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Bad Hair Day

John Phillips.jpg

John Phillips

This summer, We’ve been spared weather catastrophes, but John Phillips, husband of our store manager, Therese, has been buffeted by a storm that threatened to dislodge him from his moral grounding.

Thousands of former primary and intermediate school students have fond memories of music with Mr. Phillips in his role as a music teacher.  Along with his sister-in-law Paulette Nott and a small team of passionate local teachers he was responsible for the annual, multi-school concert, ‘Rock da House’.   Until the March 2020 Covid lockdown forced a pause, he had staged nine iterations of Rock da House, each one involving at least three performances. It consumed him for months every year.

With the lifting of Covid restrictions, John confronted a quandary:  Should he continue with Rock da House?  He was dreading the stress of it all.   Delegating tasks could reduce the burden, but it was a critical role that he played and the decision to continue ultimately lay with him.

Had Covid not imposed a three-year recess, John might have just kept on going.  But with the habit broken, drawing the curtain on Rock da House, became thinkable.  After weeks of indecision, wresting with concerns such as letting people down, and void he might experience, he took the decision to terminate.

At that very time, somewhere in the world, something was happening on social media that would soon reveal itself, and demand John’s undivided attention.

Twenty-five years ago, John was in his shed-cum-recording studio, producing music, mainly for kids.  He has released five albums, and on one of them is the song ‘Bad Hair Day’. 

Along with other artists, for a token gratuity, he supplied his music to the Ministry of Education for inclusion in their CD ‘Kiwi Kidsongs’, and this went all schools including many in the Pacific Islands.

Fast forward to early February, this year, and John’s daughter rang him to say that an abbreviated and sped-up version of ‘Bad Hair Day’ had gone viral on Tik Tok.  That is; there were 20,000 different postings of people dancing to his song.

Soon, John received a number of out-of-the-blue contacts.

The first was a request for an interview from rising star media group ‘The Spinoff’. 

This was followed by a British publisher, wanting to create a children’s book using the Bad Hair Day lyrics.


And finally contact from the Ministry of Education, seeking to have royalties from Bad Hair Day, going to its rightful owner.

Within days of laying to rest, Rock da House,  John was holding a new baby, albeit one that he conceived twenty- five years earlier.

Bad Hair Day must have found it’s way to Tik Tok via someone uploading it from the Kiwi Kidsongs CD.  Someone then did a dance routine, and then there was another, and another, and so on.  As I write 20,000 new dance videos are being added each day.  The views run into the hundreds of millions.

Credit to Tik Tok is due.  They contacted the Ministry of Education, seeking to reward the songs creator.

Bad Hair Day is just one of John’s songs.  Some of his others you will have heard on Eyebright’s play list, and if you attended a local school or have had kids at a local school, then you’ve probably heard others.

As any successful musician, author, or inventor will tell you, receiving fair remuneration for your work requires more than just creating a product.  But loading his songs onto digital platforms was sufficiently daunting, and John was sufficiently already busy, that doing so languished in the ‘too hard’ basket for years.  With the unexpected success of Bad Hair Day, John had to learn fast and act to get his work into cyberspace.

Nobody knew who wrote ‘Bad Hair Day’.  To help fix this John has produced and uploaded a ‘from source’ performance by himself and kids from Richmond’s Saint Pauls primary.  It has had four million views.  To see it: 

The British publisher has been a joy to work with.  They are upbeat about the prospects for:  ‘Bad Hair Day’. the book’, and have fast tracked it.  Their illustrator has nailed it.  John is delighted.  It should be on the shelves (including at Eyebright in October.

And how’s this for remarkable coincidence?  The parents of John’s contact in the publishing company, live in Upper Moutere, just a few doors from John’s brother and sister in-law.

John’s inner life has been buffeted since the day that he became aware of the Bad Hair Day/Tik Tok explosion. 

There-in lies a risk of his demise.  It’s not hard to come up with plenty of examples of where sudden good fortune has led to an entertainer’s downfall.  Think Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, or Whitney Houston.    This is top of mind for both John and Therese.    Therese comes from family of entertainers.  Both she and John are aware of the dangers of outward events threatening inward values.

Both have a deep Christian faith and a solid moral code.  That is their bulwark against winds of change. 

From the start, John’s goal has been to distribute wholesome, upbeat music.  This goal is being realised beyond anything he ever could have hoped for.  Rather than allowing imaginings of fame run riot through his mind, John is taking satisfaction from seeing the achievement of his goal. He’s keeping grounded.

Bad Hair Day videos continue to proliferate with combined views on these now reaching 1.3 Billion and John continues to work on uploading his back catalogue of songs onto all of the usual digital platforms (Tik Tok, Apple Music, Spotify etc).

Now it’s time for John and Therese to hold onto their values, and see what happens.

For the original, original full length version of Bad Hair Day, as it appeared on Kiwi Kidsongs, click on: 

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