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Johnny Cooper - Give It A Whirl Interview

Interview – 2022

Johnny Cooper (Ngāti Kahungunu) is celebrated for singing on Aotearoa's first rock 'n' roll recording, a 1955 cover of 'Rock Around the Clock'. After enjoying a short but successful stint as a singer, Cooper ran a talent show around Aotearoa, where he mentored new stars. 

 In this interview for 2003 television series Give It A Whirl, Cooper covers many topics, including:  

• The success of his early 1950s singles such as 'One by One' and 'Look What You've Done' (8 minutes in) 

• Being persuaded to play rock'n'roll by his record label bosses at HMV (11 minutes)

• Early negative opinions towards rock'n'roll, and how the tides turned (19 minutes)

• Writing what's thought to be Aotearoa's first original rock'n'roll song, 'Pie Cart Rock and Roll' (21 minutes)

• Touring with music legend Johnny Devlin (30 minutes)

• How rock 'n' roll took over music (31 minutes)

Read more about Johnny Cooper, on AudioCulture, NZ On Screen's sister website

This interview was recorded for the 2003 season of TV series Give it a Whirl. All audiovisual content is copyright to Visionary Film & TV, and may not be reproduced.
...maybe in those early days when I had the wind up gramophone, you know? That was my happiest days, listening to those recordings. That might be the reason.
– Johnny Cooper on why he devoted his career to music (34 minutes into this interview)