England. John had a short stint in Mungo Jerry before becoming a dairy farmer for Headley Farm, a polisher for Ronson Cigarettes, a Rugby player and a computer programmer for Pepper Construction (Saudi Arabia) and Shell Oil.

In 1981, John returned to Sydney and met bassist Bill McMahon through Fraternity bandmate John. John Bisset and Bill McMahon recruited guitarist Brett Hamlyn, vocalist Terry Barker and drummer John Affleck becoming ‘Diamond Cutter’. Diamond Cutter were signed to CBS records for a recording contract.

John returned to New Zealand in late 1983 throughout the 80s, John battled his demons and found Christianity. By 1988 John Bisset had formed a new version of The Mods with Kevin McNeil. The Mods II played the pubs around Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua and South Auckland. John returned to playing the guitar and discovered his love for Blues style music. In 2001, John was recruited by Bryon Steenson’s River Rockers and played many pub gigs and jazz and blues festivals with them until February 2007. John Bisset still writes and records music today in his Hurtle Music Studio.


Singles & EPs