Space Waltz

Space Waltz was a New Zealander art-rock band that released a self-titled album on EMI in 1975.

Members: Alastair Riddell (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Eddie Rayner (piano, Hammond organ, Mellotron, synthesizer), Greg Clark (electric guitar), Peter Cuddihy (bass), Brent Eccles (drums)

Background

Riddell (b. 1952; Auckland) got his musical start as the guitarist and singer of the Original Sun Blues Band, an outfit inspired by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with a name lifted from American bluesman Son House. They also featured guitarist Henry Jackson, bassist Peter Kershaw, and Alastair’s brother, drummer Ron Riddell. After the departures of Jackson and Kershaw, the brothers hired bassist Peter Cuddihy and trimmed the band name to Original Sun, now a powertrio in the mold of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. They never reached a studio.

Riddell enrolled at Auckland University, where in 1971 he formed Orb, a psychedelic rock band with Kershaw and keyboardist Anthony Eddie Rayner (b. 1952; Lower Hutt, Wellington), drummer Paul Emlyn Crowther, and lead guitarist Paul Wally Wilkinson. Their setlist featured “Seabird,” a Riddell original. In August 1972, they played the Auckland University Arts Festival.

Orb rubbed shoulders with Split Ends, an English-style Auckland act that competed on Season 1 of New Faces, a TVNZ talent program. In mid-1973, Split Ends drafted Wilkinson. By early 1974, Crowther joined the Ends camp, where the members adopted their middle names.

Rayner joined Split Ends by March 1974 but retained ties with Riddell and his current band, Stewart & The Belmonts, an all-covers act with Cuddihy, guitarist Greg Clark, and drummer Brent Eccles. To jump-start their rebrand as an all-originals act, they entered Season 2 of New Faces under a new name, Space Waltz. They performed “Out on the Street” in the prelims and “Beautiful Boy” in the finals. In the latter, Riddell roused viewers with his androgynous image, inspired by David Bowie‘s recent glam-rock iterations.

Space Waltz signed with the New Zealand branch of EMI, which issued their first single, “Out On the Street” (b/w “Angel”) in late 1974. It reached No. 1 on the Recorded Music NZ chart. For the ensuing tour, Split Ends bassist Jonathon Michael Chunn deputized Cuddihy.


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