Warren Fahey

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Warren Fahey AM is a folklore collector, cultural historian, author, broadcaster, record and concert producer, visual artist, songwriter and a performer of Australian traditional and related historical music.

Fahey is the founder of Larrikin Records, Folkways Music and the band The Larrikins. In 1988, he sold his music publishing company, Larrikin Music, to Music Sales Corporation,[1] and in 1995 sold Larrikin Records to Festival Music.

After the Down Under (song) court case, he suggested that the copyright owners of the Kookaburra (song), Larrikin Music, 'gift' the song to Australia.[2]

He has a distinguished career as a folklorist and collector of oral histories.

As a performer he has been telling Australian folk stories, reciting bush poetry and singing either solo or with his ensembles The Larrikins, The Celebrated Knickers & Knockers Band, and, more recently, the Australian Bush Orchestra. Commenced performing in 1969 and has a unique repertoire of bush songs, early ballads, city ditties and associated folklore including poetry, drinking toasts and parodies. He presents specific entertainment programs based on his books at the various Writers Week festivals as well as performances at folk and regional arts festivals.

With his pioneering ensemble, The Larrikins, he has toured for Musica Viva and the Arts Council circuit for the past 40 years. He produced and hosted the entertainment at the first State Dinner in the new Federal Parliament House. He has represented Australia for the Department of Foreign Affairs in numerous Cultural touring programs performing in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Britain and the first-ever cultural exchange tour to the South Pacific region. He has performed at the Commonwealth Arts Festival, Edinburgh, Vancouver Folk Festival, Auckland Arts Festival and the state festivals of Perth, Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival, Darwin Festival. In 2006 he performed a song cycle world premiere performance of Andrew Ford’s ‘Barleycorn’ for the Brisbane Festival.

Since 2000 he has performed at the National Folk Festival (2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, Majors Creek Music Festival (twice), Victor Harbour Festival, Araluen Folk Festival WA and, in 2009, The Blue Mountains Festival, National Folk Festival and Cobargo Festival. In 2001, he hosted and performed at the Belongings Exhibition for the State Library of NSW for the Governor General, and then at the re-opening of the Mitchell Library with a performance for the Governor of NSW and the Premier.

In 2006 he was Artistic Director of the ten-day Australian Spotlight, Lorient Festival, Brittany, France, on behalf of the Australian Government.

Since 2003 he has been guest lecturer on various prestige cruise ships, notably Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas and Cunard. Mostly on Australian, New Zealand and Asian journeys however, in 2013, he was invited as guest lecturer on two journeys in the Adriatic. In 2014 he commenced including Asian talks in his talks schedule.

He has performed in numerous countries, mostly with his ensemble, The Larrikins. In 2008, he took his group to Malaysia for Austrade and, in January 2009, to the Philippines for a DFAT cultural tour.

Warren sings and plays concertina. He continues to ‘revive’ old songs by marrying them with either traditional or new musical settings. He writes songs where there are no songs to tell an aspect of the Australian story.

In 2010, he devised, scripted, recorded and co-produced (with visual artist Mic Gruchy) a major multi-screen art installation commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney titled 'Damned Souls and Turning Wheels' - a history of Cockatoo Island.[3]

His Australian Folklore Unit has been collecting and annotating Australian folklore for nearly 50 years and made available in his books, radio programs, concerts and, most importantly, on his website.

In 2012, he was Artistic Producer for the Kings Cross Festival.

In 2012, Rebel Studios completed a one-hour bio documentary on his work titled 'Larrikin Lad' which was screened on SBS 'Studio' and released as a DVD by ABC Video.



  • Founder of Folkways Music 1973 (sold 1993)
  • Co-founder (with Zandra Stanton) Grandma Was Right! Health Food Retail.
  • Founder Larrikin Records (1974 sold 1995) Larrikin Music Publishing (1975 sold 1988) Larrikin Entertainment (1977-1995).
  • Founder Planet Distribution (sold 2002)
  • Co-founder (with Nick & Tony Wales of Undercover Music Group – Executive Producer of Rouseabout, Yep and Silent Music independent music labels. 2000 +
  • Founder Bodgie Productions Pty Ltd. 2000 =


  • Justice of the Peace (NSW) 1968 – onwards
  • Bicentennial Committee 1986-1988
  • President Paddington Chamber of Commerce 1978 – 1987
  • Board member of Australian Record Industry Association 1992-1998
  • ARIA Awards Governor’s Board 1998-2000
  • Board member Geraldine Pascall Foundation 2002 – onwards
  • Chairman City Edge Partnership 2005 – 06
  • President – CERA (city edge resident’s association) 2006- 2008
  • Artistic consultant National Trust annual fundraiser 2003/4/5
  • Australian Commonwealth Cultural Gift Scheme – authorized valuer 2004 onwards
  • President Folk Alliance Australia – 2008-9


  • Navvy on the Line - Australian railway songs
  • On The Steps of The Dole-Office Door. songs and poems of the Great Depression
  • Game s Ned Kelly. the bushranger myths in song and ballad
  • Limejuice and Vinegar - Australian sea songs
  • Digger's Songs - Australian army, navy, airforce and land army song.
  • While The Billy Boils - double selection of bush songs
  • The Larrikin Sessions - Australian bush songs - live recording
  • Billy of Tea - selection of bush songs
  • Man of the Earth - songs of Australian coal and gold mining
  • Larrikin History of Australia - various bush songs
  • Seven Creeks Run. compilation Australiana
  • Rebel Chorus. double album of Australian songs of social change
  • Australia - its land and its people - Australiana double album
  • Sing Us Anothery, Dirty As Buggery. Australian bawdy songs and poetry
  • Rooted in the Country. Australian bawdy songs and poetry
  • From Convict Chains to Shearer's Blades - 5 CD box set.
  • Celebration of a Nation. - 5 Cd box set
  • Rare Convict Ballads and Broadsides.
  • Bushrangers, Bolters & Other Wild Colonials.
  • Give Me A Hut In My Own Native Land. pioneering settlement
  • Currency Lads & Lasses: Songs of Australian romance.
  • Songs of Drovers, Shearers & Bullockies.
  • Across the Seven Seas: the Australian maritime collection.
  • Lean Times & Mean Times: Australia in depression.
  • Solidarity Forever. songs of unity.
  • Australia's On The Wallaby. songs of pomp and circumstance.
  • Roll, Pitch, Whack & Boot: Australian sporting songs.
  • The Australian Bush Orchestra.
  • Down The Overlander's Trail - the roots of Australian country music.
  • "Great Australian Bush & Folk Songs. 2014 ABC"
  • Plus over 550 Australian albums produced for the following labels: Larrikin, Yesterday's Australia, Spin, Jarra Hill, Knot, Rouseabout, Yep, Silent, M7, EMI, Universal, Festival etc.


  • "The World Turned Upside-down - a history of the Australian Gold Rush. Bodgie Books"
  • Australia: Its Folksongs & Bush Verse. ABC Books
  • Australia: Its Folksongs & Bush Ballads - 3 volume e-book series.ABC/Harper Collins
  • Sing Us Anothery Dirty As Buggery. - Australian bawdry - ebook. Bodgie Books
  • Manar: a Potts Point local history. Bodgie Books
  • "Manar. Bodgie E-Boosk"
  • Old Bush Songs - the centenary edition (with Graham Seal). ABC
  • Classic Bush Yarns. Harper Collins
  • Great Aussie Yarns.A&R
  • The Big Fat Book of Aussie Jokes: Australian humour at work in the 21st Century.Harper Collins
  • Ratbags & Rabblerousers - Australian political parody and satire in the 20th century. Currency Press
  • Diggers' Songs - the songs Australian diggers sang in eleven wars from the Maori Wars to the Gulf War. Australian Military History Press
  • When Mabel Laid The Table - the folklore of eating and drinking in Australia from colonial days to takeaways. ABC.
  • The Balls of Bob Menzies - Australian political folklore from Federation onwards. A&R
  • The Songs That Made Australia - 107 bush songs. A&R
  • Australian Folksong Guide - the bush band. CBC
  • Eureka. - the social history of Australia as seen through song. Ominbus
  • Pint Pot & Billy. A selection of Australian songs. William Collins
  • Joe Watson - his life and times.Folklore Associates
  • While The Billy Boils. ABC
  • Folklore of the Australian Wedding. e-book. Bodgie Books
  • While The Billy Boils. Australian history (with accompanying 16 tape set).ABC
  • Tucker Track: the curious history of Australian food. ABC
  • Contributed anthologies: (partial selections.)
  • Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore. Oxford University Press.
  • The Stockman - Kevin Weldon Publishing.
  • The Companion to Australian Music. Currency Press.
  • Missing in Action. Australian Popular Culture. MUP
  • Australian Almanac 1989/1991/1992. Angus & Robertson/HC.
  • Verandah Music. Curtin University.
  • Folklore Essays (edited Graham Seal/Jennifer Gall) 2010 Curtin University Press.
  • Writing – general.
  • Past or present contributor to The Bulletin, Vogue Entertaining & Travel, Conde Nast Traveler USA, Outback Magazine, Trad&Now, Simply Australia, BRW, Rhythms Magazine.

Festival Performances[edit]

  • Commonwealth Games Arts Festival Edinburgh
  • Vancouver Folk Festival Canada
  • Australian National Folk Festival - over 25 festivals
  • Blue Mountains Music Festival
  • Brisbane Festival - premiere performance of Andrew Ford's John Barleycorn.
  • Malaysia Mata Expo - for Austrade
  • Cultural Exchange tour of Nine South Pacific nations - DFAT
  • Philippines Australia Day Week - DFAT
  • 36th Festival InterCeltique - Lorient, France
  • Cobago Festival x 3
  • Festival of Perth
  • Sydney Festival - numerous years
  • Various regional festivals - Gundagai, Orange, Newcastle, Bungaree Bush Camp etc.


  • Warren Fahey has scripted, performed and produced countless hours of programming commissioned by the ABC including:
  • While The Billy Boils. 16 programs
  • The Great Australian Legend. 16 programs
  • Navvy on the Line. 3 programs
  • The Song Carriers. The Songs That Made Australia. 12 programs
  • Sunday Folk Specials - over 8 years of programming.
  • The Larrikin Sessions. Live broadcast concerts
  • That's Australia ABC Television series. 56 programs.
  • Australian Cavalcade. 8 programs.
  • ‘Down the Lawson Track’, recorded live in concert at the National Library
  • Regular commentator on ABC regional and metropolitan radio plus specialist programs like 'Into the Music' and 'Hindsight'.


External links[edit]