Normie Rowe

As part of our commitment to capturing and sharing great Australian music stories, the Australian Music Vault asked some of the country’s most influential trailblazers and unsung heroes to open up about their lives in music.

Singer Normie Rowe has left an indelible mark on the Australian music scene. Born in Melbourne in 1947, his rise to pop stardom during the 1960s included eight Top 10 hits before the age of 20, with ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Que Sera Sera’ becoming anthems of the era. His rise took place in a quickly evolving musical landscape and Rowe’s clean-cut image captured the hearts of fans across the country earning him the title of King of Pop in 1967 and 1968. His heart-throb status was instrumental in shaping the concept of pop idols in Australia igniting mass hysteria akin to what was happening internationally.

Rowe’s career took an unexpected turn when he was conscripted in 1968 and did a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. He returned to a very different music scene but his resilience was evident as he diversified into television acting and musical theatre including taking on the career re-defining role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables during the 1980s. Rowe was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1994 and continues to appear regularly at venues across the country with his original backing band, The Playboys.

In this interview with Brian Nankervis, Normie Rowe opens up about his start in showbiz, touring the world, and his memories from the early days of the Australian music industry.

Interviewer: Brian Nankervis

Location: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 2023

Normie Rowe | Long Play Series


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