Slim Dusty was a well-known Australian country music singer and composer who had a career that spanned over seven decades. His music promotes and celebrates the spirit of Australia, and he is regarded as a great cultural icon of Australia. In the previous seven decades, he has written over a thousand songs, released over a hundred albums, and sold over five million copies of these records, earning him more than seventy gold and platinum certifications. He is likely the only musician who has recorded music in a variety of forms, from 78rpm to cassettes to DVDs, and even iTunes and ringtones. Slim Dusty Sings, G’Day, G’Day, and Beer Drinking Songs of Australia are just a few of his outstanding recordings. Many of his songs have become unofficial Australian anthems, the most famous of which is ‘A Pub with No Beer,’ which earned him the distinction of being the first Australian artist to obtain a gold record. He has won the ‘Golden Guitar’ an unprecedented 37 times for his contributions to Australian country music. He has twice been honored by the Australian Recording Industry Association (‘ARIA’). He was inducted into both the ‘Country Music Hall of Fame’ and the ‘ARIA Hall of Fame.’ He performed the Australian bush ballad ‘Waltzing Matilda’ during the closing ceremony of the ‘Olympic Games’ in Sydney in 2000. Dusty was regarded as a ‘Australian National Treasure,’ and when he died, he was given a state funeral.
Childhood and Adolescence
On June 13, 1927, he was born at Nulla Nulla Creek, New South Wales, to a cattle farmer and amateur musician named ‘Noisy Dan.’
He was introduced to music by his father, and at the age of ten, he wrote his first song, ‘The Way The Cowboy Dies.’ The next year, he changed his stage name to ‘Slim Dusty,’ and began playing regularly on local radio with childhood friend Shorty Ranger (Edwin Haberfield).
He was a country music fan who was influenced by Buddy Williams, Tex Morton, and Jimmie Rodgers’ work.
His father set up an audition for him at Sydney’s ‘Columbia Records’ in 1942. Despite the fact that two songs were recorded, they were not well received by music fans.
He and Ranger resumed travelling with tent show groups until 1945, when Dusty was forced to return home due to his father’s tragic death. He began caring for the family farm while still nurturing his desire to pursue a musical career.
In 1946, he signed his first deal with ‘Columbia Gramophone’ on the ‘Regal Zonophone’ label, recording six songs, one of which was a hit, ‘When the Rain Tumbles Down in July.’
The career of Slim Dusty
Joy McKean, a singer, and songwriter, whom he married, became his longtime musical and emotional partner. She was his manager for nearly 50 years and wrote many of his great songs, including “Indian Pacific,” “The Biggest Disappointment,” “The Angel of Goulburn Hill,” “Kelly’s Offsider,” and “Walk A Country Mile.”
Despite being a good songwriter himself, he sang songs by Gordon Parsons, Kelly Dixon, Stan Coster, and Mack Cormack, among others. Aside from this, Dusty had recorded poetry by notable Australian writers Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson set to new songs.
Dusty and McKean debuted their first traveling act, the ‘Slim Dusty Traveling Show,’ in 1954.
In 1956, he formed a collaboration with showman Frankie Foster and began touring as a huge tent show. However, the collaboration came to an end in 1963.
Despite massive record sales, country music took a second seat to rock and roll, with major urban music stations mostly airing the newcomer. As a result, Dusty’s songs were rarely heard on urban radio stations after the 1950s.
‘Slim Dusty Sings,’ Dusty’s first full-length album, was published in 1960.
In 1964, he launched the ‘Slim Dusty Tour,’ his first annual music tour of Australia that lasted 10 months and covered a total distance of 30,000 miles.
In appreciation of his services to the area of music, he was made a member of the ‘Order of the British Empire’ in 1970.
His autobiography, ‘Walk a Country Mile,’ was published in 1979 and became a blockbuster in Australia. A platinum-selling album with the same name was released.
Dusty’s 50th record, ‘The Golden Anniversary Album,’ was certified multi-platinum in Australia in 1981.
When the Australian bush classic ‘Waltzing Matilda,’ recorded in his voice, was played by astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen while the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ sailed over the orbit of Australia in 1983, he became the first ever vocalist whose voice was sent to Earth from space.
Rob Stewart directed the feature film ‘The Slim Dusty Movie’ in 1984, which depicted Dusty’s early life and career. Dusty, Joy McKean, and their children Anne and David featured as themselves, while Jon Blake played Dusty as a child. In Australia, the picture earned $225,000 at the box office.
From the 1970s until the 1990s, he won a slew of honors.
In 1992, he co-founded and became Chairman of the ‘Country Music Association of Australia’ (‘CMAA’). In 2001, he was named honorary president of the organization.
For his contributions to music, he was awarded the title of officer of the ‘Order of Australia’ in January 1998.
In 1999, he was named ‘Father of the Year’ by the New South Wales Council and the first annual ‘Senior Australian of the Year’ by the Commonwealth Government.
In the year 2000, he achieved history by recording and releasing his hundredth album, ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back.’ He recorded all 100 albums for the same record label, EMI, which was a world record at the time.
He was most recently working on his 106th album for EMI, ‘Columbia Lane – the Last Sessions.’ The album debuted at number one on the country charts on March 8, 2004, and went gold later that year.
Major Projects of Slim Dusty
In 1957, he recorded his most famous song, ‘A Pub with No Beer,’ which went on to become the best-selling Australian singer’s record. The song was the first Australian single to achieve gold status, and it remains the only 78rpm record to do so. Flemish country singer Bobbejaan Schoepen’s Dutch and German cover versions of the song, released in 1959 and 1960, became the number one hit single in Germany, Belgium, and Austria.
Personal History and Legacy
He married Joy McKean, another country singer, and composer, in 1951. For decades, the couple shared their musical adventure and were blessed with two children, Anne, born in 1952, and David, born in 1958, both of whom are talented singers and songwriters.
He died at his St Ives, New South Wales, home on September 19, 2003, following a protracted battle with kidney and lung cancer.
He was given a state funeral at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral, which was attended by a number of notable figures, including the then-Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, and the leader of the federal opposition, Simon Crean, as well as family, friends, statesmen, musicians, and tens of thousands of fans.
His cremation took place at Sydney’s ‘Northern Suburbs Crematorium.’
Estimated Net Worth
Slim is one of the wealthiest country singers and one of the most popular. Slim Dusty’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.