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Pops Ultimate Star

Kim Willoughby

Kim Willoughby is New Zealand's original pop princess, a self-confessed "rock chick" who grew up in a recording studio.

"My dad was a drummer so I grew up with music. Mum tells stories about him going to rehearsal and he'd take me and I'd sleep in the bottom drawer in the rehearsal room!"

After leaving Auckland's Birkdale College, Kim fronted the post-punk pop band Gurlz. Being so young caused Kim a few problems around town.

"When I first started singing I was underage. A lot of the bouncers in Auckland knew that, and so my Mum had to come along to the shows and supervise!"

Gurlz won the coveted Battle of the Bands, with the prize of an EP recording at Harlequin Studios. There was so much work, Kim left her day job to become a full-time performer.

She has never looked back. She performed with Kiwi greats DD Smash and the Pink Flamingos, and alongside Billy T James on his weekly show. She also starred in cult classic movie Queen City Rocker.

In 1986 she joined Annie Crummer, Debbie Harwood, Dianne Swann and Margaret Urlich in When the Cat's Away, an all-female cover group that became an entertainment phenomenon.

The Cats are still the most successful female live music act in New Zealand entertainment history. The group was awarded Listener Film and Television Awards for 'Entertainers of the Year' and 'Documentary of the Year' in 1988 and also took out the coveted 'Group of the Year' award at the NZ Music Awards in 1989.

Their hits include Leader of The Pack, Sanctified, Free Ride and the 1988 Gold No1 hit single Melting Pot. Their live album 'When the Cat's Away - Live' also achieved Gold status.

They toured the country numerous times in the late 1980s, breaking attendance and turnover records, and playing to an audience of 250,000.

A reunion tour in 2002 sold out shows everywhere, including three nights at Auckland's Aotea Centre. A live album of the tour earned them a platinum disc.

Kim still performs regularly with her three bands When The Cat's Away, The Kim Willoughby Band and The Golden Kiwis, and runs a personal styling business in her home town of Napier.