Little Boy Lost (song)

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"Little Boy Lost" is an Australian single released by Johnny Ashcroft in early 1960. He composed the song from a lyric idea put forward by the disc jockey Tony Withers. It is based on the successful search for Steven Walls, a four-year-old boy from a farm in the New England Ranges in February 1960.

Little Boy Lost gold LP - title track also first gold 45 rpm records in Australia and New Zealand

Historic event[edit]

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 for a four-year-old farm boy, Steven Walls, the "Little Boy Lost".[1] They found him alive and well.

Hit record[edit]

"Little Boy Lost" was the top Australian hit song of 1960.[2] In its day it became one of the country's all-time greatest hits,[3] awarded the first 45rpm gold record struck in Australia and also, in 1961, New Zealand’s first 45rpm gold record.

Worldwide success[edit]

A Johnny Ashcroft TV performance of "Little Boy Lost" was released worldwide as a film clip. That film clip was a forerunner of the video and DVD clips of today. Covers by notable artists were released, such as Jimmy Dean in the United States and Michael Holliday[4] in the United Kingdom. Other notable Australian artists also recorded "Little Boy Lost", among them Jimmy Little, Slim Dusty,[5] the Singing Kettles and Evelyn Bury.

A selfless act of compassion[edit]

In July 1960 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, he was 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 Thorne's family and friends. In doing so, he became the only songwriter or recording artist, at least in Australia, to deliberately stop the airplay of his own hit record.

1978 film[edit]

In 1978 the Little Boy Lost movie had its world premiere in Armidale, New South Wales – in Australia's wild New England Ranges. Johnny Ashcroft and Gay Kayler recorded a 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. The Little Boy Lost movie later became available on video and DVD. The DVD of Little Boy Lost was rereleased in 2005 and again in 2007.

2007 release[edit]

The original Johnny Ashcroft recording of "Little Boy Lost" has been available continuously, in various catalogues, since 1960. The hit version of the song was rereleased on 4 August 2007 on a 28-track Rajon Music double CD set, Johnny Ashcroft, Here’s to You, Australia!.


  1. ^ ACMF Roll of Renown Johnny Ashcroft Archived 2004-02-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Number One Hits of 1960 Archived 2007-06-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  4. ^ Michael Holliday
  5. ^ Slim's Discography Archived 2006-12-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Johnny Ashcroft verbal account
  • Country Music in Australia: Volume 2 by Eric Watson

External links[edit]