Murray Ardern

Murray on his current steel guitar (Emmons)

Murray on his current steel guitar (Emmons)

 You are listening to “Buckaroo” originally by Buck Owens & the Buckaroos

Videos of Murray on his Emmons steel guitar and a lap steel at the 2005 Brisbane Steel Guitar Club where was guest artist. Judged best on the night by the judges.

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Murray is the eldest son of Robert Lear Ardern & Winifred Mabel Merrick of Tauranga, New Zealand. (Great grandson of Giles Ardern of Cheshire, Eng).

Born in 1937, he came from a musical family background and learnt to play the Pedal Steel Guitar at a young age.

Murray started his own band when he was just 14 years of age.

Playing a Janson Electric with pedals

Playing a Janson Electric with pedals

His band was known for playing Hawaiian music and popular music of the time.

In the 1960s, he formed another band called ‘The Supertones’. This band played everything from Island Music to Popular music from the 50s & 60s and were great with Rock ‘n’ Roll. People used to travel for miles around to attend dances venues & performances that his band played at.

He later formed a new group called ‘Desiree’ in 1977. As with the ‘Supertones’, he continued to not only play for their own gigs or bookings, but was in great demand to back many up & coming artists at the time, as well as some old favourites like Tex Morton, when he visited New Zealand and requested Murray to back him…

‘Desiree’ was a Show-band capable of holding it’s own with the best in New Zealand. He also started the Tauranga Country & Western group and was instrumental in helping start other Country & Western groups New Zealand wide.

Age 14 playing a Loue Hollow Neck Lap Steel

Age 14 playing a Loue Hollow Neck Lap Steel

In the early 1980s, he decided to shift to Australia to live in Queensland, and he thought there might be better music opportunities over there as well, and in 1982, he formed the ‘Country Knights’ Show-band, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and this band played at venues like the Cherribah Resort at Warwick, and the Terranora Lakes Country Club, etc, and were in great demand all over the state of Queensland.

He has also taught music to both private individuals and at schools, both in New Zealand and in Australia, and although he has slowed down, because of health issues now, and no longer has a band, he still plays periodically at selected venues using electronic backing music to supplement the sound of his Pedal Steel Guitar. – Graeme Ardern

A Profile of Murray Ardern – by Ruth Ardern

Playing a Electric Hawaiian Lap Steel

Playing a Electric Hawaiian Lap Steel

(Written for the Magazine ‘Steel Addicts’)

Murray began playing a steel guitar at the age of 14 yrs, and won his first talent quest around the same age. Unfortunately, teachers were few and far between in New Zealand, so Murray is really ‘self taught’ especially when it came to pedals

Over the years he has formed many bands, and most of them were never out of work. He has backed a number of artists, among whom was Tex Morton who used Murray to record a song he composed called Beautiful Queensland.
Other names were Maria Dallas, Brendan Dougan, Patsy Rigger, Suzanne Prentice, Peter Posa and more. All of these artists were from NZ.

The Australian side came later when Murray and his family arrived in Brisbane in 1981. The first band he joined was Blue Kentucky in Brisbane who used to back up Bill and Bluey Masters, John McSweeney and others.
Dave Reynolds used Murray on his album ‘Second Time Around’.

Murray's band Desiree posing with Patsy Riggir

Murray’s band Desiree posing with Patsy Riggir

Murray is a versatile player who can play anything from Hawaiian to Country to 50’s & 60’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.

As the photos show, the progression from lap steel to pedal steel was done slowly but surely as the commitments to his family allowed.

Murray has taught rhythm guitar, bass guitar, ukelele, banjo, and pedal steel guitar. Because Murray has a patient personality, he makes a good teacher and has had countless pupils over the years.

His pedal steel has been his main love all of his life, but one thing Murray never did was put the steel before his family commitments. A drunk once said to Murray, at a big show in Auckland, that he would never make it to the top because he wouldn’t step on the right toes and he always put his family first. I guess that drunk was right, but Murray never regretted it.

Playing his Fender Cable Pedal Steel

Playing his Fender Cable Pedal Steel

Murray formed the Country Knights show band in Brisbane in 1984 and they played at many resorts such as Cherribah Resort at Warwick, Terranora Lakes Country Club, and were in great demand throughout South East Queensland. They also toured to Mount Isa for a time.

One of Murray’s NZ bands in 1966 won the New Zealand Ballroom Dancing Competition and although Murray didn’t consider his band to be a Ballroom Dance Band, they did very well.

The acoustic lap steel is still in our keeping and Murray used to put it on his bike to go lessons after school. It is still in the original case, and remember he was 14 yrs old when he got it and he’s 65 yrs old now. It was given to him by an Uncle who bought it for his daughter who didn’t want to learn so Murray got it. It was 2nd hand then! It has 6 strings and is approximately 100 years old now. It used to belong to a guy in Auckland who used to teach guitar. Murray said he also thinks it came from Hawaii originally.

What a man – my man! – Ruth Ardern

Murray playing his Emmons at the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club Festival - Feb 05

Murray playing his Emmons at the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club Festival – Feb 05


Murray playing a lap Steel at the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club Festival - Feb 05

Murray playing a lap Steel at the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club Festival – Feb 05