Every Day In May – Day 12: Darcy Clay

May 12, 2016
1 min read

The idea? Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month and 38 years of his own rancid opining and reportage, Gary Steel will present something from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. The following obituary appeared in the Sunday Star Times, March 22, 1998.

Only One Hit, But Darcy Huge Loss To Music


Musician and alternative rocker. Born Auckland, December 12, 1972. Died Auckland, March 15, aged 25.

hero_thumb_dc4WHEN THE IRRESISTIBLE slice of cheeky, lo-fi garage cow-punk called ‘Jesus I Was Evil’ was released last August, it sent a blast of fresh air through the New Zealand music scene.

This complete unknown, Darcy Clay, had appeared from nowhere with a song recorded on four-track tape in his bedroom, and sent it spinning into the top five of the national sales chart.

The smash hit single wore a glam smirk, as did Darcy’s curious but cathartic rendition of Dolly Parton’s country cornball classic, ‘Joeline’.

And when NZ On Air twice turned down video grant applications, Darcy went ahead anyway with an astoundingly cheap clip which worked just as well as a million dollar corporate music promo.

It was the same irrepressible spunk and humour that friends and family attested to last week, making Darcy’s premature death all the more inexplicable.

darcyclay nzm aug97webDarcy’s real name was Daniel Bolton. He was a somewhat shy but ultimately gregarious North Shore boy who attended Northcote College, except for a year in Atlanta, Georgia in 1987.

He was not your typical rock star, but just a normal, well-educated middle-class boy.

It was in Atlanta, at the age of 15, that Darcy got to play bass drum in the high school marching band.

Back in New Zealand, Darcy continued his drumming obsession and taught himself how to play a number of other instruments. Darcy loved classical music – especially Beethoven, Mozart and Mahler – and he was known to earn his supper by dashing off classical piano sonatas at Auckland cafes.

He was also something of a comedian, known for ringing talk back stations and taking the piss by pretending to be racist or sexist.

Darcy loved made-up names and used several pseudonyms and accents to cleverly mask his devil’s advocate position on various subjects.

Musician and broadcaster Nick Atkinson helped him secure his record deal, describing him as a “shy, slight guy who lived in a total shambles in a Young Ones-style flat.”

Tragically, Darcy took his own life before he could deliver the album that could have seen him remembered as more than simply “most promising.”

The owner of Darcy’s record label, Trevor Reekie, says he had finished one new song and there was “a bunch of incomplete stuff that has been handed over to Darcy’s parents.”

Mr Reekie saw Darcy as a long term project with great prospects.

Even for a young man with only one hit to his name, his loss to the music scene will be huge. GARY STEEL


Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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