Friday, August 12, 2022

Godspeed Judith Durham

Judith Durham, the lead singer with The Seekers from 1963 to 1968 who went onto a successful solo career, died on August 5 2022 at the age of 79. The cause was bronchiectasis, which she had most of her life.

Judith Durham was born on July 3 1943 in Essendon, Victoria, Australia. She spent the first several years of her life in Essendon before her father moved to Taroona, Tasmania, a suburb of Hobart, Tasmania. She attended the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and received an Associate in Music in classical piano at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. Originally planning to be a a pianist, her singing career began when she asked the Melbourne University Jazz Band's conductor, Nicholas Ribush, if she could sing with the band at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern. In 1963 she started performing at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers. That same year her first, self-titled EP was released on W&G Records

Judith Durham joined The Seekers as their new lead vocalist after their original lead singer, Keith Ray, left to get married. It was because of Miss Durham's ties to W&G Records that The Seekers signed with the label in in 1963. Their debut album Introducing The Seekers, was released that same year. Their first single was a cover of the Australian bush ballad "Waltzing Mathilda." It peaked at no. 74 on the Australian singles chart.

It was in 1964 that The Seekers travelled to the United Kingdom, with the intent of staying their only ten weeks. As it turned out,they were offered work by the Grade Organization and the ten weeks turned into an extended stay. They eventually met Tom Springfield, brother of Dusty Springfield, who wrote "I'll Never Find Another You" for the group. It proved to be their first major hit, going to number 1 in Australia, number 1 in the United Kingdom, and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. "I'll Never Find Another You" would be followed by several more hits, including ""A World of Our Own," "The Carnival is Over," "Someday, One Day," "Morningtown Ride," "Georgy Girl," and "When Will the Good Apples Fall."

Judith Durham left The Seekers in 1968 to pursue a solo career. Over the years she released several solo albums. She also played the role of Sarah Simmons in the Australian Seventies television show Cash & Company.

Judith Durham had one of the most beautiful voices of her era. Elton John himself once described her as having "the purest voice in popular music." She had an incredible soprano that placed The Seekers' songs and her own solo work well above the songs of many of their contemporaries. With The Seekers, Judith Durham was a pioneer among Australian music artists, becoming among the first to have international hits. She also influenced Australian music artists to come, including Olivia Newton-John (who, sadly, died only three days after Miss Durham). Judith Durham was an incredible singer and her songs will still be played for many years to come.


Billy Hogan said...

"I'll Never Find Another You: and "Gerogy Girl" are my favorite songs by The Seekers. I didn't know that she had that condition. She'll be missed.

Evil Woman Blues said...

Not a good week for Australians