|Birth name||David Gordon Kirkpatrick|
13 June 1927|
Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||19 September 2003
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer|
|Labels||Regal Zonophone, EMI|
|Associated acts||Joy McKean, Anne Kirkpatrick|
David Gordon Kirkpatrick, known professionally as Slim Dusty AO, MBE (13 June 1927 – 19 September 2003) was an Australian country music singer-songwriter and producer, with a career spanning nearly seven decades. He was known to record songs in the legacy of Australian poets Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson that represented the Australian Bush Lifestyle, and also for his many trucking songs. Dusty was the first Australian to have a No. 1 Hit song with Gordon Parsons ("A Pub with No Beer"). He received an unequalled 37 Golden Guitar and two ARIA awards and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and the Country Music Roll of Renown. At the time of his death at the age of 76, Dusty had been working on his 106th album for EMI Records. In 2007, his domestic record sales in Australia surpassed seven million.
Early life and career
David Gordon Kirkpatrick was born on 13 June 1927 in Nulla Nulla Creek near Kempsey, New South Wales, the son of a cattle farmer. Kirkpatrick adopted the stage name "Slim Dusty" in 1938 at eleven years of age. His earliest musical influences included Jimmie Rodgers. In 1945, Dusty wrote When the Rain Tumbles Down in July and released his first record that year at the age of eighteen. In 1946, he signed his first recording contract with Columbia Graphophone for the Regal Zonophone label.
Rise to fame and enduring popularity
In 1951, Dusty married singer-songwriter Joy McKean and, with her help, achieved great success around Australia. In 1954, the two launched a full-time business career, including the Slim Dusty Travelling Show. McKean was Dusty's wife and manager for over 50 years. Together the couple had two children, Anne Kirkpatrick and David Kirkpatrick, who are also accomplished singer-songwriters. McKean wrote several of Dusty's most popular songs, including: "Walk A Country Mile", "Indian Pacific", "Kelly's Offsider", "The Angel of Goulburn Hill" and "The Biggest Disappointment". Although himself an accomplished writer of songs, Dusty had a number of other songwriters, including Mack Cormack, Barry Thornton, Gordon Parsons, Stan Coster, and Kelly Dixon, who were typically short on formal education but big on personal experience of the Australian bush. Drawing on his travels and such writers over a span of decades, Dusty chronicled the story of a rapidly changing postwar Australian nation. Nevertheless, the arrival of rock and roll music saw major metropolitan music radio stations abandon support for country artists, and despite record sales in the multimillions, after the 1950s, Dusty was rarely heard on-air outside regional centres in Australia.
Dusty's 1957 hit "A Pub with No Beer" was the biggest-selling record by an Australian to that time, the first Australian single to go gold, and the first and only 78 rpm record to be awarded a gold disc. Over the course of his career, he collected more gold and platinum albums than any other Australian artist. (The "Pub with No Beer" is a real place, in Taylors Arm, not far from Kempsey where Slim was born). In 1959 and 1960, Dutch and German cover versions of the song became number one hits (even evergreens) in Belgium, Austria and Germany, brought by the Flemish country singer-guitarist and amusement park founder Bobbejaan Schoepen.
1964 saw the establishment of the annual Slim Dusty Australia-round tour, a 48,280 kilometres (30,000 mi) journey that went on for ten months. This regular event was the subject of a feature film, The Slim Dusty Movie, in 1984.
Dusty recorded not only songs written by himself and other fellow Australian performers but also classic Australian poems by Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, with new tunes to call attention to the old 'Bush Ballads.' An example is The Man from Snowy River by Paterson. In 1970, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for services to music. In 1973, he won Best Single at the inaugural Country Music Awards of Australia at the Tamworth Country Music Festival (McKean won Song of the Year as writer of "Lights on the Hill"). In all, he won a record 35 "Golden Guitars" over the years.
Slim Dusty and his wife were patrons of the National Truck Drivers' Memorial located at Tarcutta, New South Wales. The General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, invited him and his wife to perform in 1997, recognising 50 years contributing to Country Music. The following January, he was awarded an officer of the Order of Australia for his service to the entertainment industry.
Slim recorded and released his one hundredth album, Looking Forward, Looking Back, in 2000 and became the first artist in commercial recording history to do so; second was Cliff Richard. All 100 albums had been recorded with the same record label, EMI, making Dusty the very first music artist in the world to record 100 albums with the same label. He was then given the honour of singing Waltzing Matilda in the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, with the whole stadium (officially 114,714 in attendance, the largest in Olympic history) singing along with him.
Thousands gathered at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, on 26 September 2003 at a state funeral attended by the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, and the federal opposition leader Simon Crean. Anglican Dean of Sydney Phillip Jensen's tribute included leading the congregation of family, statesmen, fans, and musicians in the singing of "A Pub With No Beer". The funeral featured tributes from Slim's children as well as words from other national music stars (Peter Garrett and John Williamson) and music from Graeme Connors, Kasey Chambers, and Troy Cassar-Daley. Thousands of fans travelled from around Australia to stand outside the cathedral. He was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney.
At the time of his death, Dusty had been working on his 106th album for EMI. The album Columbia Lane – the Last Sessions debuted at number five in the Australian album charts and number one on the country charts on 8 March 2004. It went gold after being on sale for less than two weeks.
Columbia Lane is a tribute to the laneway juxtaposed to Parramatta Road in Strathfield (near the railway bridge link), where the EMI studios once stood (now Kennards Hire), and it is where he traversed to begin his music career.
In 2005, a statue of the "Cunumulla Fella" was unveiled in Cunnamulla, Queensland, in tribute to Dusty and Stan Coster and to the iconic song of that name performed by Dusty with lyrics by Coster. The song recalls Coster's days working as a sheep-shearing "ringer" around Cunnamulla in the 1950s. Dusty recorded the song and it became an enduring country music hit, later covered by Lee Kernaghan. The statue was unveiled by country music personalities Anne Kirkpatrick (Dusty's daughter), Jayne Kelly, and Tracy and Russell Coster.
The Wiggles dedicated his death on their "Top of the Tots" video as well as Jane Hill's death.
Honours and milestones
- The first Australian to receive a Gold Record.
- The first Australian to have an international record hit (A Pub with No Beer).
- Made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to entertainment.
- The first artist broadcast from space when astronauts played his rendition of Waltzing Matilda from Space Shuttle Columbia as it passed over Australia on its maiden flight in 1981.
- The winner of an unequalled 36 Golden Guitar awards from 72 nominations at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. (see www.country.com.au/cmaa-awards/winners-archive)
- One of the earliest members of Australia's country music Roll of Renown.
- The achiever of more Gold Record and Platinum Record Awards than any other Australian artist.
- Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and the ARIA Special Achievement Award.
- The Royal Australian Mint issued a coin celebrating his life.
- EMI Records' Australian sales of Slim Dusty records surpassed 7 million in 2007.
- Slim Dusty was a guest on the Wiggles' children DVD "Wiggly Wiggly World".
- His daughter Anne Kirkpatrick is also an award-winning country singer.
- Slim's life was the subject of a 1984 feature film: The Slim Dusty Movie"
- The Slim Dusty Centre will be built in Kempsey, NSW, Slim's home town.
- The 2010 book 100 Best Australian Albums by Toby Creswell, Craig Mathieson and John O'Donnell ranked The Very Best of Slim Dusty as the 24th best Australian album of the last 50 years.
- Slim Dusty discography (incomplete)
- National Film and Sound Archive: Pub With No Beer on australianscreen online
- "Senior Australian of the Year", 1999 award by the Australian government. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "Slim Dusty: The boy who lived his dream", The Age (Australia), 21 September 2003
- "News". Slim Dusty. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "The Country Music Store – Slim Dusty Sings Joy McKean". Store.countrymusic.com.au. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Slim Dusty – Chronicler of the Bush". Historyofcountrymusic.com.au. 19 September 2003. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Dave" Laing, "Slim Dusty: Country singer famous for A Pub With No Beer", The Guardian (UK), 20 September 2003
- "North Coast: The Pub With No Beer". NRMA. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
- It's an Honour – Member of the Order of the British Empire
- It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia
- "Music Australia – Slim Dusty". Nla.gov.au. 3 April 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Slim Dusty dies", Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2003
- "Nothing morbid, nothing drear, just Slim". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 September 2003.
- Sydney Morning Herald, "Crematorium opens doors to everlasting celebrations of life", 16 June 2012; Retrieved 7 August 2013
- "Concert for Slim (Slim Dusty): DVDs". Chaos.com. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Cunnamulla Fella – Things To See and Do". Queensland Holidays. 18 November 2005. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Shrimpton, James (13 November 2008). "Bronzed Aussie president over Cunnamulla". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Cunnamulla Fella". Tourism Queensland. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
- "Milestones". Slim Dusty. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Australian country music – australia.gov.au". Cultureandrecreation.gov.au. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- " "Historian of the Bush: Australian country music icon Slim Dusty has died, aged 76 (Obituary: Slim Dusty dead)"[dead link], ABC News On-Line. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
- "Royal Australian Mint celebrates the life of Slim Dusty with a 1 Dollar coin". News Allnumis. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "The Slim Dusty Centre Project. Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia. Slim Dusty Paver Program. Slim Dusty Tyrrells Wines. Slim Dusty Music Memories Week". Slimdustycentre.com.au. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "The 100 Best Australian Albums | music news | triple j". Abc.net.au. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Official Website (includes a more thorough discography)
- Slim Dusty at the National Film and Sound Archive
- Slim Dusty Centre Project
- Listen to a clip from 'Pub With No Beer' and read more about it on australianscreen online
- 'Pub With No Beer' was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2008