The Seekers in 1965
|Origin||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.|
|Genres||Easy-listening, pop, folk|
|Years active||1962–1968 , 1975 –1988 , 1992 –present|
|Labels||W&G, World, EMI, Columbia, Capitol|
|Past members||Ken Ray
The Seekers are an Australian folk-influenced pop quartet, originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration as: Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals.
The group had Top 10 hits in the 1960s with "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "Morningtown Ride", "Someday, One Day" (written by Paul Simon), "Georgy Girl" (the title song of the film of the same name), and "The Carnival is Over" by Tom Springfield, the last being an adaptation of the Russian folk song "Stenka Razin". The Seekers have sung it at various closing ceremonies in Australia, including World Expo 88 and the Paralympics. It is still one of the top 50 best-selling singles in the UK. Australian music historian Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock."
In 1968, they were named as joint "Australians of the Year" – the only group thus honoured. In July of that year, Durham left to pursue a solo career and the group disbanded. The band has reformed periodically, and in 1995 they were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. "I'll Never Find Another You" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Sounds of Australia registry in 2011. Woodley's and Dobe Newton's song "I Am Australian", which was recorded by the Seekers, and by Durham with Russell Hitchcock and Mandawuy Yunupingu, has become an unofficial Australian anthem. With "I'll Never Find Another You" and "Georgy Girl", the band also achieved success in the United States, but not nearly at the same level as in the rest of the world. As of 2004, the Seekers have sold over 50 million records worldwide.
- 1 An Australian group
- 2 Discovery in the United Kingdom
- 3 String of hits
- 4 Return to Australia and break up
- 5 Reunions in the 1970s and 1980s
- 6 1990s and 2000s
- 7 Million sellers
- 8 Notable performances
- 9 Television specials
- 10 Discography
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
An Australian group
The Seekers were formed in 1962 in Melbourne by Athol Guy on double bass, Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar and Bruce Woodley on guitar. Guy, Potger and Woodley had all attended Melbourne Boys High School. In the late 1950s Potger led The Trinamics, a rock 'n' roll group, Guy led the Ramblers and, with Woodley, they decided to form a doo-wop group, the Escorts. The Escorts had Ken Ray as the lead singer and in 1962 they became "The Seekers". Ray left the group to get married. His place was taken by Judith Durham, an established traditional jazz singer who had recorded an extended play disc on W&G Records with the Melbourne group, Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers.
Durham and Guy had met when they both worked in an advertising agency – initially Durham only sang periodically with the Seekers, when not performing at jazz clubs. She was replaced in the jazz ensemble by Margret RoadKnight. The Seekers performed folk-influenced pop music and soon gathered a strong following in Melbourne. Durham's connections with W&G Records led to the group signing with the label. Their debut album, Introducing The Seekers, was released in 1963. Their debut single was the bush ballad, "Waltzing Matilda", which appeared in November and reached the Melbourne top 40 singles chart. When being photographed for the album's cover, Potger was replaced by Ray – his day job with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) as a radio producer barred him from involvement in a commercial enterprise.
Discovery in the United Kingdom
The Seekers were offered a twelve-month position as on-board entertainment on the Sitmar cruise liner, Fairsky, in March 1964. In May, they travelled to the UK and had intended to return to Australia after staying ten weeks, but upon arrival they were offered work by a London booking agency, the Grade Organisation. They signed with World Record Club and issued a single, "Myra", co-written by the group. The group regularly appeared on a UK TV series, Call in on Carroll, hosted by Ronnie Carroll.
After filling in on a bill headlined by Dusty Springfield, they met her brother, songwriter and producer Tom Springfield, who had experience with folk-pop material with the siblings' earlier group the Springfields. He penned "I'll Never Find Another You", which they recorded in November 1964. It was released by EMI Records, on their Columbia label, in December and was championed by the offshore radio station Radio Caroline. Despite the fact that the group had not signed a contract with EMI, the single reached the UK Top 50 and began selling well. In February 1965, it reached No. 1 in the UK and Australia, and No. 4 in the United States where it was released on EMI's Capitol label. "I'll Never Find Another You" was the second biggest selling single in the UK for 1965 — though their own "The Carnival is Over", released later in the year, would eventually eclipse it — and went on to sell 1.75 million copies worldwide.
The Seekers were the first Australian pop group to have a top 5 hit in all three countries – Australia, UK and US. Australian music historian, Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock." The distinctive soprano voice of Durham, the group's harmonies and memorable songs encouraged the UK media, including the BBC, to give them exposure, allowing them to appeal to a broad cross-section of the pop audience.
String of hits
The Seekers achieved their first success in the US in 1965 with their highly popular hit, "I'll Never Find Another You", reaching peaks of no. 4 Pop and no. 2 Easy Listening in Billboard magazine surveys. They followed "I'll Never Find Another You" with "What Have They Done to the Rain?" in February 1965 which did not chart in the top 40. In May, another Tom Springfield composition followed, "A World of Our Own", which reached top 3 in Australia and the UK and top 20 in the US. Malvina Reynolds' lullaby "Morningtown Ride" was issued in Australia in July and peaked in the top 10. "The Carnival is Over" (the melody is based on a Russian folk song, while the lyrics were written by Tom Springfield), appeared in November, which reached No. 1 in both Australia and the UK. At its peak, the single was selling 93,000 copies a day in the UK alone.
Also in 1965, they met Paul Simon (of Simon & Garfunkel) who was pursuing a solo career in the UK following the initial poor chart success of the duo's debut LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. In 1966, the Seekers released the Simon-penned "Someday One Day", which reached No. 4 in Australia and No. 11 in the UK. Their version was Simon's first UK success as a songwriter, and his first major hit as a composer outside of his work with Art Garfunkel. Woodley co-wrote some songs with Simon, including "Red Rubber Ball" which became a US No. 2 single for the Cyrkle. The Seekers' version was provided on their 1966 LP, Come the Day (released as Georgy Girl in the US).
Early in 1966, after returning to Australia, the Seekers filmed their first TV special, At Home with the Seekers. The band were named "Best New Group of 1965" at the 1966 New Musical Express Poll Winners Awards. They appeared at the celebratory Wembley Arena concert, on a bill which included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and the Animals. The same year, the group appeared at a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium, before Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. In November, a re-recorded version of "Morningtown Ride" was released in the UK, which reached No. 2. The song had been recorded earlier as an Australian single from the 1964 album Hide and Seekers and appeared on the 1965 American debut, The New Seekers. In February 1967, "Morningtown Ride" reached the top 50 in the US.
In December 1966 they issued "Georgy Girl", which became their highest charting US hit when it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 in February 1967. It was the title song for the film of the same name and sold 3.5 million copies worldwide. The band was awarded a gold record certificate by the Recording Industry Association of America. Meanwhile it was No. 3 in the UK, and No. 1 in Australia. Its writers, Jim Dale and Tom Springfield, were nominated for the 1967 Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1966, but lost out to the title song from the film, Born Free.
Return to Australia and break up
In March 1967, the Seekers returned to Australia for a homecoming tour, which included a performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, attended by an estimated audience of 200,000. Guinness Book of World Records (1968) listed it as the greatest attendance at a concert in the Southern Hemisphere. Melburnians were celebrating the annual Moomba Festival, a free community festival, and many thousands were enjoying other attractions but are included in the crowd estimate. The Seekers were accompanied during their 20-minute set by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hector Crawford. Film of their appearance was incorporated into their 1967 Australian television special The Seekers Down Under, which was screened on Channel 7 and drew a then record audience of over 6 million.
In January 1968, on Australia Day, in recognition of its achievements, the group was named joint Australians of the Year – the only group to have this honour bestowed upon it. They personally accepted their awards from John Gorton, the Prime Minister of Australia, during their tour. During this visit, the group filmed another TV special, The World of the Seekers, which was screened in cinemas before being screened nationally on Channel 9 to high ratings and is in the Top 10 most watched TV shows of the 20th century in Australia.
In July 1968, Durham announced that she was leaving the Seekers to pursue a solo career and the group disbanded. Their final performance, on 7 July, was screened live by the BBC as a special called Farewell the Seekers, with an audience of more than 10 million viewers. The special had been preceded by a week-long season at London's Talk of the Town nightclub and a live recording of one of their shows was released as a live LP record, The Seekers Say Goodbye Live from the Talk of the Town. It reached No. 2 on the UK charts. Also in July, the compilation album The Seekers' Greatest Hits was released and spent 17 weeks at No. 1 in Australia. It was re-titled as The Best of the Seekers in the UK and spent 6 weeks at No. 1 in 1969, managing to knock the Beatles' (White Album) off the top of the charts and preventing the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet from reaching the top spot. The album spent 125 weeks in the charts in the UK.
Reunions in the 1970s and 1980s
Following the Seekers' split, Durham pursued a solo career. She released a Christmas album called For Christmas with Love (recorded in Hollywood, California) and later signed with A&M Records, releasing more albums including, A Gift of Song and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Guy hosted his own TV show in Australia, A Guy Called Athol, before entering politics in 1973. In 1969, Potger formed and managed another group, the New Seekers in the UK, which were more pop-oriented. Woodley released several solo albums and focused on songwriting, including co-writing the patriotic song "I Am Australian" with Dobe Newton (of the Bushwackers) in 1987.
From 1972, Guy, Potger and Woodley planned on reforming the Seekers without Durham. By 1975 they had recruited Louisa Wisseling, a semi-professional folk singer formerly with Melbourne group the Settlers. They had a top 10 Australian hit with the Woodley-penned "The Sparrow Song". Woodley left the group in June 1977 and was replaced by Buddy England, a former 1960s pop singer and member of the Mixtures. In 1978, Guy was replaced by Peter Robinson (ex-Strangers) and the group issued an album, All Over the World in November. In 1988, Guy, Potger and Woodley reformed the Seekers with Julie Anthony, a popular cabaret singer. In May, the group sang "The Carnival is Over" at the World Expo 88 in Brisbane. In April 1989, the group re-recorded some of their earlier work for The Seekers Live On, which peaked in the top 30 on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Albums Chart. In June 1990, Anthony left and was replaced by Karen Knowles, a former teen pop singer on Young Talent Time. However the unique timbre of Durham's voice was missing from their sound and the group split again.
1990s and 2000s
The Seekers reunited late in 1992, with the classic line-up of Durham, Guy, Potger and Woodley. In March 1992, all four met together, for the first time in 20 years, at a restaurant in Toorak. Before then they had never talked about reforming, they just wanted to get to know each other again. It was two months later that they decided to do a reunion. A 25-Year Silver Jubilee Reunion Celebration tour in 1993 was sufficiently successful that the group remained together for a further 11 years. They staged several sell-out tours of Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The reformed group issued more albums, including new studio albums Future Road in November 1997 (which peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA Albums Chart) and Morningtown Ride to Christmas (which reached the top 20 in 2001).
In 1995, the group were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. In the buildup to the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, an ABC TV satire, The Games, parodied the Seekers in the final episode, "The End". Durham had suffered a broken hip and sang "The Carnival is Over" in a wheelchair at the closing ceremony of the related Paralympic Games on 29 October. Long Way to the Top was a 2001 Australian Broadcasting Corporation six-part documentary on the history of Australian rock and roll from 1956 to the modern era. The Seekers featured on the second episode, "Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968", broadcast on 22 August, in which Durham and Woodley discussed their early work on a cruise ship, meeting Tom Springfield and their success in Britain. Four of their songs were played during the episode: "I'll Never Find Another You", "The Carnival is Over", "A World of Our Own" and "Georgy Girl".
In October 2002, on the 40th anniversary of their formation, they were the subjects of a special issue of Australian postage stamps. On 1 September 2006, they were presented with the Key to the City by Melbourne's Lord Mayor, John So. In February 2009, SBS TV program RocKwiz hosted a 50th anniversary concert at the Myer Music Bowl, RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl, which included "World of Our Own" performed by Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller and "The Carnival is Over" by Durham.
In 2004 a DVD, The Seekers at Home and Down Under, was released. It consists of a 1966 television documentary on the Seekers and a 1967 special. The cover includes a photo from the 1966 documentary.
In October 2010, The Best of the Seekers (1968), was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums. Also in October, they were scheduled to tour various Australian cities in support of violinist André Rieu and his orchestra. However,the tour was postponed when Rieu was taken ill. They released another Greatest Hits compilation in May 2011 which peaked in the top 40. That month they supported Rieu on the rescheduled Australian tour. "I'll Never Find Another You" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of the Sounds of Australia registry in 2011. "The Seekers' Golden Jubilee Tour" kicked off 2013 in May, celebrating fifty years since the group had formed in December 1962. Performing in Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, they received rave reviews to sold-out audiences. However, Judith Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage after their first concert in Melbourne. The rest of the Australian tour and later-to-be-staged UK tour were postponed; the former continued in November, while the UK tour took place in May and June 2014, ending with two performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The following recordings by the Seekers were each certified as having sold over one million copies: "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "The Carnival is Over" and "Georgy Girl". They were each awarded a gold disc. As of 2004, the Seekers have sold 60 million recordings worldwide.
- 1965 — The Seekers won the Best New Group in the New Musical Express Poll Winners Awards and performed in April at the Wembley Empire Pool, in a bill that included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard and Dusty Springfield. Archive footage from this show was included in The Seekers' 2014 50th anniversary tour.
- 1965 — In June, The Seekers performed in the United States on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- 1966 — In November, The Seekers performed on a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium before the Queen Mother.
- 1967 — The Seekers made another appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- 1967 — The Seekers represented Australia at Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (when they appeared on television in Australia via the first satellite transmission from America to Australia).
- 1965 — An Evening with The Seekers
- 1966 — The Seekers at Home
- 1967 — The Seekers Down Under and The World of The Seekers
- Four television mini-specials titled A Date With The Seekers
- Introducing the Seekers (1963)
- The Seekers (also known as Roving with the Seekers) (1964)
- Hide & Seekers (also known as The Four and Only Seekers) (1964)
- A World of Our Own (1965)
- The Seekers Sing Their Big Hits (1965) W&G 25/2512
- Come the Day (1966)
- Georgy Girl (1966) (US release; an abridged version of Come the Day)
- Seekers Seen in Green (1967)
- The Seekers' Greatest Hits (1968) Columbia SCXO 7830
- The Seekers Live at the Talk of the Town (1968)
- The Seekers Again — 1968 BBC Farewell Spectacular (1999)
- The Best of the Seekers (1968)
- The Seekers Golden Collection (1969)
- The Seekers (with Louisa Wisseling) (1975)
- Giving and Taking (with Louisa Wisseling) (1976)
- Live On (with Julie Anthony) (1989)
- The Silver Jubilee Album (1993)
- 25 Year Reunion ... Live in Concert (1995)
- The Seekers Complete (1995)
- Treasure Chest (1997)
- Future Road (1997)
- Morningtown Ride to Christmas (2001)
- Night of Nights... Live! (2002)
- The Ultimate Collection (2003)
- All Bound For Morningtown (2009)
- 50: The Golden Jubilee Album (2012)
CD box set
The Seekers Complete
- The Seekers 1963 - 1964
- The Seekers 1964 - 1965
- The Seekers 1966 - 1967
- The Seekers Hits, B-Sides and the 90's
- The Seekers Studio and Concert Rarities
- "The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia – Opera . Music . Dance – Volume 2" – Ann Atkinson, Linsay Knight, Margaret McPhee – Allen & Unwin Pty. Ltd., 1996
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- The Seekers – Australian of the Year – 1967 Award – Australian of the Year official website
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- 'The Judith Durham Story – Colours Of My Life' by Graham Simpson (Random House, 1994, 1998, 2000), (Virgin Books, 2004).
- "The Australian" - Hey there, it's The Seekers, AO
- McFarlane, 'The Seekers' entry. Archived from the original[dead link] on 4 June 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
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- "Icons: The Seekers". Baby Boomer Central: The Life and Times of Australia's Baby Boomer Generation. Australia on CD (Stephen Yarrow). 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "(Introducing) The Seekers". Seekers Discography. www.telinco.com (Richard Saunders). Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "Myra". APRA Works Search. Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "Roving with The Seekers". Seekers Discography. www.telinco.com (Richard Saunders). Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
- Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book 1940–1969. Turramurra, NSW: Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. Note: Chart positions back calculated by Kent in 2005. Published on-line by Hung Medien with information supplied by staff writer Gavin Ryan (aka Bulion).
- "Seekers – Top 75 Releases Official UK Singles Archive". UK Singles Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- "The Seekers Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "The Seekers – Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "Episode 2: Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968". ABC Online - Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 22 November 2002. Retrieved 26 September 2011. Note: The episode quotes Bruce Woodley and Judith Durham.
- Simons, David (2004). Studio Stories - How the Great New York Records Were Made. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. pp. 94–97. ISBN 978-0-87930-817-9.
- "The Cyrkle – Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- "Spring Concert Tour of Britain for The Seekers". NME (1000) (IPC Media (Time Inc.)). 11 March 1966. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- "Top Singles – 1967". Cashbox. George Albert. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "American certifications – Seekers, The – Georgy Girl". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- The Seekers at Home and Down Under – VHS and DVD releases
- "39th Academy Awards Winners". Oscar Legacy. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- International Who's Who in Popular Music (9th ed.). London: Routledge. 2007. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-85743-417-0.
- McWhirter, Norris; McWhirter, Ross (1968). Guinness Book of World Records. New York: Sterling Pub. Co. p. 155.
- Nimmervoll, Ed. "The Seekers". Howlspace: The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Creswell, Toby; Fabinyi, Martin (1 March 2006). The Real Thing: Adventures in Australian Rock & Roll, 1957 to Now. Milsons Point, NSW: Random House Australia. ISBN 978-0-09-183548-4.
- "Australian of the Year Awards – The Seekers". Australian of the Year (National Australia Day Council). Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2014. Note: Photo of the group with then-Prime Minister supplied.
- Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year: 1960–2010 : Celebrating 50 Years of Remarkable Achievement. Millers Point, NSW: Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
- Cockington, James (2001). "The Mod Squad". Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll. Sydney, NSW: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-7333-0750-8.
- Dale, David (3 February 2005). "Australia's most-watched TV shows this century". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
- "1988 – Queensland Expo-sed". Queensland Firsts. Queensland State Archives. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "Discography The Seekers". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Who Magazine, 29 March 1993, p. 72: The Carnival Starts Over by Michael Fitzgerald.
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- "Discography: Episode 2". ABC Online - Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 22 November 2002. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Highland, Gary. "How to Fit Four Giants on to a Postage Stamp Sheet…". Philatelic Media Release Archive. Australia Post. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2011.[dead link]
- "The Seekers". Australian Postage Stamps. Australia Post. 8 October 2002. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl". RocKwiz. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). 21 August 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "The Seekers – Celebration of Music Tour 2010". Today. Nine Network (Nine Entertainment Co.). October 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Plant, Simon (11 May 2011). "How Andre Rieu sought out the Seekers for his latest tour". Herald Sun (The Herald and Weekly Times (News Corporation)). Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "2011 Additions – I'll Never Find Another You". Sounds of Australia. National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 196, 212. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Clancy, Laurie (2004). Culture and Customs of Australia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-313-32169-6.
- Official website of The Seekers
- Official YouTube Channel of The Seekers
- Photos of The Seekers by Robert Whitaker