Slim Dusty Biography
Slim Dusty was an Australian country music singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. He was born David Gordon Kirkpatrick on June 13, 1927, and passed away on September 19, 2003. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003. After a career that spanned almost seven decades and included the production of a large number of recordings, he was a cultural icon in Australia as well as one of the country’s most decorated performers. It was well known that he recorded songs that were part of the legacy of Australia, particularly songs that were about the bush life and famous Australian bush poets like Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson who represented the lifestyle. The musical style was first made popular by Buddy Williams, the first artist to perform the genre in Australia, and also for his many trucking songs. This style was given the name “bush ballad,” and it was used to refer to the music genre.
Slim Dusty is credited with having “released more than a hundred albums, selling more than seven million records, and earning over 70 gold and platinum album certifications.” His rendition of Gordon Parsons’ song “A Pub with No Beer” became the first song ever recorded in Australia to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart outside of Australia. He was presented with 38 Golden Guitar awards in addition to an award from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). The Australian Roll of Renown and the ARIA Hall of Fame both recognized his achievements and inducted him. Dusty, who passed away at the age of 76, was in the process of recording his 106th album for EMI Records when he was found dead. In 2007, his album sales in Australia surpassed seven million locally produced copies. During his lifetime, Dusty was revered as a significant part of Australia’s cultural heritage. During the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, he gave a performance of the song “Waltzing Matilda,” which is extremely well-known in Australia.
Early life and career
David Gordon Kirkpatrick, the son of a cattle farmer, was born on June 13, 1927 in Nulla Nulla Creek, which is located west of Kempsey in the state of New South Wales. His childhood home, now known as “Homewood,” has been preserved and is on the national register of historic places. Gordon, his middle name, was the name that most people called him. In 1937, he penned his first song, “The Way the Cowboy Dies,” and in 1938, when he was only 11 years old, he began performing under the name Slim Dusty. His earliest musical inspirations came from musicians Jimmie Rodgers from the United States, Tex Morton from New Zealand, and Buddy Williams from Australia. Dusty wrote “When the Rain Tumbles Down in July” in 1945, the same year he issued his first record as a recording artist, at the age of 19 years old. In 1946, he signed his first recording contract with Columbia Graphophone for the Regal Zonophone label. Columbia Graphophone was his employer at the time.
Rise to fame and enduring popularity
He died on September 19, 2003, at his home in St. Ives, New South Wales. He was 76 years old and had been sick with lung and kidney cancer for a long time.
On September 26, 2003, a state funeral was held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney. The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and the leader of the federal opposition, Simon Crean, were both there. Phillip Jensen, the Anglican Dean of Sydney, paid tribute at the funeral by leading family members, politicians, fans, and musicians in singing “A Pub With No Beer.” There were several tributes from Dusty’s children, as well as words from Peter Garrett and John Williamson and music from Graeme Connors, Kasey Chambers, and Troy Cassar-Daley, among others. Dusty’s body was burned at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney after thousands of fans from all over Australia came to stand outside the cathedral.
At the time of his death, Dusty was working on his 106th album for EMI. The album Columbia Lane – the Last Sessions made its debut on March 8, 2004, at number 5 on the Australian album charts and number 1 on the country charts. After less than two weeks on sale, the item reached the gold level.
Columbia Lane is a tribute to the laneway next to Parramatta Road in Strathfield, near the railway bridge, where the EMI studios used to be and where he started his music career. The laneway is now home to Kennards Hire.
In 2004, Tamworth held a memorial concert called “Concert for Slim.” More than 30 Australian musicians, including Joy McKean, Paul Kelly, Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, and Kasey Chambers, played at the concert.
In Cunnamulla, Queensland, in 2005, a statue of the “Cunnamulla Fella” was put up as a tribute to Dusty and Stan Coster and to the famous song of the same name, which Dusty sang and for which Coster wrote the lyrics. In the 1950s, Coster worked as a “ringer” in the area of Cunnamulla where the song is set. Dusty recorded the song, and it became a big hit in country music. Lee Kernaghan later sang it, too. Anne Kirkpatrick, who is Dusty Kirkpatrick’s daughter, Jayne Kelly, and Tracy and Russell Coster unveiled the statue.
In 2007, EMI Records sold more than seven million copies of Dusty’s records in Australia.
Honours and milestones
Slim Dusty was Australia’s most successful and prolific musical artist, with more Gold and Platinum albums than any other Australian artist He was also:
- The first Australian to receive a Gold Record.
- Made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to entertainment.
- On 14 April 1981, on Space Shuttle Columbia‘s first mission, Dusty’s rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” was broadcast to Earth.
- The Royal Australian Mint issued a coin celebrating his life.
- Dusty’s image was featured on an Australia Post postage stamp.
- In December 2020, Slim Dusty was listed at number 40 in Rolling Stone Australia‘s “50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time” issue.
ARIA Music Awards (ARIA)
The Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (commonly known informally as ARIA Music Awards or ARIA Awards) is an annual series of awards nights celebrating the Australian music industry, put on by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Slim Dusty has won one award from 10 nominations. Additionally, Dusty has been awarded two achievement awards and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Country Music Awards (CMAA)
The Country Music Awards (CMAA) are an annual awards ceremondy celebrating recording excellence in the Australian country music industry. It first commenced in 1973 at the Tamworth Country Music Awards of Australia.
According the Country Music Association of Australia, Slim Dusty has won 44 Golden guitar plus, an induction into Australian Roll of Renown. (listed below). This is more than any other artist.
According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2022, Troy Cassar-Daley won his 40th, surpassing Slim Dusty’s record of 38 awards.
King of Pop Awards
The King of Pop Awards were voted by the readers of TV Week. The King of Pop award started in 1967 and ran through to 1978.
- Note: the Most Popular Australian Country Musician award was only presented in 1977 and 1978.
The Australian Entertainment Mo Awards (commonly known informally as the Mo Awards), were annual Australian entertainment industry awards. They recognise achievements in live entertainment in Australia from 1975 to 2016. Slim Dusty won two awards in that time. From 2006, the “best country entertainer” award was named in his honour.
Tamworth Songwriters Awards
The Tamworth Songwriters Association (TSA) is an annual songwriting contest for original country songs, awarded in January at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. They commenced in 1986. Slim Dusty won two awards in that time.
- Dusty’s life was the subject of a 1984 feature film: The Slim Dusty Movie.
- “Pub With No Beer” was added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry in 2008.
- The 2010 book 100 Best Australian Albums by Toby Creswell, Craig Mathieson and John O’Donnell ranked The Very Best of Slim Dusty as the 24th best Australian album of the previous 50 years.
- The Slim Dusty Centre was built in Kempsey, NSW, Dusty’s home town, and opened in October 2015.
EMI Records’ Australian sales of Slim Dusty records surpassed 7 million in 2007.