Wayne Gillespie Biography

In the Beginning – 80’s

Born into a musical family (father Mick a Jazz pianist and sister Sally a clarinet teacher), Gillespie was first inspired to write songs after hearing Leonard Cohen’s “You Know Who I Am” on a local radio show at the age of 14.

Some years later Gillespie makes his professional debut busking in Paris subways, playing to audiences in London folk clubs and Sydney’s Darlinghurst cafes before returning to Auckland in the early 80’s.

Wayne quickly became one of the leading figures in the prominant Auckland Acoustics movement playing pubs, cafes and folk clubs augmented by his band of brilliant musicians, Denny Stanway (vocals), Brendan Power (Harmonica) and Bob Shepheard (Fretless Bass).

Wayward Son

Wayne's first album, ‘Wayward Son’ was released on Gillespie’s own independent label in June 1984. The album was acclaimed by the NZ rock press and made the finals of the New Zealand Music awards in the Most Promising Vocalist & Folk Album of the Year categories. The song ‘Away With You’ also won an APRA NZ Songwriting Special Award in the same year.

In 1985 he contributed two tracks to the Auckland Acoustics Album (also featuring local acts such as Mahinarangi Tocker, Kaith Tait, Acoustic Confusion and Chris & Lynne Thompson). Later in the year Gillespie shared production duties with Chris Knox on songwriter Nick Smith’s debut EP ‘Flanker’ released by Real Groovy Records.


Famous Blue Raincoat at Sweetwaters 99

New Locations

The success of ‘Wayward Son’ resulted in Gillespie coming to the attention of producer Trevor Lucas (Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Goanna) and being signed by CBS Records (NZ). Lucas produced Gillespie’s second album; the electric ‘New Locations’ in Jan-March 1986, at the Music Farm in Australia’s Byron Bay, with a stellar cast of local musicians including Marcia Howard & Rose Bygrave (Goanna), Phil Emmanuel, and Denny Stanway.

This albums’ 1987 release saw Wayne in the New Zealand charts and playing live around New Zealand with his 6 piece New Locations Band. The first single off this album ‘Losing One’ was also including in the soundtrack for “The Leading Edge” a ski adventure movie set in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island.

Wayne relocated to Sydney in 1987 to support the album’s release by CBS Australia. He played live extensively around Australia and made several guest TV appearances (including a memorable appearance on the Don Lane show with Robert Downey Jnr). He also played several shows with Suzanne Vega at the Auckland Town Hall on her 1988 NZ tour.

Living in Exile

Gillespie’s third solo album was made possible by support from the local community of musicians (such as Dave Dobbyn, Margaret Urlich, Amanda Brown (Go-Betweens), Pedro Bull (Paul Kelly), Mal Green (Split Enz), Dave Sparks (the Saints), Peter Moloney (Johnny O’Keefe), Shanley Del, Tony Waine (Narcs) and Nigel Gavin (Ex-Robert Fripp)).

‘Living in Exile’ was released in 1993 by Sony (NZ) and in 1995 through Ravenswood/Larrikin/Festival in Australia. This album received much critical acclaim both in both Australia and New Zealand with Gillespie performing extensively in New Zealand and Australia (both solo and with his band Passionfish from 1993 to 1996. During this period Gillespie’s music was also regularly featured on the Kiwi TV series “Shortland Street”.


Passionfish -Wayne Gillespie, Rob Grosser, Peter Maloney.

In early 1995 Wayne Gillespie and Passionfish also released the EP ‘Love Comes Down’ a single featuring Margaret Urlich which gained mainstream radio play across Australia.




Live Appearances & Production Duties

Live appearances in 1995 included performing with Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn and Shona Laing at the closing night of Aucklands legendary Gluepot venue as well as supporting US Bluesman Chris Whitley at the basement in Sydney. Gillespie also played and conducted songwriting workshops at music festivals throughout Australia including Woodford and Port Fairy.

Push The Boat Out

In Jan 1996 Gillespie was invited to produce the third album for New Zealand music award winners the NARCS also co-writing and performing on this album called ‘Push the Boat Out’ (Hark records). Wayne joined the NARCS for two New Zealand Tours in 1996 & 1997.

1999 saw Gillespie’s new band, Famous Blue Raincoat, make their debut live performance at Auckland’s Sweetwaters Festival. Subsequent appearances included the Thredbo Global Music Festival in 2001 & 2002.

Music Psychology

In between touring and producing duties, Wayne completed an honours degree in psychology at Macquarie University. Combining his interest in psychology with music Wayne interviewed local musicians for a research project ‘The Personality of Rock Musicians’. A paper from this research was published in the UK Journal Psychology of Music in October 2000.

Recent Projects and Collaborations

2000 saw the re-release of Wayne’s first album “Wayward Son” on CD through his own label Wayward Records. Wayne now owns the copyright to all his recordings.

Wayne also guested on Penelope Swales album “Archives” released in 2000.

In 2002 EMI NZ released “The Best of Narcs” album which included several of Gillespie’s co-writes with Andy Dickson: “Back to the Deep” and “Message to You”.

2003 saw Gillespie recording a sold out acoustic show at the “The Bunker” in Aucklands’ Devonport with guests Nigel Gavin, Tony Waine and Caitlin Smith


This album Live at the Bunker -Wayne Gillespie and Nigel Gavin  was released in 2005. (Photo Below of Nigel Gavin, Wayne Gillespie and Caitlin Smith at The Bunker) followed by a New Zealand tour. Gillespie also toured NZ and Ireland with Brendan Power in 2008/9.



Covers by Other Artists

Gillespie’s songwriting prowess continues to be acknowledged by other artists with songs such as Number 37, Once I was your Lover, Wrong Way, Invercargill and Camille Claudel having been performed & recorded by other artists (see Discography).


Current Project Wayne Gillespie and Famous Blue Raincoat Album "FRAZZ"

Gillespie’s current studio project, "FRAZZ" an album of 9 songs  written and recorded with Drummer Rob Grosser, is due for release 24 June, 2022.

These original songs inspired by the music of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Neil Young,  Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell . (see News).