Wayne Baird death, NZ guitarist passed away suddenly

Wayne Baird is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished guitarists.
Wayne Baird is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished guitarists passed away


The music community is in complete grief after the death of a record producer, music engineer, and songwriter, Wayne Baird. A well-known musician Wayne, passed away suddenly on December 26, 2023. Read on to learn more about the death of Wayne Baird.

Wayne Baird passed away:

Wayne Bird, Original Timaru Folk Club member and the Union Blues Soul Band member, passed away on December 26, 2023. This sad news was announced by John Dix in the following statement that reads,

My dear friend Wayne Baird died this afternoon. He was truly one of the good guys, always with a smile, and a kind and generous nature. Condolences to Jane and the rest of the whanau. I will miss you always, Wayne, and remember you with a drink in your hand and a song in your heart.

Who was Wayne Baird?

Wayne Baird was born on June 27, 1951, in Timaru, New Zealand. Doug, his father, was a lifelong member of the Timaru Municipal Brass Band and played cornet. Both of his parents were involved in music.

Wayne took up piano lessons when he was ten years old. “Leslie Tairoa was his first piano teacher, who was a great inspiration who helped him to understand the power of music. She helped him to realize that creating rhythm and melody was a joyful endeavor and a unique gift that should be shared with everyone.”

Under the tutelage of local jazz musician Bill Stark, Baird completed his piano studies. “He taught him the techniques of improvisation when he used his own phrasing and interpretations. 

Musical career:

Baird started his career as a hired guitarist. Hillman Hunter & The Roots Group was first up. The band, which called the inner-city Royal International Hotel home, announced the return of band leader Al Hunter to the country music scene. Before Baird joined Lou Rawnsley as a member of Hattie (St John) & The Havana Hotshots, he was a member of the lineup for six months. Three of Baird’s compositions were included on an album that the Hotshots recorded for the Ode label.

Wayne briefly played in Willie Hona’s nightclub band in 1982. He later joined the short-lived Smilers, a band that featured the Paul Hewitt-Dennis “Choc” Tuwhare rhythm section.

He later joined Origins Dance Theatre, where he described the music as “all improvised, creating soundscapes, the music following the choreography.”


Wayne joined the Neighbours, one of the hardest-working bands of the time. As The Neighbours toured nonstop, Baird got to know three people who would play major roles in his later career: Rick Bryant, Sam Ford, and Trudi Green. His only recording with the band was on their final performance at The Gluepot, the live Vocal At The Local.

Even though he wasn’t in the original lineup, Baird joined Rick Bryant’s Jive Bombers, a soul revue with up to twelve members, in 1984. Though the Jive Bombers only gave sporadic performances, Baird spent the next 20 years emerging as Bryant’s preferred guitarist. He is featured on the Jive Bombers albums When I’m With You (1984) and Time (1999); Baird and Bryant co-wrote a song for each album.

The Famous Five (with Paul Hewitt and “Choc” Tuwhare), Seven Deadly Sins (with Fiona McDonald on lead vocals), and Gentle Annie (a country group led by fiddler Cath Newhook) were among the other short-lived acts that went on. He rejoined Sam Ford and Trudi Green in 1989 as part of Trudi & The Exceptions, and he would serve as their backup guitarist until the couple moved to Britain in 1999.

In addition to performing on The Exceptions’ 1989 single “You’re On My Mind,” which was recorded at Mascot Studio with assistance from Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Baird co-wrote three tracks on the band’s 1999 album Soulahula.

Wayne Baird was one of New Zealand’s most accomplished guitarists. He was known for his swing, blues, soul, country, and blues with skill and an eclectic mix of influences.

Tributes to Wayne Baird:

Timaru Music Guitar History posted,

R.I.P. Wayne Baird. Original Timaru Folk Club member, then joined Union Blues Soul Band, his amazing music legacy is on Audio Culture site. (photos courtesy Richard Oddie.

Grey Lynn RSC posted,

Have just been notified of the passing of a great Club member. Wayne Baird.
Our sincere condolences go out to his longtime devoted partner Jane and respected families.
He will be dearly missed by all in the club.

AudioCulture wrote,

It’s with a very heavy heart that we mark the passing of Wayne Baird.
A much-loved member of the music community, Wayne grew up in Timaru but his musical career took him far and he was an Auckland resident from the mid-70s onwards. To say that Wayne played with just about everyone in his sixty-plus years making music is an understatement. A warm and very generous man with a huge smile, Wayne will be very much missed.
Our thoughts and love go to Jane and his whanau. A very sad day.

Clive Copeman posted,

So long Wayne Baird, one of the most generous souls to ever welcome me to a bandstand. You’ll be fondly regarded and missed by so many whose lives you touched.

Lyall Smillie commented,

Another legend passing, have a lot of photos his friend Richard Oddie has saved from early Timaru days. RIP.


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