Monday, 08 Jan 2018

Influential Kiwi musician Buster Stiggs passes away

Photo: Buster Stiggs, Phil Judd, and Bones Hillman as the Swingers in 1979. Courtesy of Audioculture.

It is with great sadness that we learn of Buster Stiggs' passing after a brave and lengthy battle with illness. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Stiggs, whose real name was Mark Hough, was best known as a member of new Zealand punk pioneers The Suburban Reptiles, and then The Swingers, before heading off for an international stint with Australian band Models.

He was close friends with Phil Judd and Neil Finn, and a lively member of the Split Enz crowd while he studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in the late 70s. Elam was also where he met his fellow Suburban Reptiles band mates, and became their drummer.

Stiggs later instigated The Swingers, joining up again with Phil Judd and a former Reptiles member Bones Hillman, and moved to Australia to pursue stardom. He wrote and recorded Counting The Beat with the other two, but left the band and joined Models before the song became an international hit.

After eight months with Models, Stiggs decided to hang up his drum sticks and return to his other love: art and graphic design. He initially worked in the merchandising division at Mushroom Records, and went on to create a great many tour posters, album covers, and t-shirt designs for a variety of bands, while also continuing to write songs and occasionally perform in different guises.

It was a pleasure to have Stiggs back in New Zealand in 2015 for the APRA Silver Scroll Awards, where Counting The Beat was belatedly awarded the "lost" Silver Scroll for 1981, and mark the song's incredible success.

"Everyone here at APRA is saddened to hear of the loss of Buster Stiggs, a true iconic figure in the history of NZ music. It was our great pleasure to honour him at the 2015 Silver Scroll Awards for his role in writing the 1981 classic Counting the Beat. All our thoughts go out to his friends and family" says Head of NZ operations Anthony Healey.

Thanks to Audioculture for the biographical information. Read more about the life and legacy of Buster Stiggs HERE.

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