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Ed Sheeran

Rehu loved to play
Photo: Max Stowers Facebook.

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New Zealand music has lost one of its giants with the death of pianist and bandleader Rufus Rehu at the age of 81.

Rehu was born in Rotorua but raised in Ponsonby, where he formed his first band the Crescendos in 1958.

He was also a founder member of the Quin Tikis and the Māori Premiers, switching from showbands to rock in 1967 when he returned from Australia to join Wellington band Quincy Conserve.

Music historian John Dix says Rehu’s longest gig was at the Alhambra Restaurant and bar in Ponsonby’s Three Lamps, where he occupied the piano stool for 17 years until it closed in 2006.

"He loved playing with people. He loved entertaining people, and he was a one-man jukebox. And he was a great bandleader - he picked his musos. He played with probably every major jazz singer New Zealand has produced, Beaver, Linn Lorkin, Tommy Adderley, Truda Chadwick, on and on, they all liked to sing with Rufus," Mr Dix says.

A service for Rufus Tukere Te Haaki Rehu will be held tomorrow at Waikumete Cemetery, with a memorial at Grey Lynn RCS to follow.

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