Country music legend John Grenell was born in 1944 in Dunedin. A self-taught country singer and entertainer he had his first national success on Have a Shot television contest in 1959. His first album was produced in 1963 and by the age of 19 he had sold 100,000 recordings. He has been a prolific recorder ever since. He changed his surname from Hore (his stepfather’s name) back to his family name, Grenell, in 1982.
Taking a break from performing
During the eighties he took a break to breed horses and raise a family in the Canterbury foothills, making a big comeback in 1990 with Welcome to our World. He won a number of awards including Country Vocalist of the Year and Country Record of the Year. He toured with Jim Reeves tributes shows and Country Legends tours, until he suffered a stroke in 2009.
The family created and ran the influential Whitecliffs Music Festival on their farm for twelve years (until 1995).
He and his children are in the process of becoming something of a South Island musical institution. His children Oakley, Redford, Amiria, and Denver have all become well known local musicians.
The family have also formed a number of bands together including:
- Psycho Puppets, (Redford, Oakley and Denver),
- The Otautahi Allstars are a musical project initiated by Oakley Grenell to record an album of his original tunes in Reggae style. (Oakley, Redford),
- Pupyip (Denver, Oakley, Redford and John),
- Amiria Grenell’s album Three Feathers (John, Oakley and Redford).