Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Son of the Cook Islands the late Antoni Williams is the 2023 Pacific Music Awards lifetime achievement recipient

The Pacific Music Awards is proud to announce this year’s Manukau Institute of Technology Te Pukenga Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is the late Toni Williams, a remarkable recording artist whose contributions to the music industry have left an indelible mark on the hearts of many.

Toni Williams, also known as Antoni Williams, captivated audiences with his soulful voice and remarkable talent throughout the 1960s and beyond.

Born in Rarotonga, Toni Williams’ musical journey began in the mid-1950s when he co-founded one of Auckland’s first skiffle groups, The Housewarmers.

His undeniable passion for music led him to become the lead singer and guitarist of the hardworking rock and roll group, The Tremellos, showcasing his versatility and dedication to his craft.

Toni Williams and The Tremellos lineup 1958-1960. Photo: rockhappenz.com

The Tremellos were booked by Harry M Miller, as part of the Showtime Spectacular which toured for 21 weeks and they were also the support act for international artists such as the Everly Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Ray and Connie Francis.

They would late record for Miller’s label La Gloria.

Toni Williams’ recording debut was also with La Gloria, in 1960, with the first of many singles ‘Cradle of Love’.

With a swinging croon reminiscent of Sam Cooke, he charmed audiences with his interpretations of popular songs, but it was his originality that truly set him apart.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, his solo career flourished, and his live performances became legendary, leaving a lasting impact on the music scene. He would spend 10 years working the cabaret circuit in Australia, returning to New Zealand in 1976.

One of Toni Williams’ most notable accomplishments was the success of his single ‘The One I Sing My Love Songs To’, which secured a spot at number nine on the New Zealand charts for two weeks in August 1977.

Preceding this hit, ‘Rose (Can I Share A Bed With You)’ written by Peter Posa, reached number 28 in April 1977, becoming a local classic, further solidifying his position as a prominent figure in the New Zealand music landscape.

Additionally, his song ‘Tellabout’ featured on the 1972 album Studio One Hits showcased his ability to create memorable and timeless tracks.

Pacific Music Awards Trust spokesperson Rev. Mua Strickson-Pua says, “There will be a special presentation at the 2023 Pacific Music Awards in August to celebrate Toni William’s legacy and contribution to the Pacific music scene. Toni’s family will be present to accept the award on his behalf.”

The 2023 Pacific Music Awards will take place on Wednesday 9th August at the Due Drop Events Centre (formerly named the Vodafone Events Centre) in Manukau.

Tickets for the 2023 Pacific Music Awards can be purchased through Eventfinda.

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