In music industry circles the mention of his name could strike the fear of god in some, while in others it simply and instantly forced a smile from cheek to cheek. For most it generally did both! Shaun was my best friend. Let me share some of my memories of him with you.
Shaun and I met in Hamilton in 1986. We instantly became friends as I had just been absorbed into the group of Te Awamutu boys, that were later to become the "League of Gentlemen". Our shared love and infatuation with music was immediately the common thread between us. His strength was rock, mine was blues and jazz. So we continually tested each other to see who could out-do the other. Shaun respected all good music, but he definitely did NOT like all music. In fact there were alot of styles he simply couldn't stand. I remember he once said to me with the straightest of faces "what exactly is hip hop anyway"? This was the sort of classic question he loved to ask of people, and they were always difficult to answer.
So the late 80's were simply filled with music buying, music selling, music listening and band road tours. I remember hitch hiking to Waihi beach to catch the Waihi leg of Joe 90's summer beach tour. Ahh Joe 90. A band that encapsulated everything about Joycey.
Picture this. Slicked back hair, black horn-rimmed glasses and the geekiest on stage dancing possible. A perfect fit for him.
After that came "Plant People" with Dave, Richard, Greg and Wayne, then "Pink Love torpedoes". With all respect to the other members of both Joe 90 and Love Torpedoes, the fans were drawn to Shaun. He held the stage as if it were his own, whether it was with his rendition of the "Time warp" with Joe 90, or ejaculating hand cream (from behind the fret board of his bass) over the female crowd as a finale (and they loved it). He was always the man.
My ultimate memory of that time will always be my 21st birthday with the entertainment for the night provided by an amalgam of joe 90, plant people and various extras. Later in the evening, shaun, kev and wayne quietly dropped into a cover version of Frank Zappa's "Bobby Brown" with my parents listening on (with completely bemused faces).
For those of you who know the song and lyrics, you will understand the humour of the situation. For those who don't, go get it and listen. This out of the blue rendition was again typical of Shaun seeing an opportunity to push the limit, whilst still remaining as cool as ever.
Later I disappeared from NZ and didn't really keep in touch with Shaun. It didn't matter though. The moment I arrived back and walked into his Queen Street shop, his smile and the twinkle in his eye said it all. His love for his friends never ever diminished, no matter how much separation of time or distance there was.
I said, ".. hey man, if you know of a job going, give me a heads-up". A week later he called me to say there's a job as a telesales rep for Festival Records, and I should go for it. "Just mention my name". Suffice to say I got the job. It paid to have a referee with the status that Shauns name carried in the music industry. When his reference was checked by my employer (the great Jerry Wise RIP) and Shaun was asked why he thought I wanted the job, his answer was short and simple .."buggered if I know".
My career in the NZ music industry only happened because of my best mate Shaun Joyce.
The next decade of business saw Shaun and me pitted against each other on a daily basis. Me as the music salesman, Shaun as the no. one all powerful music buyer in the NZ market. Even though I could get away with a lot more than any other salesman could, that didn't mean his expectations of me were any less. In fact I always felt he expected more of me, and I always tried to live up to those expectations. Once we came "to blows" over an order by one of his shop managers. He expressed such a deep disappointment that he had to put up with being giving shit by all the other sales managers, but how come he had to put up with being given shit by his best mate as well! That moment has always reinforced the two sides of Shaun. The incredibly intimidating and sometimes frightening "hard-ball" exterior, and at the same time the big hairy marshmallow hiding underneath.
Everyday now I remember the things we loved in common. Cold Chisel and our favourite song "Flame trees", Red Wine (Te Mata Coleraine), Van Halen, Peg Leg Sam, Pink Floyd and Hot Asses.
The success of NZ music nowadays owes a huge debt to Shaun. For 20 years he would always find a way to front and champion NZ music and artists, when most other NZ music retailers and NZ radio stations either didn't have the ears for it, or simply couldn't be bothered.
Not Shaun. The NZ music industry must never forget him.
Just days before he shot through, we were talking about his "fear and loathing road trip to Las Vegas" to see Van Halen. His description of that trip with Ant and Jerry was as energised and full force as every breath he took. No matter what Shaun did he did it with panache and he did it with self-affronting brashness.
Bro, I loved you. I will never forget you, and I hope we meet on the other side, where perhaps, you'll have finally learnt to drink whiskey.
Your friend always