Little Boy Lost (song)
The song accurately relates the saga of Australia’s greatest land and air search. For four days and three nights, in February 1960, William Stanley, an Aboriginal tracker, five thousand people and seven aircraft searched the rugged New England Ranges of New South Wales, Australia, for a four-year-old farm boy, Steven Walls, the Little Boy Lost. They found him alive and well.
An Australian all-time great
Little Boy Lost was the top Australian hit-song of 1960. And in its day, it became one of this country's all-time greatest hits, awarded the first 45rpm Gold Record struck in Australia and also, in 1961, New Zealand’s first 45rpm Gold Record.
A Johnny Ashcroft TV performance of Little Boy Lost was released worldwide as a film clip (there were no videos then). That film clip was a forerunner of the video and DVD clips of today. ‘Covers’ by world renowned artists were released, notably by Jimmy Dean in the U.S. and Michael Holliday in the UK. Notable Australian artists recorded Little Boy Lost, among them were Jimmy Little, Slim Dusty, the Singing Kettles and Evelyn Bury.
A selfless act of compassion
Some months after Steven Walls was found alive, and Little Boy Lost was still riding high on Top 40 charts, Sydney schoolboy Graeme Thorne became Australia's first kidnap victim, later found murdered. Purely because of connotations associated with the title, Little Boy Lost, Johnny Ashcroft had his song removed from Australian airplay to avoid the trauma of those three repetitive words being inflicted upon Graeme Thorne's family and friends. In doing so, he became the only songwriter/recording artist, at least in Australia, to deliberately kill the airplay of his own hit record.
The original Johnny Ashcroft recording of Little Boy Lost has been available continuously, in various catalogues, since 1960. This hit version of the song was re-released on 4 August 2007 on a 28-track Rajon Music double CD set, Johnny Ashcroft, Here’s To You, Australia!
In 1978, the Little Boy Lost movie had its world premiere at Armidale, New South Wales – in Australia's wild New England Ranges. Johnny Ashcroft and Gay Kayler recorded a brand new version of Little Boy Lost for the movie sound track, as well as some moving vocal sequences. Bob “Beetles” Young composed the movie theme.
The Little Boy Lost movie, which received the Catholic Award for Decency in Germany, starred Nathan Dawes as Steven Walls, Lorna Lesley and John Hargreaves as his parents, Tony Barry as Constable Jack O’Dea and Steve Dodd as William Stanley, the Aboriginal tracker. It was directed by Terry Bourke and released worldwide. Later, the Little Boy Lost movie became available on video and DVD.
The DVD of Little Boy Lost was re-released in 2005 and again in 2007.
- Johnny Ashcroft Official website
- Gay Kayler
- Johnny Ashcroft's Little Boy Lost with movie clips on YouTube
- The Menzies Era No.1 Hits 1960s
- Little Boy Lost 1960 hit version in National Film & Sound Archives
- IMDb link to the 1978 film
- Little Boy Lost movie listing in National Film & Sound Archives
- History of Country Music–In 1960…“Little Boy Lost… topping charts nationwide”
- Kelly Fuller, ABC New England North West, interviews Johnny on 50th Anniversary 7 Feb 2010
- Spencer Howson, ABC Brisbane, interviews Johnny on 50th Anniversary 5 Feb 2010
- Tim Cox, ABC Hobart, blog re Johnny and 50th Anniversary 11 Feb 2010