As John Rowles sauntered down the aisle at Government House today exhibiting a confident smile and waving proudly, it was hard not to liken him to the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

At age 71, the singer's slicked back hair, pearly white teeth and the reverberation of the lyrics to hit song Cheryl Moana Marie that follow him everywhere, unmistakably warrant him the King title for New Zealand pop music.

But King was not the title to be bestowed today, as Sir John Rowles joined a cohort of people receiving their Queen's Honours at Thursday mornings Investiture Ceremony.

Almost 60 years after his music career begun, the legendary Kiwi singer knelt in front of the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and her partner Sir David Gascoigne to be knighted for his services to entertainment.


"It was actually a big surprise," Sir John told the Herald.

"I'm glad it happened now because I got the OBE in 1979 from Governor [Keith] Holyoake and Rob Muldoon.

"This sort of completes the whole trip – I can't get much after this. I feel absolutely fantastic," he said.

Looked upon with honour by his two sons, sisters and family, a brief summary of Rowles' career included his tours in the United States and the United Kingdom, and continued shows in New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.

He was also part of a Royal Command Performance for The Queen in 1981.

A photo of John Rowles performing in 1968. His sister Cheryl, was just 11-years-old when he wrote a song about her that swept the world hit parades.
A photo of John Rowles performing in 1968. His sister Cheryl, was just 11-years-old when he wrote a song about her that swept the world hit parades.

He performed a farewell tour in 2011 before returning to the stage in 2014 for his 'I'm Back Again' Australian tour.

He later released his autobiography 'If I Only Had Time' in 2012 and his anthology album of the same name in 2013.

Looking back on the years of performing, Rowles said his mother would be very proud.

"She was so proud with the OBE when I got that, so I can imagine what she would be with the knighthood.

"She protected my OBE medal so much that she hid it away because she was afraid someone might steal it and then when I actually did sell the house nobody could find it.

"It was up on the top of the kitchen, way up the top by the pot plant," he laughed.

"I think I will hide this one as I would hate to lose it."

But being invested as a knight is not the end of Rowles' music career, with the pop star still performing, recording and writing music.

"I'm just going out performing when I want to go out. I have given up the touring night after night. I go out maybe once a fortnight or every three weeks and do really good shows where most of them are full.

"But I am just taking it easy as you only have so many years to live so you don't want to blow it," he said.

Sir John said the last song he wrote was 'This Show Is For You'.

"The other one is called 'The Lights Of Te Atatū' which is about Te Atatū and written by a friend of mine.

"I had an association with Te Atatū for many years. I bought my mother a house there in 1970 and lived there for so many years, so I said 'I am going to record that song', and I did. We are just putting the icing on the cake at the moment."

Despite a long and successful career, Rowles said he still hopes for another hit record.

"I have been trying for a long time but eventually it will come."

He said there were lots of people to credit for helping him get this far.

"The big management agency machine that no artist can really go anywhere internationally without that machine behind them.

"Lots of influences and people like The Platters, The Drifters, The Ink Spots, P.J. Proby, Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones – they were big influencers for me when I started.

"My two sons, Dane and Blake, my sister Georgina who drove me to my first talent quest back in Kawerau back in the late 50s, and Cheryl Moana Marie who is here with her husband.

"And Peter Gormley my manager, there is a whole list that could go from here to Invercargill."