The meteoric career of one of NZ’s greatest entertainers is examined in this documentary. John Rowles went from a Kawerau childhood to stardom in London at 21; but, after headlining in Hawaii and Las Vegas, he saw it all slip away. Those roofing ads and near bankruptcy followed, but Rowles has retained his self belief and that voice. A stellar cast of interviewees analyse his strengths and weaknesses, including Sir Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Neil Finn and late promoter Phil Warren. Amongst the star cameos, John’s sister Cheryl Moana explains the downside of his best-known local hit.
Kawerau-raised John Rowles was inspired to become a singer after witnessing Māori showbands like The Howard Morrison Quartet. Following varied musical ventures in Australia, he was invited to England by manager Peter Gormley, to join Gormley's roster of ballad singers like Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones. Ballad 'If I Only had Time' got to three on the UK charts in 1968; fourth single 'M'Lady' did best in Aotearoa. In the 1970s Rowles became a nightclub fixture in Honolulu and Las Vegas, punctuated by occasional Kiwi hits and tours. By the 80s he was living in Australia. His autobiography landed in 2012.