It is with great sadness that we announce the death Murdoch Riley. ,
Murdoch Riley passed away on Sunday. music industry legend Murdoch Riley, in his 96th year. Between ‘When My Wahine Does the Poi’, ‘Opo the Crazy Dolphin’, ‘The White Rabbit’ and ‘Do the Blue Beat’, the connection is Murdoch Riley. Viking, his independent record label founded in 1957, got some essential New Zealand music recorded and available to an eager public. He led, and public radio and multi-national major HMV followed.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, there were few people in the New Zealand music industry with his influence. Viking’s heyday was in the mid-60s, with stars such as Dinah Lee, the Chicks, Peter Posa, and Maria Dallas on the label.
Murdoch’s commitment to the label and his artists continued until the end. He also had other interests, such as his knowledge of Māori traditional medicine, and flora and fauna, which he shared in several scholarly books. He once described an early record man he worked with, Sid Vause, as providing a link from Edison cylinders to the rock’n’roll era. Murdoch Riley was a similar kaumatua, his career spanning from 1945 to 2022. At Broadcasting in the early 50s he scheduled the Lever Hit Parade (founded by Vause).
He ran Tanza in the late 50s, and understood the importance of digital archiving (the Viking masters are now held at the Alexander Turnbull Library). Murdoch Riley helped create the musical environment which we now experience in New Zealand