Rex Franklin (b. 25 September 1935, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand) was attracted to country music as a boy from hearing the recordings of Tex Morton and Buddy Williams and American stars Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, which had been released in New Zealand. After leaving school, he worked on a remote farm and bought his first guitar with his first wages. In September 1953, he made his first public appearance in a talent show and soon after, he formed the Ruahine Ramblers with two fellow contestants. They made their debut in January 1954, singing to the crowd waiting the arrival of Queen Elizabeth, during her New Zealand visit. They played regularly on 2ZA Palmerston North; toured locally and in May 1954, Franklin met his future wife, Noelene Anderson (b. 22 January 1936, Fielding, New Zealand). The Ramblers played on several other stations including 2YZ Napier and 2XA Wanganui and in January 1955, they recorded seven sides for the Tanza label. Franklin and Noelene began singing together and calling themselves the Sun Valley Trail Singers, they toured both North and South Island. In September 1956, they recorded four sides for Tanza Records and their first 78rpm release, ‘Would You Mind’/‘I Wonder Where You Are Tonight’ proved popular. They were married on 17 November 1956 and toured with their Western Variety Show.
Between 1959 and 1962, they made recordings for Viking Records which led to albums and several EPs including The Shearer’s Jamboree (1959), Serenading In The Evening (1960) - both as the Sun Valley Trail Singers, Drover’s Dream (1962), Fraulein (1963), Western Round Up Volume Five (1963). In 1963, Franklin also recorded with his band, the Prairie Pals. In 1966, their bestselling A Country Singalong was released. The following year they relocated to Palmerston North, where Franklin began his popular Country Round Up Show on 2ZA. This later moved to Nelson, South Island on 2ZN, where he was regularly joined on air by touring artists that included his idol Hank Snow. The show lasted until 1976 and during this time they made further recordings for Viking and Franklin and also recorded two albums for Philips Records. Later Franklin hosted a popular weekly talent show. In the late-70s, they worked the club and hotel circuits sometimes with drummer Bruce Lauchlan as a trio calling themselves Wildwood.
During his long career Rex had Australian chart hits and in the mid-60s, surprisingly had Top 20 success in the Netherlands with his recordings of ‘Shackles And Chains’ and ‘Mansion On The Hill’. He has written several songs with ‘On The Takapau Plains’ being the most popular but he has never classed himself a great songwriter. In 1988, the Franklin’s were presented with the New Zealand Country Music Pioneer Award. Their daughter Lorraine sings and, owing to her father’s tuition, has became a fine guitarist. They are still active on the New Zealand/Australian country scene. They recorded two cassette albums for sales on tour and in 1997, they released a CD album Trip To Paradise, which contains some of their very best recordings. In 1999, Bear Family Records released two CDs by the Franklins that contained many of their early recordings plus several previously unreleased tracks.