Charles Turu Tumahai

 

“I play as if every note is an absolute joy!”

After his acclaimed tenure in Healing Force in his native New Zealand, bassist Charles Turu Tumahai migrated to London and answered an anonymous Melody Maker classified ad planted by Bill Nelson for Be Bop Deluxe, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why Be Bop Deluxe’s smart meld of progressive, glam, and power pop never achieved wider commercial success ala Roxy Music and David Bowie remains a bona fide rock and roll mystery.

Tumahai came on board for Be Bop’s second album Futurama (1975) and was featured prominently on the band’s finest studio set Sunburst Finish (1976) which boasted FM radio staples “Fair Exchange,” and “Ships in the Night.”

In addition to his accomplished backing vocal skills, Tumahai, who plied his craft with a Fender Precision and Telecaster bass, incorporated reggae, funk, punk, disco, and jazz influences into Nelson’s mesmerizing tales of romance and space exploration.

Modern Music (1976), Drastic Plastic (1978) and the amazing concert set Live In the Air Age (1977) are lasting testimonies to the remarkable bass artistry of the late Charles Turu Tumahai.