John Rowles: Our very own king

06:32, Nov 09 2012
rowles std
JOHN ROWLES: Opens up about his life in his autobiography If I Only Had Time.

Legendary New Zealand singer John Rowles says he didn't want to become a lonely, exploited star like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.

Rowles has just released his autobiography, If I Only Had Time, which covers everything from the highs of his UK chart success to the lows of lost opportunities and finances.

Talking after the release, he said he had witnessed the exploitation of big-name stars in the United States firsthand.

He remembers an ego-inflated Elvis, surrounded by an entourage, gate-crashing a Tom Jones show in the 1970s.

"I could have let myself get like him but I didn't want to be like that."

Rowles said the kings of pop, like Presley and Jackson, "got so exploited" they became lost.


He details his experiences with financial ruin, saying he only had himself to blame.

"I wasn't ready for it. I was cutting trees in the [Kaingaroa] forest. I was only 20 when it all happened to me. I should have stayed in the United Kingdom until I was about 26 before going to the States.

"My manager Peter Gormley, who was a beautiful, honest man, had a 10-year plan for me but my love of beautiful women meant I fell in love instead."

Rowles said when he realised he needed to follow the plan, it was too late and Gormley had to move on.

He said his life and career had not all been a struggle, "there were great times too".

"Staying away from the pitfalls is all about luck. I got on to Brian Henderson's Band Stand in Australia. That's when I got my opportunity to be spotted."

He would like to see his life played out in a screen play, with the childhood John Rowles perhaps being played by his 13-year-old son, Dane, who is the spitting image of Rowles as a youth.

"I have always wanted to make movies.

"I could perhaps take it from about the age of 45, with some soft lighting, I reckon I could get away with it."

Rowles' recent world tour, which took two years to complete, was his last.

But he is far from retiring yet.

"The days of airports, getting on and off planes, venues, casinos, theatres after 48 years, I really don't want to do that anymore. It's now doing what I want to do."

Rowles is happy to be settled back in New Zealand and now plays the venues he wants to.

He says he will need to continue working.

"I'm not rich but I am a survivor."

Having always wanted to be a father, he enjoys the times when he can get together with his boys who usually live with their mother in Australia.

"The best thing about being a dad is just the affection and love from them and the fact that we made them - you know that male ego, that's your child, hearing them say 'daddy', that's the greatest thing."