Harry Lyons | POPS ULTIMATE STAR | TV2 | tvnz.co.nz [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Harry Lyons

Harry Lyon - muso, mentor, and all around rock legend - has never really stopped to ask himself what his life might have been without music.

He found it, it was cool, and that was that: "I was lost to the cause."

Lyon started playing guitar at the tender age of 8, and found Elvis and The Beatles in his teens. By the time he burst onto the local music scene in 1975, the founding member of Hello Sailor was ready for the big time. He and his mates Graham Brazier and Dave McArtney didn't have to wait long.

In 1977, the band's self-titled album became the first locally-made New Zealand album to achieve gold record status. The rock gods had officially entered the building.

When the band split, in 1980, the guitarist, singer and songwriter was far from finished. Lyon went on to form Coup d'Etat, whose biggest hit was Doctor I Like Your Medicine.

The band's legendary live shows, for those lucky enough to be there, are stuff of legend. The classic Sailor tunes - Gutter Black, Blue Lady and Lyin' in the Sand, to name a few - remain some of the finest and most enduring of the day, or any day since.

In the years after that there were solo projects and films, collaborations and reformations. The most recent Hello Sailor album, When Your Lights Are Out, an unplugged, greatest hits-type offering, was released just last year.

The band's status as a rock institution is something Lyon puts down to hanging in there: "We won't go away.  We're still alive and performing - we're not a memory of something that used to be."

But it has been the muso's latest incarnation, as a music industry mentor, that has really kept him relevant. With his master degree in creative and performing arts from Auckland University to add to his obvious experience, Lyon was a natural pick to mentor up and coming musicians.

His current role is head contemporary music performance at the prestigious Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand. Goldenhorse, Stylus, Goodnight Nurse, The Twitch and The Mint Chicks are just a few of the talents to emerge from what he calls the "MAINZ mafia".

"If you look at the gig guide, it's just full of them," says the mentor.  "It's nice to give something back."

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