Normie’s Golden Run
Written by Ryan Stevenson on 9 November 2020
Normie Rowe in the mid 1960’s dominated Australian music and was Australia’s first King of Pop when he won the award in 1967 and 1968.
They say he was the sixties version of Justin Bieber in terms of popularity and success though some would no doubt tell you that Normie back then and now can sing much better than Justin Bieber can.
Hits came easy for Normie with “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, “Shakin’ All Over”, “Tell Him I’m Not Home”, “The Stones That I Throw” and “Que Sara Sara” being some of his hits as he enjoyed eight top ten singles (five were double A-side) in a year and a half.
Backing him for the majority of his hits was the band The Playboys who later became Procession.
His debut single after being picked up the label Sunshine was “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and it started the run of success upon its release in April 1965 by peaking at No. 5 on the charts, a dream start for artists.
Normie’s second single “I (Who Have Nothing)” continued the strong run with a peak position of No. 9 giving Normie two Top Ten hits from two singles but even more was to come.
“Que Sara Sara”/”Shakin’ All Over” hit No. 1 after it was released in September 1965, both songs are two of his most remembered songs with “Shakin’ All Over” getting a Coles style revamp decades later.
There was so much demand for Normie’s music that they pumped out four EP’s in 1965 as well as four singles and a fifth that was withdrawn from sale.
The final release for 1965, November’s “Tell Him I’m Not Home”/”Call on Me” peaked at No. 3 giving him the year many artists could only dream of.
There was a bit of a gap before “The Breaking Point”/”Ya Ya” was released in March 1966 and it would deliver Normie his third Top 5 single in a row as it peaked at No. 5.
“Pride & Joy”/”The Stones That I Throw” was released in June 1966 where it peaked at No. 8 and “The Stones That I Throw” would be sung again on Australian TV in 1968.
“Ooh La La/”Ain’t Nobody Home” put Normie back at No. 1 after its release in November 1966 and just a month later “It’s Not Easy”/”Mary Mary” was released and gave him a No. 3 hit.
1966 was another four EP and four single released year for Normie, something that you wouldn’t see being done in this day and age although some bands do try to release an album every year.
“Going Home”/”I Don’t Care” kicked off 1967 and it was Normie’s first single outside the Top 10 but it was close to it as it had peaked at No. 11, unfortunately it was Normie’s last single to get close to the Top Ten.
“I Live in the Sunshine”/”Far Beyond the Call of Duty” did not chart but “Sunshine Secret”/”But I Know” peaked at No. 17 and “Turn Down Day”/”Stop to Think It Over” peaked at No. 46.
Normie Rowe was called up for National Service in latter half 1967 and he was inducted into the Australian Army in early 1968, he had done his basic training at Puckapunyal with his every movement there given media attention.
Australians were drafted for military service based on the date of their birth, Normie’s birth date was not selected and it is said he was drafted for political purposes as it was believed his popularity would equal more support for the war.
Normie released “Penelope” in May 1968 followed by “Break Out”/”Born to Be By Your Side” in August and “Walking on New Grass” was released in October that year with “Penelope” peaking at No. 30 and “Break Out”/”Born to Be By Your Side” peaking at No. 41.
He was sent off to fight in South Vietnam in 1969 and he served as the Crew Commander of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) after being promoted on July 29 that year.
While he was in Vietnam, “Just to Satisfy You” and “You Got Style” were released in March and May 1969 whilst Normie was in Vietnam but neither single charted which is understandable as he wasn’t able to do any promotion at the time.
Normie Rowe returned home as a Corporal in 1970 to a changed Australia, Johnny Farnham was now King of Pop and the anti-war sentiment that had gripped Australia had turned many fans away from Normie but he still continued on to make music and spread his abilities into other entertainment fields but that is another story and one that you will see in this column in the near future.