ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Max Merritt dies at 79


Max Merritt, an ARIA Hall of Fame inductee best known for the soulful songs “Slippin ‘Away” and “Hey, Western Union Man,” died Thursday, September 24 in a Los Angeles hospital following a long battle with a rare sickness. He was 79 years old.

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand on April 30, 1941, Merritt made his mark when he formed The Meteors in the 1950s and released a series of eye-catching rock’n’roll acts, including “Get a Haircut.” , “Kiss Curl” and “Come on, let’s go. ”

Soon Merritt and his band passed Christchurch and in 1962 they moved to Auckland, and later, Australia, where he earned the nickname “King of Soul”.

With the Meteors, Merritt had a No.2 hit in Australia in 1975 with the booming ballad “Slippin ‘Away” and was signed to Arista Records in the UK “Hey, Western Union Man” reached No.13 .

During the 1960s Merritt moved to England and from the 1970s he called the United States home.

From his base in California, he continued to tour regularly in Australia and New Zealand until 2007, when he was hospitalized with kidney failure.

Merritt was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks the lungs and kidneys.

In October 2007, the Australasian music industry took off with the “Concert For Max” at the Palais Theater in Melbourne. Personalities like Daryl Braithwaite, John Paul Young, James Reyne and Ross Wilson joined forces with more than 50 musicians and 70 production teams for the event, which raised $ 200,000 ($ 191,000) to cover Merritt’s medical bills.

He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008 alongside Dragon, Russell Morris and The Triffids.

That night, Merritt was joined on stage by fellow Hall of Fame member Kasey Chambers and Bill Chambers to perform his iconic song, “Slippin ‘Away.”

Wal Bishop, Merritt’s manager, shared the news of his passing in a statement Friday. “Max has been on dialysis three days a week since he fell ill in 2007. He really fought and will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him,” Bishop wrote.

The late artist hadn’t been able to perform live for the past 13 years, but “when he felt up to it he would go into the studio to record,” Bishop continues. “He even shot a video to accompany the songs, it’s a shame he’s not there to see it. ”

The commercial organization Recorded Music NZ paid tribute to the late singer. “We are extremely saddened to learn that one of our greatest of all time, Max Merritt, has passed away,” read a post on social media. “Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane. We will miss you very much Max. Our condolences and sympathies go particularly to the family and friends of Max.

Merritt is survived by his daughter Kelli, his son Josh and three grandchildren.


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