I met Marcus at TVNZ, many moons ago when I was a broadcasting school bum, bluffing my way through my first real job as a presenter on a TV science show. Marcus Turner had been a presenter on NZ’s greatest kids show – Spot On – and I was a great fan of his style – wry, dry, confident. I’d also been a fan of his music. In a town full of musicians, Marcus was a musician’s musician: a multi-instrumentalist, singer and writer of great worth and skill. Playful and poignant.
Like everyone else, I was surprised by the contrast between the supremely confident stage and screen Marcus and the flesh and blood Marcus… a humble, quietly spoken, loving man who faced the many frustrations of television (and life) with enormous patience, a sharp but gentle wit, and the warmth that just played from his soul. A silent music you still heard. The stage and TV Marcus had many fans, but if you were lucky to know him you loved the flesh and blood version.
Later we worked together on shows at the Natural History Unit and NHNZ as it became known. He gargled the theme tune to a series I wrote. I script edited nature shows with him. I overplayed guitar and he leaned over and moaned “…Eeeasyyyyyyyy”. Marcus’s 50th birthday Party? He scuttles to his music room, an Aladin’s cave of common and obscure instruments (which he could play all of), hands them out at random and tries to enlist all in a wild jam. Didgeridoo, tambourine, oud, piano accordion… I got the Russian balalaika, a cheap souvenir of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Didn’t matter if we couldn’t play them, to Marcus it would still have been music.
We would joke and sigh about the crazy business TV is and how we still loved it. Like many of us in the creative side of that business, Marcus had his insecurities. But he was never one to overcompensate for them. He was just honest and warm to all. It seemed to me that Marcus understood we were all bluffing.
One day when television and I seemed to have had enough of each other, when evening fell so hard, Marcus was there for me. He listened, understood and made me feel there might be another path worth walking: still photography. And he backed up his compassion. Not long after, he was one of the first people to pay me for some pictures, the set you see here. It’s really no exaggeration to say Marcus not only changed my life, he helped save it. Not sure I got to thank him properly for that.
Last week he emailed me about shooting a new set of pictures. We were going to catch up and make a plan. It never happened.
So many lives he touched – his wife and girls, family, friends, bandmates and colleagues. Worse for losing him. So much better for knowing and loving him.
So long Marcus. And thank you mate. I still hear your music.