Topic: John Michaelz: Singer/Songwriter

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John Michaelz vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion.

John is a singer/songwriter with echoes of blues singers such as Long John Baldry in his vocal stylings.

Born John Michael Hanssen in Motueka on July 19, 1965, John’s father was a travelling preacher whose travels took him to Iceland when John was only five.

Interested in music from a very early age, John formed his first band (Exodus) before he was 15. Some of those musicians later formed the Sugarcubes; Bjork’s early band.

At fifteen, John took up the position of drummer in a band formed by his brother Willy, a successful Gospel singer/songwriter and played gigs in the United Kingdom, Australia, U.S.A. and Iceland.

In 1987 John returned to New Zealand where he formed Hard To Handle, one of Tauranga’s premiere rock bands of the time, with Anton ‘Tipi’ Elkington  and Derek Jacombs on electric guitars, Nick The Russian on bass and Paul Higgins on drums.

John MichaelzDerek left after a year or so and formed Kokomo but the band continued to gig extensively until they broke up in 1993. Their first recording, The End Of The Beginning was finally released posthumously in 1995. They re-united in 2007 with some special guests for a concert at Tauranga’s Colosseum resulting in a second album release (Live @ The Colosseum) and more recently re-formed again to play at the Marchwood Blues Picnic in April 2010.

John’s next project was The Stone Babies; a collaboration with Bruce Rolands (now of Brilleaux) on electric guitars and Pat Hawkins on bass. They released Goetepic in 1998. They reformed for a one-off concert in Tauranga in 2010.

John and Bruce next joined Auckland band Kosher; a reggae influenced band formed by bass player Andrew Featherstone. Their six track EP Funky Sunnys was released in 1999.

In 2001 John returned to Tauranga and formed Big Garlic Moon; a three guitar, acoustic outfit with Mike Kirk and Pat Hura. Like many of John’s former bands, Big Garlic Moon also had a re-union concert for a one-off gig, this time in 2009.

Following Big Garlic Moon’s demise John struck out on a solo career that has now spawned two albums: Some Songs (2005) and John’s first Gospel album, Walk On Water which was released in 2009.

As at January 2012 John is fronting a band called John Michaelz & The Usual featuring John Michaelz – vocals and acoustic guitar, David Porter - bass and backing vocals, Mike Kirk – electric guitars and Paul Hoskin – drums and percussion. The new album, So Far So Good is due soon.


  • The End Of The Beginning (Hard To Handle – 1995) 
  • Goetepic (The Stone Babies – 1998)
  • Funky Sunnys (Kosher – 1999)
  • Some Songs (2005)
  • Live @ The Colosseum (Hard To Handle – 2007)
  • Walk On Water (2009)
  • So Far So Good (due early 2012)

by Ken Usmar (February, 2012).

Ken Usmar is a freelance writer and photographer with an interest in writing about Tauranga's musicians and the local music scene.

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John Michaelz: Singer/Songwriter

First Names:John Michael
Last Name:Hanssen
Date of Birth:19 July 1965
Place of Birth:Motueka
Country of birth:New Zealand