Count Down

The elusive Count Down

About a year ago a music researcher asked about a couple of early New Zealand pop music magazines: Teen Beat and Count Down. I knew about Teen Beat and let him know that we held all 22 issues of its 1965-67 run. But Count Down I wasn’t so sure about. We had a record for just one issue (Vol. 1, no. 1, April 13, 1964), and according to WorldCat it was the only issue held in any public library, anywhere.

I didn’t think too much more about it, guessing that perhaps only one issue had ever been printed. Then recently I received an email from an Australian researcher writing a book on the Beatles’ 1964 tour of Australasia, asking about a “Beatles Special” edition of Count Down.

With two different people talking about this mythical magazine, I knew something was up. My search for evidence of Count Down in other library catalogues had turned up nothing, so I turned to good ol’ Google.

Despite sifting through lots of results for the supermarket chain and RTR Countdown (a 1980s NZ music magazine published by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation and a Top-20 TV show) I still could not find any mention of the 60s magazine.

Just when I was about to give up, I came across this no longer active tumblr created by a Belgian Beatles fan living in Helsinki.

At last, I had definitive proof that the magazine did exist beyond the first issue. But I was still left with the problem of who might have the magazine.

Using the secret librarian network

At this point a colleague alerted me to one of our relics from the great lost era of librarianship: the microfiche finding aid. This particular aid was a list of magazines and which libraries in New Zealand held them.

Blog Countdown MicroficheMicrofiche record of Count Down magazine. You can see the library symbol ‘WGA’: Wellington, General Assembly, the old name of the Parliamentary Library. Photo by the author.

And lo, there it was: Count Down, no. 1-17 (1964)

Round and round we go

The Parliamentary Library is a special collection, developed mainly as a research library for politicians and their aides, so it isn’t included in aggregator databases like the New Zealand Libraries Catalogue or WorldCat.

Alas: the librarian said they no longer held them, but perhaps they were part of a recent transfer of old newspapers and serials they made to the National Library.

Back at the Library, I asked our Newspapers Curator, Graeme Shaw about this. He pulled a paper list off the shelf of all the magazines and newspapers transferred from the Parliamentary Library, but not yet catalogued. We flicked through it and sure enough, there was Count Down.

Rocket to the top

So what was in the mystery magazine? I was surprised to find that amongst all of the reprinted international puff pieces there is a substantial amount of unique New Zealand content. This includes many articles and reviews of early New Zealand pop musicians, including Peter Posa, Dinah Lee, Ray Columbus, Max Merritt, Johnny Devlin and Peter Cape, alongside many lesser known local acts.

Image00006The cover of vol. 1, no. 12 of the October 2, 1964 issue of Count Down.

Count Down also includes a wealth of detail about the day-to-day happenings in the local scene at the time: the latest singles to be released, the top twenty, record reviews and gossip about what’s happenin’ on the scene. This is the just the kind of minutiae that is highly prized by historians and researchers.

Image00002Page 9 from the April 29, 1964 issue.

One of the articles that really jumped out at me (and made my Australian researcher very excited) was an exclusive interview with the Beatles in their room at Wellington’s St George Hotel, by cub reporter Dianne Cadwallader (who later went on to manage the Topp Twins).

Image00004Page 4 from the August 28, 1964 issue.

While the text of the New Zealand articles will be entering the public domain this year (50 years from the date of publication), the difficultly lies in the articles reprinted from British sources (where copyright lasts for 70 years), as well as photographs (where copyright extends to 50 years after the death of the photographer). Full digital access is therefore not the answer here.

Fortunately the National Library has a solution for making the contents of serials findable for researchers: Index New Zealand (INNZ).

INNZ at your musical service

(Additional blogging by Alan Gray, Index New Zealand)

INNZ is a free online service, available to anyone who is looking for New Zealand-related information within the large range of serials and newspapers that we index here at the National Library. It’s a database where the content from these serials and newspapers is described in detail, to help you find and then access through either your own public library, or if you’re part of a school, through requests to the National Library itself.

Since Matt had worked for INNZ previously he knew the criteria we use to select the journals we index, and realised Count Down fit perfectly. So here are the records for all the articles we indexed.

Count down to indexing…

So how did we index Count Down? Our kind of indexing isn’t the kind you get in the back of a book – we go into a lot of detail to make sure you can find what you’re after.

Take the article titled ‘Devlin and Beatles’ (Count Down, 15 May 1964). Because both Johnny Devlin and the Beatles are the subjects of the article we’ve put Johnny Devlin in as a personal name, ‘Devlin, Johnny’, and the ‘Beatles’ in as a group name, ‘Beatles (Musical group)’.

Then we’ve written an abstract summarising the story:

Announces the selection of Johnny Devlin to accompany the Beatles on their upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. Describes his current career and success in Australia as a television personality, composer, and a manager at RCA records. Notes other Australian acts chosen to tour with the Beatles.

By writing an abstract we can make sure we include the key words of the article, like tour, career, and Australia. Finally we’ve added two subject headings – ‘Popular music’ and ‘Rock music’ as these are the types of music they both play. Because there are no illustrations or portraits in the article we’ve left that information out.

Thanks to these many different forms of indexing, whether you search by title, subject, or just keyword, you’ll find what you’re after.

Here is the indexing record as it looks on INNZ:

Innz Screenshot

And here is the article!


Like Matt said above, Count Down cannot be made available online, but you’re not out of luck. In general, an INNZ record will tell you what options you have to getting your hand on the article, including finding a copy at your local library, or if you’re a student or teacher, requesting a copy of the article from us. Count Down is a special case, since it’s possible we might have the only copy, so access means coming into the reading rooms here in Wellington.

Music, music, music

Of course, we haven’t just indexed Count Down. Here are some of the music-related journals whose contents are described in Index New Zealand. The dates beside each title indicate the years indexed, which usually match the date the titles were first published.

And if you know of any more music-related journals/magazines that we could be indexing, drop us a line: email us on

Currently indexing:

  • Canzona (1986- ) – The official newsletter of the Composers’ Association of New Zealand.
  • Crescendo: Bulletin of the International Association of Music Libraries (1987- ) – The New Zealand version of the international music magazine, for music libraries, archives, and documentation centres.
  • E-journal of Studies in Music Education (2010- ) – Music instruction and study. Continues the earlier journal Sound Ideas. Has an emphasis on Australasia and the South Pacific.
  • Music in the Air (1996- ) – Music and song with religious and spirituality aspects.
  • New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy (2003- ) – A journal for music therapists and other professionals interested in music therapy.
  • New Zealand Musician (1989- ) – A magazine for New Zealand musicians. Includes artists, new releases, gigs, equipment reviews and music industry directories.
  • New Zealand Opera News (1983- ) – Magazine of the NZ Opera Society. Includes previews and reviews of all productions, and profiles people involved in opera.
  • Rip It Up (1977- ) – A bi-monthly rock music magazine with music features and reviews including music, television, gaming and books. Issued with the Groove Guide.
  • Ritmico (2009- ) – Includes articles, interviews, profiles, teaching information, reviews and Institute of Registered Music Teachers news on music instruction and study for music teachers.
  • Tune Me In: the MENZA magazine (2013-) – Music instruction and study, teaching resources, and profiles of musicians.

Previously indexed:

  • Annual Journal – New Zealand Society for Music Therapy (1987-2002) – Continued by the New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Dun: New Zealand Music Quarterly (1993) – A magazine of popular music, rock music and rock musicians.
  • IRMT journal / The Institute of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand (1993-1999) – For music teachers, instruction and study.
  • Music in New Zealand (1988-1996, 1998-2001/2002) – For composers, players, reviewers, audiences and students of contemporary music.
  • Sound Arts: the MENZA magazine (2005-2012) – Continued by Tune Me In.
  • Sound Ideas: Canterbury studies in music education (1997-2008) – Continued by Sound Ideas.
  • Sound Ideas (Online, 2009) – Continued by E-journal of Studies in Music Education.

By Matt Steindl

Matt is the Turnbull's Music Research Librarian.

Post a Comment

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Chris Szekely May 2nd at 7:52PM

Well done Sherlock. Good stuff!

paul May 7th at 6:50PM

As the text of the New Zealand articles will be entering the public domain this year (50 years from the date of publication) why not put it online!

Matt Steindl May 16th at 1:00PM

Hi Paul

The main reason is that photographs have a different copyright term from text: the copyright for photographs lasts for lifetime of the photographer + 70 years; so while the text will come into the public domain next year, the images won't. And unfortunately it's a bit too tricky to separate the two.

paul June 9th at 11:15PM

Hey Matt. I do not think my question was about the photograph copyright. My question was why not put the Text online. What do you do about the pages - well there are many possibilities - redact the image, just present text. Maybe you have an even better idea. I do not expect reasons why this is too hard. But ideas how to address tricky problems. Not that tricky really. Vendors such as Proquest and Ebsco have been seperating the text and image/layout for years. Imagoine putting these on Papers Past - with redaction of images and "in copyright" text. And then imagine how to proceed to better problems.

paul June 9th at 11:18PM

Are the 4 images (page snippets) out of copyright? If yes why are they in the blog. If no how can they get into the "open" world. Do they have a Open URL address . Or are they just images illustrating an article.

Matt Steindl July 23rd at 12:05PM

Cheers Paul

It's certainly a possibility in the future for the Library to digitise this, but at the moment we are only geared up for newspapers (Count Down would be considered a periodical).

I'm not sure if I'm qualified to comment on the technical in and outs of separating images from text, I'll see if one of our imaging people has a good answer for you. But like a lot of things, I suspect that it's as much to do with resourcing as anything else!

Re: the images of Count Down in this blog, they are still in copyright. They were made as illustrative content, so the use of them is guided by the Fair Use aspect of our copyright legislation.