Val and David Lawrence with Normie Rowe at the Vue Grand.

Queenscliff’s Vue Grand Hotel hosts Normie Rowe concert

The Vue Grand’s In the Round Concert Series is bringing first class entertainers like 1960s pop star Normie Rowe AM who had us ‘shakin all over’ in the Grand Dining Room. Normie was backed by his band The Playboys who had outgrown the playboy look but not their ability to play drums, guitar and keyboard that had the crowd singing much loved chorus’ and go-go dancing.

Normie Rowe was the first and biggest male solo star of Australian pop in the 1960s. With his backing band, The Playboys, he cut a string of classic beat singles on the Sunshine label that kept him at the top of charts for two years making him the most popular Australian solo singer of the ‘beat’ era. Normie’s double-sided hit ‘Que Sera Sera’ and ‘Shakin’ All Over’ is cited as the top-selling Australian single of the 1960s and still one of the biggest selling Australian recordings of all time.

Normie was inducted into the army in February 1968 and he said he, like so many others, genuinely felt it was his duty to go. He was shipped off to Vietnam in January 1969 and served his tour of duty with distinction rising to the rank of Corporal and was Crew Commander of his own armoured personnel carrier.

In the audience were Lt Col David Lawrence (rtd) and his wife Val. Normie was David’s driver in Vietnam and recalled driving the leading armoured vehicle on Route 1 stopping abruptly at many culverts prompting Lt Col Lawrence to radio him asking was it necessary to stop at every culvert. “No sir but I will follow you wherever you lead!” At their destination Lt Col Lawrence said on the quiet, “It’s not appropriate to speak to me like that over the radio Normie.” Normie said David was one of the better commanders and attended many reunions. They also met up two years ago on a cruise ship heading to Gallipoli for the centenary celebrations.

The strong anti-war sentiment of the period affected Normie, and like so many Vietnam vets, he suffered considerably because of his service and now supports vets in many ways.
Normie studied at the Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre and took roles on stage and TV and in 1987 he won great acclaim in his central role of Jean Valjean in the musical Les Miserables. One of the highlights of his career was his appointment as a Member of The Order of Australia (AM) for his services to Vietnam veterans, the entertainment industry and the community.

Normie Rowe is still one of the most exciting performers around and the great recordings like ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, ‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Elizabeth’ he made in his heyday are lasting testaments to his talent. “This has been a great night,” he said. “I love singing better than anything.” And the crowd loved his singing in return giving him and The Playboys a well deserved standing ovation.

Future Shows
Vince Jones, Dennis Walter and Jade Hurley are coming soon with very entertaining shows and sing-alongs for December and January including Elvis, Dusty Springfield and great show featuring Women of the 60s.

“We have tried to make these shows great value for money and bring performers who have great showmanship and can really entertain alongside tasty substantial canapés and quality beer and wines,” said the Vue Grand’s Mitch Duncan. See advertisement on back page for full details.