Roger Knox

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Roger Knox
Born Moree, New South Wales
Origin Toomelah Aboriginal Mission
Genres Country music
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1981–present
Labels Bloodshot Records
Enrec Records
Associated acts Roger Knox and the
Euraba Band

Roger Knox (born in 1948)[1][2] is an Australian country singer, known as the Black Elvis and the Koori King of Country.[3]

Early life[edit]

Knox is from the Gamilaroi nation, part of the indigenous Australian Aboriginal community, and was born in Moree, New South Wales. Knox grew up in the Toomelah Aboriginal Mission near Boggabilla, which is near the border between New South Wales and Queensland.[4][5]

Knox comes from a family with 11 children.[2] His mother was a stolen child who was taken from her parents as a baby and raised in a children's home in Bomaderry.[2] Knox was not allowed to attend the high school in Goondiwindi, but instead was sent by the mission to work without pay at one of their properties.[2] Knox has said that the first music he heard growing up was gospel music, which his grandmother, who taught Sunday school, played.[6][7]


Knox left the mission at 17 and moved to Tamworth, where he became a singer.[1] He started out in the 1980s as a gospel singer.[6] He acquired the nickname "The Black Elvis" (for his hairstyle and manner of dress) at the Star Maker talent contest when he was 31.[2]

In 1993, Knox was named NAIDOC Artist of The Year

In 2004, Knox was inducted into the Australian Country Music Foundation's Country Music Hands of Fame.[8]

In 2007, Knox went public with claims that he couldn't get booked at Tamworth's annual festival, Tamworth Country Music Festival, "because he attracted the wrong crowd."[9]

In 2006, Knox was given the Jimmy Little Award for Lifetime Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Music at the 2006 Deadlys.

Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts/Buried Country[edit]

On 12 February 2013, Knox along with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, released his first album in nine years, Stranger in My Land on Bloodshot Records.[10] The album was produced by Jon Langford and included guest contributions from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Charlie Louvin, Dave Alvin (X, The Blasters), Kelly Hogan, Jon Langford, Andre Williams, the Sadies, Sally Timms (Mekons), and Tawny Newsome.[11][12] The title of the record comes from a Vic Simms song.[13] Jon Langford illustrated the booklet that accompanies the CD.[1]

The material features covers of traditional and Aboriginal country songs.[1] The record came about after Langford read about Knox in Australian author Clinton Walker's book, Buried Country, which chronicled aboriginal country artists.[14] When Langford visited Australia, he heard many of the recordings, then went to see Knox play at Tamworth's annual country music festival.[1]

In 2009, Knox was scheduled to perform at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Illinois on 10 October 2009 with Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts. However, his US visa was denied a week before the show because the US immigration office stated he lacked cultural significance".[2] The tour with Langford finally occurred in 2012. Knox performed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco.[2]

In 2016, Knox joined the cast of the stageshow adaptation of Buried Country itself, which played its premiere performance in Newcastle in August.

Musical style[edit]

Describing his music, Knox says: "My music is basically country with an influence of aboriginal spirituality.... I use all these (aboriginal instruments such as didgeridoos) but I still play country music. I may not sing about trains and sheep and cattle, but I still play country music."[1] It has been described as "frequently upbeat and the lyrics often sharply political in tone. The lyrics are sprinkled with references to kangaroos and pelicans and detail the struggles of Australia's indigenous aboriginal population."[1]

Personal life[edit]

Knox's son Buddy is also a musician, and has played in a band called Buddy Knox Blues Band in 2006. In 2011, he was nominated for a Deadlys award.[15] Knox also has sons who play in his band with him: Gene, John, and Ruben.[14]

Plane crashes[edit]

Knox survived two back-to-back aircraft crashes. In 1981, early in his career, Knox joined the roadshow of Brian Young, who had a band that criss-crossed Australia by light plane, which crashed due to engine failure.[2] The musicians and equipment had to be airlifted from the crash site. The plane carrying Knox, drummer Ken Ramsay, and singer Stephen Bunz from the scene also crashed. Ramsay was killed and the others were injured (including the pilot).[2][13] Knox suffered third-degree burns over more than 90 percent of his body[13] and became addicted to painkillers. One of his Elders prescribed a traditional bush remedy in the form of a natural bath oil made from the Euraba bush. That bush and the settlement on which his father was born were inspiration for the name of his band, the Euraba Band.[13]


Knox is well known in Australia and is loved for his regular tours of the New South Wales and Queensland prison systems, where many Aboriginal men and women are incarcerated.[6] Knox has also performed at many Canadian prisons for Native American prisoners.[7]

Knox participated in the Voices United for Harmony project, jointly managed by the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council and Griffith University.[16]



  • 1984: Give It A Go (Enrec Records)
  • 1986: The Gospel Album (Enrec Records) – re-released in November 2006
  • 1998: Warrior in Chains – The Best of Roger Knox (Enrec Records)
  • 2004: Goin' On, Still Strong (Trailblazer Records)
  • 2013: Stranger in My Land (Bloodshot Records)
  • 2017: Re-release, Re-mastered "Give It A Go

7 inches[edit]

  • 1988: Goulburn Jail[17]
  • 1988: Koala Bear

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dickinson, Chrissie (19 February 2013). "To Roger Knox, the whole world is country". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Guilliatt, Richard (8 June 2013). "Songlines of a survivor: Roger Knox". The Australian. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Leggett, Steve (12 February 2013). "Roger Knox – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Browning, Daniel (23 May 2003). "Roger Knox – Koori King of Country". AWAYE!. ABC Radio National. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Kim, Ignatius (9 June 1993). "Singing with something to say". Green Left Online (103). Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Corowa, Miriam (10 January 2010). "Message Sick – Summer Series: Warrior in Chains". ABC Indigenous. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Morrow, Julian (12 April 2013). "Roger Knox: Stranger in my Land (video)" (video performance and interview). ABC RN (Radio National) Drive. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Absent Friends-Roger Knox". Deadly Vibe. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Grant, Karla (28 March 2007). "Living Black: Series 7, Episode 4". Special Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original (transcript) on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Leggett, Steve (12 February 2013). "Stranger in My Land – Roger Knox, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Werman, Marco (12 February 2013). "Aboriginal Country Music from Roger Knox" (audio interview). PRI's The World. Public Radio International. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "Spotlighting Roger Knox: A week's worth of previews". No Depression. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d "In The Studio With Roger Knox". Deadly Vibe. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Walker, Clinton. "The Man Who Would be King: Roger Knox". Verse Chorus Press. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "2011 Deadly Awards – Nominations: Male Artist of the Year – Buddy Knox" (PDF). Deadly Vibe. 15 July 2011. p. 10. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Strohfeldt, Mahala (3 November 2010). "Indigenous voices unite for harmony" (PDF). The Koori Mail. p. 32. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Aboriginal Musician – Roger Knox". Creative Spirits. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

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