New Zealand funk and soul legend Leo de Castro dies at age 70 - Noise11.com
Leo de Castro

Leo de Castro

New Zealand funk and soul legend Leo de Castro dies at age 70

by Paul Cashmere on March 4, 2019

in News

Leo de Castro, who played at the first and second Sunbury Pop Festivals in 1972 and 1973, has died in New Zealand at age 70.

de Castro was born on New Zealand’s North Island in 1948. At age 21 he moved to Sydney, Australia in 1969.

Leo became the vocalist of choice for King Harvest (Wichita Lineman, 1971), The Johnny Rocco Band (Heading In the Right Direction, 1975) and his own Leo de Castro and Babylon (Suspicious Minds, 1979).

His first band, The Browns, featured Ray Arnott (The Dingoes, Jimmy Barnes) and Rockwell T James). He then formed Friends. Leo was with Friends when he played at the very first Sunbury. Three of their performances ‘Lucille’, ‘Bird On A Wire’ and ‘La La Song’ were included on the ‘Sunbury 1973 – The Great Rock Festival’ live album. Leo also joined Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls and Billy Thorpe at Sunbury.

Leo moved to Hobart in 1995 where he formed Leo de Castro and the Cuban Heels. In 2008, in ill health, he returned to live in Auckland.

In the liner notes to the 2017 release ‘Leo de Castro & Friends’, Leo told Ian McFarlane “I’ve got a heart condition now. Some health issues that need looking at”.

He also said, “I can’t really talk for too long, I start to stumble. I forget things, I used to have a good memory, but nowadays, you know…”.

In 2017 Gil Matthews released ‘Leo de Castro & Friends’ on his Aztec Records label. The 2-disc set features selections from Leo’s various band with a second disc featuring the Sunbury, Rock Isle Festival and Moomba performances of 1972 and 1973.

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