I grew up in, and still live in, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, a satellite city of the capital Wellington. Like your average satellite city, it can feel like a cultural vacuum, full of sprawling suburbia – if you want to see a gig or eat fancy cuisine, you go into the capital. Despite that, Lower Hutt has produced some famous people – my sister’s year group at intermediate school has already produced an Oscar winning actress (Anna Paquin), an Olympic track silver medallist, and a woman who was a member of parliament in her twenties.
Yet, our musical legacy is underwhelming, even while our bogan cousins in Upper Hutt contributed New Zealand’s best loved song of the 20th century:
Our biggest musical product of Lower Hutt is probably Brooke Fraser, who has produced some mainstream hits in New Zealand, but who is best known internationally for her worship songs. But for a city of more than 100,000 people our output isn’t much.
Two bands I’ve covered on this site recently are Buffalo Springfield and the Eagles. It’s not difficult to find links between the two groups – both were harmony-laden and dabbled in folk and country, and between the two band’s’ tenures, Richie Furay and Randy Meisner collaborated in Poco. There’s also another link – Stephen Stills, Bernie Leadon, and Don Felder all spent their youth in the same city- Gainesville, Florida.
But amazingly, they weren’t the only products of the city. Felder learned some of his guitar tricks from Duane Allman, who lived nearby and who played in the town’s battle of the band’s along with the other future stars, along with his brother Gregg. And when Felder turned to guitar teaching, his student who’d go onto achieve fame was Tom Petty. Petty’s band Mudcrutch included Tom Leadon, Bernie’s brother, while all of the original Heartbreakers were Gainesville locals.
I’m sure other small cities have also punched above their weight. How does your locale match up?