Ward "Pally" Austin
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|Ward "Pally" Austin|
|Born||Ward Austin Gargan|
January 2, 1935
|Died||August 18, 1998 (aged 63)|
|Occupation||Radio DJ and personality|
Ward "Pally" Austin (2 January 1935 – 18 August 1998) was an Australian Sydney radio DJ who gained famed in the 1960s and 1970s for his somewhat unpredictable but at times widely popular stints as a radio DJ on various Sydney Radio stations.
He had numerous nicknames: 'Pally', 'Baby', 'The White Knight', 'The Confederate Cowboy' and 'the Peter Pan of the Airwaves'. He was known for his outgoing, fun, and sometimes left of centre radio style. He could also be difficult, unpredictable and, on occasion, totally out of control, which was often the source of troubled relationships with the radio stations he worked for. This resulted in him not infrequently being sacked and having to move from station to station. However, in the late sixties he was one of Australia's top DJs.
He was a dedicated music fan and a fanatic for all things American, Elvis in particular, and The South in general. He had a number of famous catchphrases which became part of the vernacular at the time, including "a rickapoodie and a fandooglie", "Too much for the human unit" and "Anytime you're ready Pallie".
He was born as Ward Austin Gargan on 2 January 1935 in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst, New South Wales. His radio career started with stints in various regional stations; he quickly gained notoriety when he came back to Sydney and worked at 2UE in 1960. He was sacked by 2UE for his irreverent on-air comments; he moved to 2UW in 1964. This marked the beginning of the peak period of his career. Hosting the popular afternoon shift, he quickly rose to become Sydney's most popular DJ. He was instrumental in making 2UW Sydney's most popular music station throughout the late sixties.
Austin was an enthusiastic supporter of local talent and he played a major role in breaking many notable Australian acts and helping their records to become hits.
In 1969 he collaborated with independent producer Martin Erdman, who recorded demo tapes for over 150 bands for 2UW's 'New UW New Sounds of 69' promotion. The best of these tapes received airplay, and the end result was a concert where the bands performed.
He most famously got sacked from one radio station for saying "how would you like something hot and throbbing between your legs?" when advertising a motor bike. His off-air behaviour was also outrageous, he was raided by the police for possessing unlicensed firearms, involved in nightclub brawl, and allegedly made racist remarks to Sammy Davis Jr.
Ward married Irene Combe in 1968, when she was 17. He had met her when she was 14 and proclaimed his love for her, though at the time he was 31. He also had an acting role in the Australian beach movie Summer City
Gradually, during the Seventies, the more flamboyant style of the 'personality' DJs like Austin fell out of favour, and generally more music was played and less "patter" required.
His last public statement was in 1996, when he told The Daily Telegraph why he had undergone penile implant surgery.
"I was born in January 1935, the same month and the same year as Elvis Presley and my old mate, Johnny O'Keefe. The difference is that Elvis and Johnny are dead. But after all the booze, all the late nights and all the cigarettes, the Pally is still alive ... I'm not living with anyone now but I would like to resume an active sex life, which I plan to do as soon as possible."
He was married twice; lastly to model Irene Combe for 18 years, but firstly to Ann McGrath in the late 1950s. They had a son, Dean, who became the father of Austin's granddaughter Amy.
Austin died in 1998 of natural causes (brought on by alcoholism) in his St Ives, New South Wales mansion. His funeral was replete with an "Americana" style and an Elvis impersonator.