Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: What can you tell me about a New Zealand singer named John Rowles?

I do know he had a very popular hit in Hawaii around September of 1970, with a Polynesian title that sounded like “Cheryl Mauwana.” All of the radio stations on the islands played this hit that summer.

Since then, I never again heard another song by John or anything whatsoever about him.

His on-stage movements resembled Tom Jones, but his singing style was more like Engelbert Humperdinck.

I would just like to know what happened to him.
—Sherry L. Boyd, Milwaukee

DEAR SHERRY: John Rowles may be best known in the United States for “Cheryl Moana Marie” (Kapp 2102), his only hit here, but is record sales in Europe and his home turf, the Pacific Basin, number in the millions.

John's first US single, “If I Only Had Time” (Uni 55068), came out in 1968 when he just turned 21. Though this tune failed to chart stateside it did reach the Top 3 on the UK charts.

Just the opposite occurred with “Cheryl Moana Marie.” This beauty became a US hit — especially in Hawaii — yet surprisingly did not even make the UK charts.

One easily hears the powerful Humperdinck style on “Cheryl Moana Marie,” but I think John sounds more like Tom Jones on “If I Only Had Time.”

At age 22, John Rowles took the stage at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, one of the youngest singers to headline in Vegas (Elvis did so at just 21).

More recently, John is usually found on a concert tour down under, appearing mostly in Australia.

His show stops this summer include New South Wales, Melbourne, and Goldcoast.

DEAR JERRY: Is Gene Chandler still living?

I am curious about Gene since I recently learned that he and I share the same birthday.

If he has passed away, what was the cause of death?
—Kerry Keesey, York, Pa.

DEAR KERRY: Let me wish both you and Gene a Happy Birthday this week, since you both came into this world on July 6th.

As my dual greeting implies, Gene is very much alive and he still makes his home in Chicago. He continues to entertain fans who never tire of seeing and hearing the Duke of Dukedom.

Need more info? A brief biography and limited discography can be viewed at

Appropriately, all of this does support Gene's 1961 tuneful assertion that “Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl.”

DEAR JERRY: I am looking for the exact title, recording artist, label, number, and year of release for a song titled either “29 Palms,” or “Lady from 29 Palms.”

Can you help with this?
—Jay Kerner, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR JAY: It is “Lady from 29 Palms,” three versions of which reached the Top 10 in 1947.

It charted in August by Freddy Martin and His Orchestra (RCA Victor 2347), and by Tony Pastor and His Orchestra (Columbia 37562).

In October the tune returned to the scene, this time by the Andrews Sisters (Decca 23976). The recording you seek is most likely one of these three, but there are two others from that same summer that did not chart — one by the Pied Pipers (Capitol 460) and one from Victor Lombardo (Majestic 7250).

IZ ZAT SO? There is an interesting story behind the beautiful Maui Miss, “Cheryl Moana Marie.”

John Rowles accepted an invitation to represent New Zealand in the 1969 Rio De Janeiro Song Festival. For this special competition, John wrote “Cheryl Moana Marie.”

The inspiration for this tune came from John's younger sister, whose name really is Cheryl Moana Marie.

Facing stiff competition in Rio from singers and songs from 42 countries, John was understandably thrilled when “Cheryl Moana Marie” won fifth place overall.

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