John Rowles

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Sir John Rowles
Rowles in 2018
Rowles in 2018
Background information
Birth nameJohn Rowles
Born (1947-03-26) 26 March 1947 (age 73)
Whakatane, New Zealand
OriginNew Zealand
Years active1966–present

Sir John Edward Rowles KNZM OBE (born 26 March 1947) is a New Zealand singer. He was most popular in the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, and he was best known in New Zealand for his song from 1970, "Cheryl Moana Marie", which he had written about his younger sister.

Early years[edit]

John Rowles in 1969

Rowles was born in Whakatane, New Zealand, and is part Māori. His father, Eddie Hohapata Rowles, played for the 1938 Māori All Blacks. His mother was European. He was brought up in Kawerau, in the North Island of New Zealand. Rowles' birth name was simply John Rowles; he added the middle name "Edward" after his brother of that name died at a young age.[1]


Rowles is best known in New Zealand and Australia, though he has also performed in the United States, particularly Las Vegas, Nevada and Hawaii, where he was managed by Kimo Wilder McVay. In the United Kingdom he was best known for the hit, "If I Only Had Time", which reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart in spring 1968, and stayed in the chart for eighteen weeks.[2] This was a cover version of the French song "Je n'aurai pas le temps" with which the French singer Michel Fugain had a hit in 1967; he co-wrote the song with Pierre Delanoë. The song also charted in the Netherlands, reaching number 2,[3] after which the Franck Pourcel Orchestra had a minor hit with an instrumental version of the song, bearing the original French song title.[4] In Germany, Schlager singer Peter Rubin charted with the German translation "Hätt ich nur einmal mehr Zeit". In the USA, Nick DeCaro and his orchestra charted with his instrumental version, released as the B-side of the single "Caroline, No"[5] in late 1968, peaking at number 71 in the Cash Box Top 100 in early 1969.[6]

Rowles had another Top 20 hit in the UK with "Hush . . . Not a Word to Mary", also in 1968.[2] This song also charted in the Netherlands.[7]

In the US, "Cheryl Moana Marie" got noticed in the summer of 1970 by some West Coast radio stations, but it took until the end of 1970 for the song to chart nationally, peaking at number 64 in the Billboard Hot 100 and number 78 in the Cash Box Top 100 respectively, in early 1971.[8]

He was the feature of a 2008 documentary entitled The Secret Life of John Rowles.[9]

Rowles had a cameo role in the 2008 New Zealand film, Second-Hand Wedding.[10]

He appeared in the 2009 New Zealand version of Dancing With the Stars. He was partnered with Krystal Stewart. Under doctor's orders, he had to retire from the competition but has since recovered.

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1974, Rowles received the Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc, the highest honour available to a New Zealand variety entertainer.[11]

Rowles was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 New Year Honours, for services to entertainment and New Zealand interests in the United States.[12] He was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to entertainment, in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours.[13]


His older brother Wally Rowles was a solo singer with his own career, and for a while went under the name of Frankie Price. He later changed his name again to Frankie Rowles due to an artist "Price" who was working in Australia.[14] Under Frankie Price he recorded three singles "Pancho Lopez" b/w "Walk Like A Man, "Another Tear Falls" b/w "I Could Have Loved You So Well" and "Sweet Mary" b/w "Take A Little Time". All of which were released on the Polydor label.[15][16] Under the name Frankie Rowles, he recorded a single "Ma Vie C'est Toi" b/w "Live A Little Longer" which was released on the Gemini label.[15][17] He died at age 59 on 24 March 2004.[18]

His sister Tania Rowles was a recording artist and had the single "Don't Turn Around" which was released on the RCA label in 1986.[19][20] She was the New Zealand Music Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year winner in 1976.


Rowles released his autobiography, If I Only Had Time, in October 2012.


  1. ^ Interview with Jim Mora on Eight months to Mars programme, Radio New Zealand National, 1pm NZT, Monday, 16 May 2011
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 472. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "John Rowles – If I Only Had Time". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Franck Pourcel – Je N'aurai Pas Le Temps (Thema Uit De T.v. Serie "mens Durf Te Leven")". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Nick DeCaro – Caroline, No / If I Only Had Time". discogs. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  6. ^ "The Cash Box Top 100 of January 18, 1969". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  7. ^ "John Rowles – Hush... Not A Word To Mary". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  8. ^ "M'Lady – JOHN ROWLES (1968) – Pop Archives – Sources of Australian Pop Records from the 50s, 60s and 70s". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  9. ^ "The Secret Life of John Rowles". Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Second Hand Wedding (2008)". IMDb.
  11. ^ "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Recipients". Archived from the original on 16 October 2013.
  12. ^ "No. 47725". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 30 December 1978. p. 40.
  13. ^ "John Rowles dedicates knighthood to family". 4 June 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Brothers play two Rowles". 1 July 1969.
  15. ^ a b "Frankie Price".
  16. ^ "Frankie Price Discography – All Countries".
  17. ^ "Frankie Rowles".
  18. ^ "Frankie Price – AudioCulture".
  19. ^ New Zealand Woman's Weekly, 16 February 1987 – Pages 4–5 Tania Rowles : something to sing about
  20. ^ "Tania Rowles Discography – All Countries".

External links[edit]