Monday, February 26, 2024
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Australian Rock of Ages: Number 2 – Normie Rowe

Rob Greaves
Rob Greaves
I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

The Life and Time Stories of Australian Musicians, Performance Artists and those who commenced their their contributed to the Australian Music industry from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. 

Australian Rock of Ages is a series of interviews conducted with artists, entrepreneurs, managers, and those who promoted and contributed to the Australian Music Industry.  All were born in Australia or settled in Australia during the halcyon years of the late 1950’s through to the late 1970’s. 

There will be a different story presented each month.

This program features the story of Normie Rowe.

Born in 1947 Normie Rowe is one of a rare group of Australian artists that have left a wonderful musical legacy.

In Part One of his story Normie willingly shares intimate stories of his early life with his mother, father and family.

Normie starts his story from his earliest memories, through his school years.  As he does we also begin to understand what drove Normie into a musical career that commenced in the early 1960’s and continues through to today.

He was somewhat assisted by the support of the legendary DJ, Stan Rofe. It was Stan who immediately identified the talent that lay within Normie. 

Normie is an upfront person, even brutally honest at times.

Certainly Part one lays the foundation for an entertaining and informative 4-part series.

australian rock of ages - normie rowe
Normie – Top Left hand side

In Part 2 of this amazing Baby Boomer’s story, performer Normie Rowe revisits some of his astounding achievements.

These include the fact that between April 1965 and June of 1967 he had an amazing 15 top 40 hits. Oh, this also including several #1’s.

His popularity was unparalleled at this time and his fame grew along with the Australian music scene.

We also get to learn more about Normie the person. However, what is a constant winding its way through his story and his life is – music!

australian rock of ages - normie rowe
Normie in full performance – backed by the Playboys

In Part 3 Normie examines how fate and politics conspired against him.

Yet he grabbed the opportunity that was thrust upon him.  However it also meant the beginning of the end of this very successful part of his music career.

Normie was a music phenomenon during the 1960’s.  We learn how on the back of his success in Australia, he went to the UK. Although he underwent an amazing growth in his music presentation, it was to the detriment of sales.

Certainly all was not well!

From the late 1960’s through into the 1970’s his career shut down. This was almost singly due to being called up as a conscript to serve in the Vietnam War.

This conscripted call-up that itself was somewhat accurately described as a set-up. It turned out he was the only young Australian with his birth date to be conscripted.

So while Normie was able to make a few appearances when on leave from Vietnam,  his pop career was over.

During the program Normie talked candidly about this period and the changes he underwent both personally and career wise.

australian rock of ages - normie rowe
Normie being farewelled as he sets off for Vietnam

Part 4 is the final part of his story. We listen to Normie continue to share his very strong feelings about the treatment of the Vietnam Vets.

It becomes obvious to us that his conscription had a profound effect upon him.

However we also learn that his music career is anything but over. With a grandchild in his life he now sees the world from quite a different point of view.

Normie continues to share his observations on a range of topics close to his heart. Even today, he continues to work and maintain an active interest in the Australian music scene.

Yet he never forgets his time in Vietnam and the effect it had upon him.  He talks with passion about his continuing strong support for Vietnam veterans.

australian rock of ages - normie rowe

It would be foolish to say that in four programs we know all about Normie Rowe the person and performer.

However we can say we have some insight into not just an amazing Aussie entertainer, but an amazing man. 


 

Part One


 

Part Two


 

Part Three


 

Part Four

 


 

Previous stories in Australian Rock Of Ages can be found via these links:

Program #1 – Bob Bright: Click here

Rob Greaves

I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

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