Finding his rhythm in the Wakatipu

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Neil Chilton is one of Queenstown’s busiest musos – but he nearly packed it in after becoming a disillusioned rock wannabe. 

The singer-guitarist has entertained thousands of punters in resort bars and clubs with his pop and rock classics for the past 18 years. 

Chilton will blast out a solo set at his regular haunt SkyCity casino tomorrow. 

But the Arrowtowner reveals he nearly hung up his microphone for good after becoming tired of music while in a previous band. 

“In the 1980s I was in a group called Kashma who made three singles and videos for Polygram Records in Australia and we supported a lot of major acts like Dragon and Icehouse, but it wasn’t that glamorous,” Chilton says. 

“We were would-be rock stars by night but during the day we worked at a factory owned by the record company where we packed boxes of records and tapes. 

“I remember we once met Elton John when he came into a studio we were using in Sydney because he wanted to listen to some new tracks he’d been recording.

“Elton was brilliant to us but months later we were still packing his album in the same warehouse to pay the rent. 

“I got sick of being screwed around by our record company and living off burgers so I sold everything and moved back to New Zealand, promising never to play music again.” 

After two years in the wilderness, Chilton went back out on the road with successful duo The Baker Boys, released his own CD album Obsession and in 1998 was voted Southland Entertainer of the Year. 

Since moving to Arrowtown from Invercargill a few years back he’s not only become a firm resort favourite with his solo performances at bar gigs and corporate functions – he’s also a member of popular duo The Thunderbirds and plays with local trio Pearly and the Oystermen. 

“Last year was my busiest yet and it still leaves me plenty of time during the day to go fishing, so why would I want to do anything else?” Chilton adds.

Catch Neil Chilton at SkyCity casino tomorrow from 9pm.