Mount singer can’t stop making music

Brendan Dugan’s new duet with Jodi Vaughan, ‘I’ll Be There For You’, will be released at the end of June on Jodi’s album ‘For the Love of Country’. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Even before he speaks in his gravelly baritone, country singer Brendan Dugan is often recognised around Tauranga.

“Even when I’m wearing a mask,” he says. “In fact, a young lady walked straight up to me the other day and said: ‘Hello Brendan Dugan’. It happens all the time.”

The veteran entertainer shrugs it off as part of the job and insists there’s no better place to come home to after touring with his long-time singing partners, Jodi Vaughan and Gray Bartlett.

“I’m a farmer’s son so I like my peace and the Bay has been a lovely place to live for the last 15 years. My wife loves walking down the beach. I just love the Mount base track and the weather here is great.”

Brendan’s remarkable career in entertainment has spanned almost six decades, starting when he won a TV talent show in 1968 at the age of 16.

“One day I was a schoolboy, the next I was a star. I was still going to Lincoln High School in Christchurch and the girls suddenly loved me. They used to line up just to talk to me.”

‘The Entertainers’

As Brendan’s music career took off, he teamed with entertainer Gray Bartlett. They met singer Jodi Vaughan on the final of South Pacific Television’s ‘The Entertainers’ and asked her to join their act.

“Gray and I have performed together now for about 50 years, and with Jodi for around 40. We can just walk onto stage, no rehearsal, and perform a great show.

“We’re very lucky like that or maybe it’s that at our age we can’t be bothered,” he laughs. “Even if I have a new song, they’ll jump in with harmonies. When I look back at my career, it’s an unbelievable feeling. “You’d be lucky to do it again.”

With a leap year February 29th birth date, Brendan, jokes that he’s officially only 17. “That’s the excuse I use when I’m an idiot!”

Two recent health scares, though, have made the 70-year-old think more seriously about retiring.

“Believe it or not, I’ve actually tried to slow down. I like the quiet life and it’s good that I can lead a normal life here in the Bay. I still get people coming up to say hello and that’s okay.

“They buy my music, so they’ve given me this life. It’s not like the early days when I couldn’t walk into a restaurant without being mobbed for my autograph.”

Never been busier

However, Brendan admits he’s never been busier. Not only is he away most weekends on tour, his new duet with Jodi, ‘I’ll Be There For You’, will be released at the end of June on Jodi’s album ‘For the Love of Country’. The album went to number #1 in the same week 40 years after Platinum selling duet album ‘Fairweather Friends’, featuring Brendan Dugan and Jodi Vaughan, held its highest chart position.

“We’re like an old married couple. We just fit, you know,” says Brendan. “I’m proud of what we’ve done. “We still pack out venues with our shows. There’s nothing quite like performing and even after all these years, I still get a buzz.”

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