John Grenell has died aged 78. Photo/George Heard
John Grenell, one of New Zealand’s best-known country singers, has died aged 78.
A family member confirmed to RNZ that Grenell, who made his name as John Hore, had died but was unable to provide further details.
His estranged wife and lifelong friend, Deirdre Lusby, said: “John passed away peacefully last night of a heart attack, aged 78. The family are requesting privacy and are planning a private farewell for John. A public blast with a musical celebration of his life will take place at a later date.”
Grenell, who was born in Ranfurly, had a number one single in the 1990s with the Jim Reeves song Welcome to Our World.
The song was widely featured nationally in a Toyota vehicle television ad campaign.
He also had a big hit with the song I’ve Been Everywhere Man which was adapted to feature many place names in Aotearoa.
He has performed in several countries and won several country music awards.
Country singer Brendan Dugan spoke with Afternoons about his former contemporary.
He told Jesse Mulligan that Grenell was someone special and the couple became good friends. He said that at some point Grenell overtook the Beatles in New Zealand.
“He had one of those voices that no one else had. A very, very special voice. Lots of shows, lots of fun, really good times.”
Dugan recalled that three years ago Grenell was already sick but got up and sang a few songs at a concert Dugan was giving in Christchurch.
He said Grenell was a shy man who could have had more success on the international stage, but he was happiest at home on his farm.
“He will be sorely missed, especially in our industry…He was just a wonderful guy, wonderful voice.”