6 Sep 2014

Johnny Cooper - The Māori Cowboy

Johnny Cooper, who recorded New Zealand's first rock 'n' roll record, died 3 September 2014. Chris Bourke, author of Blue Smoke, pays tribute to 'The Māori Cowboy'.

eight col Johnny Cooper and his Range Riders Wellington c From left Johnny Cooper Will Lloyd Jones Don Aldridge Ron James Jim Gatfield Sonic Records

Johnny Cooper and his Range Riders, Wellington c1955. From left Johnny Cooper, Will Lloyd-Jones, Don Aldridge Ron James, Jim Gatfield. Photo courtesy of Sonic Records

In 1955 Johnny Cooper recorded and released 'Rock Around the Clock' before Bill Haley's version had hit these shores. But there was a lot more to him than one timely cover version, as Chris Bourke explains.

Hear more from Johnny Cooper, in his own words, in our Musical Chairs program from 2001.

Music Details

Track: Chew Tobacco Rag
Artist: Johnny Cooper and the Range Riders
Composer: Briggs
Album: Ridin Along with Johnny Cooper and the Range Riders
Catalogue Number: Sonic SON 011

Track: ‘Look What You've Done’
Artist: Johnny Cooper
Composer: Johnny Cooper
78rpm disc: HMV HR61

Track: One By One
Artist: Johnny Cooper, Margaret Francis and the Range Riders
Composer: Wright
Album: Kiwi Nostalgia Hits of the 50s
Catalogue Number: BMG 139283

Track: Rock Around the Clock
Artist: Johnny Cooper
Album: Waiata: Maori Showbands, Balladeers & Pop Stars
Composer: DeKnight-Freedman
Label: EMI 50999 6802952

Track: Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll
Artist: Johnny Cooper
Album: Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll
Composer: Johnny Cooper
Label: Zerox DZERO2

Track: ‘Look What You've Done’ (live)
Artist: Johnny Cooper
Album: Nga Matua: When the Haka Became Boogie's Greatest Bits
Composer: Johnny Cooper
Label: Tangata TANGCD507