Riding into the Sunset
New Zealand’s rock’n’roll pioneer was a cowboy at heart. Although in rock histories Cooper is praised for making New Zealand’s first rock’n’roll recording, a cover of ‘Rock Around The Clock’, his most significant release was a self-penned country song, ‘Look What You’ve Done’.
Cooper had a busy, varied career. In the early 1950s, before he ever heard the words “rock’n’roll”, he recorded several country 78s. He toured Korea three times as an entertainer for the New Zealand troops. He wrote what is regarded as the first original New Zealand rock and roll song to be recorded, ‘Pie Cart Rock and Roll’.
The rest of my profile of Johnny Cooper is here at Audioculture.
And here is an audio tribute I put together for RNZ National.
I especially love this photo of Johnny having a singalong with Auckland pop vocalist Pat McMinn during their tour of Korea in 1955 entertaining New Zealand troops. It captures the woolshed party quality of his music, and also the transition between old school pop and rock’n’roll.