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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.

Sir John Rowles

John Rowles KNZM (cropped).jpg
Rowles in 2018
Background information
Birth nameJohn Rowles
Born (1947-03-26) 26 March 1947 (age 72)
Whakatane, New Zealand
OriginNew Zealand
Years active1966–present


Early yearsEdit

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. The song also charted big in the Netherlands, reaching #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 the US 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 #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 USA "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 #64 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #78 in the Cash Box Top 100 resp. 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.


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]

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 for services to the music industry.[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 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" bw "Walk Like A Man, "Another Tear Falls" bw "I Could Have Loved You So Well" and "Sweet Mary" bw "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" bw "Live A Little Longer" which was released on the Gemini label.[17][18] He died at age 59 on 24 March 2004.[19]

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.[20][21] 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. ^ Chart history in the Dutch Top 40 of "If I only had time"
  4. ^ Chart history in the Dutch Top 40 of "Je n'aurai pas le temps
  5. ^ Caroline, No b/w If I Only Had Time on
  6. ^ The Cash Box Top 100 of January 18, 1969.
  7. ^ Chart history in the Dutch Top 40 of "Hush ... not a word to Mary"
  8. ^ [1]
  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. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ National Library of New Zealand – Brothers play two Rowles
  15. ^ – Frankie Price
  16. ^ 45Cat – Frankie Price – Discography
  17. ^ – Frankie Price
  18. ^ The New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero – Frankie Rowles
  19. ^ Audio Culture, 15 May 2013 – Frankie Price aka Frankie Rowles, Wally Rowles, Profile
  20. ^ New Zealand Woman's Weekly, 16 February 1987 – Pages 4–5 Tania Rowles : something to sing about
  21. ^ 45Cat – Tania Rowles – Discography

External linksEdit