Rex FRANKLIN (1980)
1935 – Born Douglas Rex
Franklin on September 29th
in Napier New Zealand.
Among his earliest recollections, music-wise, was singing
“Silent Night” in church, without any backing, as a 12 year old,
but TEX MORTON was his idol from the an early age, and he wanted
to sing on the radio, and then, his dream was to make records.
1950 - He bought his first guitar, a Tex Morton model, with one
of his first pays, and eventually, one of his rugby team mates
tuned it up for him, on the bus, on the way to a match.
1953 - Rex was beginning to learn something about the guitar,
and later that year, he entered a talent quest in Dannevirke,
singing the two songs he could accompany himself on, and he met
fellow-contestants Horace and Tui Hartley, which lead to Horace
inviting Rex to join their group, and The Ruahine Ramblers made
their first radio broadcast in February 1954, and performed at
dances, concerts, more radio broadcasts and talent quests, and
it was at one of those talent quests, at Palmerston North in May
1954, that Rex heard, and very quickly met, a very attractive
young lady by the name of Noelene Anderson, who was singing in
her first talent quest.
The following year, they met again, at a dance at Linton Camp,
where Rex was playing guitar in the army band, but he ended up
doing more dancing than playing that night, and eventually, they
teamed-up, and they sang in public for the first time together
in November 1955, at Ormondville. (Noelene was born in Feilding
on the 22nd of January 1936)
They continued singing at concerts, dances and began
broadcasting together, from radio stations in Palmerston North,
Napier, Wanganui, and Wellington, and guesting on talent quests,
(mainly those organised by Johnny Cooper) and they made their
first record (an old 78rpm) in 1956, followed by another two
1956 – Rex, and his wife Noelene, released “Would You
Mind” and “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight” on Tanza Records and
achieve success bith both.
In the late 50s, Rex put on several Western Variety Shows. In
Norsewood, Takapau, Porangahau, and one in Dannevirke, where he
engaged the talents of the rock and roll singer Johnny Devlin.
1960 - They released their first long-play record on the Viking
label, as well as a two extended-play 45s.Their first recordings
were done in a lounge, with just one microphone, but they
progressed to the engineer’s own small studio, then to back
stage at the Dannevirke Town Hall, when they started using a
band. They went on to record nine LPs, seven EPs, three 45rpm
singles, as well as cassettes, and they were included on several
1964 - Rex and Noelene were asked to tour the lower South Island
with Julie Nelson, who had the hit song “Sticky Beak the Kiwi”,
but the tour was cut short, because it was the start of
television in New Zealand, and people were staying home in
droves to watch the new phenomenon, but they did record a couple
of radio shows at 4ZA in Invercargill, and they were shown
around the oldest radio station in NZ, 4XD Dunedin, where they
were featured in some broadcasts.
The same year, two of Rex’s recordings featured on radio station
FCWE in Holland, for 20 straight weeks, namely
“Shackles and Chains”, and “Mansion on the hill”.
1966 – Released “Country Singalong” which was very
Also had success in
with one of his songs reaching the Top 20 there for 20 weeks.
His recording of “Did She
Mention My Name?” being in the
charts for 16 weeks, reaching number 1.
Rex had a radio program for six years on 2ZA in
Palmerston North, 2ZD Masterson and 2ZN Nelson.
1968 - Moved to Palmerston North and Rex made arrangements to do
his own sponsored radio disc jockey programme from 2ZA, and
Saville’s Radio Shop was his sponsor, and he received mail from
all over the country, with requests for songs.
1969 - He began broadcasting, and the first artist he
interviewed, was Slim Dusty.
1970 - Rex recorded at EMI Studios in
Wellington, for the Philips Record
Company. In the early 70s, his recording of “Did she mention my
name?” was featured on 3ZB
Christchurch’s “Country Top 10” for 16
weeks, and it reached the number 1 spot.
1971 - The album “Country Gold” was released. The same year, he
returned to EMI, to record a 45rpm single, “The Red back on the
Toilet seat”/”The Fate of the Red back”, and it did very well
1972 - Moved to Nelson, and Rex recommenced his “Country
Roundup” on 2ZN, and the show carried on, until 1976, when all
the regional stations became just another station on “The
Tonight Show”, and Rex’s final show was broadcast live on “The
1973 - Recorded two songs for EMI studios “The Best-known Street
in the land (Coronation Street)” written by Rex, and
“It’s getting back to me (that you don’t care)” written by
1973 to 1980 - Rex and Noelene entertained on the pub, and club
circuit around Nelson, as a trio, with Rex on guitar, Noelene on
bass guitar, and
drummer Bruce Lauchlan. In that time, they appeared on concerts
supporting Hank Lochlin, The Webb Brothers, and Rex Dallas, and
Rex interviewed Hank Snow for his radio show, and was asked to
introduce Hank’s band The Rainbow Ranch boys on stage.
1975 – Planned the 4th
Annual Country Music Convention in Nelson for the NZCMA, of
which he was the vice president for several years.
1980 – Inducted into the Hands of Fame.
1980 - They took a trip to Australia, toured Tasmania, where
they were well-received, Noelene and son Lindsay returned home,
and Rex continued on to Canberra, Brisbane, and Sydney, where
Rex caught up with Tex Morton, and then on to Tamworth, where he
was inducted into The Hands of Fame, and on to Rockhampton,
where he did some memorable recordings.
Upon returning from Australia, Rex
was asked to play lead guitar in a country music band, and he
did that until they moved to New Plymouth in 1986.
For several years, Rex and Noelene were asked by Judy and Martin
Gugich to participate in concerts organised by “The Oldtime
Country Music Society” in Napier, and Rex played in the band, as
rhythm guitarist, and then as the lead guitarist, for a most
enjoyable period spanning 18 years.
Another interest for Rex, was to write regular newsletters to
Country music magazines around the world, mostly to
but also for a
publication “Country and Western Spotlight”.
Today, he carries on, but it is by email, to two magazines, an
online newsletter, and to their own web site, as a means of
keeping people informed about Rex and Noelene, and other
singers, and happenings.
They were asked by Bob Everhart to attend an old-time country
music gathering in America, to be recognised in their
Hall of Fame, but they had to decline the offer because of
potential costs. But they were honoured, in 1988, with The New
Zealand Country Music Pioneer Award, at The Professional Country
Music Industry Awards, held at the Michael Fowler Centre in
Rex has written several songs over the years, and they have
recorded many of them, such as “On the Takapau Plains in Sunny
Hawkes Bay”, “A Real New Zealand Cowboy Song”, “The Cowhand
Swing”, "Upon the Outlaw Trail”, “Please send us another wee
boy”, “Serenading in the evening”, “Riverbank Ramble”, “I’ll
sing you a lullaby Tune”, plus many more, and just a few weeks
ago, he wrote a song based on their career called “A Cowboy at
Noelene can boast that she has recorded all her own songs, These
days, they have several CDs for sale, including two on the
famous German label, BEAR FAMILY, a collection of their
recordings made in the 50s and 60s, and the set includes their 2
78rpm records, and their first 12” Long Play record “A thousand
Miles out Yonder”.
Of their own self-funded recordings, the far and away
best-seller is still “Out behind the barn”.
2001 - They toured Vanuatu, with Peter Posa, there were tours
with Lou and Simon, and Maria Dallas in the 60s, Eddie Low in
the 70s, they have appeared on several television shows, like
“COUNTRY TOUCH”, with TEX MORTON, “STUDIO ONE”, (Rex sang his
own song “Nashville and Country Music”), “HAVE A SHOT ON
TELEVISION”, in 1964, “Y’ALL COME”, in Invercargill, in 2004,
and repeated on Sky Digital, as well as extensively on “7
Both Rex and Noelene are featured in the HANDS OF FAME, in Gore.
2009 -They issued their final studio recorded compact disc and
in October 2010, the release of a book on early New Zealand
Music, called “Blue Smoke”.
2016 - Passed away on January 8th at Taranaki Base