Original NZ Rocker Johnny Cooper Dies

Johnny Cooper, who in the 1950s released the first rock ’n’ roll record in New Zealand, died in Lower Hutt aged 86.

Photo: nzhistory.net.nz
Pictured left with the Range Riders 

In the late ’40s, Cooper landed a deal with HMV Records from a talent quest, and had a series of country hits as the Maori Cowboy.

In 1955, HMV suggested a new sound. According to music historian John Dix, Cooper released his version of “Rock Around The Clock” before Bill Hayley in New Zealand.

He later was a promoter, discovering significant talent including Johnny Devlin, Midge Marsden and The Fourmyula.