Billy Kristian (Wiremu Aata Te Rangi-amoa Karaitiana) comes from a family of entertainers. His father, Kahu Kuranui was a tenor of repute, who worked with Peter
Logan and his Hawaiin Serenaders, Tommy and Rose Kahi, Martin Winiata, The Tui’s with Monty Graham, The Katherine Dunham Show, and Porgy & Bess with Inia Te Wiata 1964.
Billy’s mother Violet Edith was an expert of the Hula and led a troupe of dancers and
singers on many shows throughout the forties, fifties and sixties. Violet was also wardrobe mistress for Katherine Dunham when her show toured New Zealand, Australaia and Asia including, performing for the American troops at the front line in the Korean war 1957. Billy’s dad was singing for Katherine Dunham on the same tour.
Billy ’s career started in New Zealand in 1958 when a young man called Ray Columbus asked him to join his band, which he did.This band did not last very long and billy moved on to join Saki and the Jive Five, 1959,60,61 Max Merritt and the Meteors, in 1962 Ray Columbus and the Invaders, then he rejoined Max Merritt and the Meteors.
The Keil Isles were next, followed by the C’Mon Showband and the Jimmy Sloggett Band. In 1969 Billy left for Hong Kong to join Renaissance International whom he worked with for 2 years. On his return to New Zealand 1971, he was asked by his long time friend Tommy Adderley to join the Headband. This band played many tours throughout the country. 1973 post Headband saw the forming of Kristian,Walker, Hamlet and Hill for Jock Ruddock’s Tainui Tavern featuring Billy Kristian, Michael McLean Walker, Chris Hamlet Thompson and Ian James Hill (Jimmy Hill).
Billy went to Australia in 1975 and joined Billy Thorpe’s Million Dollar Bill featuring Gil Matthews (the rat), Warren Morgan (the pig), Derek Griffiths (the pom), Mel Logan (the keyboards) and Billy Kristian (the big kahuna). In 1976 Billy made his way overland to London from Kathmandu where he and some friends, Chris Thompson and Michael Walker formed Filthy McNasty, a blues band which played at the
Bridgehouse in east Canning Town E16. This band featured Stevie Lange, Geoff Whitehorn, Clive Edwards and later Robbie McIntosh who went on to play with the Pretenders,Paul McCartney’s Wings, Nora Jones and John Meyer.
Pacific Eardrum was the next band billy joined 1977. Formed by Dave McCrae and Joy Yates this band recorded 2 albums and featured Dave McCrae keys, Joy Yates vocals, Jim Cuomo alto sax, Isaac Guillhory guitar & vocals, Billy Kristian on bass and Jeff Seopardi on drums. Brian Smith joined Pacific Eardrum for the 2nd album.
While in England Billy was doing session work with some of Londons top musicians and joined Ian Carr’s Nucleus, featuring Ian Carr on trumpet, Brian Smith tenor sax, Roger Sellars drums, Geoff Castle keyboards and Billy Kristian on bass. Not forgetting Alf..........
Billy performed with Nucleus at the 1st Jazz Yatra in Bombay (now known as Mumbai) India 1978. Filthy Mc Nasty signed a deal for 2 Albums for worldwide release with Richard Perry of Planet Records. Two songs off the 1st album went in to the Billboard Top Twenty. Hot Summer Night at no.18 and If you Remember me at no.17. While recording the 1st album in Los Angeles, the name of the band was changed to NIGHT. Musicians on this album were Chris Thompson, Stevie Lange, Billy Kristian, Robbie McIntosh, Rick Marrotta, Nicky Hopkins, Michael McDonald, Bill Payne, Jimmy Johnson, Bobby LaKind, Steve Porcaro and Vince Melamed. Album 2 featured Bobby Wright and Bobby Guidotti, Kevin Savigar with Vicky Brown and Kay Garner on backing vocals along with Chris Thompson, Stevie Lange, Billy Kristian, Robbie McIntosh.
Credit due also, to Tim Schaefer and Nicky Hopkins who toured with NIGHT for 3 months, as support for the Doobie Bros. Summer Tour 1979. Billy returned home to N.Z. in 1983 and started the band Billboard to work for John Tabla at Club 21 in Queen St, Auckland. He started by asking Geoff Castle if he would come to NZ and join the band, he did, so the band was Billy Kristian bass, Geoff Castle keys, Brian Smith tenor sax, Ian Frazer drums, Martin Winch guitar, Beaver and Barry Saunders on vocals.
Billy next managed Mascot Recording Studios built by Doug Jane for Hugh Lynn. While there he produced 2 albums for Pacific / reggae band, Herbs. The 1st. album “Long Ago” went Gold, and the 2nd. album “Sensitive to a Smile” went Platinum. On leaving Mascot, Billy and his long time partner Tric Mateparae started their own studio in Kingsland, Auckland called Muscle Music. After 12 years in Kingsland they decided to head for the Far North of NZ. So far Billy has produced 12 albums since living there, three of them being Tui Award Winners. Billy is also Ray Woolf’s bassist of choice.
Recently he has been seen working with Georgie Fame, Brian Smith and drummer Alain Koitsier.