Guitarist, Musical Director, Composer, Producer and Concert Promoter, Gray Bartlett has been picking his way to success for over 35 years. Through 30 Albums and 20 singles Gray has sold well in excess of a million units of his music.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 22nd 1942, Gray's first musical experience was at age 15 after leaving Auckland Grammar School. One of his four brothers', Barry, (he also has three sisters), taught him to play the guitar and after answering a newspaper advertisement, he joined a band called "The Phantoms". They performed at local dances and came runner-up in a radio completion called "Have A Shot".
Gray was offered his chance to record by Zodiac Records in 1961; the result was his first single, "last Stage West". Between that single and 1965, he began his road to success with offers t tour the country with some well known international artists of the day, including British singing star Vera Lynn, Tom Jones and the group Herman's Hermits.
He also performed shows in Tokyo and in 965 the break came. Gray released the single "lay Playa" and it made the charts in New Zealand and in Japan (reaching No. 2 there) selling and unprecedented 410,000 copies. In 1968 he joined Rolf Harris as a musician/guest artist touring New Zealand and Australia with Rolf. This liaison led to a seven-year relationship with Rolf, Gray moved to England and performed with Rolf at such prestigious nightspots as "The Talk of the Town".
With so much achieved by Gray in his long musical career, one of his greatest highlights was being awarded an MBE in the 1987 Queen's New Years Honors list, for this services to entertainment. Another was being accepted by the Chinese Government in 1986 to perform in China, a first for a New Zealand entertainer. This led to numerous concert tours, fourteen to date and the release of his albums has seen him become very popular in China, winning "Foreign Artist of the Year" Golden Plume Award in 1987.
Gray's style is uniquely his own, how do you classify a performer with such a diverse range of musical directions? In the mid 80's and early 90's he recorded several very successful Country Albums including a Double Gospel Album, for which he received a Gold Album and a huge country music following came from that and others that followed. He has also recorded both Popular and Classical and had huge album and concert tour successes with his fellow entertainer's country music starts Brendan Dugan and Jodi Vaughan. The trio celebrated 25 years in 2002 with a sell-out star of British TV Soap drama, Kevin Kennedy (who plays Curly Watts) who is also a recording artist. The concerts received rave reviews and counted as another huge success for Gray who not only performed, but put the concept and tour in place as well.
Gray's skills as a promoter in the entertainment industry have not gone unrecognized and he has been involved in touring many of the big names in show business, from Pavarotti, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Boney M from the UK, to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Band.
Gray has an eye for young and talented artists and it was he who discovered young songstress Hayley Westenra, who went on, under Gray's guidance to have her first solo album release go triple platinum in New Zealand.
Gray arranged the concept strategy, media planning and recording contract with Universal Music (NZ) Ltd for the talented 14 year old which led to the fastest selling CD in New Zealand history.
The project was overseen by Gray as executive producer and recorded at New Frontier Recording Studios in Auckland NZ, with talented musical director / producer David Selfe and Greg O'Donnell engineer / technician.
In February 2002 Gray arranged for Hayley to appear in the McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, USA and was able to introduce anthe4r of his talented discoveries on the same concert, 15-year-old violinist, Ben Morrison. The concert was a sell-out and Ben Morrison received a standing ovation much to Gray's delight. Ben is now on the verge of success in the music industry following the success of his first recording in 2003. (No 15 New Zealand national charts.)
Gray is in the fortunate position of not only being a success story himself, but also being able to share some of his vast experience to designing the careers for new talent. This gives him a great deal of pleasure as well as still finding the time to do charity concerts for many good causes including the SPCA which is a favourite for him.
What of the future? Well Gray would wish that he could help as many people as possible achieve their aims and ambitions and so far it's been a 100% success.