Rest_In_Peace's current selection is:
French Letter
by Herbs, feat. Tama Renata, guitar
Tama Renata (1954 to 2018) was a New Zealand musician, with 'Herbs'. Tama Renata was born on June 6th 1954 in Tokomaru Bay, north of Gisborne, New Zealand. As a youngster, he would skip school to stay home and practise guitar, then play with the family bands up and down the East Coast. He ran away from home at 17 to go to Rotorua, where he played with the 'Senators' showband, and later had his own group called 'Bulldog'. He moved on, first to Christchurch then to Auckland, where he picked up gigs as and when he could, eventually joining the band 'Exit'. After that, he mainly explored 'jazz fusion' and 'funk', undertook more 'live' work and completed numerous studio sessions while in Auckland. He had first appeared as a non-member musician with the group 'Herbs' in 1982, on their second EP "Light Of The Pacific". By the early 1990s however, Renata had joined them full-time for the single release "Till We Kissed" (with guest vocalist Ray Columbus), but it was a resounding flop. However, it did get included on the 1993 compilation album "13 Years Of Herbs: The Best Of", which spent 10 weeks on the charts and peaked at No. 14. He then co-wrote the main love song "Here Is My Heart" for the 1994 movie "Once Were Warriors" (he also provided the memorable instrumental theme for it). Band member Charlie Tumahai even made a cameo appearance in the film as a 'karaoke' singer. For their next single, "Good For Life" (written for the "New Zealand Year of the Family" campaign of 1994), Renata and the other members employed some very Motown-ish sounds. Credited to 'Herbs and Friends', it featured backing vocals by three New Zealand stars - Suzanne Lynch (of 'Chicks' fame), 'Beaver' and Hammond Gamble. In 1995, after the French government resumed nuclear testing in the Pacific, they re-recorded previous hit "French Letter" (featured here), meant as a protest and reaching No. 9 on the NZ Singles chart. Past and present members of the group gathered alongside veterans of the 1981 Springboks rugby tour protests in the same year to meet South African president Nelson Mandela, performing the song "One Brotherhood" for him (written about both Maori land rights and that Springboks tour). Tragedy struck the band just before Christmas of that year however when Tumahai died from a massive heart attack, at the age of just 46. A tribute concert for him was held on Easter Sunday the following year, with the proceeds going to his family (other artists who took part included Dave Dobbyn, Annie Crummer and 'Hello Sailor'). From that point on, however, Renata and the group decided to make only occasional future appearances - these included the first New Zealand "Womad" in 1997, "Sweetwaters '99", and a gathering at the Australasian Performing Rights Association in 2001 to give their rendering of Dobbyn's "Slice Of Heaven" composition during a celebration of the 'Top 100 New Zealand Songs Of All Time'. He also joined the others in September 2012 as 'Herbs' became the 11th inductee into the "New Zealand Music Hall of Fame", awarded for their significant contribution to the country through their music. Tama Renata died in New Zealand on November 4th 2018, aged 64.
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Posted: 9th December 2018
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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