Marcus Turner

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Marcus Turner
Turner performing in Amberley in 1983
Background information
Birth nameMarcus William Turner
Born(1956-02-16)16 February 1956
Roxburgh, New Zealand
Died2 February 2016(2016-02-02) (aged 59)
Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
Years active1973–2016
Associated actsThe Chaps, Footspa, Spot On, How's That, Play School, Ginger Minge Binge Bush Band, High Country Bluegrass
Website Turner's webpage

Marcus William Turner (16 February 1956 – 2 February 2016) was a New Zealand singer-songwriter and folk musician. He performed at folk festivals in New Zealand, Australia, and overseas. He was also a presenter in the TVNZ children's television programmes Spot On , How's That and Play School (in the latter of which he was also a director).


Turner lived on the Otago Peninsula, near Dunedin, New Zealand. [1] He died in early February 2016.

Early life

Turner was born in Roxburgh, the eldest of three children (the others being a brother, Linus, and a sister, Marcella), and grew up in the small seaside settlement of Karitane. His father worked as a psychiatric nurse, his mother in many roles, including general nurse at the nearby Cherry Farm Hospital. Marcus was schooled at East Otago High School in Palmerston, before going to Dunedin's University of Otago, where he majored in zoology, graduating with honours in 1978. [2]

Television career

Turner joined Television New Zealand (TVNZ), working as a children's television presenter. He became widely known as a presenter of popular programme Spot On , alongside Ian Taylor and Helen McGowan. He also trained to become a television director. He continued to work in television, moving behind the camera to become producer of children's show Play School and writer and producer of children's natural history series Wildtrack . During his time with TVNZ he met production assistant Anne Hewton, who was to become his wife. [2]

The Turners spent a year and a half in the United Kingdom. [1] On returning from the United Kingdom, Marcus resumed his television career, eventually moving to NHNZ to work as a researcher, director, and producer, and narrator of nature documentaries. He was still working for NHNZ at the time of his death.

Music career

Turner began performing at Dunedin's Otago University Folk Music Club in 1973. Initially, his music consisted of covers of music by singers such as Paul Simon and John Denver, but gradually expanded to include traditional folk. Turner was, during the 1970s, a member of several folk groups, notably the High Country Bluegrass. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, he was at home playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, or any of the more unusual folk instruments he collected from around the world.

Turner began to write his own songs, and had early success with the comedic "The Civil Service Song", released by EMI as a single in the late 1970s. His first album, The Best is Yet to Come [3] was released by CityFolk in 1983. He proved to be a versatile writer, able to turn his hand to both wryly tongue-in-cheek comedy songs and more introspective serious numbers. During his time in the United Kingdom, Turner devoted much of his time to music and performance, but found the British folk scene disheartening and unpalatable. [2]

After his return to New Zealand, Turner became a founder member of folk group The Chaps, [4] alongside fellow Dunedin folk musicians Mike Moroney (formerly of The Pioneer Pog 'n' Scroggin Bush Band), Hyram Ballard and John Dodd. The Chaps have recorded three albums and also toured Europe twice.

In 2005, Turner released his second solo album Laid Down. His musical interests included traditional music from many countries, and he played a wide variety of traditional musical instruments with Footspa, [5] a band comprising musicians from other groups located in the Dunedin area.

Turner was a founder of Dunedin's New Edinburgh Folk Club, and (with Moroney) set up and maintained, a folk music discussion forum and directory. [2]

Some of his compositions have been recorded by performers such as Irish singer Andy Irvine, the Danish folk group Færd [6] and the British singing group Hen Party. [7] Turner also composed for films, including the NHNZ documentary Hotel Iguana. [8]

Personal life

After returning from the United Kingdom, Marcus and Anne moved to Macandrew Bay, on the Otago Peninsula, ten minutes drive from Dunedin. They had two children, Cushla and Maura. Anne died after a long illness in 2014. [2]


Marcus Turner died suddenly at his home on 2 February 2016 at the age of 59. [9] [10]


With 'The Chaps'
By other artists

See also

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  1. 1 2 Marcus Turner's biography. From the kiwifolk website. Retrieved on 8 March 2014
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Moroney, M., "Multitalented soul defined in words and music", Otago Daily Times, 20 February 2016. An archived copy can be seen at the kiwifolkblog, 22 February 2016, retrieved 22 February 2016.
  3. The Best Is Yet To Come by Marcus Turner, 1983. From the Discogs website. Retrieved on 8 March 2014
  4. The Chaps website Retrieved on 8 March 2014
  5. Footspa. Web page at kiwifolk website. Retrieved on 9 March 2014
  6. Scandinavian Tones Down Under, by Morten Alfred Høirup, in FolkWorld Issue 40, November 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2014
  7. Hen Party Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine . Web page at Southern Counties Folk Federation website, 2004. Retrieved on 9 March 2014
  8. Hotel Iguana Archived 9 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine . Web page at NHNZ website. Retrieved on 9 March 2014
  9. Death notice in 50Dundas newsletter. Retrieved on 4 February 2016
  10. "Deaths", Otago Daily Times, 5 February 2016. p.19