Phil Garland was a respected and well-loved folk musician from New Zealand. In the Queen’s 2014 Birthday Honours, he was given the Queen’s Service Medal due to his services to folk music. Many Kiwis considered him to be the father of New Zealand’s folk music scene. He passed away on the 15th March 2017, at the age of 75.
How Did His Love for Music Come About?
When he was a teenager, he went to watch a screening of “Rock Around the Clock”, which was a musical film directed by Bill Haley. He was so inspired by what he saw that night that he sold his stamp collection so that he could purchase his first guitar. He then learnt how to play the guitar, and the rest, as they like to say, is history.
In 1965, he went to the United Kingdom armed with six folk songs that he had written. He returned home the following year with the aim of writing folk songs about his country’s colonial past, so that nobody would forget what happened. He also wrote songs about major historical events such as the Tangiwai disaster, the Waikato riverbanks being cleared by bushmen, and mining for gold in Otago.
In 1977, he produced a musical documentary that was such a success he was awarded with an international award. He also won “Folk Album of the Year” in 1984 and in 2007. At the time of his death he had produced 19 albums and had written six interesting books.
His fellow countrymen loved his songs as they could relate to what he was singing about. During his funeral on the 24th March 2017, which was attended by many people, his beloved Gibson 12-string guitar that he bought later on in his music careers stood at the front of the church.
He Had Other Interests Besides Music Though
As an extremely talented musician, many might think that he had no interest in other things such as sports, but this was not the case. He was actually a big fan of rugby and cricket and would always do his best to keep up with what was happening with New Zealand rugby and cricket.
Whenever he needed a break from his music career, he loved nothing more than sitting down and watching a game of cricket or rugby. These are two of the main sports in New Zealand, and you will be hard pushed to find a Kiwi that doesn’t like them, so it will come as no surprise to hear that he was a big fan of both.