Botany and Ormiston Times
Howick and Pakuranga Times : Howick and Pakuranga Times, Mon, November 12, 2012
16 --- Howick and Pakuranga Times, Monday, November 12, 2012 www.times.co.nz 122149-V2 By JON RAWLINSON More a fan of Johnny rotten than Johnny rowles, I was surprised by an assignment to interview this iconic performer. However, it wasn’t long after sit- ting down with John that I could see more than one compelling story waiting to be told; If, I only had time to listen to them all! raised in Kawerau, John has ‘rowled’ his way along a 48 year career, rubbing shoulders with some of the fnest performers of his era. As evidenced in his new book, If I Only Had Time, named after his iconic hit, John has performed throughout Aus- tralia, New Zealand, england, Hawaii, the mainland USA and beyond. “It’s been a long career. I had a pio- neering attitude, I was adventurous and determined with a love of music, singing and the guitar,” he told me. “I just kept doing it and other peo- ple spotted me. I really didn’t know I was that good when I frst started. I never really took it too seriously until my potential was recognised... then I began working on it more.” While a rolling stone gathers no moss, it became clear that this row- les has certainly picked up a tale or two during his time on the road. “My greatest infuences were Benny King, The Drifters, Brook Benton; funnily enough, not so much elvis, as Tom Jones, who was a big infuence for me. “Singing wise, I liked the great singers. Sinatra later became an infu- ence because I’d listened and learned from him how to deliver lyrics. I wasn’t that impressed with Frank in the early days, but later I learned a lot from him.” Although John says performing with musical greats, singing for the Queen at a royal Command Per- formance, and a duet with his sister Tania at a one-off show at the Aotea Centre in 1990 were all highlights of his career, returning to New Zealand was a great moment in his life. “Coming home from London with a number one hit record, If I Only Had Time, was special for me. Landing to fnd hundreds of people waiting and cheering for me, that was a beautiful feeling, it brought a tear to my eye. “other key moments were head- lining at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, fying with Bob Hope on a pri- vate jet, going to Hawaii. “I’ve had many highlights but achievement in general I guess was my biggest highlight; going from playing an old guitar in Kawerau and ending up working with a massive bloody orchestra in London!” QUICK to describe, in depth, the qualities of other singers met dur- ing his musical journey, John is not shy of singing his own, perhaps well- deserved, praises. He says he has al- ways followed his own path. “When I actually listen to my material now-a-days, then to that of someone like Tom Jones or engel- bert Humperdinck, who, when I was young, I thought were better than me, I now think I probably had better quality than they had. “They had lots of hit songs, but when you analyse the quality, not many singers around the world had the same substance, delivery or qual- ity as me.” When it comes to modern music, John says he is not a big fan; nothing personal, it’s just how he ‘rowles’. “There are lots of writers who have great music these days who are not given a chance. everyone goes with trends. I’m not into all the rap and hip hop.” Music talent shows, such as X Factor, are not his cup of tea either. “The judges are the stars [on those shows] and I hate to see keen young people getting upset when they believe they can make it. “I don’t like the contrived nature of some shows, there’s a system there that’s probably not that honest. It’s a good base to get people discovered and, if I was young, I’d probably enter too. But I think if someone has that X factor, it’ll happen anyway.” WITHoUT time on the road, learn- ing their craft some young musi- cians could miss an important stage in their development, says John. “Going through the channels, like I had to, is important. I had to do my apprenticeship; earn my stripes. If young musicians keep it together, don’t try to go with trends and keep to their magic, sooner or later origi- nality will pull them through.” John adds that it’s a lot easier if a musician has a lot of hit records. “You follow your hit records around, they don’t follow you. That’s why it’s important to get a hit, but that’s diffcult when the kids are downloading music today. “Downloading music has been a terrible thing. For me to put some- thing together and then it doesn’t sell because people are doing that stuff, well, it’s not fair.” John is still playing shows where and when the mood takes. “I must keep practicing for the sake of my voice and guitar fngers. I have to do that otherwise I’d freeze up and it’s too hard to start again. ‘I won’t be touring anymore, though I’ll do one-off performances. I’m not retired, just backing off a bit. I want to come out majestically and with statement; when I go I want to be singing a big note and then drop on stage!” John is now looking for- ward to his next project, a screenplay of his new book depicting the story of the Kawerau Kid’s rise from deliver- ing newspapers in the Bay of Plenty to singing at some of the most iconic venues in the world. “There are some fun stories there that could make a good Kiwi movie,” he says. “To direct it, I’d start with [roger] Donaldson, he would be good; Peter Jackson’s too busy doing Hobbits so there’s no point in him having a look at it! ‘I’m not up to that stage yet, but I’ll put the feelers out; I’m still trying to sell books just now!” And with that, I left John rowles sitting in front of a hardly touched plate of food. He’d hardly taken a bite and given me his full attention; now that’s how a pro faces an interview! While there have been many rock- ers before him and many to come, it’s doubtful there will be another with quite the same soul as the rowles! John’s next performance will be ■ an intimate affair this Sunday, No- vember 18, 4pm at Sky City’s 21 Club. Tickets are available from Ticketek. On the 'Rowles' again with J.R. MATES: John and Cliff Richard. ICONS: John with Engelbert Humperdinck.
Howick and Pakuranga Times, Thurs, November 8
Howick and Pakuranga Times, Thursday, Nov 15